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11 Things Couples Should Know Before Planning A Backyard Wedding

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January 16, 2015

A growing number of couples are choosing to wed at home. Whether it’s for a more personal feel, because your preferred venue was already booked or you’re trying to save money, here are 11 things you must keep in mind when planning this type of event.

It might not be so cheap. Many couples think having a wedding at-home will save them a bundle, but that’s not always the case, says Taryn Blake of Taryn Blake Events. The cost of rental items can really add up and wind up being more expensive than booking a venue. In fact, you will probably need to rent everything including tables, chairs, linens, flatware, stemware and items you wouldn’t even think of.

You probably need a planner. An event like this requires much more work than getting married in a banquet hall, says Danielle Rothweiler of Rothweiler Event Design. “It is essential to hire a planner that is experienced and will be able to coordinate all of the extra vendors you wouldn’t otherwise need in a hall.”

You must have an indoor option. In case of bad weather, you need a Plan B–whether it’s moving everyone inside the house or  renting a tent for the backyard. If you’re doing the latter, try to get an oversized one, says Janice Carnevale of Bellwether Events. “Having a little more breathing room under the tent is always preferred to being packed in like sardines, regardless of the weather. And in the case of inclement weather, having extra space in the tent will help you greatly in case you have to do the ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner/dancing under it.”

You need to keep it legal. There are various permits you may need to obtain when you erect a tent, says Carnevale. Contact your local municipality to find out what the rules and regulations are. You also want to look into insurance policies to cover liability and liquor/bar service.

The party might have to end early. You also need to check with your town about the noise ordinance rules if you have nearby neighbors. There might be a cutoff time when a band or DJ needs to stop playing–or you risk having the police show up to stop everyone’s good time.

Port-a-Potties are a must. You usually need one bathroom per 50 guests, says Amanda W. Morris, founder of C1 Revolution. “If you are inviting 150 to 200 guests and planning on using your regular house bathroom that’s heavy traffic and wear on your bathroom, plus people going in and out of your house throughout the evening. If you are looking for more than port-a-johns, portable bathrooms that have an elegant ‘real’ bathroom effect can run up to $6-$10K for rental. You have to make sure you have these bathrooms stocked throughout the evening and the proper generator to be running the electricity and features of your portable porcelain palaces.”

You’ll have to light the way. By the end of your event, it will probably be dark. “You need to make sure that your guests and vendors can navigate the property safely after the sun goes down–how they get to the restroom, how they get back to their car, to the catering kitchen, etc.,” says Carnevale. “So in addition to the lighting you may need inside the tent, you should also look at landscape lighting to keep your guests and staff safe.”

Guests need a place to park. If you think you will have more than a dozen cars coming with guests, you should consider hiring a valet service. Make sure they are scheduled to start their service 30 minutes before the wedding starts and stay at least 30 minutes after the last dance, says Carnevale. And keep in mind that some counties require permits to park more than 20 cars on a street.

The cake should be refrigerated. Do you have the refrigerator space to store your wedding cake when it is delivered? If not, you can time it with your bakery and have them deliver about an hour before the cake cutting, says Andrea Freeman of Andrea Freeman Events. “Buttercream frostings hold up the best in the summer heat, but even they can’t be out for hours on end. Your best bet is to keep it chilled before you display. Find a cool place in the shade to set up your cake table.”

The weather can be a pain. Whether it’s extreme heat or a chill in the air, couples need to think about their guests comfort at all times. “I worked with the couple to set up a cute station to help combat anything that a guest might be dealing with,” says Freeman. “We had cute little buckets set up with sunscreen, bug spray, flip flops, pashminas, hand held paper fans and cold wet cloths. If there will be a significant drop in temperature, make sure that your caterer or rental company can provide portable heaters after the sun goes down.”

Heat can do terrible things to food. Freeman notes that this mostly effects the cocktail hour where stations are often set up to allow guests to mingle. “I’ve seen backyard weddings where the food is placed out in the open and is totally exposed to the sun’s harsh rays. When offering seafood at summer weddings a fun option that I like to offer is carving a table out of ice. It makes for an impressive raw-bar presentation and ensures that food is safe for your guests to enjoy. If you’re not doing a raw bar I suggest doing a tented cocktail hour. You can give guests the option to sit in the shade by setting up small cocktail rounds under the tent.”

For more wedding advice, check out how to plan a wedding for less than $10,000 and how to not get ripped off by your wedding vendors.

[Photo: Ryan Ray Photo]

 

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