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What Permits Do You Need for a Backyard Wedding?

From noise ordinances to parking permits, here's the scoop about legally tying the knot at home.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Josh Gruetzmacher

When you're throwing an at-home wedding, one detail that's often overlooked until pretty late in the wedding-planning process is obtaining the necessary permits. Because every county and municipality has different requirements, you'll want to get onto this task as soon as possible so you can get a clear understanding of what your wedding's requirements will be. This could have implications for your end time, whether you can have a band play at your wedding, and so forth. Here's what you need to know about permits and regulations.

 

Related: Logistical Details You Need to Consider When Planning a Backyard Wedding

 

Check with your county.

The big three restrictions to look out for are parking, noise, and fire. Kelsey Sheofsky, event planner and owner of outdoor events and tenting company Shelter-Co., says, "There's usually information on your county website about noise ordinances and other regulations. Generally speaking, a party at your own home shouldn't be a problem if you follow the rules of your community regarding parking, noise, and fire."

 

Find out if the regulations are different if you're using a tent.

Depending on where you live, there may be different rules for events involving tents as they're considered a temporary structure. Sheofsky says, "The fire department will require you to pull permits for any party tents and open flame, but the vendors you hire will be able to assist in identifying these needs and pulling the permits." Depending on your county's rules, your local fire department may send out a fire marshal to visit the tent once it's setup for your wedding. They're looking to see that all exits are carefully marked, there's a fire extinguisher on the premises, candles are all appropriately enclosed, and more. The company that's installing the tent typically manages this process, and you may not even be aware that it's happening.

 

Talk to the health department.

It's fairly uncommon that you'll need to pull permits from the health department, but there are some counties that require this if an event is bringing in portable restrooms. This is something the company you're renting the restrooms from will likely advise on, so no need to worry too much about this.

 

Be respectful of your neighbors.

If you happen to live in a county that's pretty relaxed with backyard wedding regulations, it's still important to be a good neighbor and be respectful, especially when it comes to noise and parking. Many couples hosting at-home weddings make it a point to check in with their neighbors prior to their wedding day and give them a contact person if there are any issues. It's usually best to let them know as much of the plan in advance as possible so they don't call the authorities about noise, or have any cars towed if accidentally parked on their property. Some couples will extend the invitation to neighbors they know well, while others may offer to put them up in a hotel for the night if they're worried about noise being an issue.