There are many advantages to holding your wedding at home. In this article we cover the A to Z of hints and tips for holding a backyard wedding.
A is for Availability
Weddings held in peak season are nearly always booked at least one year in advance. In the most popular venues we sometimes find ourselves performing at midweek weddings due to lack of availability – hardly ideal when you want your guests to have a big night. The backyard wedding has a major advantage in this regard, because you can hold it whenever you like.
B is for Budget
This is the obvious area where backyard weddings excel. Popular venues are able to charge top rates for weddings due to demand, and there are many options for cost-saving DIY when you hold your wedding at home.
C is for Cuisine
This is one of the areas where you can get creative. Have a favourite restaurant? Speak to them about catering for your event. Not only will you know you will be getting great food, you will be supporting a local business. Food at function venues is rarely very adventurous: this is an opportunity to do something quite different. We recently played at a wedding where a buffet was provided by a local Afghani restaurant – incredible traditional food in vast quantities, and remarkably inexpensive.
D is for Décor
We recently performed at a backyard wedding for a bride who is an interior decorator. She had a specific vision for what her wedding would look like and she carried it through. Needless to say it looked amazing. Even if you don’t have this skillset yourself it’s worth asking around – you may have a friend or family member experienced at decor or decorating.
E is for Entertainment
It is easiest for entertainers to liaise with you alone. Although venue managers are usually experienced at running nights, it can sometimes be a case of too many cooks, and this can result in unnecessary confusion. Any entertainer worth their salt will know how to make an event work; holding your wedding at home often simplifies their job.
F is for Flexibility
Function venues are often rigid in terms of what they will and won’t allow at a wedding, and there are restrictions relating to the duration of the event, drink service, security, and food service that can cramp your style. Holding your wedding at home allows you more flexibility.
G is for Guests
Your guests will feel more comfortable in your backyard than they would at a function centre, especially if they have been there before. One of the main hurdles we face as entertainers and MCs is just getting everyone to relax and let their hair down. This helps.
H is for Headcount
Function venue pricing is usually based on the number of guests. When organising catering for your backyard wedding you can opt to simply hire wait staff and purchase food and drink at a flat rate. This usually works out significantly cheaper.
I is for Intimacy
Only want to invite 30 guests? Your home is ideal for a smaller wedding. One of the biggest mistakes we see is when a client hires a huge room for a small crowd.
J is for Juice
Punch and sangria are always a hit at parties. Watch it vanish before your eyes.
K is for Kitchen
Have a good kitchen? Know someone who loves to cook? Do the catering yourself! Food that you can prepare ahead of time, such as Indian cuisine, makes for a simple job on the night. Or cook outdoors: talk to your local butcher shop about hiring a spit.
L is for Lighting
These days with the advent of LED the possibilities for lighting are endless. Get creative and turn your backyard into a wonderland after dark.
M is for Marquees
This is one place you shouldn’t cut corners. If you have insufficient undercover areas, and you live in a city like Melbourne where the weather is unpredictable, a quality marquee (or tipi!) erected by a professional company is a must. Cheap/flimsy marquees can be downright dangerous, especially if they are not secured properly, or if they leak and you are running power (such as for lighting or a PA system), so avoid trying to do it yourself. In winter a marquee is great for retaining warmth when combined with space heaters, and increasing your usable space, and in summer you can open the sides to allow airflow.
N is for Noise
This is one of the disadvantages of backyard weddings, but with some care and forethought it shouldn’t be a problem. First, make sure your wedding finishes up at a reasonable time. Second, notify your neighbours well ahead of time – if you have a good relationship with them it’s even worth inviting them to the wedding. Third, pop in to the local police station and let them know you’ll be having a party – if they’re forewarned they will usually ignore one-off complaints they receive on the night. If you’re over thirty they will generally turn a blind eye; it’s the parties held by younger people where there is a real possibility of violence that they are chiefly concerned with.
O is for Options
Options options. There are lots of them when you hold your wedding at home, and sometimes the zaniest ideas work best. We haven’t yet seen a wedding/pool party, but it’s really only a matter of time.
P is for Props
At a recent backyard wedding we saw, the bride had sourced an old door, which the groom painted black to fit in with the black and white theme of the wedding. Their son installed a crystal handle on the door, and it was mounted upright as a free-standing backdrop for the ceremony. The effect was unusual and effective, as well as symbolic.
Q is for Quantity
Got a bit overzealous when ordering food and drink for your wedding? Never mind, pop it in the fridge or cellar, or distribute among your friends and family.
R is for Rural
Your backyard might be a bit bigger than most. We’ve played at many great weddings held on country properties. Apart from having loads of space to play with, you rarely have to worry about annoying the neighbours.
S is for Signage
Handy with arts and crafts, or know somebody who is? Give your wedding a personal touch by designing your own signboards. One clever bride we saw recently went around to local op shops and purchased old paintings, replacing them with her own prints. The mismatched frames resulted in a shabby chic look that fitted in with the rest of her décor beautifully.
T is for Transport
Probably the most stressful thing about a wedding is getting where you need to be on time. Brides are notoriously late, but if you’re already on site it makes it that much easier. Most beauticians and stylists do house calls, allowing you to get dolled up at a leisurely pace in the comfort of your own home.
U is for Underpants
Getting married in your underpants is just one of the many possibilities when you hold you wedding at home. Just putting it out there folks.
V is for Vendors
If you’re holding your wedding at a far-flung venue you will have to pay vendors’ travel loadings or use vendors that are local to the vendor and whom you aren’t familiar with. For a backyard wedding it’s cheaper and easier to hire local businesses you know and trust.
W is for Wine
Few function venues are licensed for BYO. We recently had a client who is a wine critic, and insisted on being able to bring his own top-shelf wine to his wedding; as no venue was willing or able to allow this the couple decided to hold the wedding at home. If the number of empty bottles we saw at the end of the night is any measure, it was a roaring success.
X is for Xanadu
Your home is your Xanadu. Why not get married in a place you know and love?
Y is for Yard
You will never see a couple work harder than when there’s a house party coming up. That garden border that was abandoned two years ago? It will get finished in one afternoon. Lawn so overgrown you can’t see the back fence? Watch it transform magically into the 18th green at Royal Melbourne. And you will appreciate the work you put in long after the last slice of wedding cake has been eaten.
Z is for Zero
This is the exact amount you will pay for room hire. Cool huh?
Need more ideas? Check out our article on DIY weddings.