Backyard Bliss




Photo by Diana Mathews

There are many reasons couples opt for a wedding to be held in the backyard of a parent, relative or friend. Whether you’re trying to save money by having a more intimate setting or you’re just looking to tie the knot in a place that has sentimental value, a backyard wedding is a sweet and nostalgic option. Here are some tips to make sure your backyard celebration goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Set some guidelines. Even if you’re best friends with the person who’s letting you use their yard, make sure you respect their wishes and that you’re both clear on wedding details such as:

o   How long will the reception last? Some neighborhoods may have noise ordinances that could affect your late-night bash in a very negative way.

o   Where will the cars be parked? Decide early in advance if you’re going to hire someone to help park cars, and check with your host to make sure there will be enough space.

o   Will you have any open flames such as candles or lit sparklers? Make sure your host is comfortable with this, and remember that accidents do happen—even more so when guests have been drinking. It’s a good idea for them to find out whether their home insurance covers third party liability.

o   Will guests be allowed inside? Opening your yard to someone and opening your home to someone are different concepts. If you tell guests it’s okay to go inside, but your Aunt Sue hadn’t planned to open her house to strangers, it could be awkward when she accidentally walks in on the best man using her bathroom.

  • Speaking of bathrooms, make sure your guests have somewhere to go. Even if the homeowner says it’s fine for guests to come inside, their plumbing may not be built to accompany repetitive flushes. If you’re having a large number of guests, consider renting portable toilets.
  • Have a backup plan. As with any outdoor venue, rain, hail, hurricanes or tornadoes (hey, you never know) are always a possibility. If the homeowner isn’t comfortable with letting guests come inside during inclement weather, consider renting a tent or having an entirely separate location to use as Plan B.
  • Don’t try to do it all—and don’t assign too many tasks to everyone else. Even though the wedding will undoubtedly have a casual feel, it’s best to hire outside help to alleviate stress. Unlike a rented venue that usually has everything you would need, it's your responsibility to rent plates, flatware, tables and chairs. Plus, making floral arrangements, preparing hors d’oeuvres or washing dishes afterward aren’t in your bridesmaids’ list of duties, and your host shouldn’t be expected to clean up after the wedding alone.
  • Make it fun for everyone! If you’re transforming your space after dinner to make room for dancing, be sure to leave some tables and chairs for guests who don’t care to dance. Better yet, take advantage of the yard by setting up croquet or cornhole to keep non-dancers entertained.

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