Three major things that can tip your backyard budget right over the edge.

By Alyssa Brown
January 09, 2019

If you've ever seen Father of the Bride, you've probably dreamed of having your own backyard wedding. But as Mr. Banks would tell you, it's very rarely the most affordable option. While you likely won't be bringing in ice sculptures and swans, there are still a number of line items that can add up to a much bigger budget than you'd hoped for. Here, one expert explains why a backyard wedding doesn't necessarily cost less than one at a traditional venue.

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Lighting and Power

While hanging twinkling bistro lights over the backyard may be sufficient for your wedding's dining space, it's common that additional safety lights will need to be rented and installed. "Most home landscaping lighting is not robust enough for a large nighttime event," says Kelsey Sheofsky, owner of Shelter-Co., an outdoor event planning and tenting company. "I recommend bringing in additional lighting, and sometimes power, to properly light pathways and other necessities."

Once the lights are installed, it may be that your band needs additional power, your catering company needs power for their kitchen, and your portable restrooms need power. In this case, it's possible that you may have to bring in a generator to provide the necessary backup so you don't have to run everything off your home power and risk a blackout. This is something your lighting company can help to assess. Not all venues have lighting and power built-in, but the majority of hotels, restaurants, ballrooms, and indoor event spaces do. This can be a huge cost savings, not to mention saving you a lot of time and effort in the planning.

Restrooms

Having 50 or more guests using your home's restrooms multiple times over the course of a night can be really taxing on your plumbing system. Sheofsky says, "If you have a large guest count or your home is on septic, I would always recommend bringing in portable restrooms, which can be fairly pricey."

Industry standard is typically about 50 guests per restroom if you're bringing in portables (so, if you have 150 guests, you'll want at least three accessible toilets). If your home has multiple toilets, keep in mind that guests are always going to use the most accessible option (yes, even if there's a line!). If you decide not to bring in additional restrooms, you'll want to have an attendant on duty to ensure the restrooms aren't overflowing, that the trash gets emptied hourly, and that there's always hand soap and clean hand towels available. Know what's great about a seasoned wedding venue? It has restrooms! Some even come with an attendant.

Parking

If you live in a place that has ample parking available for all of your guests, that's great. But, more likely, you'll have to account for managing this process. "Most homes do not have parking capacity for a large guest count," Sheofsky says, "So, valet or shuttle services will need to be brought in." Not sure you want to splurge on shuttles? Consider having a chat with your local community center or a nearby small business owner with a big parking lot. This tends to be a last resort, as getting guests back and forth from the lot to the wedding requires extensive coordination and often a couple of people to oversee. In this case, you may do best to hire a private valet service.

Resorts, hotels, museums, and a lot of large event spaces are built to accommodate having a lot of vehicles on-site. However, there are always venues that struggle with parking, so it's something you'll want to keep in mind if you decide to scout options beyond your backyard.

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