Backyard Weddings: Money Pit or Money Saver?


The classic movie ?Father of the Bride? featured an at-home wedding reception in the Banks family?s beautiful Colonial-style home, and it included the chaos of the wedding day with George confused about why all of their furniture had disappeared.

If you?re thinking of having your wedding or reception (or both) at home, you might be as frustrated as George when it comes time to foot the bill to strip your house down to a shell in order to make room for guests.

The idea of an at-home wedding may be charming. Whether your family has a mansion or a modest home, it?s possible to hold a tasteful event with proper planning. But it?s not as simple as planning your annual summer barbecue and throwing some tulle here and there.

If having your reception at home seems like a good way to slash your budget, think again. You might save the cost of renting the venue itself, but most families don?t have an inventory of things sitting around that you?ll soon discover you?ll need for the reception. For example, do you have enough tables to set out for your guests? How about linens, chairs, plates and silverware?? How about a tent large enough to cover your dance floor if it rains? How about the dance floor itself? At least most wedding venues are prepared to include these items, or at least make them available.

If you weigh the options and determine that an at-home wedding or reception is still your first choice, be sure to allow yourself plenty of planning time.

A few months before the wedding, take a good look at your yard. Does it need to have any holes or uneven spots taken care of so that your guests won?t twist an ankle and table legs will be level? How about planting grass seed to fill up those bald spots?

Sketch out a map of the yard, penciling in where you would like to set up the food stations, band or DJ, tables for your guests, the dance floor and cake table.

Investigate your options as far as keeping insects at bay. Remember some insect-repellent candles are heavily scented, which can be an unpleasant odor especially when placed near food, candles or fresh flowers. Don?t force the scents to fight each other.

About a week before the wedding, get rid of clutter, trim limbs and shrubs, and mow the yard.

The day before the wedding, give everything another good look and straighten up anything last-minute such as stringing white Christmas lights along the fence, placing rented topiaries around the yard and set up tables.

Are you worried about a neighbor?s lawn mower drowning out your vows? ?The easiest way to take care of this potential problem is to invite those neighbors to your wedding.

When it?s time to visit a rental store, take the sketch of your yard, a firm headcount, and consider the items you will likely need to rent:

  • Dining tables and chairs
  • Tableware (place settings, flatware, glasses)
  • Table linens
  • Portable restrooms
  • Dance floor
  • Generator
  • Speakers
  • Lighting
  • Microphone
  • Tent
  • Chafing dishes with candles beneath (or some other way to keep serving dishes warm)