Today’s episode is about one of the very first decisions you make as a newly engaged couple: where to have your wedding. 

Do you choose a professional wedding venue or do you choose to hold your event on a private piece of property, such as a backyard? We want to help you walk through all of the pros and cons of both options, so you can decide realistically what that decision looks like for you!

The process of planning a wedding can seem overwhelming, and we want to help make some of the decisions easier for you as you move forward.

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Cost

Your wedding venue is one of the first decisions you will make as a newly engaged couple. 

The natural thought is that having a backyard wedding is going to be much more cost effective. While that can be true, it’s not always the case. Lots of pieces need to be purchased or rented separately when you provide your own space. Depending on what you need, it may end up costing you more than it would have cost to rent a full service venue.

Professional venues have a higher price tag, but it’s because they have factored in most or all of these extras into the price to make it as stress free as possible for you. There is so much involved in what they will provide for your wedding. 

Let’s look at some of pros and cons of each option.

Availability

One of the biggest benefits to having a private property wedding is that you have full flexibility in choosing your date! You can choose the Saturday in October that everyone else wants, or the anniversary date that’s very memorable. 

With professional venues, the most popular dates of the year tend to book up far in advance and can be difficult to book. If you are booking a venue, it’s best to decide as early as possible so you can call and get it booked right away.

A Weather Dependent Plant B

If you are planning an outdoor wedding, you always want to have a plan B in case of bad weather. At a professional wedding venue, there will often be an option available for this, but if you are choosing to have a backyard wedding, you will want to consider renting a tent or other building in case it rains. 

A tent rental that provides a well anchored space will take a chunk out of your budget, but is worth it for the peace of mind it provides!

The Supplies: Tables, Chairs, Lighting, etc.

When you rent a venue for your wedding, most or all of the extras that you might forget about are included in the price, which means that once you book, you barely have to think about them at all! 

If you are having a backyard wedding however, it will take some planning and an investment to make sure you have everything you need.

When it comes to tables and chairs for example, you will need to consider the man hours involved in hauling them in and out and setting them up, as well as the cost of renting them.

Other supplies to look into:

  • Linens for the tables
  • Lighting – market lights, flood lights, and even shop lights are some that we have seen being used!
  • A reliable power source – you can use a generator, just keep in mind that it’s noisy and you will probably want to park it a good distance from the event area and use extension cords to draw the power to where you need it. 

The Bathroom Situation

One big pro of renting a venue is that major amenities, such as bathrooms for the guests and a kitchen for the caterers is provided. 

For a backyard wedding, you will have to have a plan of action, and you have a couple of options:

  • Allow guests to use the washroom in the main house. This option is usually good if you are having a smaller event and don’t mind people going in and out of the house.
  • Rent a restroom trailer. They are an added expense, but are a more attractive and convenient option. 
  • Rent porta potties. They are cheaper than renting a restroom trailer, but are less attractive. 

The Bar

Most venues will have an area where you can set up a bar, or even have a fully functioning bar and ice machines included so that your bartender can easily do their job. 

For backyard weddings, you will need to decide if you are going to even have a bartender, or provide the alcohol in a self serve style.

We have seen weddings where they just have coolers full of ice and drinks for guests to help themselves. It can work well if you trust your guests to be responsible and respectful when it comes to drinks, but you will also want to consider the access that kids may have if the alcohol is unattended. 

Some couples even choose to bring in a bartender for a backyard wedding! While this does come at another extra expense, it can be nice to know that the alcohol is supervised and being served responsibly. Having a bartender also gives you the option of having fancier mixed drinks if that is something you would like. If you choose to hire a bartender, you can either rent a bar or just set up some tables with all of the supplies they will need.

Parking

Parking is something that can be easy to forget about when you are hosting your wedding at a private property. It’s important to think about though, because depending on where your property is located, it might be difficult for guests. For example, you don’t want to overrun a neighborhood with vehicles on the street, but you also don’t want your guests to have to park and walk half a mile to the wedding. 

When you do have a space for parking, it is really helpful to have a parking attendant available to help keep the parking lot from getting too chaotic. They can help make sure that there is space for people to get out and for any vendors that arrive to have a path to get through.

The Dance Floor

Another big pro with a professional venue is that the dance floor is ready for dancing!

If you are providing your own space, think about these: What is your surface like? Is the grass too soft to have tables and chairs sitting on, or are sprinklers coming on the night before and going to make everything soggy? 

Some people put out plywood to use as a dance floor, but you want to really be careful that it is as level as possible so no one hurts themselves on a raised edge or wobbly board. 

Another option is to rent a professional dance floor but even with this option you will want to make sure you have a level area of ground ready for it. 

On that note, if you are having a DJ, make sure there is a flat space available for them to set up, with power available as well.

The Food

The meal is a big and expensive part of your wedding, and requires quite a bit of space to prepare and serve. There are a few things that can make it go as smoothly as possible! 

A big pro of renting a venue space is that they usually have a kitchen area available for the caterers to work. 

If you are having a backyard wedding and are only able to bring in one professional to help, we suggest bringing in a caterer. It will make your life so much easier and can really uplevel the experience of your wedding. Caterers are great in that they will usually do a full walk through and give you an idea of how many tables you need and what is the most efficient way to set everything up. 

When looking into caterers, you can usually find one that is completely self sufficient. They will bring a truck with its own power source and an area to serve out of so that you don’t need to provide any of that. 

If you don’t have that option available, plan to make sure you have a staging area or kitchen available for the caterers. Even if they bring the food already prepared, it’s surprising how much room they need to make the meal work smoothly! 

The Morning After

As the couple, you won’t have to worry about cleaning up after the wedding as you excitedly take off on your honeymoon. But someone will have to take care of it, and it’s good to know who that will be beforehand to avoid potential conflicts later. . 

If you rent a space, some will offer cleanup services, and some won’t, so you may need to enlist the help of family or friends to do it. The alternative is that you can hire someone to come in and tidy everything for you. 

The same with a backyard wedding. One thing to think about if you are asking family and friends to do the setup and take down is that before the wedding, it can really make it tight for them to get ready for the wedding in the midst of finishing setting up the chairs and decorations. 

If you hire a professional wedding planner, they can help plan a cleanup staff to take care of it so that your family can focus on just enjoying the celebration and creating memories!

Whether you choose to have your wedding at a professional venue, or in your Grandpa’s backyard, a few well planned details can make sure either one is beautiful, stress free, and enjoyable. We have done some great weddings that are on private property, and part of the reason they run so smoothly is that the couple thought about these seemingly little things and had a plan in place. 

If you are newly engaged, congratulations! We hope that this post helped lay out all of the pros and cons of each venue option so that you can move forward in making the best decision for you. 

If you need more guidance in the planning process, we have lots of resources to help! Read our blog, or check out our virtual planning services. You can also find us on Tik Tok and Instagram with helpful tips almost every day. 

Happy planning!

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