The DYI backyard wedding is one of the most sentimental and unique of all the locations
available to a bride. A private sanctuary of sorts, that place where you have experienced so many great moments in life, it is only fitting that you may wish to consider this option when planning for your new life together. That being said, if one aspect of your decision-making is that this would be a great way to save money, you might be in for a surprise.
If you are the type of person who loves surprises, who has a spirit for adventure, who can make
that glass of lemonade when life gives you the occasional lemon, then you are the perfect
candidate for a DYI backyard wedding. If not, stop right now and return to the outdoor venue
But how do you achieve hosting a backyard wedding all this while maintaining an acceptable
level of anxiety? Hire a Planner and have a capable caterer. On any wedding day, there are two
very important words that come into play, and that is “What If?” The "What If" question gets you
mentally prepared for as many of the different scenarios that may occur and how they would be
handled. The following are a few of the larger issues you will want to discuss.
An off-premise event (one held anywhere other than a hotel, special event venue or a restaurant)
should not be confused with an inexpensive event. Depending on your vision, it may not end up
costing more than a similar event held in a ballroom, but it will rarely cost less. Why? Because
all the things the facility has built into their pricing have to be considered and then arranged for
in your backyard. This is similar to going to a restaurant and ordering a' la carte. The final bill
usually ends up costing more, but you get exactly what you wanted – and that is what makes it so special.
While most backyard weddings do not have a space for Inclement weather and to ignore the
discussion would border on being negligent. A plan should be in place (and can be fine-tuned as
the event gets closer and weather reports become more accurate) where one phone call gets the
rental company started. But just as important as this “Plan B” is how you are going to react. Your
guests will feed off your emotions – if you can have a great time regardless, if you see this as
nothing more than an inconvenience, your guests will follow your lead and make sure you have a
great time. The unexpected cost of a tent can be staggering. So make sure that you have a tent
and it’s cost in the original budget.
While planning for the layout of your backyard event, the planner will suggest locations for cake
tables, bars, guest seating, coffee or food stations – whatever is desired, based on traffic flow,
wind and sun expectations, etc. All of this is happening months and weeks prior to your event.
An experienced planner will want to revisit the site often but especially during the week of the
event to assure that none of Mother Nature’s less popular friends have moved into your
neighborhood. If the cake table was to be located where a new colony of ants has moved in,
changes will need to be made. Look for signs of bee or wasp nests and remember that dog that
likes to bark three doors down, maybe we can write a nice letter to the home- owner asking for
assistance on your special day or better yet, invite them to the event. Also check for permitting
and noise ordinances. Some cities/counties have rules and regulations that control outside
recreational events. Even though you may be out in the country and it seems as if no one is
around or cares, It only takes one person to complain and ruin your wedding.
Arrange canopies and umbrellas where necessary and, if the food tables will be set on the
ground, not on a deck or a floored surface, consider spraying the table legs (and only the legs!)
with bug spray. At one recent event in a backyard that abutted a parkland area, a professional
team was needed to spray the periphery of the property. This, and citronella candles and tiki
torches, help keep the bugs in control for the day.
Creating movement or flow is always a consideration in a backyard event. The Planner will have
some tricks that can used to help solve this issue. Bars become strategic magnets that can easily
pull people from one area to another. Sometimes it is a good idea to have a bar set away from the main entrance then utilize beverage stations or servers with trays offering champagne or
specialty drinks as guests arrive. Obviously, the same is true of tray passed hors d’oeuvres or
food stations. Guests seem to follow the following rule — if there is a beverage, something to eat
or a view, they will find it. Your planner should use this to your advantage.
While guests enjoyed their feast, the cocktail area can be transformed to accommodate a
wonderful dessert display and get ready for the dancing and festivities that were planned to take
this party into the night. These types of logistics are the norm for backyard events. Making them
happen in a seamless and almost magical way is the sign of someone who is really good at
playing the “What If" game.
Choosing a backyard wedding is a wonderful option but one that should be entered into with
total understanding of what it will take. Risks exist at any event, regardless of the location.
Parking and traffic flow will need to be considerd. Most of the time, when guest arrive it is day
light. but when it is time for the guest to leave, it is dark and they may need lighting assistance.
However, if you have done your homework and hired the right team to assist in making your
dream become reality, the rewards will be great. An at-home wedding is special because it
reflects who you are. It is unique, and, if approached with the right attitude, a fantastic memory
awaits you at the end of the day.