On May 19, 2012, I married Mark Zuckerberg. Well, at least according to the couple dozen congratulations I received on Twitter and Facebook. As most of the world knows, the Zuck married his long-time girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, in a reportedly casual but intimate backyard wedding. In fact, guests didn’t even know they were attending a wedding until they got there!
Backyard weddings have long been heralded as a sentimental, romantic and budget-friendly way of getting hitched and I suspect that we’ll see a higher number of them in the near future (thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Zuckerberg). But they do take a lot more work and meticulous planning so it may not be for everyone. Here are my 5 secrets to planning an unforgettable backyard wedding.
You Can’t Do It All Yourself
Let’s face it, you’re going to need help… and lots of it. Most houses are not equipped to host a traditional wedding so unless you’re planning a casual, BBQ/serve yourself kind of ceremony and reception, you will need to hire people. Think caterers, servers, bartenders, florists, cleaning crew, valets and of course a wedding coordinator to pull it all together.
Rent, Rent, Rent
You will most likely need to rent everything. The essentials are tables, chairs, table linens, dinnerware, napkins, barware, a tent (highly recommended!), dance floor and A/V equipment. Depending on the size of your house and the number of guests, you may even want to consider renting port-a-potties. No, I’m not talking about the gross, smelly port-a-potties of old. Nowadays, you can rent ones that have lighting, sinks, hot water and even A/C (for the hot summer weddings). The general rule of thumb is to have 1 bathroom per 35 guests so you do the math.
Make Nice With City Officials And Your Neighbors
The last thing you want is cops crashing your party so make sure you do your homework on everything from city permits on noise and parking to fire department inspections. While you’re at it, find out what your home insurance coverage is. With so many people walking in and out from your house, there’s a real possibility of your house getting damaged so make sure you’re covered.
Tell your neighbours well in advance about your wedding plans. That way, they are well prepared for the inundation of people, cars and noise on your big day. Be sure to also mention your ceremony start time so nobody is mowing their lawns when you’re saying I do.
Simplicity in Decor
In a unique setting such as your home, it is extremely easy and cost-effective to create a stunning and gorgeous atmosphere. Simple things such as candles, paper lanterns, garden lamps and Christmas lights strung around a tree will have your guests remembering your wedding for a very long time.
Have A Plan B
You should always, always, always have a plan B that is just as good as your plan A. Prepare for the worst case weather scenario by renting a tent or having an alternate venue option in case of a sudden downpour. Don’t forget to plan for hot summer days by having extra fans and portable A/C units on hand. If you’re planning an autumn or winter wedding, make sure you have extra heaters to warm up the place.
Like I said, backyard weddings aren’t for everyone but if planned right, it could be breathtakingly beautiful and magical.
Top photo by Our Labour of Love; middle photo by Weddings by Lilly, bottom photo by Inspire Bohemia