Thursday, May 7, 2009

How to Plan a Backyard Wedding

Some of the most charming weddings in the world are the old-fashioned backyard weddings, held in a relative’s outdoor space or garden. They reflect youth and innocence and set a carefree tone for your nuptials. At first glance, this may seem like the perfect solution to your wedding location woes.

But think it through.

Here are five ways to determine if a backyard wedding is right for you.

1. Location Space
Is the backyard you are considering large enough for your ideal guest count, tables, chairs, tents, entertainment, ceremony area and food stations? Map it out before you commit to ensure the location offers sufficient space

2. Neighbors and Parking
What is your relationship with your neighbors? Will they agree to the late-night sounds your wedding will inevitably bring? You don’t want the police to crash your wedding and ask you to “quiet down.” Along the same lines, is there sufficient parking for all of your guests? If not, is it a problem you can easily solve?

3. Rentals
One of the best reasons I normally advocate using a fully-stocked hotel or banquet room is because the sheer volume of rentals you’ll need are almost overwhelming. Depending on the degree you want to transform your backyard into your dream wedding venue, you could need to rent tents, tables, chairs, tablecloths, napkins, plates, glasses, flatware, cups, serving platters and dishes, table skirts and lights. These costs add up-fast!

4. Weather
If you are seriously considering a backyard wedding, look into the weather predictions, typical rainfall and average temperatures for your wedding date. What will you do if it rains on your wedding day? Is the house large enough to accommodate all of the guests if you are forced to move inside? Is there another location nearby that can serve as a rain contingency location?

5. Bugs
Do you live in a mosquito-infested area? Will you be able to address the issue? How? Be sure to get quotes from experts on spraying the area before your Big Day.

Now that you have your mind set on a backyard wedding, there are a few things to remember. Here are four tips that are unique to a backyard wedding.

Be sure your invitations specify that your nuptials are at a private residence. Include the full address and a map with your invitation package.

Cakes and Flowers
Depending on where you live and when you are tying the knot, you might have special considerations with your cakes and flowers. I was coordinating an outdoor wedding once in Orlando - my first wedding actually - and the bride and groom arrived almost two hours late. The cake was starting to melt and the entertainers were getting … well, restless. Be sure you keep your cake in cooler temperatures and select sturdy flowers that can withstand the heat and sun.

Ask your photographer to do a walk-through of your wedding location and discuss how to set tables, lights and backdrops to avoid unseemly shadows. Show your photographer where you plan to place large items and get his/her input.

Be sure you hire staff to clean and re-freshen bathrooms and walkways. You want your wedding to look nice throughout the day and into the night.

For a first hand account of a $10,000 backyard wedding, check out the Backyard Wedding Blog.

Did you consider a backyard wedding? What other tips can you offer?

Photo courtesy of WukieGrl

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