With the Government of Alberta restrictions still unknown for the upcoming wedding season, many couples are opting to have backyard celebrations. A backyard wedding is perfect for couples wanting an outdoor, intimate celebration, a Covid wedding option or a low-cost wedding venue!
While there are so many benefits to being your own wedding venue, there are some extra details that you must plan for.
Here is a guide for hosting a successful backyard celebration.
Space, layout and logistics
First things first, look at the size of your yard; how many people can you comfortably have in your yard while still maintaining social distancing (if necessary) and traffic flow? Do you want a ceremony followed by a reception? Look into how you can position chairs and seating so you can easily transition the space from ceremony to reception or allow for both without having to do a transition. Use natural elements as backdrops and position key areas around those elements to save on décor.
A large canopy tent can help create a fancy wedding feel right in your yard, and with our unpredictable Edmonton weather, a tent is a perfect option!
Work with a tent professional or Wedding Planner to determine your size requirements. Ensure that some tent walls can be left open for COVID requirements.
Insurance and permitting
Before moving forward with planning, be sure to secure any Event and Liability Insurance necessary. Check with AGLC to find out your Event Insurance requirements and to purchase your liquor licence. Be sure to review your Home Policy with your insurance provider and add any additional Liability Insurance required.
Make sure all hired vendors are also insured!
Finally, check the city bylaws for party allowances, noise and parking restrictions. The last thing you want is a bylaw officer interrupting your day!
If you’re hiring a DJ and caterer and including extra lighting in your décor, you’ll be using a lot more power than your home’s outdoor plug-in can handle. Avoid blowing up a fuse by renting a generator to handle the extra power requirements.
The thought of 50 + guests walking through my house multiple times throughout the day to use the washroom sounds like a nightmare! Rest assured, sticking a porta-potty in the corner of your yard isn't the only solution! Washroom trailers are a clean, modern option.
Prepare for Mother Nature
The tent will be a great backup plan for rain… while under it, but be sure to consider the weather for other parts of the day. Have umbrellas for guests to walk to the restrooms if it’s raining, fans if it’s stifling hot under the tent and a plan to secure your décor if it’s crazy windy. Chances are, it will be!
Considering spraying your lawn in advance for bugs, have stations with bug repellant, blankets, and flip-flops to ensure guests are comfortable!
If you live in a residential neighbourhood, parking can be a pain! Be sure to let guests know exactly where they can and cannot park. If you live near an open lot or building, check with the owner in advance to ensure you can use their parking for the day. Include the parking details with your invitations or on your wedding website. If you don’t have a parking lot nearby, consider hiring a shuttle for guests to park at a nearby hotel or mall. Neighbours
A few weeks in advance, be sure to let your neighbours know exactly what is happening and what time. Give them as many details as possible, including your parking plans. Better too much info than getting a complaint!
Wedding Management From a logistical standpoint, backyard weddings are more complex than they seem. From set up, transitioning your ceremony to reception, take down, managing deliveries, keeping track of who goes in the house, managing rentals and ensuring everything goes smoothly, there’s a lot of moving pieces! If you don’t want your maid of honour or mother working your entire wedding. Hiring a planner for Wedding Day Management will be a lifesaver!
You’d be surprised at how much garbage can be produced by 50 people! Wherever possible, use reusable items like glasses, napkins and plates. Be sure to have extra trash and recycle bins around your property.
Backyard Wedding Design and Décor
When designing the ceremony and reception layouts, look at unique areas of your yard that you can use as natural backdrops. If you have a large tree, this is a perfect backdrop for a ceremony. Be creative with using items from inside that you already have, like rugs and furniture; this will give guests a feel for who you are as a couple. Work with a rental company to secure the rest of the necessary items.
When designing a floor plan, consider table configurations to keep your guests moving through the space. It is recommended that there be a minimum of 36” between chairs, from table to table, to allow for service staff and guests to walk through comfortably.
Chances are, if you’re hosting a backyard wedding for 25-100+ people, you'll need to rent everything from chairs to knives! Sometimes a caterer can provide cutlery, flatware and glassware, but ensure you have a complete checklist of what you'll need, so there are no last-minute uh-ohs!
Lighting is the perfect finishing touch for your outdoor celebration. Adding some twinkle lights, strings of cafe lights or lanterns will enhance the ambience of your space and provide romance and texture. Don’t forget to add lighting for pathways and around the washroom tailer.
Dance Floor Renting a dance floor is recommended to ensure no one rolls an ankle on lumpy grass while busting a move! A 10’ by 10’ dance floor is recommended for 60 guests. When designing your floor plan, determine if the dance floor is best inside or outside the tent and include a contingency plan for bad weather.
Food, Beverage and Service
Catering Hiring a professional caterer is by far the easiest way to ensure that food is handled correctly, is kept hot, served, cleared and cleaned up! If you want to stray away from the traditional meal, there are fun options like charcuterie boxes or food trucks!
I strongly recommend hiring professional bartenders or even a unique beverage trailer like this adorable one from Bottle Bronco. Believe me; you’ll thank me later! The bartenders will be available for bussing services, cleaning up of glassware and bottles, and you can trust that they’ll stay at the bar until the night is over.
Rented water stations or 18L water jugs are a great alternative to individual water bottles or sending someone inside every time a water pitcher needs to be refilled.
While we’re on the topic of bussers and clean up, be sure you’re hiring staff – either through the caterer or bartending company to help clear all the garbage throughout dinner until after last call.
So, there you have it! If you’re planning a backyard wedding, we’d love to help! Feel free to reach out with any questions by clicking the link below!