Outdoor Venue vs. Backyard Wedding

Photo by Aryn Stout Photography

When you begin planning your wedding, one of the first decisions you will make is based on your style. Will you have a traditional church wedding? A rustic barn theme? Elegant ballroom? Indoor? Outdoor? There are so many different options these days — choices that will reflect your unique personality and vision. After this big decision is made, the next step is choosing the perfect venue that reflects your style.

If you decide on an outdoor wedding — the next choice you will find yourself makings using a venue vs. hosting your wedding on personal property. In our opinion, there are definite pros and cons to each.

A “Backyard Wedding”

A “Backyard Wedding” is essentially a wedding held on private property belonging to yourself, your family, or a friend. This option usually comes into play when couples either have a unique space they have always loved, or find themselves on a tight budget.

Here are what we think are the biggest pros to a backyard wedding:

The Pros:

  • Budget — Your budget is always going to be one of the leading decision makers in your wedding planning process. If you have the opportunity to host your wedding on someone’s property for free, this can obviously be a cheaper option. We do advise you to be cautious with this decision though and do your research first! You may find that it is much more expensive than you anticipate — we will say more on this later.
  • A Sentimental Choice — The location of your wedding should feel special. It will be a huge part of your love story. Choosing to get married on a property that already holds meaning to you will obviously make it feel even more special.
  • Less Guidelines — There is no contract! There is no list of rules you have to follow, likely no time restrictions, and overall more flexibility. If signing and sticking to a contract scares you — or if you have a vision that doesn’t fit into the confines of a professional business — then hosting on private property might be your best option.

Of course with the pros, also come the cons.

The Cons:

  • Pressure on Your Family: Hosting on personal property leaves A LOT of responsibility on you and your family. All of the details of your day will have to be taken care of my family/friends or hired out to a planning service. This will include setting up, tearing down, directing vendors and guests, decorating, etc. If you want your guests to feel like GUESTS, then hosting a “Backyard Wedding” might not be the best fit for you as they will have a lot of work to do before and after the event.
  • Property Maintenance: There is a lot of work that goes into getting a property “wedding ready.” That responsibility will have to fall on you or the property owner. Some things that might be involved are updating landscaping, mowing, spraying for bugs, establishing a parking area, clearing a large enough area, etc.
  • Stress: Again, there is a lot that goes into preparing for a wedding. The more responsibilities put on you and your family, the more stressful your wedding day becomes.
  • Facilities: More logistics. Something as simple as restrooms may help you make your decision. Does the property have enough restrooms for your guests? Are the owners okay with people coming into their home? Will you have to rent portable restrooms? For some, this is a deal-breaker. For others, it will just be an added expense. On the same page, make sure electrical is available as well. Will you have to bring in generators? Extension cords? Is there enough electricity for efficient lighting as well as your DJ/music needs? Don’t forget to add these things into your budget. Lastly, make sure you consider parking. Always be sure there is enough parking available for all your guests.
  • Lack of Guidance: All of the decisions in wedding planning can become overwhelming. Just looking at the list above can become stressful. Unless weddings have been done on the property in the past, you may just feel at a loss of where to even start.
  • Rentals: We mentioned restroom rentals, but also make sure you take into account all the rental items you will need to host your wedding. This may include a tent, tables, chairs, linens, etc. The more rentals you need, the higher the cost. This adds up — and fast.

Overall — just be sure to have a comprehensive list of all of your needs when putting together your “Backyard Wedding” budget. You may be surprised at how quickly it adds up. If your budget is the only reason you are hosting your wedding on private property, at least make sure you reach out to local venues to see if there is another financially similar option. If your choice is made based more on emotional and sentimental reasons, use the list above as well as other planning tools to help you in the wedding planning process!

An “Outdoor Venue”

Now that we have discussed what a backyard wedding is and what it entails, let’s compare it to using an outdoor wedding venue instead of personal property.

We won’t bore you with redundancy, but of course a lot of the pros/cons of using a professional outdoor wedding venue are going to be the opposite of the pros/cons of a backyard wedding.

The Pros:

  • Professionals Available: This is one of the biggest pros in our opinion. Hiring a venue usually means hiring a staff as well (we advise you to make sure that it does!). This will typically at least include someone on-site to answer any venue related topics such as where electrical hookups are, where guests should gather, assist with vendor questions, etc. Some venues (like Bailey’s Place!) will even have additional staff to handle your set up, tear down, and even decorating and coordinating options as well. Having professionals to take care of these details rather than depending on family will hugely reduce your wedding-day stress.
  • Property Maintenance: We discussed before all that can go into preparing a property for a wedding. At a venue, that responsibility obviously falls on the venue. They should be taking care of all the landscaping, mowing, maintenance, spraying for bugs, etc. What a relief!
  • Rentals Included: This will vary by venue as well, but most venues will have tables/chairs/tent included in their pricing. If they don’t, then make sure you ask about those costs — but we recommend finding a venue that does (and even sets everything up)!
  • Guests are GUESTS: Self-explanatory. Your guests get the luxury of being a guest and not responsible for working at your wedding.
  • Facilities: Restrooms, electrical, parking, etc. Taken care of!
  • Additional Perks: Varying by venue, there are a lot of other perks that come with using a wedding venue including bridal suites, decorations, vendor recommendations, assistance in planning, and a property designed for weddings!

But it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t mention…

The Cons:

  • Budget: With the above pros, does come a cost. Venues do have to add into their fees staffing, maintenance, insurance, etc. If you budget is very strict, your only option may be to rely on your friends/family instead. If that is the case, I am sure they will be more than happy to help and make your wedding dreams come true!
  • Guidelines: Venues will have guidelines and contracts that you must follow. This will include rental timeframes, food and alcohol restrictions, max capacities, and more. If you want to maximize your freedom with decisions, using a private property might be the best choice you can make.

Which will you choose?

We obviously love an outdoor wedding — backyard or at a venue! Whatever choice you go with, make sure you do your research and prepare — and choose something that feels special to you!

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