Can you have a DJ in your backyard?
When you’re throwing an at-home wedding, one detail that’s often overlooked until pretty late in the wedding-planning process is obtaining the necessary permits. Because every county and municipality has different requirements, you’ll want to get onto this task as soon as possible so you can get a clear understanding of what your wedding’s requirements will be. This could have implications for your end time, whether you can have a band play at your wedding, and so forth. Here’s what you need to know about permits and regulations.
Check with your county.
The big three restrictions to look out for are parking, noise, and fire. Kelsey Sheofsky, event planner and owner of outdoor events and tenting company Shelter-Co., says, “There’s usually information on your county website about noise ordinances and other regulations. Generally speaking, a party at your own home shouldn’t be a problem if you follow the rules of your community regarding parking, noise, and fire.”
Find out if the regulations are different if you’re using a tent.
Depending on where you live, there may be different rules for events involving tents as they’re considered a temporary structure. Sheofsky says, “The fire department will require you to pull permits for any party tents and open flame, but the vendors you hire will be able to assist in identifying these needs and pulling the permits.” Depending on your county’s rules, your local fire department may send out a fire marshal to visit the tent once it’s setup for your wedding. They’re looking to see that all exits are carefully marked, there’s a fire extinguisher on the premises, candles are all appropriately enclosed, and more. The company that’s installing the tent typically manages this process, and you may not even be aware that it’s happening.
Talk to the health department.
It’s fairly uncommon that you’ll need to pull permits from the health department, but there are some counties that require this if an event is bringing in portable restrooms. This is something the company you’re renting the restrooms from will likely advise on, so no need to worry too much about this.
Backyard Wedding Dreams: Pros and Cons Worth Considering
Sentimental? Yes. Simple? Not always. Here’s what you may not know about planning a backyard wedding celebration. There really is no place like home. Whether it’s your childhood backyard, your partner’s parents’ lakehouse or your grandparents’ country cottage, planning an at-home, backyward wedding is an amazing idea—but remember, it’s not an actual wedding venue (yet). Basically, the average home isn’t quite prepared for 150 wedding guests, 75 cars and 20 tables needed for a full-on backyard wedding.
Home Weddings Can Save Cash
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 a massive house-scrubbing.
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.
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.
Outdoor Maintenance May Take Months of Advance Preparation
With your entire backyard will be on display, you’ll probably need to give the space a more manicured look. Whether that means dragging out the lawn mower 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.
Outdoor weddings are the best! I might be biased because I run a wedding venue in my backyard, but hey. We all know weddings are, or can be, expensive. And, while many families go the wedding venue route, you might not want too.
I have experience in both circles. My two daughters were married in our backyard before there was even a thought of a wedding venue business on our property. Both were very DIY and lovely. While there are many things to consider, let’s cover the basics. The guest list will be a big factor, you will need to know approximately how many will attend so you can plan wisely.
This could require a big area if many are in attendance. People will need to park safely! There will be car doors opening and guests will need room to back out. It’s a nice idea to let the neighbors know what is going on. Also, keep a parking area open close to the reception for your vendors (cake, food, DJ, photographer, officiate, etc.) to drop things off at.
Be sure to designate rooms for the bride and bridesmaids, grooms and groomsman, parents and grandparents to change clothes in. A lot of the wedding party will dress before coming to your property. Just be sure everyone knows the plan. We don’t want confusion on wedding day… did I really say that, lol!
Will you rent tables and chairs? What about linens, will you rent or use plastic ones you can throw away? Will you be expected to pick up the rentals yourself or will you have them delivered? Are you responsible for returning things? Where will things be stored, before and after the event?
Will guests be allowed in your house to use the restroom or will you rent portable restrooms for the event? And, if you do rent, where will they be at? You don’t want them to far away, but you don’t want them in the photos either.
Remember, give each guest table room for chairs to move in and out, without disturbing their neighbor. If there is to be a dance floor in the middle of the tables or even off to the side, be sure to get the dimensions so you can mark off the area before setting up the tables.
Backyard Wedding and Reception Tips
If you’re thinking about hosting your wedding and/or reception in your backyard, we have some great tips Elegant Backyard Wedding Ideas for you.
Plan it. Backyard weddings are a great way to save money on the venue space, although you must remember that you’ll need to consider many things before you can commit to this idea. First question: Do you or your parents have a backyard big enough for your wedding? To answer this, you must think about your guest list and about what type of reception you would like to have. Do you envision a plated dinner or a buffet? Passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktail bar or grilled picnic food? Each type of reception comes with different capacities. Will you also be hosting your ceremony in the backyard, or just the reception? You’ll need even more space if you’re hosting both.
Tip: Talk to a rental company or a catering company—yes, we can help answer these questions!—before you make this decision. They will know how much space you will need to set up tables, booths and a dance floor to accommodate your guest count, and will likely suggest different catering options that best meets your visions and space constraints.
Prep it. If you have at least 8 weeks’ time, you should be ready to prep the backyard. If you’re hosting a backyard wedding in the summer, great! Nature can take care of most of your décor costs—although you’re going to have to help it along. Plant your gardens this year with your event design and layout in mind. It will be difficult, though, to get your gardening in order without knowing where everything will go.
Here’s a great tip: talk to your wedding planner, rental company or caterer about the event layout before you do any work. Sometimes there are tables and prep areas that our clients forget to take into consideration or new layout ideas we come up with to maximize the space when we visit the site.
Theme it. Whether you’re looking for a simple backyard wedding or an elaborate, elegant wedding design, your theme will drive most of the aesthetic decisions from here on out. Sophisticated country? Vintage? Rustic? Whimsical? Every theme comes with different flowers, photo frames, centerpieces, chairs, linens, catering choices and more.
Tent it. This is one of our biggest recommendations.
Dance floor it.
What’s a backyard wedding reception without a dance floor? Lots of holes in the grass, that’s what. Be kind to all those women in high heels and those poor blades of grass growing in the danger zone, and rent a dance floor for guests to use in lieu of just a grassy area or even a patio or deck. You’ll want something flat and smooth.
Light it up.
A huge perk of a backyard wedding is that you can light up this space with as many (or as few) beautiful strands of lights as you could possible want—and you can begin the stringing as early as you need to since no one else is renting your event space. We suggest stringing lights throughout the ceiling of the tent and wrapping them around trees. Consider hanging or placing even more lights, Chinese lanterns and candles on chairs, tables, trees and other natural shrubbery. Wedding lighting is worth the upgrade almost every time. Take a look at these photos. What would they look like without such exquisite lighting?
Rent your tables and chairs from a rental company—or through your catering team, who will either rent the equipment themselves or know with whom you should speak for the best styles for your budget. When you rent your equipment, you won’t have to worry about the setup or take down. You just show up, sign on the dotted line and the entire reception will be constructed for you.
Huge tip: you will not regret this help on your wedding day. Also worth considering is the temperature. Are you hosting your wedding on the hottest day of the year? Consider renting equipment that will help cool down your guests so that no one gets too hot and uncomfortable. If you’re hosting a late fall backyard wedding and the evenings are known to cool down, there are plenty of attractive looking heater options you can also rent from your rental company. Another big tip: temperature controlling equipment is always a good idea.