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By Charmaine from Ferguson Valley Events
Two of my brothers had backyard weddings! For the first one, I was six years old so all I can remember is the amazing poofy blue dress with fake pink roses that mum sewed me for the day, and rubbing off all the makeup that the makeup artist put on me so I had raccoon eyes the whole day. Good times! If you are flexible, creative, and organized then a backyard wedding can work for you. It does require a bit more effort than your 'function centre' wedding so be ready for that.
Early Planning Stages
Get a trusted friend or hire an on-the-day coordinator to finalise the set up the morning of the wedding. Have a plan B! It can rain even in summer. If you're going all out, book your marquee, caterers, chairs, tables now. In terms of landscaping, gardening, putting up a new fence, just think that any money you spend on your 'venue' you will get to enjoy in the years to come. So plan ahead as this is a great opportunity to pretty up your backyard. Now is the time to hire an on-the-day coordinator if you are starting to get a bit overwhelmed already. They will be able to iron out any pre-wedding problems and will be there on the day to run around like a headless chook so that your mum doesn't have to.
This can be an issue if you do not have a large property. If you are on a street that allows street parking and there is plenty of it, you may choose to let your guests park themselves. Other options that you may want to consider would be to rent a parking lot that is near your home and have guests shuttled to the property. You can sometimes negotiate the use of a public park or vacant lot for your guests as well. Make sure you gain permission in writing from the lot owner before you send out your invitations so that it does not become an issue later. Make sure there is plenty of parking available and start working on some signage to direct people where to go. Imagine if you'd never been to your house before...consider a map printed in your invitation and signage on street corners on the day. Max and Sarah's Wedding with an arrow underneath will suffice!
Tables and Chairs
If you are planning on a cocktail style reception or a BBQ style reception, then make sure you have a few tables & chairs, enough at least for the older people attending your reception. If you are planning a full sit-down meal, then you will need to order the maximum number of tables and chairs you think you might need now, and then finalise numbers with your hire company closer to the date. It's easier to cancel three chairs than to try and find three at the last minute! Trestle tables are cheap, light and you can hire them if you don't want to buy. Cover trestles with tablecloths borrowed or made by yourself, family or friends. You can hire plain white tablecloths from your local steam laundry. Make the cloths extra long at the front so you can put ugly eskies for cold food and drinks under the tables – they'll be out of the way and hidden from view but easily accessible. Make a little sign for the table – 'more drinks under here'.
Food and Drinks
For DIY brides/grooms, ask family & friends to contribute some items. Sushi and sandwiches can be obtained from non-wedding companies and can be a cheaper alternative instead of getting a caterer. Cutlery and crockery and glasswares needs some thought. One idea is to ask friends & family for 10 or 20 each of cutlery, crockery and glassware. You will end up with an eclectic mix but this might be fun and will look awesome all laid out on a buffet or table in their little groups! Or, disposables have come a long way. Just make sure you have adequate bin facilities (and please recycle!). Or, you can hire a complete set from your local party hire company.
If you need some staff, then ask a friend's younger brother (someone you know, but who would not expect an invite to the wedding, must be over 18!) to man the drinks station and keep everything topped up. Offer them a free lunch and a cash bonus and they'll probably jump at the chance. Make sure you have netting to cover food from flies. Please please please remember to provide water – buy some individual water bottles from your local supermarket. You will need to ice the drinks and put ice in the cold food eskies for the morning of the wedding. If you are getting caterers, they may or may not provide cutlery, crockery and glassware, make sure to check!! Also confirm that they will be providing staff to pour drinks and hand around food.
Market umbrellas can be hired from your local party hire company. Shade is essential in summer. Shelter is essential in winter so be ready to go to your plan B - whether it be a marquee or everyone cocktail-style in the living room. If you've only got one toilet and a lot of guests, consider hiring a portable. After a few drinks, gents will probably go in the garden anyway!! Stock the toilets well with toilet paper, handsoaps and handtowels. Tell your neighbours you're having a party! So that when the music is still cranking at 10pm and their kids are trying to sleep, they at least feel able to approach you about it instead of calling the police straight away. Be considerate – even though it's your wedding day, it's not your neighbours! Include the number of a local taxi service on your invites for guests who have a little too much. Or allocate the spare room to those who want to swag it.
Rubbish and clean up
Hire a small skip bin and have plenty of rubbish bins placed around your backyard. Ask a cousin or uncle to just check the bins halfway through the night and put the contents in the skip bin if they are starting to overflow. This will make cleaning up the next day much easier too! And the usual one green bin allocated per house is not enough for wedding rubbish, trust me! Have a designated smokers area with ash trays filled with sand – the last thing you want is to start a spot fire. Make sure you have a crew ready to go the next day for cleanup - it's much more fun with some tunes and a feast of leftovers than just you and your new hubby!
A backyard wedding can really reflect who you are, and with a bit of hard work and planning we think this style of wedding can work really well. Good luck!