7 Ways a Backyard Wedding may Be More Costly than You Think

A backyard wedding ceremony decorated with white chairs and balloons.

A relaxed and cozy backyard wedding, at first thought, appears to be a budget-friendly option for couples concerned about the cost of their event. But quite a few newlyweds quickly discover that their seemingly low-key wedding doesn’t necessarily end up being low-budget. This is quite important to point out these days as many couples are opting for an at-home wedding not just to save money, but also due to the continuing restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. By no means does this mean that a backyard wedding should be off the table. It’s simply a matter of keeping all the unexpected costs in mind when making your wedding plans.

Creativity Comes at a Cost

Money aside, many couples love the idea of a backyard wedding simply because the venue is essentially a blank slate. In other words, you have total artistic control of the setting, the vendors, the schedule, and everything else. Unfortunately, that level of power comes at a price. How so? Let’s look at a few key points of a backyard wedding that may end up weighing down your wallet.

1. Forget “All-Inclusive”

When hiring a venue for your wedding ceremony and/or reception, you’re also paying for furniture, decor, linens, dishes, glassware, electricity, staff, and so much more. When you opt for a backyard wedding, you’ll have to pay for all of those bits individually. Together, all of them can easily pile up into one big bill.

The same goes for caterers. Food delivery often does not come with a server, so you’ll have to sort out how you’ll manage to feed your guests. Or, if the food does come with a server, it may require a kitchen for storage and last-minute details. Don’t have one? No problem — some caterers can set up a commercial outdoor kitchen in a flash. The only issue? It’ll raise your bill quite significantly.

In addition, don’t forget the set-up and break-down costs and the staff you may have to hire to do it all. And always remember, the bigger your wedding, the greater the costs.

2. Decor and Landscaping

A pair of wedding musicians in a landscaped backyard.

Generally speaking, wedding venues tend to be well-decorated and well kept, so the only decor-related costs will be as a result of your own personal preferences. This is where the “blank slate” aspect could require more upfront costs. For example, if you don’t have a well-manicured lawn and garden, you should start prepping that months in advance and possibly hire a regular professional to maintain it.

3. Parking

Unless you’re planning a party in a remote area with plenty of outdoor space or street parking, you’ll have to consider where your guests will leave their vehicles. This could mean pre-ordering space at a nearby parking lot, renting a shuttle, hiring a valet service, and/or purchasing parking permits within the neighborhood. Multiply that by your guest list and all of that can end up emptying your bank account.

4. Whatever the Weather

A white tent at a backyard wedding.

As much as we’d all love our wedding to take place in perfect weather, such is often not the case. There will be rainy, windy, and chilly days and you should prep for a worst-case scenario even if you’re hosting in the midst of summer. Since most homes aren’t big enough to host a large group, this means you might have to rent out some tents and heaters to protect against the elements, which can be quite expensive. Tents alone can range from $1,500 to $15,000.

5. Bathrooms

On a related note, some homes may not have enough bathrooms to keep everyone comfortable. As a rule of thumb, there should be at least one toilet per 25 people. If not, it’s best to rent a portable bathroom or two. Don’t worry—Porta Potties have come a long way. There are plenty of luxury options these days with sinks, good lighting, and added extras.

6. Electricity

An outdoor wedding reception decorated with string lights.

Another much-forgotten detail is electricity. Many homes aren’t capable of outputting the power needed to host a large event—never mind if there’s a live band and outdoor lighting involved. In which case, you may need to use a generator or two.

7. Permits

Depending on where you’re hosting your wedding, you may need permission from one or multiple officials as private residences have different rules than traditional wedding venues. For example, you may need a noise permit, fire inspection, or simply permission from the city to get married at a certain spot. These are all relatively small costs, but every penny counts on a larger scale.

Time Is Money

Of course, it’s worth noting that sometimes not spending money can actually cost you more money. Unless you hire a planner/coordinator, planning a wedding in a private space means you’ll be taking care of all of the logistics from start to finish all by yourself. That precious time can add up quickly and take away from your personal or work life to the point where you may question if it’s cheaper to hire some help. Since weddings can get complicated quickly, it’s worth weighing out what you lose or gain by DIY-ing a backyard wedding.

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