Thinking of hosting your wedding at your home? In order to pull off a backyard wedding, you’ll need to ensure that your house and yard can withstand a crowd. From coordinating the parking to making sure there are enough bathroom facilities, backyard weddings require lots of logistics that need to be figured out well in advance. Make sure you have the following areas covered to guarantee that your nuptials will unfold without a hitch.
While hosting a wedding in your backyard might save you thousands in venue costs, the other expenses can add up quick. Before you begin planning your backyard wedding, take a realistic look at your budget and make sure you have enough to cover the necessities (food, drinks, music and bathroom rentals) before you start looking to the extras. If you get in over your head, try saving costs in other ways. Buy wedding bands made from an alternative metal in lieu of more expensive gold or diamond versions, wear a thrifted wedding dress, or DIY all of your flowers and décor.
Ahead of time, let your guests know where they should park for the big event, as you don’t want to inconvenience neighbors by snagging their street parking. Let guests know what streets they can park on, or have them leave their cars at a nearby lot during a business’ after hours. Just be sure to ask for the business’s permission ahead of time. Got a lot of land to spare? Have guests park on an adjacent lawn.
If you have one or two bathrooms in your house, that may not be enough to accommodate your guests. Excessive use can wreak havoc on your sewer line or septic tank. Consider renting a luxury portable bathroom trailer instead. These can be hauled in and dropped off on your property. Keep in mind that bathroom trailers typically need to be hooked up to a power source and a water hose to function. Alternatively, you can rent luxury port-o-johns also to keep guests from roaming throughout your house.
If you’re planning on getting ready at your home, make sure you everything you need at hand, from your wedding rings to your gown, so that you don’t have to make any last-minute errands. Designate a specific room for wedding prep, and clear out a space for the hair stylist or makeup artist if you hired one. Make sure the space you choose is out of the sightlines of the backyard—you don’t want your soon-to-be-spouse or your guests to spot you from a window!
Food and Beverages
If you hired a caterer, they will need to use your kitchen as an area for food prep and warming. Assign them a designated space outside or elsewhere in your home for serving hors d’oeuvres and dinner. Make sure the bar area is easily accessible and that several bartenders are pouring drinks so that guests aren’t inconvenienced. If you live in a state like Virginia where alcohol sales are government-controlled, be sure to register for an ABC license so you can legally toast to your new chapter together.
Weddings are a big investment, and if you are having the celebration at your home, you should be insured for any damage that may happen to your house or yard. This one-day special event insurance covers property damage and injuries that may occur on the big day — if your landscaping is trampled or a guest trips and sprains an ankle. In the unlikely event that something goes wrong, look for a policy that also covers event cancellation as well, including coverage for your deposits on things like rings, flowers and wedding cake.
Ceremony and Reception Setup
If you have plenty of space in your yard, create designed areas for the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception and dancing. Hire a rental company to bring in everything from the tables and chairs to the lighting. If you are worried about inclement weather, hire a tent company to set up a tent.
If you’re tight on space, you’ll have to flip the ceremony setup and transform it into the reception area. After your “I dos,” host a cocktail hour inside your home or in another area of your yard as the catering team or a group of friends removes the ceremony chairs and sets up dinner tables.
Lighting and Electrical
For wedding celebrations that are taking place in the evening, make sure there is plenty of lighting. String bistro lights up in the trees, adorn tables with hurricane vases and candles, and stake tiki torches throughout the yard. Be wary of electrical cords running through your yard though, as you don’t want to create tripping hazards. If you’re planning on including a bonfire, fireworks or other open flames, check with your town hall first to see if you need a permit —a nd keep a fire hydrant handy, just in case.
Last but not least, be mindful of your neighbors. Give them a heads-up about your big event and let them know what they can expect. Will there be loud music from a band? Will vendors be using the alleyway? Will guests be parking on the street? Pass along your wedding coordinator’s phone number so they can get in touch with you directly if the celebration becomes disruptive. You don’t want the police to issue a noise violation on your wedding night! If you’re planning on keeping the party going into the wee hours, consider having an after-party at a nearby bar, where you all can celebrate without inhibitions.