Wedding planning: Simple backyard wedding ideas and advice
A backyard wedding is a great way to make your nuptials unique, save money, and get your family and friends involved in the party.
What better way to give a fun, family feel to your wedding than having it in your (or your parents’, friends’ or relatives’) backyard? A backyard wedding means no worrying about reserving a space, no hotel staff kicking your guests out the door at a certain time, and all the time you need to get things set up just the way you want them before the big day.
Before planning your backyard bash, though, it’s important to know what you’re getting into as far as costs. Having your own space can be a great way to save money, but if you’re looking for five-star table settings, a limo ride to the ceremony and other fancy extras, you might be better off at a location that can put together a package deal and set everything up for you.
If you’re looking for a relatively casual event, though, a backyard wedding offers you all kinds of fun, low-cost options.
The biggest area where you’ll have to put in extra effort to have a home-style wedding is in the setup. Your yard is probably not equipped with tables and chairs for a hundred people, let alone a dance floor, sound system and bar.
Fortunately, most party rental places are equipped with these things. Shop around to get the best package for the things you need. When you call a rental store, make sure you’re armed with a well-considered list of what you’re looking for, but don’t be afraid to listen to the store’s suggestions—they may remind you of that 100-cup coffee urn or some other detail you hadn’t thought of.
Don’t forget, there are alternatives to ordering many of the things that rental places offer. For instance, you might find that paper plates suit your wedding style better than the china you could rent.
Fun with Food
One of the areas where you can really make your reception stand out is the food. Chances are, your friends and family are clamoring to get involved in your wedding plans. Let them!
One way to make your reception meal interactive is organizing it as a potluck. Let your culinarily-inclined kin each bring a couple of pans of their signature dish. This will take a little coordination, since you don’t want everyone bringing pasta salad, but it’s a great way to let family members showcase their skills, not to mention a good conversation starter—everyone loves discussing their favorite recipe. One note of caution: be sure you have a good way to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Lots of ice and a few warming trays from a party store can ensure that you don’t create a health hazard for your guests.
Another fun food idea is a cook-out. It’s a way that you can involve your guests in making the party happen while serving a variety of meat at a cost far below what a caterer would charge. Just stock coolers with your favorite barbeque treats and recruit family and friends to help keep the flames going. You can find extra grills at many rental stores offering construction equipment or party supplies. This option doesn’t lend itself to a reception with assigned seating where everyone needs to eat at once, if you want to have a party with lots of mingling, chatting, and pausing to munch on a steak or a chicken leg, this is the ticket.
Of course, just because you’re in your backyard doesn’t mean you have to go super-casual. You can get a caterer to do a full sit-down dinner at tables in your yard, or combine some dishes from a restaurant with salads and trimmings from your local grocery store for a fantastic buffet.
Of course one of the first things you’ll want to consider when planning your outdoor wedding is what to do in case of bad weather. Renting a party tent is a good idea, not only in case of rain, but also to provide some shade if it’s hot and sunny. Another alternative is to have a rain site reserved, just in case.
Some other ideas on keeping the reception running smoothly are rending a port-a-potty so your septic system doesn’t get overloaded, setting out some citronella candles to ward off mosquitoes, and having sunblock on hand for anyone who needs it.
A backyard wedding gives you all sorts of chances to give everyone something fun to do. Hold a croquet tournament after dinner, offer salsa dancing lessons, or set up a slip-and-slide for your nieces and nephews. If you choose unique activities that suit your activities as a couple, you’re sure to end up with a memorable event for everyone involved.