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Secrets of a Backyard Wedding Bride!

June 15, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Are you thinking about having a backyard wedding, or do you know someone who is?  My husband, Andrew, and I had a backyard wedding at our home in October 2015.  In this post you'll find the nitty gritty details and all the work it took to make that happen.  A beautiful backyard wedding can be done, but below are some important things to keep in mind when considering or planning a backyard wedding...

  • Cost

A backyard wedding, when properly hosted, probably won't end up being much less expensive than having a wedding at a typical venue.  Many people think having a backyard wedding is automatically a good way to cut costs, but that's not necessarily the case.  By the time you "build" your venue (in your backyard) and rent or buy all essentials for hosting guests, the cost is often around the same amount, if not more, than what it would have cost at a "normal" venue (I'll break down the final cost of our wedding later in this post).

  • Creating "The Venue"
  • When it comes to a backyard wedding, you are responsible for EVERYTHING...  Tent (or other structure), tables, chairs, linens, dinnerware, lighting, generators, bathrooms/restroom trailers, heat (very important depending on the time of year!), fans/air conditioning (also very important!), etc. 
  • When planning what spot to have your ceremony and reception, you have to make sure to determine good placement of everything -- You don't want the guests to have to trek really far through a yard or field to get to the restroom, or from the ceremony location to the reception location.  Also, take into account the terrain and bumps (for example, our backyard *looks* relatively flat, but it really had lots of bumps to it!). 
  • Make sure there is adequate guest parking available and that it is relatively close to where guests need to walk to for the ceremony and reception.
  • If your wedding is in your backyard, people may want to go inside your house if the ceremony and reception are close by. Make sure you are prepared to deal with that beforehand -- Do you care?  If you don't want people wandering inside, make sure to put a sign or other means up to let guests know this.
  • Have chairs; do not use hay bales as seats.  Many people have allergies to hay or straw, and bales are also very uncomfortable to sit on.  I admit it...  I wanted hay bales as ceremony seating!  But we decided not to use them, and it was a good decision not to.  In addition to the general need for chairs, I recommend getting two sets of chairs:  Ceremony location chairs and reception chairs (unless people are sitting at reception tables to watch the ceremony).  We considered only getting one set of chairs and us/family/friends/guests moving the chairs to the reception location after the ceremony. Ultimately, we decided to get two sets (a less expensive and less fancy set for the ceremony, and nicer, sturdier, white ones for the reception).  I'm glad we got two sets, so we didn't bother guests with that unnecessary burden.
  • The catering company you hire may have to use the kitchen inside your home.  All companies may not, but some might (ours did), so this is something to consider. 
  • Get event insurance.  Hosting a large event on your property with a lot of moving parts puts you at risk for a lot of liability.  You can look into your homeowner's insurance as a starting point to see if they have options for wedding event coverage on your property.
  • I highly recommend having nice restroom trailers (not port-a-potties).  Despite having a backyard wedding, guests may be dressed in nice or formal attire and will greatly appreciate having a "normal" restroom facility to use and freshen up in.  To this day, the restroom trailer we had at our wedding is still something our guests rave about!
  • I'm not a proponent of using anyone else's property besides your own for a backyard wedding.  That would put a lot of pressure, stress, and liability on that person, and it's not even his/her event.
  • Vendors
  • I briefly mentioned catering above.  When hosting a backyard wedding, it's your responsibility to find catering and bartending services.  Hire licensed, insured, and reputable vendors. 
  • I HIGHLY recommend hiring a day of coordinator!  Our coordinator was definitely one of the most well worth it expenses we had.  Because the wedding will be on your property, you won't want to have to deal with guest questions the day of.  There will be plenty of little things that you know, because it's your home and backyard, but guests will ask questions, so let someone else deal with that for you on your wedding day :-) 
  • Some couples may consider just using an iPod or other sound system for announcements and reception music.  We initially considered that too.  Ultimately, we decided we didn't want the hassle of handling the music and we didn't want to worry about a sound system malfunctioning, so we hired a DJ who gave us an excellent deal for JUST playing music (he did end up emceeing a little, but we hired him solely to play music and make sure the music flowed and didn't run into any issues).
  • As with catering, make sure all the other vendors you hire (photographer, DJ, coordinator, officiant, etc.) are licensed and insured.  Professionals in the wedding industry will always be appropriately licensed and insured, so make sure you hire professionals, so there leaves no doubt you and they are covered if something happens during your wedding.
  • So how much does a backyard wedding really cost?

Below are some of the main expenses for our backyard wedding:

  • Tent, Tent Sides, Heat, Lights, Extension Cords = $1,973.08
  • White Chairs, Tan Chairs, Tables, Generators, Grill, Coffee Urn (60-cup) = $768.90
  • Restroom Trailer (nice restrooms, not port-a-potties) = $1,121
  • Day-of Coordinator (and she gave us a steal of a deal!) = $360

Just those few expenses above came to over $4,300. That doesn't include ANY decor or any other vendors (photographer, DJ, caterer, etc.).

  • Catering was $4,685. Alcohol is not included in that catering cost. 

All said and done, our backyard wedding including every last detail came to $21,161.77.  We had 90 guests (11 of which were kids).

A backyard wedding is definitely possible, and I don't know how much more stressful a backyard wedding is compared to a venue wedding, because Andrew and I started planning a backyard from the beginning.  Just remember that there are a LOT of details you are responsible for, since you're building it from the ground up.  Backyard weddings are completely doable and can be beautiful, but they are by no means less expensive.  If you're considering having a backyard wedding, start planning early, save up for it (don't expect it to be a "cheap" wedding), and stay organized so you can be sure to have the best backyard wedding ever! :-)

Have you planned a backyard wedding?  Feel free to comment and share your tips for couples planning a backyard wedding!  Do you have more questions about a backyard wedding or need advice with planning?  Feel free to send me a message to chat more! :-)

Here are a few photos of our beautiful backyard wedding (Photos by Julie Napear Photography)...


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