Choosing a wedding location is not an easy task. Multiple factors can affect and weigh in on your decision of where you want your special day to take place. A popular option for a wedding ceremony and reception may be right in your backyard — literally! Before covid-friendly “minimonies,” backyard weddings were still very viable and popular options for couples who wanted an intimate and even cost-efficient wedding. A backyard wedding can also give a couple more freedom from time and noise restrictions. Like any wedding, planning and hosting a backyard wedding requires strategy and time to plan. Just because you are using your backyard, you will not be free from some of the difficulties you may face throughout the process. But do not fret; hosting a backyard wedding isn’t impossible and can be very satisfying and rewarding. We’ve listed some essential tips that should be considered when hosting your backyard wedding and making your special day run smoothly.
Set the Mood
The ambiance is an integral part of any wedding because it helps set the mood — a distinctive mood that shows you and your fiance’s personality and allows guests to remember the night for years to come. As a couple, you should discuss whether you want a fun and playful mood with lawn games and exciting decorations or something more romantic and dreamy.
An easy way to set the mood for your wedding is by incorporating a lighting design. Depending on the time of day your ceremony is taking place, different types of lighting fixtures can be used to really enhance your ceremony. Entertainment Exchange offers various lighting packages that can brighten your ceremony for easy visibility and create a romantic mood.
Another part of setting the mood for your ceremony involves informing your guests. Whether you are having a backyard luau-themed wedding or an elegant outdoor experience, your wedding invitations and dress code for guests should reflect your choice of theme. The people you invite to your wedding are not only there as guests, but they are part of the ambiance as well. When you look back at videos and photos of your special day, the guests captured in those memories should reflect the mood of your ceremony.
The time of day you choose to have your ceremony is another factor in effectively setting the mood. A daytime wedding allows the opportunity for the sun to beam and give your wedding a bright and fun setting. Depending on the season and time of day, the sunset could also offer a beautiful background to your ceremony. In contrast, an evening wedding provides a more mature setting and opens up the proper lighting and night sky to set a romantic mood.
Plan for Changes in the Weather
Outdoor weddings can be extraordinary and offer a beautiful environment to an already special day; however, no one can predict or accurately plan for mother nature changes and all she has to offer. With this in mind, it is imperative to consider the weather during that time of year. Consider things like pollen and allergies during the spring or extreme heat in the middle of the summer months. And, of course, the worst one of all — thunderstorms during your region’s rainy season.
On a positive note, just because the weather is often unpredictable, an outdoor wedding is still possible. Having tents, awnings, or outdoor coverings will provide a backup plan if you experience unpleasant weather. Having a plan B can reduce stress and anxiety on your big day. Having flexibility in your wedding schedule is a good option too. You wouldn’t want to change your entire day and plan if the lousy weather eventually passes. Often, especially in the summer, rain and thunderstorms only last for a short period. If the weather forecast for the day is calling for off-and-on rain or a chance of scattered showers, having a flexible wedding schedule that could allow your ceremony to start later can give you the option to wait out any inclement weather that may occur.
Making clothing and flexibility recommendations to your guests based on the time of year your wedding takes place is something to take into consideration as well. You can suggest that guests bring a fan for summer weddings or a shawl/light jacket for cooler weather during a fall or early spring wedding.
Contrary to popular belief, outdoor winter weddings are also a huge trend and are very feasible. Outdoor winter weddings bring a romantic fairytale theme to weddings. If you are concerned about guests being cold or uncomfortable, heating lamps under tents work well, and many rental companies (like us) offer heated tent options. You can also do a “mix-match” and host the wedding ceremony outdoors and the reception indoors to achieve the same wedding wonderland feel. t Entertainment Exchange offers rental services that can help you find the right brand and amount of heating fixtures to ensure you and your guests are warm and comfortable during your ceremony.
Set the Stage
Setting the stage, both literally and figuratively, really takes your wedding to the next level. The decor is one of, if not the top, ways to set the stage for your wedding ceremony and reception. Backyard weddings create endless possibilities when it comes to creativity in your decor. You can add personal touches and utilize the nature that surrounds you. Think about the cute altarpieces or centerpieces you can create by using flowers and greenery from your backyard.
Setting the stage doesn’t just apply to the wedding ceremony, but your reception as well. After you and your loved one have exchanged your rings and your “I do’s, the reception should elevate the energy of the ceremony. If your wedding has a specific theme, having food and entertainment representing that theme adds to the overall ambiance. If you book a live cover band or DJ to provide musical entertainment, they should provide music that has your guests on the dance floor all night long. A spacious dance floor and the right lighting will give guests the proper setting to do so, and they will dance the night away.
Hire Rental Companies
Backyard weddings are lavish for several reasons, and one of them is the potential for cost savings. Your venue is already paid for (if you paid your rent or mortgage) so not having to worry about venue costs is a plus. On the other hand, you miss out on the amenities that venues usually include, extra or event indoor restrooms, tables, chairs, and silverware. With this in mind, utilizing rentals is an option that all backyard wedding hosts should consider. Choosing to source pieces or buy rentals through a company relieves the stress of you having to find and transport the items since most companies will bring the items to you and set them up. Rental options do not stop at furniture and decor. If you want it, you can most likely rent it. Heating lamps, lighting fixtures, tents, cooling fans, and fountains are just a few of the options.
Fun rental options are available for weddings as well, especially for outdoor/backyard ceremonies. Renting photo booths, selfie stations with picture props, and cartoon artists are some ways that your wedding can stand apart from others and give you and your guest tangible memories to commemorate the occasion.
Get Your Backyard in Shape
Transforming your backyard into the wedding venue of your dreams will take a lot of preparation. No matter how well you maintain your yard year-round, there will undoubtedly be adjustments that must be made to produce the ceremony of your dreams. Tackling yard preparations months in advance allows you time to do any landscaping, weeding, or flower planting needed for your wedding. Hiring a landscaping company can help to ensure that your yard is pristine and ready for your ceremony.
The sooner you decide how you want your backyard wedding to be decorated and choose entertainment and food options, the sooner you can begin to get your yard in shape. For instance, your wedding ceremony may require you to build a flat and level path leading to the altar or to install a dance floor. Knowing these things early on gives you and your landscaper ample time to make the necessary adjustments to your yard to accommodate such features.
Getting your yard in shape for your wedding also includes planning the arrangement of some structures. If you opt into renting certain fixtures like a fountain, heating lamps, or cooling lamps, knowing where they can and should be placed within your yard is integral. Fixtures like these may need to be put away from other items, or you may need a power source for them to operate thoroughly. For instance, heating lamps should not be placed near flammable objects, so you should arrange these items and be inclusive of these types of restrictions in mind.
Plan for Restrooms and Parking
Guests need to have an enjoyable and well-thought-out map and flow during your wedding. Some amenities must be in place, so guests don’t have confusion, have to ask you questions during your special time, or worse, make their own decisions on your property. Having a clear plan and system for parking and bathroom usage is vital — do you really want guests to decide to park somewhere they shouldn’t or randomly walk through your home because there is no clear indicator of where they should actually go to freshen up?
Let’s start with restrooms. Unless your guest list is minimal and intimate, you should look into rental bathrooms to avoid too much traffic going in and out of your house by guests constantly using your personal bathrooms. Luckily, Port-o-Potties aren’t your only option for outdoor bathrooms. Toilet Trailers are great alternatives! These trailers give users a more luxurious feel, and depending on the rental company, the trailers can have 2 or 3 restrooms in one. Some come with air conditioning and heating and other great amenities that would otherwise not be provided through traditional outdoor bathroom facilities.
Next up is parking! Coordinating with your neighbors about parking should be taken care of early on in the planning process. At the very least, letting your neighbors know that there may be traffic and additional parked cars in the area on your day is courteous and considerate. If you have a great relationship with your neighbors, you can also ask them if you can use the area in front of their houses for parking to help give you more parking options. Consider inviting them as guests during the reception or sending them a piece of wedding cake as a kind gesture or “Thank You” as well. This takes us to other thoughts about your neighbors as well.
Communicate With Your Neighbors
Informing neighbors of your upcoming ceremony well in advance is not only considerate but can also be helpful to you. Alerting your neighbors gives them a heads up for the possible increase in noise and an increase in traffic in the neighborhood and gives them time to prepare.
Some neighbors may keep in mind that your house will have a lot of noise and commotion coming from it and choose to stay home and carry on with their plans, or some neighbors may decide to make sure they are out of the house that day and avoid being bothered or annoyed and staying out of the way. Small intimate weddings with a limited amount of guests shouldn’t cause too many problems or disturbances. Still, weddings with a larger guest list (typically over 50) can definitely cause problems and should be communicated with neighbors sooner rather than later.
Consulting with your Home Owners Association should be done as soon as you’ve decided to have a backyard wedding. Opening up this line of communication with your HOA in the early stages of planning prevents breaking any rules or ordinances that could result in paying a fine. Referring back to your homeowner’s insurance policy or buying a Special Events Insurance Policy should be considered when having a backyard wedding. No one ever wants anything to go wrong at their wedding, especially if the wedding is in their backyard, but there are certain things we have no control over. If something does go wrong, having insurance and knowing what is covered in your policy can help cover the costs of any damages. In these instances, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Get a Generator
Between lighting, food prep equipment, sound system, and entertainment, your backyard will be using a lot of electricity. The last thing you want on your big day is to blow a fuse and cause a power outage during your ceremony or blackout the entire neighborhood. A generator is your best option to avoid a mishap like this from happening.
Consult with your food provider (caterers, food trucks, etc.), entertainment, and lighting providers to gain insight on the best type of generator to rent that can best accommodate their equipment.
Food Vendor Fun
Food is a key element within your wedding, and with your wedding being outside in what could be a casual setting, you can open the door for food options. First, make sure your menu aligns with the theme or mood for your wedding. If you have a more informal wedding or decide to be more casual later in the evening, serving BBQ is a forever fan favorite and easy choice, especially in the summer. The catering company can bring smokers and grills and host a traditional BBQ menu with chicken, hamburgers, ribs, potato salad, and coleslaw. You can offer vegan alternatives and serve additional vegetables, which, when all put together, can give your wedding reception a backyard cookout feel.
Food trucks are also an excellent option for backyard weddings. Find a food truck with a decent variety of menu options to ensure you accommodate all of your guests’ dietary needs. Another added benefit to hiring food trucks is that all the necessary equipment needed to prepare the food is on the truck, so you do not have to worry about setting up an area for food prep.
Classic catering is still a great option for backyard weddings as well. Creating a menu with a caterer that aligns with your wedding theme can help ensure that you are still giving your guests an elegant experience, even in your backyard.
Get Outside Help
No one can plan any wedding by themselves; Wedding planners are a great option to consider helping you plan your ceremony if your budget allows you to do so. The benefit of hiring a professional is having a subject matter expert hold your hand throughout the process; however, you should always do your own research. Having some form of knowledge will give you a sense of how your vendors should be helping you and if they’re doing their job correctly. It would be best to understand whether they are offering you the best pricing option and best quality product. Ask for recommendations and read online reviews of the wedding planners, entertainment companies, and additional vendors you consider. If a wedding planner is outside of your budget, successfully planning your ceremony is not impossible. Again, doing your research early on can help remove some of the stress that comes with planning a backyard wedding. Either way, your wedding will be a special day you can cherish for years to come, and if you ever desire to revisit that special day, the view is right in your backyard — literally!
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