photo of a wedding altar outside looking over the ocean

How to plan a backyard wedding

Turning Points 3 min read

If you’re anything like most couples, wedding planning begins right after the proposal. Choosing a location is typically the first major decision in planning your wedding that you’ll be making with your partner. Maybe you’ve researched several venues already, or perhaps you want something less extravagant and more intimate.

A simple backyard wedding, either in your own backyard or that of a friend or family member, can be an excellent option that can help you save big. Venue rental can be one of your largest expenses, and it can also pose a risk to your special day if the venue goes bankrupt or overbooks. A backyard wedding can also let you add more personal touches, like including your pet in your wedding day. I got married at my aunt and uncle’s estate in Pasadena, California. For both sentimental and cost reasons, it’s a decision I’m still happy we chose.

Before you settle on having an outdoor wedding, you’ll have to consider some of the logistics that come with the setting, like dealing with noise and parking. Here are six tips on how to have a backyard wedding

Backyard wedding checklist

1. Secure event rentals

If you have more than 10 or 12 guests at your backyard wedding and don’t already have chairs, tables, linens, plates, flatware, stemware, a tent, etc., to accommodate your guest count, you’ll need to rent those necessary supplies. There are all kinds of rental companies around the world, so you should be able to find what you need with a simple online search for wedding rentals in your area.

2. Plan out parking

This is an item people often forget to consider with backyard weddings. Is there enough parking for your guests? If you’re thinking about utilizing street parking, be sure to check with neighbors to see if they’re okay with giving up their street parking for a day. Most of the time, neighbors will be more than happy to help if you check with them ahead of time. If it turns out there’s not enough parking, consider having guests park in a public lot and shuttle them in.

3. Have enough facilities

Do you have enough bathrooms available for guests? Typically, recommendations are one toilet per 10 guests. So, if you have 40 guests coming to your backyard wedding reception, you should have four toilets available. We had 80 guests at our backyard wedding, so we allocated four bathrooms inside the house and rented four additional portable toilets outside.

4. Check noise restrictions

For me, this was the most difficult obstacle to tackle for my backyard wedding. I wanted our wedding party to last into the wee hours of the night. Unfortunately, and quite understandably, the neighborhood did not agree with my idea.

In the end, I decided that having our wedding in my family’s backyard was more important than having a late-night affair. We continued the party at the hotel where most guests were staying and didn’t upset any neighbors. Be sure to research and comply with the noise restrictions in your chosen wedding location because it’s usually 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. when the dance party must stop.

5. Evaluate electricity needs

Will you need any generators? It’s important to evaluate your electricity needs. We held our reception on the tennis court, far enough away from the main house that we had to bring in a couple of generators to “power up” the tent. You’ll also need to consider how you’ll power lighting, your DJ, and any slideshows you may want to show during the ceremony and reception.

6. Be prepared for anything

One item I didn’t contemplate before my wedding was event insurance. Some organizations or corporations, such as the city, may require you to have event insurance before they provide you a permit, if they require one. Some event companies will even require proof of insurance before they will work with you. Despite all the requirements, purchasing event insurance will give you the extra peace of mind you need on such a big day.

While this is not an exhaustive list, keeping these six important items in mind can help you decide if planning a backyard wedding is right for you. Once you’ve decided, you can move on to planning the rest of your wedding details to make sure your special day is perfect.

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