How To Plan A Backyard Wedding and Essential Planning Tips
Whether you're planning a simple backyard wedding on a budget or want to host an elevated wedding on at private property, here's are invaluable tips from a team of PNW wedding planners to ensure a seamless and stress-free day, and a few weddings to take inspiration from.
What's more memorable and sentimental than hosting a backyard wedding? As planners, we like to call them "private residence" weddings, which could be in the backyard of your parents' home, the barn on your grandparents property, or maybe it's an undeveloped area of family farm. No matter the scale, if you want a seamless and stress free wedding, there are quite a few logistics and challenges involved.
One myth we'll dispel is that the cost of backyard weddings are not always cheaper than renting a venue. But, one thing we do know is that a venue will never replace the sentimental aspect of a private property or family home. As planners, our goal is to not only show you how to plan a seamless backyard wedding, but how to keep a realistic budget throughout the planning process.
This blog is for all the engaged couples hoping to host their wedding in a sentimental place in Oregon or Washington, but want it to feel seamless, thought out, and disaster-free. We've compiled a list of invaluable tips to consider as you're planning your backyard wedding.
Tips and Tricks For Planning Your Backyard Wedding
1. Plan your home improvement project early, and give extra time.
One of the perks of having a private residence wedding at your property is that it gives you an excuse to tackle those improvement projects that have been piling up on your to do list. Clean out the garage, plant some flowers, clear the alleyway, repave the driveway, finish the barn, etc. We have seen time and time again that these projects take more time than most people plan on and so often families are still working on things the week of the wedding. No one needs that much stress in your life. If you decide to tackle a few things, make a list, allot extra times, and don't forget to factor in the weather.
Alex and Melissa mowed and leveled a part of their family's field to allow for chairs to sit evenly on the ground. They also moved and lined the path to the field with wildflowers. Projects like this take time - they started months in advance!
2. Secure the Necessary Permits and Permissions
Before you dive into the planning process, check local regulations and obtain any required permits or permissions and make friends with your neighbors. Each county and city in the Pacific Northwest may have specific rules regarding noise, parking, and the number of guests allowed, so it's essential to stay compliant to avoid any unexpected surprises on your big day. Have no fear, having planned 100+ private residence weddings over the past 15 years, we will walk you through all the legalities and take the guess work out of keeping things compliant.
4. Have a trash plan.
You would not believe how much trash a wedding generates, and your backyard wedding will trash will definitely overtake a normal residential trash can. I always recommend bringing in a dumpster service for the weekend - they are honestly super affordable and they will ensure the property isn't littered with trashbags afterwards. There are also wonderful people like The Waitstaff Team who help with food service if you don't have a full service caterer, and have options to add on trash removal services.
5. Consider the Weather
The Pacific Northwest is known for its unpredictable weather. When planning your wedding at a private residence, have a contingency plan in case of rain or other adverse weather conditions such as rain, extreme heat or wildfire smoke (yes, sadly this is our new reality). Guest comfort is key to a fun event. While we can hope and pray for the best weather, we create plan A's, plan B's, and plan C's and D's for all of our couples, which range from renting a tent, umbrellas, misters, patio heaters, or even an having an alternative venue in mind.
Whitney and Justin had a simple tent for their guests, but stood outside in the drizzle for their ceremony to embrace the PNW rain.
6. Rent Adequate Facilities
Private residences may not have the facilities needed to accommodate a large wedding party. Renting portable restrooms is often necessary. Additionally, the need for generators to ensure a consistent power supply, especially if you're hosting an outdoor event is a key component of any private residence. Did you know there are math calculations we can help you navigate to ensure the lighting plan, the bathrooms, the dj, the band, the catering tent all have enough power? If you are using generators, we will help you calculate how much fuel you will need and if we are using the electricity of the home, we will help you split the power across the various circuits so that every is smooth sailing.
7. Map Out Parking and Transportation
Parking can be a significant challenge at private residences. Some properties can provide ample parking space, and other times we recommend considering offering shuttle services from nearby hotels, schools or churches to ease the transportation burden for your guests. We help our couples map out the little details like calculating parking spaces, ensuring proper traffic flow so headlights aren't streaming into your party tent, mapping out turnaround spaces, hiring parking attendants or valet services, or even planning lighting for the walk out to the parking lot at the end of the night are all details we help couples with.
Melissa and Alex's family had an ATV onsite, which help for helping to transport guests like Melissa's father who had trouble walking.
8. Create a Well-Defined Layout
Design a layout that maximizes the space available onsite and ensures smooth transitions throughout your wedding. A well-organized seating plan, clear signage, and designated areas for different activities, such as the ceremony, reception, and dance floor is key. When we are planning weddings at private residences, we have found multiple walk throughs are crucial to creating a seamless plan and elevated design.
9. Plan For Renting Tables, Chairs, and More
When planning a wedding at a private residence, you'll need to rent tables, chairs, linens, and other essential items. Coordinate with rental companies well in advance to ensure you have everything you need. Do you know we start your rental order, hold your delivery date the same day you sign our contract - that is how essential it is to quick secure the services of a rental company. All of our packages include rental coordination for a reason. There are so many details to consider and we love taking couples to the showrooms to build the perfect tablescape. We will ensure nothing is missed, that you have the correct quantities, that your catering team is looped in and taken care of, and oh...we also get a discount which we pass along to you. Win, win, win!
10. Hire Catering and Food Service
Hiring a professional catering service is crucial to ensure your guests are well-fed and satisfied. Ensure the catering team has access to a functional kitchen or catering tent and that they are familiar with the logistics of your location. Not only will we help find an incredible partner but we will make sure to work with them to ensure they have the equipment necessary to prepare your meal and serve your guests including working out plans for water, ice, a bussing station and ensuring the bar and catering tent is lighted (and that light is accounted for in all electrical calculations) to ensure they can continue to serve well into the evening.
11. Hire Someone to Handle Sound and Entertainment
Nobody wants the party to be interrupted by sound equipment failure or rough transitions. Hire a professional sound and entertainment company that can handle the unique challenges of an outdoor or private residence wedding. They should have experience with setting up sound systems in different environments and be prepared for any technical issues. We will ensure they have enough gear (for the multiple setups), are prepared to handle the wind (so your mics aren't all full of wind static) and we will of course ensure their gear is safe regardless of whether.
DJ Hunter Quinn kept the party going for Riley and Brian so no one had to worry about changing the song or keeping to the right mood, and everyone got to dance their hearts out.
12. Safety First
Have a plan in place for emergencies, including a first aid kit and fire extinguishers is key. As your planner, we are first and foremost your advocate. As such, we love creating self care stations with bug spray, sun screen, shoe wipes, and cool towelettes. We will also work with you and the property owners to get the insurance necessary to protect you from any accidents that could happen. We have your back from day 1.
13. Designate a "venue manager"
When we do private residence weddings, we always designate one of our team members or have our couples designate a either family member to act as venue manager. As vendors arrive on the day of, people will have questions, look for places to set up, and guests will no doubt have questions about access to the house.
The property owner (your mom, dad, aunt, grandparents, etc.) shouldn't have to play host and miss out on the fun. If you aren't working with us, I highly recommend you designate someone to play this role or allow one of our teammembers to take this off your hands.
14. Communication with Vendors and Guests
Effective communication is key to a successful private residence wedding. Keep your vendors informed about the location's specific requirements (up hills, exposed sun, etc.) and ensure your guests receive clear directions and any pertinent information about the event. We have been known to send emails about bees, the need for heel protectors or wedges, or reminders about the PNW cool ocean evening breezes.
15. Call on Your Perfect Bridesmaid
Our goal is to make your backyard wedding dreams come true and help you navigate all the logistics, ask the right questions, and find you the most fitting vendors. Whether that's an elevated wedding, or simple backyard wedding on a budget, everyone deserves to have peace of mind during the process and on their wedding day. We are there to help make that happen.
Hosting your wedding at a private residence in the Pacific Northwest can be a dream come true, offering a unique and personal touch to your special day. By following these tips, you'll be well-prepared to navigate the challenges and create beautiful memories that you, your partner, and your guests will cherish forever. Embrace the natural beauty of the region and enjoy your wedding day in this enchanting corner of the world. We would love to be by your side, making this the best day possible!