If you find yourself planning a backyard wedding, whether it's Plan A or Plan B, you might think you can throw it together pretty easily. Backyard weddings can actually be some of the most complicated, because private properties aren't set up with the same infrastructure as a large scale, professional venue. There are several things to remember that you might not think of right away.
1. Don't forget bathrooms! Whether you're getting married in Grandma's garden or your parent's lakehouse, the bathroom situation is likely not equipped for more than a handful of people. Keep things...flowing...and consider renting porta-potties or luxury loos to accommodate your guests and keep the homeowners happy.
2. Light it up! Many people don't think about how dark backyard space can get once the sun goes down. Walking to the bathrooms or avoiding rocks/flower bed and ESPECIALLY waterfront areas can be difficult once it gets dark and there's a drink or two involved. Rent lighting or install small sidewalk lighting to keep things safe.
3. DIY doesn't mean you don't need professional vendors. Trust us, hiring a (good) professional is always going to be worth it. Private property means a LOT of extra factors to consider-- and no staff to manage it like at a professional venue. Make sure your wedding vendor team is equipped to handle catering needs, event flow and direction, sound and power capabilities and everything else.
4. Landscaping! Maybe your backyard collects extra water in one spot after a rainy day or that one tree is finally ready to be replanted. Maybe you need to finish putting in new grass or finally finish that backyard deck to make it guest ready. Make sure you take care of any landscaping and maintenance issues well before your wedding day.
5. Always have a backup plan. Unlike a professional venue, there's probably no indoor space to accommodate 100+ guests if it rains or weather gets bad. While you may not be inviting that many people, having 40 or 50 of your closest friends in your living room will still get snuggly! Have a tent on deposit or hold, or plan for another backup option. It's always a good idea, especially with unpredictable PNW weather!
6. Parking is scarce! Private homes usually mean private home parking. You'll probably need to shuttle guests in to keep your neighborhood, and lawn, happy.
7. There's no quit time. Depending on the type of private property (in town, around other homes, out in the country) you may have a noise ordinance to consider and obey, but even that doesn't necessarily mean the party will shut down. This might be a huge perk in your opinion, and part of the reason you want to get married in a backyard. That's great! It also means eventually you will get tired and want to go to bed, and if Uncle John is still partying hard, that may prove difficult. Your mom may also not be thrilled about your college buddies recreating their glory days on your back deck at 3 am.
8. Get a generator-- seriously. No exceptions. Private homes are not meant to accommodate the kind of power that lighting, a DJ, and other various professional vendors will need. Rent a generator and have it on hand. Trust us on this one. You don't want to blow a circuit on one of the biggest days of your life!
9. Insurance is important. A professional venue will be insured to keep you, your guests and your vendors safe. Secure event insurance just in case-- it's a small expenditure that you hopefully won't need, but will be really glad you have if you do end up needing it! WedSafe is a great option.
10. Enjoy it! Having a wedding on someone's private property can be stressful for them. Whether it's your parents, a great family friend or your own home, make sure this person fully understand's what you're asking of them and is okay with it before committing. Consider hiring a cleaning crew for the next morning as a 'thank you' for helping you save money and celebrate! Most of all, enjoy your big day in a place that has so much special meaning to you. You'll never forget it!