If you want to keep your big day cool, chill, and low-key, you may want to consider hosting a wedding at home. Sure, there’s probably not enough space to squeeze all your loved ones into your living room, but there’s a good chance you have room outside for an epic backyard wedding.
For anyone who’s just getting started with the wedding planning process and needs a little bit of guidance to steer them in the right direction, we’ve created this comprehensive backyard wedding checklist. From renting a tent to booking portable restrooms, this list covers everything you’ll need to ensure your outdoor wedding goes off without a hitch.
Here is your ultimate backyard wedding checklist
Though a backyard wedding is typically much less expensive than a traditional event venue like a hotel, ballroom, or restaurant, that doesn’t mean it’s gonna be cheap. You’ve still got rentals to buy, vendors to pay, and a place to decorate, which will cost you money. As with any big event, you’ll want to start out by setting your budget.
Don’t forget to break down where you intend to invest your money and keep a running total as you go. You may find that you have spare change left over that can easily be reallocated (or saved for your honeymoon). For example, if you end up spending less on a dress than you thought you would, that extra cash can be moved to your menu or DJ costs.
Once you’ve figured out your money matters, you can move on to creating your guest list. Naturally, the guestlist for a backyard wedding is much smaller than a traditional celebration (unless you live on a massive farm or estate), so plan for that.
Measure your space and figure out just how much room you're working with for your ceremony and reception seating, as well as extra necessities, like tables and chairs, your dance floor and portable washrooms. You don’t want to jampack your backyard to the point where your friends and family are uncomfortable!
Decor and Setup
The next step is planning out your decor and setup. Lucky for you, Pinterest is stacked with amazing decor and wedding ideas for a backyard setup that will help you figure out how to maximize your space. Remember, you need to account for every part of your wedding day, from your ceremony to your cocktail hour to your reception.
Don’t forget that spaces can serve double-duty, too. For example, you can transform your ceremony area into your dance floor or lounge while your guests enjoy dinner under a wedding tent or cocktails in a different area.
Permits and Neighbours
You’ll want to warn your neighbors waaaaay in advance about your wedding so that they can brace themselves for a bit of noise. You’ll also need to check that you have all the right permits in place so that your wedding doesn’t get shut down before you even say your “I dos”. Everything from parking, to tent setup, to generators, may require inspection, so check with your local government office super early in the planning process to ensure that you can actually make your backyard wedding dreams come true.
Since you’re hosting your wedding at home, there’s a good chance you won’t have all the tools you need at your disposal, which means you’re going to have to do some serious renting. Here’s what you’ll probably need:
- Tent rental
- Wedding ceremony seating
- Altar decor (i.e.: an arch, a backdrop, floral arrangements)
- Decor accents (i.e. fairy lights, bunting, additional floral arrangements)
- Dishware and flatware
- Wedding reception chairs and tables
- Tables for your buffet, gifts, desserts, guest book
- Linens (i.e. chair covers and tablecloths)
- Centerpieces and table accessories
- Portable restrooms
- Garbage and recycling
With all-inclusive venues, you can usually get away with hiring very few vendors yourself, because your venue has you covered including a wedding coordinator. If you’re hosting your DIY wedding at home in your backyard, you’re going to need to hire them all individually. Here are some professionals to consider adding to your team:
- Wedding planner
- Live band or DJ
- Variety acts (like a palm reader or a caricaturist)
- Bartender or sommelier
- Makeup artist
Given that your hosting guests at your home, you’ll want to look into what your homeowner’s insurance covers, as well as, what insurance your vendors have in place and then acquire any additional coverage needed to protect everyone should something happen like injuries or property damage.
Parking and Amenities
Two things you’re definitely going to need to look into are portable restrooms and parking space options. Your house probably only has one or two bathrooms, so you’ll need to rent some so that people aren’t lining up to duck in and out of your house. As for parking, you probably don’t have a ton of spare spots in front of your home, so direct your guests to the closest parking lot or suggest they take an alternative form of transportation, like an Uber or taxi.
If Mother Nature starts acting up, you’ll need to have plan B in place. If you’ve got a super tiny guest list, you may be able to invite your guests inside your home to celebrate in the comfort of your living room and dining room. If it’s a little on the larger side, you’ll probably want to put up a tent, so that everyone leaves your wedding as dry as they came. P.S. tents are also great for shade, so you’ll probably want to put one up anyway.
Don’t forget to account for the cleanup! Big parties make big messes, so you’ll need to have a plan in place. Always rent extra garbage and recycling receptacles to make things easier for yourselves when your event as wrapped. You may also want to hire a cleanup crew to take care of business.
Bonus: Check out our complete wedding planning google doc for a wedding checklist, guest list, budget planner, and more!
Find wedding ideas, venues, suppliers and entertainment in The Bash Wedding Planning Guide »