Backyard weddings are becoming more popular, especially in the era of social distancing and micro weddings.
If you’ve scouted tons of different types of wedding venues but still haven’t found ‘the one, why not just stay home?
No, we’re not saying you should skip your celebration altogether, but you can host a backyard wedding in the comfort of your own home, providing you’ve got some outdoor space to work with.
From an extra dose of sentimentality to more casual vibes, these are the reasons we love backyard weddings.
There is no place like home. Whether it’s your childhood backyard, your partner’s parents’ lake house or your grandparents’ country cottage, planning an at-home, a backyard wedding is a fantastic idea—but remember, it’s not an actual wedding venue (yet).
The average home isn’t quite prepared for 150 wedding guests, 75 cars and 20 tables needed for a full-on backyard wedding.
While it may be more work (and more expensive) than you probably anticipated, we can tell you this much: You won’t regret saying your vows in a place that means a lot to you.
When it comes to your special day, Vines of the Yarra Valley has proven itself to be an iconic wedding venue and function centre in Melbourne
It’s all about being prepared for what it takes to throw a backyard wedding—either on your own or a loved one’s. So here’s everything you need to know about planning an at-home wedding.
Table of Contents
- 1 Pros of Backyard Wedding
- 1.1 You’ll Save Some Money.
- 1.2 You Can Choose Any Wedding Date
- 1.3 Total Control of the Space
- 1.4 You’ll Be Able to Keep it Small.
- 1.5 Your Celebration Will Be Even More Meaningful
- 1.6 You Can Keep it Casual as You Want
- 1.7 You Won’t Need as Many Decorations.
- 1.8 You’ll Get to Go Home After Your Wedding.
- 1.9 Limited Amount of Rules
- 1.10 Allows You to Work With Smaller More Local Vendors
- 1.11 You Can Mix and Match, and Diy Until You Can’t Take it Anymore.
- 2 Cons of Hosting a Backyard Wedding
- 2.1 Vendor Selection
- 2.2 Artistic Control
- 2.3 Your Space Your Rules
- 2.4 Hosting During a Pandemic
- 2.5 Wedding Budget
- 2.6 You’ll Need to Get Permission Before Proceeding.
- 2.7 Your Backyard Wedding Will Demand Serious Space
- 2.8 Guests May Try to Crash
- 2.9 Factor Rentals Into Your Plans
- 2.10 Outdoor Maintenance May Take Months of Advance Preparation
- 2.11 Weather Can Disrupt Carefully-Laid Plans
- 3 Start Planning the Perfect Backyard Wedding Reception
Pros of Backyard Wedding
Here’s why backyard weddings are fantastic.
You’ll Save Some Money.
One of the most expensive parts of planning a wedding is booking the venue. Yes, the packages they put together are convenient, but they do cost a pretty penny.
Lucky for you, if you host your wedding in your backyard, you’ll sidestep the event space cost.
P.S. Just because the venue space is free doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a budget—other costs like a wedding tent, tableware and furniture rentals can add up quickly, so sort out how much you can spend and keep your eye on the bottom line at all times.
Budgetary restrictions often drive the choice to host a home wedding.
While traditional venues may seem expensive at first glance, it’s worth doing your research into what it might cost to bring in everything you’ll need for a wedding in your actual backyard.
Since you’re so accustomed to your home, hiring a wedding coordinator will give you a fresh perspective on the property and what you can and can’t do.
You’ll also need pros to cover all the basics: setting up, cooking, serving, parking cars and cleaning up (hiring a cleaning crew may be the best decision you’ll make).
In the days leading up to your backyard wedding, the last thing you (or your parents) want to have to do is massive house-scrubbing.
To fully appreciate your blank canvas, consider what decor you have in place to set the atmosphere for your Big Day.
What makes a private residence unique? (An elegant dining room, a massive oak tree in your backyard or a spectacular view, for example?)
Play up that feature to create a homey feel. It adds to the trend of making it look like you’ve emptied an eclectic china cabinet of all its unique and beautiful pieces.
Use different centrepieces and mix-and-match vases. Bring in fresh, home-grown-type flowers or play with outdoor lighting possibilities.
Decorating with garden lamps, paper lanterns, and tiny white string lights draped on branches will create the perfect atmosphere.
You Can Choose Any Wedding Date
One big issue couples have getting their venue on their desired wedding date.
They often have to move things around or forgo using their dream vendors because dates don’t line up.
Well, you won’t have to worry about that if you’re hosting a backyard wedding.
Yes, you’ll have to coordinate the rest of your vendor squad, but you won’t have to deal with competing with other couples for space on the day of your dreams.
Bonus: If you have to move your wedding date for some reason, you won’t have to sort out pushing it back with your venue coordinator.
Traditional wedding venues book up often a year ahead of time, sometimes even two or three years, leaving very few options when it comes to dates.
By hosting your wedding in a backyard, you can select any date that works for you, your fiance and your family, leaving no drama about the date.
Total Control of the Space
When you decide to have your wedding at a venue, you will have to go along with the rules and regulations for that venue space.
When you have your wedding in a backyard, you have the option to decorate and layout space any way you want. This freedom allows you to curate your wedding day exactly as you see fit.
You’ll Be Able to Keep it Small.
A backyard wedding is a perfect choice for a more intimate event.
Because space is limited, you won’t be able to fill your wedding guest list with coworkers, second cousins and casual acquaintances—only your inner circle will fit.
Plus, if anyone asks why they didn’t cut, you can explain that space is super limited, and you’re reserving the spots for VIPs like your parents, grandparents, siblings and a handful of your close friends.
Your Celebration Will Be Even More Meaningful
You know the saying “home is where the heart is?” Well, often, that rings true.
Having your wedding at your house will make your celebration even more sentimental because you’ll be surrounded by those you love in the place where you feel the most comfortable.
You Can Keep it Casual as You Want
If you don’t want to host a lavish celebration with tons of bells and whistles, a backyard wedding is where it’s at.
You can keep things casual and low-key, more like a BBQ than a grand gala. This is great for couples who are more about the company they share than the crazy decorations and expensive entertainment.
That being said, if you have space, you can dress up your space with throws, Chiavari chairs and luxe linens and bring in circus acrobats and fire breathers.
You Won’t Need as Many Decorations.
Speaking of decor, even if you choose to go super fancy with it, you won’t need to rent or purchase as much as you would for a larger format venue. Looking for someone to help decorate on your special day? Check out our list of Wedding Decorators in Melbourne.
Backyards are typically on the smaller side, which means fewer tables, fewer centrepieces and fewer strands of string lights.
Not only is this great for your wallet, but setup and breakdown will be way more accessible, too.
You’ll Get to Go Home After Your Wedding.
Honeymoon suites are undoubtedly excellent. They have minibars, jacuzzi tubs, room service and those ultra-fluffy bathrobes that make you feel like you’re living in a cloud.
But, if you love your bed more than anything, you’d probably prefer to go home after your wedding, anyway.
You’ll have all your favourite toiletries close at hand, your cozy sheets, and a whole fridge full of food to raid (probably filled with wedding leftovers).
Not to mention, you’ll have extra money to put toward your actual honeymoon.
Limited Amount of Rules
After checking with your town about sound ordinances, parking rules and a few other things, you pretty much can write your own rules.
If you want to host dinner before the ceremony and then have a moonlit ceremony, you can. This couple did just that and looked at how amazing their wedding looked.
Writing your own rules is one of the reasons most couples decide to host their wedding in a backyard.
Allows You to Work With Smaller More Local Vendors
Many venues allow you to work with only an approved list of vendors, making it hard to work with smaller, local or organic style vendors.
If you don’t want to have to go down the “traditional” line of caterers, florists and bakeries, you might want to think about hosting your wedding.
By hosting the day in a backyard, you have complete freedom regarding who you want to work with.
Most venues will only allow you to work with vendors who have a licence which means having your friend who just started a catering company out of the question.
Having a food truck at your wedding is a big trend and is almost tailor-made for backyard weddings.
You Can Mix and Match, and Diy Until You Can’t Take it Anymore.
Burlap wedding banners, vintage plates for dinner, pom-poms hanging from the trees – all of these are fantastic ideas and may not work in a traditional wedding venue.
The backyard space allows for all sorts of mixing and matching and, of course, the DIY wedding projects that you can’t do without.
Free up your creative spirit and make your day how you want it!
Cons of Hosting a Backyard Wedding
It takes a lot of time to vet, interview and research vendors. If you’ve never planned an event before, chances are you don’t have a vendor list.
The benefit of using a professional venue is that you can use their resources. Therefore, it is so important to find vendors who are aligned with your vision and budget.
Think about how much time you want to devote to emailing vendors only to find out they don’t work within your budget or they aren’t a good match.
Total artistic control means comprehensive management of all moving parts. In addition, you will need to bring in all of the backyard wedding decor and supplies (rentals, china, flatware, chairs, glassware tables, tent.)
It takes a lot of time and logistics to manage this.
Bringing everything can also cost more money, primarily since an event has never been hosted in your backyard before. This means more work for you and your vendor team.
Many event venues already have amenities like chairs and tables included in the price.
Your Space Your Rules
You will spend more time managing this backyard venue. You will need to create a floor plan and layout. Don’t forget about the bathrooms!
Does your home have enough, or do you need to rent some? Figure out how to clean the confetti. Figure out load in/load out. Decide where the catering area will be. Heat/rain. Deliveries. Backyard wedding decor. Decorative and functional lighting.
This takes a tremendous amount of time, logistics and planning. This is also putting your home at risk for liabilities, clean up, and possible damages.
Hosting During a Pandemic
You could be putting yourself and your guests at risk for safety. Venues comply with state guidelines because they are insured professional spaces.
They have your best interest and health in mind. Taking on the liability and health of your guests is a huge responsibility anytime, especially during a pandemic.
While you might be saving on a venue rental fee, you will need to rent a tent if you don’t have an indoor rain plan.
Tents can cost upwards of $15,000 if you want the rainproof, windproof, weatherproof, temperature controlled with lights and a dance floor.
Your backyard may not be set up and equipped to host an event. For example, you might not have a backup rain plan or an indoor space to host your desired guest count.
These are logistics a professional event venue has already figured out and executed hundreds of times. When you book a platform, a rain plan isn’t something you have to worry about.
You’ll Need to Get Permission Before Proceeding.
You’ll need to make sure everything is in order, from the city permits to fire department inspections.
Bring in an electrician to inspect your area, determine if local noise ordinances require a permit or place restrictions on noise, and decide whether you need to file for a permit to park cars along your street.
The last thing you want is cops crashing your wedding.
Your wedding officiant may also need to stop by to confirm the location. Make sure they give you their blessing to say “I do” in a backyard or at-home ceremony.
Some cannot perform the ceremony outside their place of worship because the church does not recognize it.
You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to find a licensed officiant who will do the honours.
It’s also a good idea to chat with neighbours about your event. Let them know of your home wedding plans well in advance.
Make sure they know the ceremony time so nobody’s mowing their lawn during your backyard vows, and ask if they’d offer their driveways for extra parking space.
But you can’t rely entirely on neighbours’ generosity. Make sure there’s enough street space for parking, or arrange for guests to park at a nearby lot like a school or church, then provide a round-trip shuttle service. If you want valet parking, hire a reputable company.
Reach out to your homeowner’s insurance company to loop them into the plans, too.
From guests dancing on your lawn to vendors traipsing in and out, your home may take a bit of a beating (all for a good cause, of course).
Find out what your homeowner’s insurance covers. You may want to consider getting a supplemental policy.
Check with your domestic insurance company to see if your policy covers third-party liability and with your vendors to make sure they have their insurance policies, as well.
Your Backyard Wedding Will Demand Serious Space
You need room to say, “I do.” Does your setup have enough space for all your guests? If not, you’ll have to start trimming the list.
Don’t mistake overcrowded for cozy. If you plan to use a combination of indoor and outdoor space, know that if the weather takes a turn for the worst, everyone might need to fit indoors if you don’t have a tent.
Will there be enough space in, say, the living room to set up white folding chairs with a wide enough aisle?
The general rule is 6 to 10 square feet of floor space per guest for row-seating.
Consult with the professionals about the realities of hosting a big event on property. They’ll give you insight into the possibilities.
For instance, the ground may not be level. Chairs, tables, the dance floor—you don’t want any of these items to be on uneven ground.
Professional tent companies can ascertain whether or not they need to put down a foundation or if they’ll be able to lay a dance floor directly on the ground.
Your other vendors (caterers, florist, band and so on) need to determine what’s necessary to keep floral arrangements and the cake table from tipping.
Your pros will need to check out the property. Then, to determine what extras they’ll need to bring, vendors should stop by for a visit.
Have your caterer survey your kitchen to ensure it is well-equipped and large enough to prepare the menu.
Otherwise, they may need to bring in a completely functional travelling kitchen.
Guests May Try to Crash
Slumber parties are fun, but adding house guests to your home wedding will only further complicate an already detail-driven day.
Try to dissuade them from this idea. Unless you’re marrying at a 25-room estate, the only people who should be staying at the wedding site are the homeowners and their immediate family (the couple and any siblings, for example).
You don’t want to be fighting your cousin for shower time the morning of your wedding. What you should do is recommend a hotel that’s as close to the wedding property as possible.
Vacation rentals, like on Airbnb, are a good option for guests to consider, too.
There may be home rentals available in your very neighbourhood, giving friends and family quick and easy access for your home wedding.
Some couples prefer to keep loved ones at a distance the night before the big day, so a hotel may very well be the better option. Consider all possibilities before pitching a solution to your guests.
Factor Rentals Into Your Plans
A backyard wedding reception inevitably requires bringing in enough rentals to throw a party.
Your must-have items are tables, chairs, dinnerware, napkins, table linens, place settings, barware, portable bathrooms and a tent.
Rent enough chairs so everyone can be seated for the ceremony.
If you need more room for the reception, remove most of the chairs after the meal, keeping just enough around so half the party can sit during the festivities.
You’ll probably need a generator too. Unfortunately, most homes can’t accommodate the power necessary to light a tent or provide power to a catering kitchen.
You don’t want to risk a power outage—or worse, blowing out the whole neighbourhood. Check with your caterer to see if you need to rent extra coolers, grills or roasters.
Don’t wait for this. You’ll want to start researching and reserving equipment six months before your wedding.
You’ll also likely need to evaluate your bathroom options for guests.
The average home cannot accommodate the increased bathroom usage a wedding typically requires.
Thankfully, portable bathrooms have gone luxe.
These aren’t your average port-a-potties. You’ll want to account for three bathroom trips per guest, and since most septic tanks can’t handle that many flushes, portable bathrooms are a must.
A general rule of thumb is to have one toilet for every 35 guests. Keep in mind that your guests will need a place to wash their hands and do a mirror check, so keep the area well lit.
Upscale portable bathrooms are now available that have lighting, sinks, heated water and even air-conditioning.
Don’t forget to make them even more home-like by including an amenity basket filled with hair spray, tampons, Band-Aids and breath mints in the ladies’ room.
Outdoor Maintenance May Take Months of Advance Preparation
With your entire backyard being on display, you’ll probably need to give the space a more manicured look.
Whether that means dragging out the lawnmower or hiring a landscaper, you’ll want your lawn to be in peak form.
If you’re planning a spring backyard wedding, start preparing in the fall (yes, really). Talk to your professional landscaper about reseeding, replanting and sodding.
You’ll need to think about florals (and plant them) as early as possible. Most perennials need a winter to take hold, and it takes some time for annuals to fill out.
Make sure to find out the appropriate planting times for the flowers you’d like, so they’ll be in full bloom on your wedding day.
For a spring wedding, cool-season flowers like tulips, daffodils and lilies of the valley will bloom (which need to be planted the autumn before).
For summer, try annuals like geraniums, Gerbera daisies and African daisies, which should be planted after the threat of frost.
You’ll probably want to plant perennials for fall, like Japanese anemones, chrysanthemums and blue salvia—these should also be planted the fall before.
Weather Can Disrupt Carefully-Laid Plans
Unexpected weather can bring about unique challenges—especially at a backyard wedding reception.
Always plan for the worst by making sure guests will be covered in the event of a sudden shower.
If there’s no way to pitch a tent at the ceremony area, arrange to have the ceremony at a house of worship in case of rain—make sure to have an insert in each invitation that gives the alternate address and a number to call to find out if the ceremony has moved, plus keep your guests posted via your wedding website.
If a tent is your Plan B, make sure it has sides to keep out a downpour.
Stifling heat can pose just as many problems like rain, so make sure ceremony chairs aren’t in direct sunlight and that there are plenty of shaded areas, cool drinks and even hand fans available (your ceremony program can double as fans).
If it’s a warm day, extra electric fans and portable air conditioners can be brought in; on wintry days, propane heaters will warm up the place.
When looking at the PROS and CONS above, also ask yourself these questions:
- How much time do I have to plan this event? Do I work 40 hours or more a week?
- What is my budget? What is more important, price or value?
- How many resources do I have? Have I ever planned an event like this before?
- Am I working with an event planner?
- Is this the kind of experience I want during my engagement?
Start Planning the Perfect Backyard Wedding Reception
Having a backyard wedding at home—even at your new home as newlyweds—is a fantastic idea and an event your family will never forget.
The best thing about having your wedding at home is how personal it can be.
Nothing compares to getting ready in your childhood room and coming down the staircase in your wedding dress or suit. Check out our Top Wedding Planners here to help make your special day as smooth as possible.
Find the right wedding pros to help, and you’ll walk down your homespun aisle stress-free.