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When I was planning my own wedding, I initially thought I would plan a backyard wedding. I liked the style of garden weddings and had the ideal spot picked out for a beautiful view. Ultimately, I decided against having a backyard wedding after weighing the costs and labor involved with renting all of the equipment I would need. But my sister found that planning a backyard ceremony and indoor reception at an airbnb worked out great for her wedding plans and budget!
Since I weighed the decision thoroughly myself and with my sister, I can share all of the things you need to consider when planning if a wedding at home is right for you.
Here are the essential pros and cons of planning a backyard wedding:
- Pro – No location fee
- Con – High cost of rentals
- Pro – Unlimited time to set up and take down
- Con – Logistics of setting everything up and taking it down
- Pro – Control over all the costs
- Con – Lots of costs to plan and negotiate
- Pro – No travel involved
- Con – Parking for your guests
- Pro – You won’t forget something at home
- Con – You might forget to purchase essential items
- Pro – Years of memories in the space
- Con – Cost of insurance
- Con – Potential damage to your home
- Pro – Control over start and end times
- Con – No hard end time for guests who overstay their welcome
- Con – Bathroom accessibility
- Con – Power supply
The biggest pro to hosting a backyard wedding is the control you have over the day in terms of costs, set up, and take down. And the biggest con is that planning a backyard wedding can cost more than a wedding at a venue and cause you a lot of stress in planning. Take a look at this article for more information on what backyard weddings cost and whether they will save you money.
Pros of a backyard wedding
Let’s start with the benefits of a backyard wedding and why you might consider hosting one.
No location fee
When you’re planning a wedding and learn that venues in your area might charge $5k-10k to use the space – not including catering or drinks – you might think that amount of money just for the space isn’t a good use of your budget. Especially if you or your parents own a space that’s great for hosting parties.
You’ll certainly save by using your own space if it’s party-ready. But if you are hosting a large gathering and don’t have a tent, silverware, serveware, linens, a generator, lights, multiple bathrooms, serving and cleaning staff, then you might find this is not such a great source of savings after all.
Or if you’re considering a house rental, like AirBnb, the costs will be way less than a traditional wedding venue. Just be aware that AirBnb has officially changed their policies around group gatherings on the platform. So technically weddings and other parties aren’t allowed at AirBnbs any longer. You may still find a host who will to rent to you on or off of AirBnb for your wedding if it’s a manageable size.
For additional ideas on where to find affordable wedding venues, check out this article on the best places for a cheap wedding reception.
Unlimited time to set up and take down
Another pro of using your own backyard is you can take several days to set things up and several days afterwords to clean. You don’t need to fit everything into a few hours before and after your event which may make it easier for you to enlist the help of family and friends to do. Or you can spend several weeks DIYing everything.
Control over all the costs
One of the biggest pros of hosting your own backyard wedding is the control you have over all of the costs. Want to cater from your local BBQ place or even pizza to save money? Great, no need to work from an approved vendor’s list from your venue. Want to get a keg and boxed wine and create a serve yourself bar? Go for it! There could be enough savings across the board to justify the work it would take to set up your own wedding and even afford some help in cleaning up before and after.
Ideally, you’re planning a wedding of less than 50 people in your backyard. That’s really where I have seen the cost-benefit analysis can weigh in favor of a backyard wedding for saving money. With a micro wedding you may be able to skip some of the bigger costs like renting a tent, bathrooms and a generator.
No travel involved
Forget about booking flights, hotel blocks, packing up your wedding dress (can you bring a wedding dress on a plane?), a car, or carpool, or even packing a day-of bag. You can store as much as you have room for and won’t have to worry about the logistics of getting to and from the venue with multiple people and splitting up the bride and groom.
You won’t forget something at home
Speaking of what to pack – you won’t have to! Everything you need for your wedding will be right where it’s been all along at home. So no last minute scrambling or begging a wedding party member to rush back to your house for something you forgot.
Years of memories in the space
Every time you hang out in your backyard you’ll be reminded of your wedding day. And you can recreate the day any time that you choose. The benefit of this may be really appealing to you and your partner if you have a sentimental streak. Most couples revisit where they got married or the bakery that made their cake or the restaurant that catered their special day on anniversaries for many years to come. With a backyard wedding, you can recreate the experience any day of the year.
Control over start and end times
Many couples worry about setting up if they have a lot of DIY. Or they worry about the schedule of events coordinating between different venues for the ceremony and reception and after party. With complete control over the space, comes more control over the timeline. You could have an early morning wedding and wrap things up by lunchtime. Or you could have an all day (and all night) affair. The choice is yours since it’s right in your backyard.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of an afternoon wedding, check out this post here.
Cons of a backyard wedding
Now that we’ve covered off on the pros, it’s time to discuss the cons of a backyard wedding. And there are quite a few in my opinion.
High cost of rentals
The cost of rentals alone is often shockingly high and the number one reason why couples decide not to have a wedding at home. For example, renting all of the equipment you need for a dinner of 50-100 people, a tent for back up in case it rains, portable bathrooms, etc. will set you way over the budget of most venues.
I’ll show you some sample math. Source: womangettingmarried.com
- Tent: $500-$5,000 depending on the type and size, you can read more about renting tents here.
- Generator: $300-$2,000+
- Flooring: $500-$1,250
- Portable bathrooms: $80-$600 for a VIP trailer style
- Linens: $100 from Amazon for 8 tables
- Chairs: $50-$1000 ($2-10 per chair and you’ll need 50-100 for an average sized backyard event)
As you can see from the above, staying below the average venue cost is going to be tricky even if you choose the lowest cost option in every category. That’s going to feel like a lot of compromising to stay on a budget and a lot of research for every item to find the best price.
And this doesn’t include things like landscaping services or cleaning services that you might need before and after to make sure your home is event-ready (and live-in ready after the big day). Or extra insurance to protect your home from accidents or the consequences of rowdy behavior.
Logistics of setting everything up and taking it down
This is another major major factor to consider when thinking about a backyard wedding. You’ll be responsible for sourcing, renting, and managing the delivery of every item needed for the event, down to the last fork and coffee mug. And you’ll be in charge of set up and take down or hiring staff to help out. You’ll also be in charge of making sure the event runs smoothly and any vendors you hire. If this is starting to sound a little daunting that’s because it would be for anyone who doesn’t have event planning or project management experience.
Lots of costs to plan and negotiate
Your budget is going to be a beast of its own to manage over the course of the wedding. And you’ll need to keep a close eye on it to make sure you don’t go way over budget. If you’re in need of a spreadsheet, you can start with mine. The venue costs it estimates is what you’ll have to spend on rentals and getting your home ready for the big day.
You can check out my free budget guide if you sign up for my newsletter. It automatically calculates what you should spend where based on your budget and guest count and helps you stay on track. It’s like the fairy godmother of numbers.
Parking for your guests
And now we get into the logistics. If you’re having 50-100 guests over to your house, will there be a place to park? Or public transportation? Most homes are not equipped with their own parking lot or a shuttle drop off service. Even if you urge guests to take a taxi, that’s a lot of traffic for your suburban street to take on. And your neighbors might not appreciate their peaceful Saturday being disturbed by double-parked guests blocking them from their plans.
You might forget to purchase essential items
If you’ve never planned an event of this scale before, there could be a lot of little or big things you haven’t thought of. Ice, napkins, sugar and cream for coffee service, a microphone for speeches, enough toilet paper or hand soap for the bathrooms, steak knives, butter dishes, fridge space, etc. You could be up for a new surprise every hour of your wedding day that involves begging someone to run out to the store for you or problem solving conversations.
Cost of insurance
I briefly touched on this earlier but you’ll want to make sure you call your home insurance company and have coverage for an event of this scale. You might be covered for guests but not vendors or staff for example. Or you may need additional insurance coverage from a monetary standpoint to make sure you’re covered in the case of a major catastrophe that affects multiple people at once.
Potential damage to your home
And while your friends and family are lovely during the day when they’re sober, at night after a few cocktails there might be some unintended spills, broken glasses, or other unexpected wear and tear on your beautiful home. If you’ve just renovated or bought new furniture, now might not be the time to battle test it by having 100 people putting it to the test.
No hard end time for guests who overstay their welcome
At a traditional venue, there’s a hard end time and it’s someone else’s job to enforce it. If you plan on partying all night, this might not be a problem for you. But if you eventually want people to leave so you can get to your wedding night or start your honeymoon, the task is up to you to kick people out when it’s time to go. Most people don’t want to be the one to turn the lights on and tell people to “go home” on their wedding night.
It’s absolutely essential that you provide enough bathrooms for your guests. I’ve seen a lot of brides-to-be ask in Facebook groups if it’s necessary to rent a portable bathroom. And the answer is ALWAYS yes. 1-2 indoor bathrooms is not enough for 50 people. And it’s a stress on your system to have them being used so heavily over the course of a day or weekend. Especially if you’re hosting an event in a large yard, like on a farm or forest property with multiple acres, you’ll want to ensure that there are bathrooms close to the ceremony and the reception area. You might be willing to sprint 10 minutes back to the house every time you need to go, but your Great Aunt Dorothy or 3-year-old nephew ring bearer might have a harder time of it.
Power supply & Wifi
You know when you plug in your hair dryer and your air conditioner at the same time and it blows a fuse? Don’t risk that at your wedding day. Add generators, and plenty of extension cords to your list of must haves. You also might need stronger wifi for all of your guests and vendors.
And if you’re having any vendors that require power, like a DJ, make sure you ask them what their power and internet needs are and are equipped for that.
Need additional tips from other like-minded brides? Whether you’re planning a wedding at the last minute or on a budget, check out our free, exclusive Facebook group – Wedding Planning Club