Over the years we’ve learned that while many weddings are often alike – many weddings are often very different. So when clients tells us that they’re ‘having a backyard wedding’ – we know to dig a little deeper. Because these days – a backyard wedding can mean many things, depending on the backyard, and of course the couple getting married.
However – a wedding is still a wedding, and even backyard weddings can be a little tricky to pull off. So here are a few tips (and a few photos from two backyard weddings we’ve photographed this year so far.)
1. Is the backyard large enough for everyone?
Simple right? Make sure you have enough room to reasonably accommodate everyone you want to invite. Your space will either be large enough, or it won’t. This is either a good thing or bad thing – good because it means that you can’t invite 300 people, bad because it means… you can’t invite 300 people. However many people you do invite – keep in mind the space/people ratio.
2. What are the actual costs involved?
Sure – you’re probably saving some money by choosing to have your wedding in a backyard, rather than renting out a wedding hall – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the money won’t be allocated (spent) elsewhere. Different neighborhoods have sound ordinances or occupancy limits and neighborhood associations can be very strict about what type of functions can and can’t go occur. You might run into difficult neighbors, or even if they’re friendly – you’ll want to let them know that there will be a wedding on that date so that they don’t schedule their pool to be dug during your ceremony! There might be other fees you’ll have to pay the city, or vendors to come to your literal backyard.
3. What will you need to rent/buy/borrow?
Do you want all of your guests to sit on the lawn? If not – then you’ll probably need to rent chairs. Is there already a natural ‘altar’ or ‘chuppah’ for your ceremony spot? If not – yup – you’ll probably need to either buy, build, borrow, or rent. What about tables to hold all of the food you’ll be serving? Or flower decorations? Paper decorations? Is it going to rain? Not enough cover from the sun? – You might need to rent a tent. Especially if there isn’t enough room in the home the backyard is attached to. What about your serving dishes, flatware, and silverware?
4. How will you handle the parking? The restrooms? The weather?
Parking can be a very big issue in a tightly packed neighborhood. Should you hire a valet service to ferry the cars to a larger lot down the road? Should you instruct your guests to park at the lot and just have them shuttled to the house? There are services for both of these options – and of course you can always employ some of the neighborhood to do these jobs if you trust their reliability. Either way – if you’re inviting a large group and parking is tight, you need to address the parking issue.
Of course – you definitely want to have enough restrooms and this is easily solved by renting several portable restrooms as needed. Don’t worry – porta-pottys have come a long way and you can order them at varying levels of fancy. From your basic construction site model all the way to a fully electronic model with robots. Seriously.
5. Who will breakdown/clean up after the event?
You actually have to figure this one out even if you’re having your wedding take place at a regular wedding venue – it’s just usually already included in the wedding package or your coordinator takes care of everything for you. Since you’re opting to have your wedding in a backyard (yours, your parents, a friend) – the people most likely responsible for cleaning up after your wedding – will be your family and friends. We’ve even seen the bride & groom start picking up trash right after their own wedding. Honestly – we recommend that you clearly assign the clean task to specific friends or family – just make sure they know and they’re dependable. Probably even more dependable than your wedding party (since it’s actually a lot easier to be IN a wedding than to clean up after the wedding!) Either way – you definitely want to know how your backyard will get put back the way it was before your wedding took place there.
6. Where will your portrait session take place?
Alright so this one might be of particular importance to us (since you know – we’re wedding photographers) – but really – since you’re having your wedding a backyard, you might want your portrait session to look like it took place someplace else more scenic. How do you accomplish that? Well – the easiest way is to just actually have your portrait session SOMEWHERE ELSE MORE SCENIC. Basically you’ll want to make time in your schedule for the two of you and your photographer to go somewhere offsite and make some amazing photos. This can be after the ceremony or before (if you’re doing a first-look) but you definitely want to ‘build-in’ time for your portrait session. By offsite it also doesn’t necessarily mean a few miles away – it can be as simple as the park down the road or even next door if their yard looks interesting. But definitely – Make the time for your portrait session and have an idea of where it might take place.
All Photos by LeahAndMark & Co.