Updated: Feb 11
With current COVID-19 restrictions, backyard weddings are gaining popularity. Whether it’s micro-wedding, elopement or dinner with 100 of your nearest and dearest, there are some key elements when it comes to planning your backyard wedding. Not sure where to start? Keep reading!
Understand your budget will not change dramatically
The first thing that needs to be understood is that “backyard” and “cheap” are not synonymous. You are still planning a wedding and that will always incur a significant cost. That isn’t to say the cost of a backyard wedding is the same or more than a wedding at a venue with a sit-down dinner, but everything depends on the scale and your intended number of guests.
When planning a backyard wedding, the only cost you really cut out is the venue; everything else must still be accounted and paid for. Your budget should reflect this; your photographer, coordinator, caterer and DJ will still cost the same regardless of the venue. Depending on the vendor, some may even charge more to accommodate their requirements. For example, a caterer may charge more for a backyard wedding as they need to provide all their own cooking and serving equipment when a venue would usually provide this.
You can always spend more or less on your wedding so prioritise the important things, like photography or rings, and see what’s left to spend on extras, like large flower arrangements and photobooths.
Check the guests to backyard space ratio
If your backyard is only 4mx30m, you’re not going to fit 50-100 people standing, let alone seated to eat. If your backyard is too small, consider cutting your guest list down or finding a larger backyard.
If you’re not worried about it being your own backyard, there are many DIY venues around that offer the atmosphere of a backyard wedding with ample space, such as Alsace Polo in Veresdale Scrub.
Choose vendors that reflect your atmosphere
If you’re planning a backyard wedding, the mood and atmosphere of the event is ordinarily quite rustic and casual. When this is the case, your vendors should be chosen to match. Hiring a DJ to pump 80s dance rock or a string quartet to play classical music isn’t necessarily going to suit as well as an acoustic guitar and singer would. Wearing full glam makeup is likely to clash with the casual atmosphere of the evening, whereas a soft, natural look will flow. Three courses of a sit-down dinner might be a bit much, but a family-style dinner or buffet would suit nicely. In saying that, it’s ultimately your day; you do you and choose what makes you happy.
Be prepared with drinks
Drinks are often a thought that can be lost along the way when planning a DIY backyard wedding. Remember to account for several things:
Child-friendly drink options
Someone to serve the alcohol
It is a legal requirement to have someone who holds an RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) certification present to serve and manage the alcohol when not serving individual beers or ciders. Consider hiring a mobile bar, like Maddison Lane, to accommodate the serving and care of your drinks. Plus, it’s a great visual element!
Consider toilet numbers
The number of toilets you’ll need for your event is entirely dependent on the number of guests that will be present. If your house has two toilets available for 50 people, you may need to consider hiring some portable toilets. In saying that, I suggest choosing one or the other; either allow guests to use your personal toilets or hire portable toilets and restrict house access. A guest is less likely to use a portable toilet if a regular toilet is available, and will often choose to wait and line up than using the portable option. You can choose to open your home and have an added portable toilet available if needed but be prepared for it to see minimal use. There are luxury portable toilets available for hire if you prefer something that feels more refined.
Have you got the power?
Pun intended. Do you have enough lighting and power available to light up your night? This is something you can choose to organise and facilitate yourself or speak to your furniture hire vendor about light installation options. Remember, they need to be weather-friendly and suitable for the outdoors. Not all lighting options are, so be sure to mention this or check the packaging on any lights you purchase.
Depending on the size of your street and the size of your backyard, there may be ample room available for your guests to park. If not, warn guests ahead of time that they may need to park further down the road and walk. You might also wish to consider having your guests meet at a central location and hiring a bus or van to ferry them to the wedding and back again.
Inform your neighbours and check local permits
A month or so ahead of your wedding, speak to your neighbours - both next to, behind and in front - and let them know you are hosting your wedding in your backyard and will have a number of guests attending. Include what time you expect to finish for the evening and when you will be turning the music off. Also, ensure you speak to your local authorities about any permits you may need for the music and for your number of guests. Speaking to police ahead of time will also assist if anyone does complain about the music volume or number of cars parked in the street.
Have a Plan B ready
Weather is unpredictable and often likes to show up when you least expect it to. Rather than be caught unawares, be ready with Plan B. Is your house large? Move the party inside. If not, hire a marquee or large tent to either have on standby or set-up ready to go. Whatever your decision, the final one must be made in the morning and not one or two hours before the ceremony begins.
Be prepared for clean-up
Clean-up is my least favourite part of any event, and a backyard wedding ends with a big one. Speak to guests, friends or family ahead of time and plan how clean-up will be taken care of. Will you, as the bride and groom, leave and allow your family to take care of the cleaning? Will you throw out any trash and hire cleaners to come in the morning for the rest? Will you ask guests to throw out their trash as they leave to assist with the final cleaning? Think ahead and have a plan ready for ease of execution and less stress.
Once you have all these things figured out, you’re ready to choose a date, book in your vendors and get married! You've got this!
Until next time, keep making your special moments unforgettable xx
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