Are you considering having a backyard wedding? Not sure what you'll need or what you might forget? Then this is the perfect podcast for you! We're giving away our top backyard wedding tips. Don't forget to grab your FREE copy of our Wedding Day Emergency Kit, a complete list of everything you may need on your wedding day!
The number one thing that might be missing if you're planning on having a wedding in your own space is the appropriate number of bathrooms! Start researching your available options before sending out your invitations. Your layout and the guest count will determine the number of bathrooms you need to accommodate your event. This is especially critical if you're home runs on a septic tank. If you plan on inviting more than a few people and you don't want them trafficking inside your home, you may have limited options. For example, if you only have one bathroom on the first floor, you might want to consider port-a-potties.
Ugh, I know! A Port-A-Potty doesn't sound like the fanciest thing for a wedding. A more upscale option is restroom trailers. These trailers have hardwood floors inside, a fully functioning sink, and even a hand-painted portrait hanging beautifully on the wall. These are available for outdoor events, are air-conditioned, and are overall very nice. They're also pretty expensive. Keep in mind; you'll need two, one for men and one for women. Don't forget that you may even need one that's handicap accessible.
The next thing to consider for your backyard wedding is kitchen space. If it's going to be a catered event, you need to talk with your caterer about what's going to be required. What is the necessary amount of countertop space they need? Do they need power outlets to use an oven or microwave, sink, or anything like that? They'll need to be able to wash their hands to comply with safety standards and to keep your guests from getting sick. Some catering companies have the equipment to do a wedding in the middle of a field; they would just need to know in advance and it may cost extra.
Next is a tent rental! You can't take a chance with inclement weather. We recommend factoring in a 50-50 chance for rain on your wedding day. By renting a tent, you've created additional covered space. You also now have a rain plan in case of a sudden downpour, which every wedding needs! You'll have the option to cover your guests easily, quickly, and comfortably. You're also going to need other hard goods like tables, chairs, serving stations, flatware, dishes, etc.
Don't forget about adequate lighting! Commonly overlooked, if you don't have tons of lighting in your backyard, it could be hard for your guests to see anything. You need to think not only about lighting underneath the reception area (tent) but also the lighting to the parking area if it's not located nearby and additional walkways. Of course, lots of lightning takes lots of extra power. Renting generators as a power source is recommended. You'll need access to electricity from multiple different points throughout. If you pull too much power from one area, it's likely to overload a fuse. Imagine all the light and music suddenly going off in the middle of your reception!
We suggest calling and getting prices to rent generators. You'll also need to understand that some generators can be noisy. Remember to ask questions about the noise level when calling. How loud are they? Do they have generators explicitly designed to be quieter? Usually, higher-end models tend to be a little bit more subdued and less noticeable. When you're renting them, don't forget to mention you're using them for a wedding. You will need some quiet time during the ceremony, and a generator located 12 feet away will prevent that from happening. Wedding planners have asked food trucks that were using generators to turn them off for the ceremony because they were so loud, you couldn't hear anyone talking!
Next, you need to think about the landscape of your backyard. One, literally the landscaping, do you need to plant some bushes or some flowers? Or anything to make it look pretty and wedding appropriate? Two, you will need lots and lots of flat walkable space to be able to have a reception. If you have a hillside that's a little bit steep, consider guests who are wearing heels. Would not be able to walk around without falling? If you decide to use a rental company for your tent, you'll need to talk to them in advance. In some instances, when using a tent on a private residence, the rental company may request to come on-site and take some measurements. That way, they can give you their best recommendations for the sizing of your tent and if it's even possible to set up. Keep in mind things, if it rains before your tent gets erected, the ground will be soggy and wet. These are all things you'll need to consider before you even plan your layout.
Let's have a chat about bugs! Many wedding venues charge what they charge because they maintain their property for ideal party conditions. This may include a monthly extermination plan that sprays the property routinely so their guests aren't attacked by mosquitoes, flies, and other pests. Consider either having cans of bug spray around at the bare minimum and some citronella candles as well. Reaching out to an extermination company and requesting them to come to spray your property beforehand can make a huge difference. That way, the bugs are nonexistent on the big day!
Something else that you need to think about is parking. Do you have enough parking? You need to expect at least one car for every couple. So if 200 people are coming to your wedding, you'll need parking for about a hundred vehicles. Don't necessarily just assume they can park in a field or wide-open area. Walk the field yourself and see if you have difficulties. For your guests to be able to get to and from that area, it will need to be an easy walk. Anyone wearing wedding attire should be able to navigate the trail quickly. You should consider hiring somebody to offer valet services! Make sure any valet services have enough space to fit all the cars coming. The last thing you want to do is line the streets with cars, and when the final guest arrives, they ended up parking six blocks away. Another option is shuttle companies that can have people shuttled in while they park off-site.
Now let's talk about your neighbors and if they will be upset with such a large gathering, especially if they are not invited. Neighbors are one of the number one things you need to worry about when you're having an event in your home. If you upset them, they might call the cops, and then the police can shut the whole thing down. Work with your neighbors beforehand and let them know your plans and listen to their feedback. Common complaints we see in both private weddings, as well as wedding venues that are also residences, are parking, traffic, trash, and noise. So consider all these factors when you're comparing having an event at your private location versus just renting a wedding venue.
Here are a few more tips about the noise. Noise is probably the number one complaint that we hear with private events. It would be your responsibility to look into any local ordinances that would limit noise past a particular hour. Some laws stipulate quite times beginning at 9 pm, other locations its 10 pm. It depends on the city or county that you're in and any HOA regulations. HOAs require all kinds of administrative stuff that you need to worry about if you are having a party and, more specifically, a wedding at your own home.
Things like insurance and liability need to be accounted for and, in most cases, purchased. Your residential insurance policy may not cover any damages or accidents that could occur. What is the liability associated with having an open bar and serving 50-150 people at your private residence? What if a guest drives home after one too many and gets into a car accident? The answer is, nothing good unless you have the proper coverage. Make sure that you cover all of your bases with your insurance agent. Be entirely upfront with them about what you're doing. You also might have to look into permits with either your city or your county offices. You might have to get permission from your HOA if you have one. Do all of these things first before you start planning, purchasing, putting deposits down, or sending out your invitations. Don't waste time planning a backyard wedding just to find out that it's impossible and you're not allowed to do it.
Finally, the last thing you're going to have to do is clean your house :) You've got a hundred guests coming over, and they're ready to make some memories!
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