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Planning a backyard wedding can be very meaningful but it also requires a lot of planning and prep. Before you start planning, make sure the space is big enough for your guest list and check on restrictions if there is a HOA for example. Also, make sure you have a budget in mind and reliable people to assist and delegate tasks to with one person in charge to make decisions if you are not available. If it all seems overwhelming and you have some cash to spare, hiring a planner or coordinator may be a huge relief.
This is most likely going to be the most intense part of the backyard wedding process. Thinking of all that needs to come together from start to finish can appear overwhelming so be sure to give yourself enough time and surround yourself with a reliable team of friends or a professional planner. It helps to picture what your guests would experience on the day of your wedding when starting the planning process. First, they would need to find the place. Make sure you include a detailed map with directions and contact information, any special parking instructions, and start and end times (keep in mind your neighbors and HOA noise restrictions if applicable). They will need to park somewhere, so if ample parking is not available on the street you might need to get creative: one backyard wedding bride approached a nearby church and asked about making a donation in exchange for using their parking lot. If you do decide to have guests park in the neighborhood, be sure to let neighbors know of your event in advance.
Next, plan the layout of your backyard space. Set up the guest book sign in where your guests will enter and have some refreshments ready if you like. Have a ceremony location with seating and space for the reception, food, drinks, and cake. Also consider how much space your vendors will need and if they require outlets or other elements for their setup and equipment. Also make sure restrooms are accessible and have comfortable seating and ample space for a dance floor. Doing a scale drawing may help especially if you are renting tables and such, and also so vendors (DJ, catering, etc.) know where they can set up (show them the plans ahead of time and see if it works for them).
Speaking of vendors, make sure they all know how to get to your location (send them a map and a layout of your space), make sure they get there before hand and have the room and resources they need to do their job. Think about hiring wait staff and catering from a local restaurant to handle the meal and serving.
Another perhaps daunting task is preparing the space. Landscaping issues, safety issues (ample lighting and level surfaces) as well as access to restrooms are all things to take care of well in advance of your wedding day. Also, if you are planning on renting an event tent have it set up in advance. Basically, as much as you can have set up in advance of guests arriving, get it done! Tables and chairs, wedding arch and décor, even flowers can be done a day ahead.
You will probably be extremely busy on your wedding day, that’s why it is important to delegate decision making to your first in command. It is best to choose someone who isn’t a part of the bridal party and wont be called away frequently for photos or overly involved in the events of the day. Someone like a trusted aunt or friend who has experience organizing events, or is at the very least a trustworthy and reliable individual who has all the contacts for vendors, can easily be reached throughout the day, and can be trusted to make decisions for you when you are not available. Finally, backyard weddings are always uncharted territory so don’t sweat the small stuff! Enjoy the company of your family and friends in a setting that has special meaning to you and make many happy memories!
Congratulations and good luck to you from VW!
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