- Speak to a Pro Wedding Consultant
- Closely inspect the space you are working with
- Secure Permits
- Consider Timings
- Source Vendors specifically for outdoor/backyard events
- DIY Where and When you can
- Don’t Forget Pro Photos
- Day-of Wedding Timeline
- Expect the Unexpected
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Backyard weddings are lovely—they are intimate and often have a relaxed and sentimental feel. Besides, they have a lot of pros, some cash savings, flexibility, and convenience. A backyard wedding is also a wise choice during the COVID-19 pandemic as you can easily scale down your guest list.
While there are plenty of advantages, planning a backyard wedding also has some cons, and like all special events, requires a lot of work and preparation. To help you start organizing your big day, we made a quick guide to help you plan your dream backyard wedding.
It is also good to mention that a backyard wedding isn’t as cheap as the “common” perception. As a matter of fact, it can add up quickly and end up being pricey. This will depend on a lot of factors. If you already have a finished backyard and is ready for gatherings, you will save some cash. But if it is not, then there will be many things to consider for it to be “event ready.” But not to worry, we will guide you through steps, and you can go over your options and what will work best for your circumstance.
We’ve rounded up these TOP 9 tips to help you plan a backyard wedding!
1. Speak to a Pro Wedding Consultant
Even if you are not planning on hiring a full wedding planner, speak to a wedding consultant to help you organize your thoughts and plans – according to your budget and vision. This can also help you with the execution moving forward. Speaking to a pro puts many things in perspective and gives you pro insights to help you move forward with your planning, ensuring you got the process working for you
Later on, as you start putting things together and think you will need more help, you can consider hiring a day-of coordinator.
PRO TIP: Create your own wedding email. Create an email account specifically for your wedding – “firstname.lastname@example.org” (this is just an example). This will help you put everything together in one place. Also, manage the calendar for bookings and deadlines. When you book appts on your wedding email calendar, simply invite your personal email so you can also see on your personal calendar! Having a separate personal/work and wedding email will make you more focused and organized!
The first major detail you have to settle when planning a backyard wedding is the space or area you are working with.
MEASURE – Does your backyard have enough area to hold your guests and have separate zones for the ceremony and reception? Will your space allow for a sit-down dinner, or is it better to have a cocktail wedding? What are the areas that need to be cleared? Are you considering hiring a landscaper to prepare your lawn? or have a company lay down a temporary flooring if needed.
FLOORING — Depending on your theme, it might be helpful to have flooring to ensure guests can walk easily. There are rental floorings that usually come along with tent rentals, which speaking of, tenting should also be considered. More about tents discussed later on.
PREP AREAS – Besides the space for the main event, you also need to allot a section for your vendors to set-up, such as a food prep area.
POWER – As you need more power supply for your event (lights, sound system, etc.), you may need to rent a generator to carry the extra electricity load you will need. SIDE NOTE: If you are doing a fall wedding in your backyard, you will need outdoor heaters, and you will definitely need specific power requirements for that!
WASHROOM/S – Do you have enough facilities to keep your guests comfortable? Check if there is a need to rent portable potties (there are upscale ones) or if your guest room is nearby; you can also use that. You can add personal touches to the comfort rooms, such as placing breath mints, sanitizers, or proper hand-washing reminders (very timely!).
WASHROOM TIPS: get automatic sanitizer misters that spray the space/washroom. Also, stock a lot of disinfectants and sanitizers. A working sink is essential as hand washing is still the best defense from viruses!
3. Secure Permits
Before you set anything in stone and make deposits for suppliers, make sure that you have the required permits in order. There may be prior inspections (e.g., fire safety, electrical, etc.) needed and health protocols to meet before throwing a celebration in your backyard.
It is also a good idea to notify your neighbors about planning a backyard wedding well in advance.
Remember that you might want to consider having coverage, like wedding/event insurance, to give you extra peace of mind if you are serving alcohol.
4. Consider Timings
Speaking of neighbors, the timeline of your backyard wedding is also something to plan for. You don’t want to be a nuisance to the people next door because your party lasted up to the wee hours.
Also, since you’ll be outdoors, getting the best lighting (photographers call this “the magic hour”) during the most important part of your event is key to getting beautiful photos, so timing is something you need to consider.
5. Source Vendors
Besides hiring the essentials for a wedding (caterer, photographer, etc.), also make a list of other rentals that you may need for your backyard wedding, such as:
Ceremony/Reception Chairs + Linens
Decor (of course, we want to add gorgeous elements to really bring the event to life, here are some design guides that can help you)
Pool Decor (if you have a pool, it will be great to add some decor details like some floaties)
Photographer (we always say a great photographer is worth the investment!)
Bar Service (this does not have to be very elaborate, check out our easy sangria bar post!)
Cake + Desserts (these things can be as simple as a small one tiered cake or brownies for dessert! remember presentation is everything and will change the game!)
Ceremony/Reception décor (planning a backyard wedding and working with a space that is not a banquet will require other decor elements that a typical banquet hall calls for.)
Lights and sounds (lighting at night is definitely a must! you can strategically have string lights hanging, that will double as decor!)
Outdoor Heater (as necessary, it does get breezy around night time)
Pest Control (this can come in different forms, whether bug repellants or putting up citronella candles around the tables/area that also doubles as decor!)
Dance floor (if you are having a micro or intimate event, this might not even be necessary since you can dance anywhere around your group)
DJ + Entertainment (we need to make it a fun party!)
Tent (always a great idea to have, even if the weather says it will be a nice, cool and dry day, there still is no guarantee. Having a tent just makes it easier altogether to ensure that your guests are “protected.”)
Portable restroom (there is a nicer portable restroom option that you can rent, not the usual ones you see on construction sites, there are actually upscale). Don’t forget to add sanitizing stations!
Electricians + Generators (as necessary, consult your local electrician when planning to plugin. Ensure to have all the vendors who will plug in accounted for, for example, if you are hiring a small piece band that might need speakers, or if you are looking for outdoor lighting that might need more power than usual.)
Signs. Consider having proper signage as to how your guests can find something and know what is currently happening. i.e., washroom, program, etc.
Photo booth (something extra fun)
Parking. Check on where your guests can park. Or other car-pooling options that you can suggest.
Garbage. Prepare to have a lot of garbage. Dedicate space or classy and elegant disposal bins. Or you can also hire help to get you organized with this.
6. DIY Where and When you can
Since this is in your backyard, you will most likely do not want people in and out. DIY where you can PRE-wedding. On the day of, hire help to finish the execution. Make sure they can easily go through the backyard instead of inside the house.
Remember that even if you have done an amazing job planning a backyard wedding, you will still need help on the execution, to which we advise to hire staff to handle the rest on your wedding day.
7. Don’t Forget Pro Photos
Even if you are DIY-ing an event, we always suggest hiring a professional photographer. Any professional photographer will make any event look like a million dollars and will leave you with amazing memories through phenomenal photos. Don’t underestimate how a great photographer can help preserve memories of your wedding! This is definitely worth investing in!
8. Day-of Wedding Timeline
Creating a day-of timeline is necessary. It helps the day have a better flow. Most events (especially weddings!) have a lot of moving parts. Giving yourself, vendors, and team a schedule/time frame to work with will make them independent and not always go to you for questions.
9. Expect the Unexpected
As with any other event, you must have a back-up plan, especially because your big day will be outdoors, and the weather could be unpredictable. It would be wise to prepare a covered area, like a tent, or inside your home in case of bad weather.
If you opt-out of hiring a wedding planner or coordinator but need a server, set-up help, and/or bartender, there are staffing companies like Staff Shop, where you can hire help directly and not worry about other things needed to be executed on the day of the event.
Also, POST WEDDING, consider hiring professional cleaners (and disinfecting!) to ensure your space is clean after the gathering!
SAFETY PROTOCOL EXTRA TIP: Together with having your guests and yourself wear a mask and practice social distancing, you can also rent stanchions together with signs to ensure physical distancing is practiced. To take things further for extra safety, you can also rent clear dividers (you can also decorate it!) to put in between tables. Another option is to provide clear face shields that they can still wear, should they need to take the mask off to eat and/or drink. Adding extra preventative measures is always a good idea.
Check with your local government and public health officials about any guidelines, protocols, policies, and/or regulations that you need to meet if you will be holding an event.
DISCLAIMER: We’ve rounded up suggestions that are pandemic friendly. However, please note that it is still your responsibility to practice safety protocols, Covid-19 event guidelines, and constant hygiene, and if need be, consult your local public health professional and abide by your government mandates. We do not guarantee that your event will be 100% safe, as all safety practices are ultimately up to you and your guests.
There you are! Tips on How to: Plan a Backyard Wedding!