With March right around the corner, and the Alberta government having no idea what’s going on with restrictions, it’s no surprise that so many couples are opting for a backyard celebration. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a few backyard celebrations, weddings, baptisms, even just summer parties. Here are my tips and tricks for hosting a successful celebration.
If you’re hosting a wedding here in YEG during our Summer or Fall season, you’ll likely need minimal decor, let nature do its thing. You’ll save $$ and think of how sustainable you’re being.
Also don’t be afraid to use some indoor decor and bring it outside!
This is an important one. Be sure to look into Event Insurance, and Liability Insurance. Check with AGLC if you need a Liquor license and/or Special Event Insurance, AND check over your Homeowners Insurance. Most importantly, please, please, please, make sure all your vendors are licensed and insured.
Also, make sure you check with your city bylaws. I know even with condo living parties are not permitted.
From a logistical standpoint, if you don’t have a planner throughout the process, at the very least hire one for the Wedding Management. Backyard weddings can be so complex, you’re really going to want one if things go sideways (and trust me, there will be something unless you’re having a 10 person DIY bbq). I’ve had caterers forget cutlery,
If you’re hosting an evening event, you will need to consider lighting, string lights are beautiful in photos and functional once the sun goes down. Candlelight is gorgeous, however, be mindful of placement (hello, fire hazard).
If you are having an afternoon ceremony, think of where the sun will be. No one wants the sun directly in their eyes, not the couple, not the guests, not the commissioner but I mean, someone is going to have to deal with it. So you may want to consider the time of day you have your ceremony.
To tent or not to tent. Here in Alberta, the weather is unpredictable. We can have snow in August, seriously. So I would highly recommend securing a tent, I know during COVID if the tent has walls, it is considered an “indoor space” but there ARE tent experts out there and they can help you with any questions or concerns you may have.
This could double under the Tent header but what if there is rain on your wedding day (other than the good luck, of course) do you move the ceremony under the tent? Did you buy umbrellas? What about a wind storm? What’s the backup plan?
Obviously, you won’t be able to accommodate having 25-200 guests without managing rentals. Who will be managing the rentals? Mom? Auntie Linda? Shouldn’t they be getting ready for the wedding too…
This is something all couples hosting an outdoor wedding really need to consider. Rentals typically come the day before and leave the day after. Will it be okay to sit out overnight? If they are, who has the time to check them to make sure they are still clean? (I promise you, mom has a million other things to worry about) and the day after should be left to enjoy the gift opening with your families! HIRE SOMEONE TO TAKE CARE OF THIS! You will not regret it.
Restroom trailers will be a lifesaver, they will keep guests out of your house. Enough said.
Lock the House
With a party going on in the backyard, strangers can still be lurking around. Lock the house, give the keys to your Planner (trust me, you’ll thank me later) and let them know who is allowed to ask for them.
Whenever I have something going on, I always pop a little note into my neighbor’s mailbox letting them know what’s going on. Better than having a noise complaint, right?
If it’s in your budget, it might be a nice touch to give them a bottle of wine or cookies (I mean it’s not like you can invite them, it IS COVID). Also, it’s not bribing if it’s YOUR wedding.
(Yes, it’s a word, google said so.) Make sure you have things to make your guests comfortable. During the day, sunscreen and bug repellent. I’ve even had some couples spray their lawns before their weddings. During the evening, blankets are a great idea. Also, illuminate the pathway to the bar and restrooms and any tripping hazards.
This is a big one. Now unless you have a lot of parking available, I would suggest having (or hiring) someone to direct traffic. You can also rent a bus to have people picked up at a hotel, if there are a lot of out of town guests staying in one area.
While cocktail hour might look a little different since everyone will likely be staying on-site, having some blankets thrown down after the ceremony and some yard games. I also recommend having passed appetizers during this time for the guests to snack on.
Think DJ, Caterer, lighting. How will they use their equipment? Are they supplying their own generators? Will a generator be enough? Make sure you use vendors who’ve worked outdoors before.
H Y D R A T E . Let’s say it together. HYDRATE. Are you going to be serving bottled water? I did a wedding that had the Portable Water Dispensers, which was the most genius idea ever, however, I had to pump them 7,500 times before filling a jug and I had 15 tables to do. I literally couldn’t feel my arms for weeks afterward.
Have you seen those adorable redone trailers popping up?! This is the PERFECT time to use one of those. This is also one less thing to worry about because they often can bring all the pop, ice, garnishes when rented. They will also take care of any insurance and licensing you may require.
This is one thing to consider, how will your Caterer keep the meal hot without access to a kitchen (trust me you do not want them in the house) any professional Caterer will be able to do this but make sure you let them know before signing the contract and make sure you read it over. Also, hello food trucks!
This is a big one, when you use venues such as hotels or other full service venues, there are staff but when you’re using a backyard, who will be taking care of things such as clearing tables of glassware , dessert plates, favor wrappers, napkins or changing out the garbage’s? Obviously the Catering Team will be doing it during dinner (PLEASE MAKE SURE THEY WILL BE TAKING CARE OF THIS DURING DINNER SERVICE) but what happens after dinner? You’ll need to hire staff, whether it’s bussers from your bar vendor or keeping a cater staff throughout the night – this is something that needs to be considered.
A couple of days before your big day, do a deep clean of the property line, it’s also a great idea to rent a dumpster the day after your wedding to throw away all the trash. If you’re able, think about donating your bottles to a local charity or sports organization!