I’ve been a lover of backyard weddings since the beginning of my career. There’s something so intimate about having people join you in a place you’ve already created so many memories in. And who doesn’t love the idea of choosing the exact flowers that are to be planted in the yard or what lighting to install that is both perfect for the celebration as well as an investment you can use for years to come. While there are so many beautiful reasons to marry in your own backyard, it can take a bit of preparation. With that in mind, here are the top things to consider when planning your wedding (or any celebration) at home:
While there is no set rules on how your day flows, almost all weddings have a ceremony and dinner with many having cocktail hour and dancing. That said, when envisioning your backyard celebration, you’ll want to start thinking about where each moment of the event will take place. And as you start thinking about the locations, I recommend taking into consideration the flow of the day. Whether I’m planning an event at home or at the most luxurious hotel in the world, I always walk the path I anticipate the guests to take. At your home, I recommend doing the same. Where will they first enter? What is the pathway they will take from your front yard to your back? Will they enter the home and so on? Understanding the flow can help you understand the spaces they interact with first. For instance, the ideal scenario allows the day to unfold to an extent with guests entering into the ceremony first and foremost. Once the ceremony is over where should they go next? If they’re going to cocktail hour, will they completely leave the ceremony space or will they simply expand in the same area? And, of course, brunch, dinner or whatever format of meal traditionally comes next. Where will guests dine? Once you have your locations locked in, you can start thinking about the other necessary elements.
As mentioned, you’ll want to take into consideration where guests will enter, but you even want to take one further step back and think about what happens before they arrive. i.e. Where will they park? Is parking limited in your neighborhood? Do you need to get valet to assist with parking? Or are guests going to be perfectly fine to fend for themselves? And don’t forget about the vendors. Where will they park, keeping in mind that they will likely arrive much, much earlier than guests? If you have limited parking at your home, there are a couple of options to consider including renting a nearby lot and having shuttles bring guests back and forth to the home. Another option is encouraging arrival by taxi or ride share. If suggesting ride share, Lyft and Uber both offer code options where you can host this expense for your guests both to and from the wedding.
Depending on the number of guests, in home kitchens are rarely adequate to cook a meal for many guests out of. For this reason, 99% of the time, we rent a kitchen for our backyard weddings. We’ve put these kitchens in garages, driveways, off of small guest homes and simply anywhere the catering team can be tucked away from guest view. But remember not to put them too far from the event. You still need your catering team to deliver the food warm to your guests. Once you determine the flow of your event and hire your caterer, make sure someone from their team visits the property to explore the kitchen location with you. And from there work closely with them to execute the rental order to the tee or better yet simply hand this order over to your planner or have the caterer handle it on your behalf.
If your event is happening in the evening you’ll want to think about lighting. While there are great outdoor lighting options that could be perfect to incorporate into your long term landscape design, the truth is most backyards simply do not have enough existing lighting to host an event. Not only do you want the space to be beautifully lit, but you also want guests to be able to see what they’re eating. And beyond that you need to light the pathways to regularly traveled areas such as from the dinner space to the restrooms or to the kitchen. And don’t forget to light a path from the backyard to the front yard so guests can see as they’re leaving your home at the end of the night.TEMPERATURE
If it’s going to be overly hot or cold in your backyard, try to prepare accordingly. Heaters work wonders near dinner tables, bars and even near the restrooms. And misters are our go to if we’re anticipating a super hot day. If the temperatures will be milder for most of the day but you do anticipate a moment of harsher temperatures you can address this with simple yet charming details. Consider having throw blankets or pashminas readily available if guests get too chilly or perhaps parasols or cool beverages ready at every turn if you’re anticipating a bit of heat. No matter what, guests can’t be present at your day if they’re too hot or cold. For this reason, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the arrangements you need to make when hosting in your backyard.
It’s not the fun stuff, but it goes without saying that your event cannot be successful if you don’t have restrooms. And depending on the number of guests, many homes simply do not have sewage system in place to handle the level of traffic a wedding commands for several hours. If you’re not 100% confident about the restroom capacity in your home, always opt for a portable restroom. Even if it’s just as a backup plan or solely for vendor use, this one rental can bring so much peace of mind. There is nothing that can spoil an event quicker than being without a usable restroom. Find a spot to place the trailer that’s out of sight but not so tucked away that guests can’t find it. Consider concealing it with hedges and even tuck a full length mirror and beautifully styled lounge set in the space so guests can be comfortable as they wait in line. And again, don’t forget to light the pathway to the restroom.
I know no couple is really prepared to think about generators and power distribution when they envision their wedding, but if you’re marrying in your backyard, you’ll at minimum need to assess the existing power available in your home. You’ll need power for the kitchen, the restrooms, any added lighting and any entertainment you have throughout the night be it the ceremony musicians, the band or DJ and anything else such as a Photo Booth or even if you want blended drinks on the bar. Talk to each vendor about their power needs and determine if renting a generator is a necessity from there.
There’s truly so much to think about when planning a wedding at home but in my experience, it’s always worth it. Happy planning and as always, please leave a comment below if you have any questions about this or any other topic.