How to Throw the Perfect Backyard Wedding

List: Posted: 08/31/11

There is something wonderful to be said about having a wedding at home: you will be spending the typically nerve-wracking day at the most comfortable place you know, you will have much more control over your surroundings in regard to decor and general ambiance, and you can save money using your own home as your wedding and reception venue (although not always, which will be discussed later).

 

Here are a few important considerations to think about if you're thinking about having a wedding at home...

 

The Space

 

This is the single most important factor to consider. Does your home/backyard have suitable space for all of your guests?  If the answer is no, you can either change the location of your wedding, or trim down the guest list.

 

Hire Professional Help

 

A professional wedding coordinator can help determine what you can and cannot do with your property in terms of space, zoning clearances, alcohol permits, etc.  A wedding coordinator can also help hire all of the professionals who will make your wedding day come alive: designers/decorators, florists, cooking and/or catering crew, servers, valet parkers (depending on how many guests are invited), musicians, maid services for cleaning before and after the wedding, and landscapers.

 

A professional landscaper needs to be hired early in the process if you are planning to seed and replant your grounds for your special day.  Also, if there are specific flowers you want to have in bloom, you need to find out the appropriate planting months for your wedding day garden.  An experienced landscaper will know these things, although if you have a green thumb, you can do this yourself and save money.

 

Make Sure the Proceedings are Legal

 

Although this is unlikely, you need to make sure that the officiant who is conducting your wedding (priest, pastor, etc.) is licensed to perform the ceremony outside of their designated place of worship, or your union won't be recognized by the church, or the law.

 

Also, from city permits to fire department laws, make sure your wedding is safe and law-abiding.  Fireworks are usually not a good idea.  You don't want cops crashing your wedding!  Your wedding coordinator can help you by hiring an electrician to check all of your circuits and breakers, and finding out about local noise ordinance laws and parking restrictions. 

 

Find out what your homeowner's insurance covers.  You may also want to consider getting a supplemental policy for third-party liability (just in case someone slips on the dance floor).

 

Money is Needed for Renting

 

Here is where having a wedding at home is not necessarily a foolproof way to save money.  If you are inviting more guests than can fit at the dining room table (which is likely), you will need to rent chairs, tables, dinnerware, table linens and settings, barware, sound equipment, carpeting, tents, and maybe portable bathrooms! 

 

In addition, you will likely need to rent a generator to light the reception area, power outdoor air conditioners and heat lamps, or run the catering area, if the size of your kitchen won't accommodate.

 

Have a Backup Plan

 

When all of the planning is done, a backyard wedding is really at the mercy of one unpredictable thing: the weather.  Always make sure tents are on hand for rain (even if you don't want to use them at the actual ceremony), and that shade and hand fans are available in the event of extreme heat.  

 

If you live in an area where extreme weather is likely, try to arrange a backup location for your wedding.  This can include a church or banquet hall.  You can include an alternate location/directions in the wedding invitations.

 

Having a backyard wedding at home is an amazing experience you and your guests will always remember.  With the right people and resources to help, your walk down the grassy aisle of your own home will be a magical one.

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