Pull Off the Perfect Backyard Wedding
Some couples dream of an elaborate wedding ceremony at a luxury chateau in France, while others picture white sand, blue waters, and a reception under the tropical sun. For some couples, however, a small, simple ceremony close to home is the perfect day. Rather than settling for “close to home”, why not consider actually marrying at home? For couples with enough space, having an intimate backyard wedding can be ideal. As a wedding planner, you should be able to plan the perfect backyard wedding for clients who’d like to keep things familiar.
Why should you consider a backyard wedding?
Couples who decide to have a backyard wedding enjoy several perks that couples who get married elsewhere don’t necessarily experience.
1. Cost effective
Having the ceremony and reception in the clients’ backyard, or the yard of a family member, can cut costs. Rather than paying for an expensive venue, you’re using space and resources that you already have. Depending on the size of the yard and whether the clients are comfortable having guests go in and out of their home, you might also be able to save money on tents, bathroom facilities, and prep space for catering staff if the wedding is small.
2. More control
Planning a wedding in a space that is already owned by your clients or their family eliminates several third parties that might take planning control from you at other venues. You’ll be able to communicate and make decisions with the clients themselves about things like seating plans, décor, and event times without having to work within a venue’s restrictions.
Coordinating a wedding ceremony in the small, unique space of your clients’ backyard gives an air of familiarity and intimacy that no other venue could recreate. If the wedding party, guest list, and backyard space are small, you’ll have a personal event where everyone is sure to spend time together. Even if the space is large, backyards weddings still maintain intimate atmospheres because of their tie to the family and home.
Top 10 Backyard Wedding Tips
1. Use the memories
It’s a personal space, so keep it personal! Your clients’ backyard might be filled with memories from their relationship and the bride or groom’s childhood. Make these a part of the ceremony for a personal touch. Include family photos in the décor or take wedding portraits on the porch swing where the bride read books as a child.
2. Keep it casual
Of course, the mood of the wedding is up to your clients. If they’d like a formal atmosphere despite being at home, then that’s what you should give them. For the most part, however, the best décor for a backyard wedding is casual and familiar while still special. Include homey touches, like matching the color of the napkins to the roses that have grown in the garden since the groom was a boy. Include the favorite dishes and treats of each person who lived in the house on the menu to make dinner feel like a home cooked meal. Let casual touches keep things relaxed, since the event is family-oriented.
3. Evaluate your space
A free venue is great, but only if you have enough space to make it work! Visit the backyard early in your planning process to begin mapping the night out. You’ll need space for everyone during the ceremony, the meal, and the reception party. A small backyard can work, but you’ll be responsible for mapping out how things will change throughout the day to make each phase of the wedding work. Is there a porch or deck you can take advantage of? Are there trees you must consider during set up? Is the ground level enough to support tables? Make good use of your space.
4. Be prepared
Backyard weddings don’t have venue staff to help you if something goes wrong, so prepare for potential disasters beforehand. Will you need a power generator in case the house can’t support how many outlets you require? Are there permits you must get from the city to throw an outdoor party, particularly at night? Should you recommend that the clients purchase insurance to cover home damage, just in case? Take care of your clients’ home and property.
5. Keep everyone comfortable
Is there already enough seating space at your disposal, or should you rent more? Antique chairs found at local garage sales could be a nice touch if the wedding is in Grandma and Grandpa’s backyard. Even if your clients’ are comfortable with guests in the house, you want everyone to stay together in the main area. Make the backyard comfortable and accommodating so people choose to enjoy each other’s company outside.
6. Let there be light
Chances are good that the celebration will last until after sundown, but you don’t want your clients and their families in the dark. Rather than flicking on the old porch light, get creative. Consider homemade mason jar chandeliers to fit with the “home grown” backyard atmosphere, accompanied by small twinkly lights for a little extra brightness that won’t outshine the stars in the sky.
7. Make a game of it
Family gatherings often involve games and fun, and a wedding is no exception. After dinner when everyone is socializing, set up some card games or yard activities that both kids and adults can play. The beauty of a backyard wedding is that it can be as fun or as formal as you choose.
8. Entertainment is key
The standard “band or DJ” debate might not give you the best options for a small backyard wedding. Is there anywhere for them to play throughout the night? If your clients’ backyard is large, then you might get away with it (as long as you have the right permits and know when your cut off time is that night).
If the space is small, however, perhaps you’d be better letting the musicians in the family play an acoustic set before you start a playlist of everyone’s favorite songs, submitted by the guests in advance. Consider other entertainment than just music as well. Create a reel of funny family videos or a picture slideshow set to music.
9. Give people a sign
If you’re working with limited space, you’ll have to be as efficient as possible. Rather than jumbling the games, dessert table, and guestbook signing area all together, separate them and give each spot a cute DIY sign that fits the backyard aesthetic. Letting people know clearly where to find things will save them from wandering into the house or through the neighbors’ garden.
10. Respect the neighbors
You’re there to have a good time, but not at the expense of everyone on the block! Let the neighbors know a few weeks beforehand that you’re hosting the wedding in the backyard. As an advance thank you for their patience, bring a small gift to show your appreciation. You might consider inviting them to join the festivities once the reception party is underway. Your clients’ backyard is theirs to work with, but respect the people and homes around it.
Coordinating a backyard wedding is a great opportunity to for you to balance organization and creativity. Work closely with your clients to create a special but familiar experience that they and their guests will cherish for years to come.