A backyard wedding can be a lovely, intimate affair or an extravagant bash, depending on the size of your yard and your pocketbook. Hosting your wedding celebration at home can be an appealing option. One advantage is that your wedding date will not be dictated by the availability of a venue. Also, renting venues for the ceremony and reception often consume as much as one third of the total wedding budget. Investing those funds into home improvement instead makes good financial sense. There are special challenges to consider when planning a backyard wedding, so here are ten steps to ensure that yours is memorable for all the right reasons:
1. Make Room
The first step is to review your guest list and determine how much space you’ll need to comfortably accommodate everyone. If your yard is modest in size, you may need to limit the number of invited guests. If you plan on hiring caterers, be sure to anticipate the number of staff as well.
2. Expect The Unexpected
Unless you can easily move the party inside, it’s wise to plan for inclement weather by erecting a canopy or tent. Push pole tents, frame tents and tension tents take up varying amounts of room, so be sure to take careful measurements before committing to one type or another.
3. Choose A Theme
Choosing a theme for your at-home wedding will answer a lot of questions. Ideas will suggest themselves for everything from decor to food to wedding favors. When choosing your color scheme, build on what Mother Nature has provided. Shades of violet, blue, cream, pink or yellow are all gorgeous complements for an expanse of green lawn. Decorations can be made with sashes, ribbons and crepe paper. Scrapbooking paper is useful for adorning small items. Centerpieces generally consist of flowers, but for a fun alternative try over-sized glass bowls of luscious fruit.
4. Delegate The Important Tasks
Everybody wants to help, so give your friends and relatives an assignment. Doing so will free you up to take care of other critical and enjoyable details yourself. Good examples of tasks you can delegate are:
• Parking – Have a volunteer negotiate with a church or nearby retail store for use of their parking lot. A shuttle bus can be arranged to ferry guests to and from the lot, or you may wish to hire a valet parking service. If you plan on asking your guests to park on the street, be sure to notify the neighbors in advance. • Back-up power – Find a quiet generator that can be rented in case the power goes out during your festivities. • Portable restrooms – There should be one toilet for every 25 people, so do the math.
5. Plan Major Improvements And Purchases
Fill holes in the lawn and sow grass seeds over bare spots several weeks in advance. Keep the lawn neatly mowed on a regular basis leading up to the event. That will prevent piles of freshly mowed grass from clinging to your guests’ finery or your wedding gown. Do a bit of detective work before the big day to determine where water and mud puddles accumulate. Check to ensure that surfaces are flat enough to navigate in high heels. You may have a patio that needs refinishing, or a driveway that needs resurfacing. Remember the requirements of elderly guests, and ensure their comfort and safety.
Wedding receptions are perfect opportunities for friends and family to reconnect. Make sure your backyard is outfitted with comfortable seating to encourage conversation. Is there a place for hanging hammocks? A porch where you can place an old-fashioned swing? Maybe even a quiet nook that’s perfect for a loveseat or bench? Since you’re not just decorating for one day, you can invest in high quality furniture that lasts.
6. Grow Your Colors
Landscape your yard with flowering shrubs that echo your color scheme. Be sure that they flower continuously or that the blooms will coincide with your wedding date. The shrubs will continue to grow and provide years of enjoyment, blooming on your anniversary for years to come.
7. Set The Mood With Music And Lighting
Music will liven up your reception, whether it’s a string quartet, a live rock band, or a playlist that’s piped in through speakers hidden in the trees. For the traditional wedding march, perhaps a musical friend could provide that bit of melody on guitar, electric piano, or even accordion.
If your backyard wedding and reception extend into the night, lighting will be required. Strings of lights can be attached inside the tent. You may want to locate freestanding lights strategically at the edge of the yard to act as a decoy for moths. Solar powered lights can be placed near walkways for strolling after sunset.
8. To Rent Or To Buy
You’ll probably have to rent tables and chairs, but you may actually save money buying simple dishes, flatware and glassware at Ikea or a similar designer discount store. After your wedding, these items can become a tax-deductible donation to charity.
9. Don’t Let ‘em See You Sweat
The tent will keep you dry but you still need to maintain your cool. Elaborate misting systems are available that utilize flash evaporation technology to cool without drenching. Portable fans can be distributed to generate a heavenly breeze.
10. Document The Event
Consider hiring a professional photographer or videographer to circulate among your friends and family, capturing the fun. It’s also possible to position the photographer with a backdrop in a corner of the yard, so that guests can drop by to have their portraits taken. A rented photo booth will allow guests to create their own pictographic record. Or provide everyone with a disposable camera and encourage them to snap away, providing spontaneous witness to your at-home wedding.
Exchanging vows in the backyard of the home you will share as a newly married couple is a treasured experience you’ll remember for the rest of your lives.
About The Author
Jay Chua is an Internet Entrepreneur and publisher of PorchSwingSets.com, a site that features reviews of trendy hammocks and porch swings. Jay lives with his wife Deisy in Vancouver, Canada, where they indulge their passion for home and gardening, relaxing on outdoor porch swings or pawleys hammocks. Jay and Deisy also enjoy keeping up with the latest wedding design trends in the marketplace.