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Walking Down Your Own Aisle -- How To Plan A Great Backyard Wedding

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Are you thinking about a backyard wedding? It can save a lot of money and make planning for your venue easier. But it can have some inherent challenges that regular venues do not -- such as an unprepared space, lack of professional assistance and insufficient facilities. Here are 4 steps to preparing your backyard wedding venue for success. 

Size Your Yard Properly

The first question you'll probably need to answer is whether your (or someone else's) yard is the right size for the task at hand. If your guest list is particularly small or you're only planning on having hors d'oeuvres and a short reception, you will be able to get away with a smaller garden area. But if you want a sit-down dinner and a long party with dancing, you'll need more space than you may realize. It may be a good idea to have the outdoor furniture rental company, party planner and/or caterer come to your planned venue ahead of time to determine if the space is suitable for everything you want to do. If it seems a little small, make sure you're utilizing all the available spaces including decks and immediate interior rooms in the home (you could place food or gifts in the living room, for example) to make space for entertaining outdoors. 

Prep the Yard

To properly prepare your yard for a wedding, you will probably want about 2 months' worth of prep time. Hire a service to properly maintain and feed the lawn for that time so you know you'll have the greenest and neatest space you can. Prune all the trees and shrubs and repair anything that needs it -- including fences, outbuildings and decks. If necessary, consider painting or performing a few repairs on the home's exterior as well. Within the last month, plant some flowers around the yard that match the colors and/or theme of your wedding to provide a little extra natural cohesiveness. 

Provide Facilities

Even if you don't want to use the home's interior for the party, it's best to allow its use for certain functions. At least one bathroom should be provided for guests of each gender, and they should be well marked. The wedding party will also need one room for the bridesmaids and one for the groomsmen. The bride will likely want her own room in which to get ready. The rooms provided don't need to be bedrooms, but should each have sufficient full-length mirrors, outlets and plenty of space for multiple people to work in. 

Rent a Tent and Floor

One big reason many people choose backyard weddings is to save money, but there are some things you should spend a little on. A tent to protect your wedding from either a hot sun or sudden weather changes can be a necessary -- and welcome -- investment. Another place to be willing to spend some rental money is on a dance floor (if appropriate). While some backyards may have sufficient hardscaping (decking or patios), it's easy to underestimate the usefulness of your patio for dancing. Whether it's in the wrong location, is too small or has too many obstacles, the patio or deck might be handled better by being replaced by a simple rented floor for the day. 

Choosing a backyard as your wedding location will make your wedding unique and personal. And by properly assessing your needs, investing in proper equipment and facilities and crafting a beautiful yard beforehand, you can create something you'll cherish for the rest of your life.