Marquee’s Backyard Wedding Planning Guide
By: Marquee Event Rentals
In March, the US government began a mandate that shut down gatherings of more than 50 people in accordance with the CDC’s social distancing guidelines. This meant that many couples had to postpone their weddings until a later date. The things we most cherish as well as the things we take for granted are being altered, delayed and postponed. Weddings, anniversary celebrations, graduation gatherings, birthday parties, and family reunions have all been put on hold, rescheduled or simply left hanging. With many restrictions easing over the next few months and smaller gatherings becoming possible, you may find yourself considering a micro-wedding at home. Whether a backyard wedding was always your dream, or you find yourself adapting your plans to create a smaller, more intimate event, these tips can help.
Step 1 | Set Your Priorities
One of the first steps in planning your event is to decide upon your main priorities. Whether you’re looking to throw the most epic party of all time, blow your guests away with the best catering in town, keep things sweet & simple, or stay within a certain budget, the priorities for every event are unique.
Once you have your priorities determined, it is time to establish the needs for each. Our checklist below is a helpful starting point to begin this process.
As with any outdoor event, you’re going to need to rent numerous items for your backyard wedding. Marquee’s proven consultation process will deliver a checklist customized to your event needs… but here are a few important topics to start:
- Centerpiece Vases
- Table Decor
- Dance Floor
- Lounge Furniture
- AV Equipment
- Screen and Projector (for virtual guests)
- Photo Booth
- Food Prep/Storage Equipment
- Portable Restrooms
- Trash and recycling bins
Step 2 | Design Your Event
This is the fun part! You’ll want to set up an appointment for a virtual consultation with an event expert at Marquee who will help you start design your special day. They can help you see your ideas come together with moodboards for your tablescape and CAD drawings to help you understand the layout in your backyard.
Before you get too far into booking vendors, you must check with your city officials to find out if you need permits to host a large party at your home. There might be noise ordinances, fire codes, health department regulations, and zoning issues that you don’t want to violate. In some cases, your vendors might need to file additional paperwork. If you're renting a tent, we offer a permit service that will help you navigate local regulations and properly submit your application.
When you’re checking on permits, also check the rules for street parking in your neighborhood. Some communities have specific times that street parking is not allowed or even prohibit overnight parking. If that’s the case — or you don’t have enough street parking near your home — consider hiring a valet service to park the cars at a nearby open lot.
Step 3 | Create a Logistical Plan
Your event may be scaled down, but a solid plan is a very important part of making your big day a success! There are many things to consider when planning your backyard event. The topics below cover everything from power to permits; ensuring even the smallest detail is accounted for. Consider hiring an event planner to help you organize these details if it feels like something that’s beyond what you’d like to handle. These are seasoned professionals who love to organize the details, even for an intimate backyard gathering.
Admired for their durability, functionality, and overall uniqueness, tents can offer a plethora of options to any outdoor wedding space. Whether white, clear, or lined with colorful fabric, these resilient structures make for a stylish addition to cocktail hour, an outdoor ceremony, or reception. Either as a part of your initial wedding day layout or secured as a backup plan in case of rain, an assortment of sizes and materials make opting for these covered configurations anything but limiting.
Between the extra lighting, the DJ’s sound system, and the catering food prep equipment, you may be using more power than your home can handle. To ensure you don’t end up in the dark with a blown fuse, you may need to consider renting a generator to accommodate the extra power needs. After you’ve checked with all your wedding vendors to determine their power needs, we can help you choose the generator that will fit your needs. And good news – we can offer the “whisper quiet” generators so it doesn’t sound like someone is mowing the lawn in the background!
If your guest list is larger than 15 people, you will need to think about providing additional toilet facilities. There are so many options for upscale portables with amenities like lighting, mirrors, sinks, and more space than traditional port-o-potties! Trust us, this will prefvent a lot of unnecessary traffic and overuse of your household facilities.
When hiring your vendors, it’s important to understand what they will provide as far as setup and breakdown goes. The last thing that you want on your special day is to find out that a vendor you hired will only drop off, but not actually setup/breakdown what they’re providing for the event. For simpler items like place cards or personal décor elements, you may enlist your friends and family or your wedding planner to help you setup a day or two beforehand. For other things, you may want to leave it up to a trusted professional to do the heavy lifting. Marquee offers setup and breakdown services for most of our rental items to make the process as easy as possible for you.
This is one of the most important details to keep in mind when planning your space and your rentals. A group of 20+ people will produce a lot of trash over an entire day, so you’ll need to rent plenty of trash and recycling bins to collect it all. Your caterer might even take care of emptying the bins throughout the day, so ask if that’s a service they offer. If not, you might want to designate or hire someone to monitor the bins so they don’t get too full and cause an unpleasant sight or smell.
Step 4 | Finalize the Details
Now that you’ve thought through your priorities, needs, and logistics, you can finalize all of the little details that will make your event day special. You’ll work with each vendor to finalize all of your wishes, from catering, to music, and décor.
We will help you select all of the best options when it comes to rentals. Our experts help find the right tent size and style, or help you pick the perfect linen and china. Our team can create tent layouts to help you plan your seating arrangements and event flow using our CAD system. Our online product guides and trend report can also be a tremendous resource to help you select the right glassware, flatware, linens, and more. We also have a wealth of experience working with caterers and other vendors to ensure they have their rental needs covered for outdoor events.
Yard Maintenance & Setup
You’ll want to plan yard maintenance in advance to give plants time to fill out, flowers to bloom, and space to be cleared, if necessary. You might even consider hiring a landscaper to take care of all the design and maintenance so it’s one less thing on your to-do list. At the very least, you need to cut the grass a few days before the wedding. One thing you absolutely can’t forget to check is that the ground is level enough for chairs, tables, and a dance floor. If you’re renting a tent, our team will be able to check and let you know if they need to lay a foundation so the dance floor is level. If you’re not renting a tent, a landscaper should be able to check if the ground is level.
As much as you don’t want to think of bad things happening on your special day, it's better to be safe than sorry. Contact your homeowner's insurance to understand coverage on accidents such as inside or outside property damage. You will also want to ask your vendors for copies of the insurance they carry. You may want to purchase supplemental insurance for peace of mind. Marquee Event Rentals offers damage waiver insurance that will cover any accidental damage to our rental items.
Have a unique or beautiful feature of the backyard that you want to make a focal point? Marquee can help design custom solutions to accentuate the best parts of your property. If you have an inground pool in your backyard, you can use that space in a dramatic way. Transform your pool into entertainment space for your wedding with a clear or wood floor, engineered specifically to support dining, dancing, and cocktail hour.
A month or two before your wedding, notify your neighbors of your backyard wedding plans. This will give them plenty of time to plan ahead, rearrange any plans that might conflict, or plan a night away. Give them as many details as possible, such as the exact time of your ceremony, so they know when you’ll need some extra quiet and let them know where your guests plan to park in case they have concerns about street parking. If you’re going to tell your neighbors in person, we recommend also giving them a written schedule so they have all the details for the day-of. You could even include a small gift as a token of appreciation for their patience. A little consideration will go a long way in keeping everyone happy!
SPACE PLANNING TIPS
Whether your backyard is small or sprawling, you’ll want to pay particular attention to where you set up your ceremony. Large trees make for the perfect backdrop and provide shade from harsh sunlight. If you want to make the house a focal point, you could set up your ceremony so you, your partner, and the officiant are standing on the back porch with all your guests on the lawn, facing you. Keep in mind if you’re getting married in warm months, you’ll want to keep your guests’ chairs out of direct sunlight before the ceremony or, ideally, choose a shaded spot to set up chairs. If you’re getting married in cooler months, you might consider setting up your ceremony in a non-shaded spot so you and your guests can enjoy some natural warmth. I’d recommend checking the position of the sun during the ceremony time so the sun isn’t directly in their eyes.
Tents are perfect for designating a reception space in a backyard and make space planning a breeze. While coordinating your tent rental, work with our team to decide how many tables and food/drink serving stations you need and how large your dance floor should be. You don’t want to overcrowd the space and you want to ensure your guests have plenty of space to dance — even if that means you’ll need to move tables/chairs at certain points of the day. Because your reception will also include food and drink, your caterer and bartender should visit the space so they can let you know what extra equipment they’ll be bringing and how much space they’ll need. If your kitchen isn’t large enough, you might need to set up another food prep area, which is something you’ll need to account for when planning your space.
Photo Credits: Rooted Trumpet Photography