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No one wants “cheap” when it comes to their wedding, but there are ways to get around all of the usual expenses that rack up on the most important day of your life. One of the more popular methods is to forgo the expensive reception venue (on average, prices hover around $1000 for the night, and that doesn’t include additional ceremony fees or fees-per-person) and hold the after-ceremony celebrations in your own backyard.
If you have the space, there isn’t anything as personal or memorable as having your closest friends and family gather at your own home to celebrate your wedding. Here are a few tips for preparing the perfect backyard reception and saving a little money (without feeling cheap) while you’re at it.
Prepare Your Yard
Start planning for a backyard reception well in advance. You might be saving some cash by celebrating in your own space instead of an expensive reception hall, but it also means that you’ve got more work to do. Make sure your trees are trimmed and shapely, your lawn is fresh and green, and your flowerbeds are in pristine condition.
If you have aesthetic repairs to make on your home, now is the time to get them out of the way. You might not be having the wedding inside your house, but you don’t want dirty gutters or loose siding to detract from the beauty of your yard. Power spray your deck, clean up your roof gutters, and get the professionals out to clean up your pool and surrounding area. These are necessary maintenance items anyway, and a wedding is a great excuse to get them done.
Set Up Early
You’ll want to have all of the tables, chairs, sound system, food, and anything else that needs to be set up in place before the wedding starts. The last thing you want is to be stressed about decorations when all of the guests start arriving. Depending on how elaborate your backyard transformation promises to be, you might be able to set up the decorations on your own and save yourself a wad of cash. Enlist cousins, best friends, and others that don’t already have wedding duties to help with the set-up, and make sure they’re ready to help clean up after it’s all over, too! Family and friends expect to be enlisted in wedding preparations, so don’t feel like you’ll be overstepping your bounds to ask for help.
Keep It Small
A backyard reception is an intimate affair. Don’t try to invite your entire neighborhood or your whole high school graduating class. Keep the guest list small enough that your reception doesn’t feel cramped or claustrophobic. If you have a smaller wedding party, you’ll be able to spend your budget on items and services (the catering, decorations, more personalized party favors, etc.) that will feel more personal and special than cheap catering and mass thank-you notes.
If you’re worried about excluding people important to you, consider throwing a casual open house after you get back from your honeymoon or even right before your wedding. Have a barbeque in the backyard for all of your acquaintances that you couldn’t invite to the reception. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it will let them know that you want them to be part of the celebrations.
Prepare for the Weather
An outdoor wedding is risky as far as weather goes. You might want to have a separate venue planned just in case you get rained out. Another option is to find a few tents to set up — you can find them for fairly cheap if you want to set them up yourself, or you can hire a company to come set them up professionally. These canopies or tents can range in price from under $100 to well over $1000, depending on your budget.
Use Natural Beauty
Decorations are, of course, a necessity, but use the natural beauty of your yard as best you can. An outdoor reception will definitely ease your flower budget! There’s no need to call out the swimming pool builders of Vancouver to install that pool you’ve been dreaming of for years. Don’t bother getting professional bush-trimmers out to sculpt your shrubs into the bride and groom’s doppelgangers. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make your backyard look like a different place…you only need to enhance its existing charm.
Keep it simple. White tablecloths with candles will enhance the beauty of your yard instead of distracting from it. String white lights on trees and bushes, and play soft music over speakers instead of hiring a live band.
Weddings are naturally stressful, but enlist the help of family, friends, and neighbors as you plan your perfect backyard reception. They might not be professionals, but they’ll be happy to help…and sharing your wedding planning and reception with the people closest to you will definitely make your wedding the best day of your life.
Melanie Hargrave is a wife and homemaker whose family is her pride and joy. She has been preparing for her two daughter’s backyard weddings since they were in kindergarten, and has much appreciated the help of Alka Pool Construction Ltd and local landscaping companies.