Are you considering a backyard wedding, but you aren’t sure where to begin? There are a lot of details that need to be considered for a backyard wedding. As a wedding planner, I use this Checklist for A Backyard Wedding to establish how they can have a magical wedding on their property.
Take Inventory of your Backyard or Property
First and most importantly is to walk your property and take an assessment of where you would hold the ceremony, cocktail hour, and ceremony. With a measuring tape, measure the dimensions of the outdoor space. Once you have these dimensions, then survey the surface area. Is the area flat, on a hard surface or soft, does the ground have uneven spots or on a slant? Survey the areas you may not be able to place tables and chairs because of a slant or obstacles. Subtract this from your overall dimensions to come up with an accurate square footage.
Bad Weather Contingency Plan
On your checklist for a backyard wedding, consider a Plan B in case of bad weather. Does your backyard have a barn, a large garage, or a shop? Can you convert this building over to a ceremony/reception space in case of high winds or rain? If you do not have any of these options, then the next stop would be to consider a party tent. Contact a tent rental company to budget in a tent that would fit within that space. A tent is also a great option if the property does not have any natural shade and your wedding will be held in hot month like July or August. Contact your local party tent rental company to get a quote and have this factored into your Plan B budget. https://aplannedaffair.com/product-catalog/
Calculate How Many Guests
Now that you understand the amount of space you have to work with, begin to calculate how many guests will be able to fit within that space. For the ceremony, a good rule of thumb is to plan 6 – 8 sq. ft per person. An example, if your space is a 20’x20’ area (400 sq. ft), you should be able to fit 65 chairs in a cathedral style seating with a 4’ aisle. In the reception area, factor 13 – 15 sq. ft per person. An example, a 5’ round table with 8 chairs would require 10 sq. ft and then 3 feet between the tables. So, for 65 guests, dance floor, head table and food tables factor an area between 800 – 1000 sq. ft. Once you have your guest calculation, you now know how many guests to plan for.
Ask yourself if you want your guests going into your home to use the bathroom facilities. If so, then it would be best to have two bathrooms available. If you prefer to keep your guests outside, then plan to rent portable restrooms. You should have two available for the first 100 guests.
Where are all your outdoor electrical outlets located? If there are not any located near the ceremony or reception area, can extension cords be running where they need to connect to lighting or sound systems safely. If not, can you install new electrical outlets in the backyard. Remember to test your circuit loads to determine if they will be able to handle the addition of lights, DJ system, portable bathroom (if a trailer), caterer’s trailer, etc. You may need to consider running a new circuit which can handle the extra load or purchase or rent a small generator. Nothing is worse than having the circuit overload in the middle of the ceremony or those special moments.
If you plan to hire a caterer, then plan for the following questions. Where can they set up their equipment? Will they have access to the kitchen to keep their food warmed in the ovens? Can they store items in your refrigerator? If you do not want them in your home, then is there an area in the garage for them to prep their food and have access to water for rinsing. Some caterers will come self-contained and they do not need access to anything; however, most do need a designated prepping area. Will they need to plug into an outlet? How much amps will they draw?
Notify the Neighbors
Most communities have a noise ordinance, so check what the restrictions are in your area. We have found that the most common is a 10:00 PM shutdown time.
If the neighbors will not be attending the wedding, then make a point to go around and let them know of the wedding date, start time, and end time. Important to go through your entire block and the homes behind you. It is amazing how often a neighbor will complain about the music. However, almost everyone loves a wedding, so they tend to be a lot more flexible and accommodating once they are informed.
Where will all the guests’ park and vendors park? Will you need to set-up a no-parking area so older guests can be dropped off before parking? If it is only street parking, then mention this to your neighbors and make sure your guests understand to NOT block any driveways. Maybe consider a shuttle service from the hotels if parking is limited. Could you have a couple of family members act as parking attendants to help guide your guests where to park.
Insurance – Protect Your Home and Your Guests
An important factor on your checklist for your backyard wedding is to check with your insurance carrier to determine if you are covered if an accident occurs with one of your guests or your property. It may be wise to take out event insurance which is specifically designed for parties. Sometimes your insurance carrier will provide this or there are plenty of online event insurances available.
Require all your vendors who will be working at the wedding to give you proof of liability insurance such as your caterer, DJ, photographer, wedding planner, etc. If they are at fault for the damage, you want to ensure that their insurance will cover it.
That’s it. Now you can move forward with confidence that you have a completed checklist for a backyard wedding. It is time to start the fun and exciting time of planning all of the details to turn your backyard into a wedding of your dreams.
By Marlene Woodard, President, A Planned Affair, Inc. and A Planned Affair Event Rentals, Inc.