Suzannah McFall

January 15, 2023

DIY Backyard Wedding

Things to Consider when Hosting a Backyard Wedding

My Journal

Wedding at aproprty in Whangamata with the celebrant taling to the bride and groom
A wedding hosted at a beach front property in Whangamata

As a wedding photographer, I have seen a lot of weddings and they have been at a range of locations around Auckland and New Zealand. There are some stunning wedding venues around the country but there are many bride and grooms that choose to have their big day in a backyard, either their own or a friends. The backyard wedding trend works really well for those who are wanting a more DIY style wedding with the freedom to make all the decisions whereas hiring a venue works for those who want a little less stress and to leave some of that decision making and planning to someone else. But what is better? Neither, but there are definitely pros and cons for both. I’m going to tell you a few of the things about holding a wedding in your backyard that I have noticed from my observations as a photographer.

Guests mingling during the evening at a wedding set up in the backyard

Backyard Weddings

There is something really Kiwi and authentic about hosting a wedding in your own backyard, or that of your parents or a close friend or relative. Backyard weddings mean that there is a lot more organising to do as you have to plan every part of the day. But this also means you have the freedom to pick and choose what you hire, the decor you use and what vendors you utilise in order to create a wedding that is authentically you. These weddings also tend to be pretty relaxed with a chilled vibe, a looser timeline, less regulations or curfews, and are often more cosy and intimate. They also give you more flexibility with choosing a date as you are not competing with any other couples. For those who love to plan, who enjoy organising and are creatively minded, a backyard wedding is a really good choice.

Many people assume that this is going to be a lot cheaper than hiring a venue (especially once you realise how much a good wedding venue actually costs!). This can be true depending on what you want for your wedding day. But bear in mind, there are many other costs involved in hosting a backyard wedding that you may not have considered. Its likely that if you are planning your own backyard wedding, you haven’t planned one before so at first, you don’t quite know what what costs are involved. Here is a list of the things you would need to consider for your backyard wedding…

Tent or marquee -First of all, you need a wet weather option, so if you don’t have a covered space, it’s very wise to hire a tent or marquee. (I like to remind people that not every marquee looks nice in the photos, so if you can afford it, find a pretty one).

A wedding tent at night with the lights on
A wedding set on a rural property in Taranaki

Toilets – If you have a decent guest list, then you likely need to hire some extra portable toilets to have on site.

Furniture – Tables, seating for ceremony and reception, umbrellas, et… (again, when choosing your furniture, it helps to think about your photos, your theme and what is going to look good on the day)

Dinnerware – Plates, utensils, glasses, etc…

Decor – This can be what you want it to be including table decor, signage, flowers, floor mats,

Lighting – Of course you want your guests to see at night and to make the venue look pretty, so lighting is a must.

Sound – Unless you are hiring a band who are bringing all their own sound gear, you may need to hire speakers, microphone, etc for speeches, music and dancing.

Generator – To power everything!

Drinks – Alcoholic and non-alcoholic

Bar – If you want to delegate the drink serving to a company, you can hire a bar or drink caravan.

Drinks bar set up at wedding
There are plenty of options when it comes to hiring a drinks bar

Caterers – This is going to be one of your biggest expenses and there are a range of options from full catering service to food truck to self catering.

Servers/assistants – to help set up and distribute food to all the guests and also to help tidy things up along the way

Food truck at wedding
Hiring a food truck is one of the easiest catering options

Games – This is of course optional but many couples choose to hire games for their guests to play during their wedding reception.

Wedding reception games
Giant Jenga is a popular game that wedding couples hire for their reception entertainment

Rubbish removal – There will likely be more rubbish to take away than what your general neighbourhood rubbish collection can handle. You will also need some rubbish and recycling bins for your guests to use.

Backyard wedding during lockdown
This wedding was set in the Bride & Groom’s own backyard during a covid lockdown. They did things exactly how they wanted to with a super intimate ceremony.

All of the above mentioned costs are not only things you will need to pay for, but you will also need to research and book them, which can be hugely time consuming. So it is also worth thinking about hiring a wedding planner who has connections within the industry and can do the bulk of this work for you. You will also need a lot of help because picking up equipment, setting everything up, organising vendors, and then packing up and returning everything is not something you can do alone.

A few other things to mention…

Parking! – You will need to have a place for all your guests to park.

Neighbours – Make sure your neighbours are aware of the wedding and be respectful of noise regulations.

Wet weather – Can your venue handle the rain? In New Zealand we all know that the weather is temperamental and rain can threaten any date, so it’s important to have a plan for the possibility of a wet wedding day.

What to do if your wedding day is rainy
We luckily had umbrellas handy for these bridal party portraits

Cleaning up – This can be a big task and possibly something best delegated to other so you can enjoy your wedding night and relax for your first day as a married couple. Cleaning up involves picking up all the rubbish, packing up all the equipment and dinnerware and returning hired gear to the vendors. If rental companies have a drop off/pick up option, this will really benefit you and reduce the workload both before and also after the wedding day.

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