A backyard wedding can be simple or it can be extravagant. However, if you’re a Malaysian, simple just doesn’t quite cut it, does it? A ‘simple’ backyard wedding is the equivalent of a wedding open house that is held the night before your actual reception where you invite neighbours, friends, relatives and sometimes the ‘B-list’ guests whom you can’t invite to your main wedding reception due to space constraint. These events are usually casual, buffet-style dinner where guests come and go freely within the specific hours. Another ‘simple’ backyard wedding is one that is intimate and cozy, with just a handful of closest friends for a heartfelt exchange of vows or akad nikah followed by a small reception. These backyard events are more straight-forward and easy to plan.
But… what if you’d like to host a proper wedding reception in your garden? A backyard or frontyard wedding can be very sentimental and beautiful but it comes with a whole list of [foreseeable] challenges. It can also add up to be costlier than hosting your wedding at an event space. To help you transform any regular backyard into functional wedding venue, here are a few things that you need to consider before committing to the idea and yes, these are very technical issues to tackle.
Preparing for a backyard wedding requires a whole list of professional assistance.
First thing on your checklist is to observe the condition of your backyard when it rains. When it rains, does your backyard start to flood? Will the ground become too soft and sunken in when it gets wet? Will it get muddy?
If it is a ‘no’ to the above, then you move on to the next step – determine the estimated number of guests vs the space of your backyard, can it fit everyone including food prep area for your caterer?
Then we move on to landscaping the backyard. It is best to start sprucing up the space a few months ahead. There is nothing more beautiful than nature and that is the whole point of hosting a backyard wedding. Landscaping the garden will make an impact on the look of your wedding. If budget permits, you may want to consider engaging a landscape artist.
Size of Backyard vs the Number of Guests
Engage a professional tent supplier who will be able to advise you on the size of the tents/marquees that can fit in your backyard, along with the estimated seating space. Also consider the amount of space that your caterer will require to prep the food, plating of food and so forth.
With the uncertainties of weather conditions, outdoor weddings in Malaysia always require tents and marquees unless you have an equal indoor space as Plan B and a solid back up plan on logistics.
Electrical Power Supply
Does your house have sufficient power supply to power up all the electrical equipment – air cooling system, lighting, sound system, caterer’s equipment such as electrical stove, warmer and so forth. If not, you will need to hire an external generator for the added power supply. Which circles back to the sufficiency of space to set a generator.
Parking Space and Traffic Flow
Everyone drives in Malaysia. If you are going to host it at your backyard, will there be sufficient parking space for guests to park their cars? Will the cars block up the roads and cause traffic congestion in your neighbourhood? If there are sufficient parking spaces, you may consider engaging Valet service to assist with parking as well as RELA members to assist with diverting traffic and controlling the traffic flow.
Comfort of Your Guests
Keeping in mind the tropical heat, a backyard wedding will require portable air coolers and air conditioning system. Be mindful of the size of your backyard so that you do not over-invite. Tables and chairs should easily fit into the space without it feeling overcrowded as it will get humid. There should be sufficient space for waiters to move around, live entertainment and whatever else that you have planned for the wedding.
If budget permits, it is important to have flooring under the tents for the comfort of your guests.
Crowd Control and Flow
Go through the flow of guests from the front of your house to your garden.
- Do they need to go into your house through the living room to get to the back?
- How do you prevent gridlocks?
- If it rains, will they be sheltered?
- If not, do you have sufficient umbrellas to hand out?
- Where will you place usherettes to ease the flow?
These are just some of the questions which need to be considered when planning a backyard wedding. Some couples would also prefer not to have guests roaming around the private areas of their home, which will be difficult to control if you do not cordon off areas which are off limits.
If you are expecting >100 guests, the toilet facility in your house is definitely insufficient to cope with the amount of guests. Which means you will need to budget for portable toilets and space for portable toilets. If not, it would be good to have a cleaner on standby to ensure that the toilets are clean, toilet papers/tissues are refilled and so forth.
Lighting and Sound
Lighting is important. The working spaces need to be properly lit for working crew to work. The reception space needs to be well-lit but with a different kind of lighting for a warmer, romantic ambience. You may also want to consider lighting up the trees by using fairy lights.
Setting up outdoor speakers, wiring sound equipment from outdoor to indoor and ensuring the equipment are well protected from rain are some of challenges for AV suppliers. Besides that, having a backyard wedding means your wedding cannot have after party beyond 11:00 PM to avoid disturbing your neighbours.
Permits and Licenses
Although most weddings at home do not require any permits or licenses, there may be potential problems with police if neighbours complain about loud noise, public nuisance or traffic obstructions. If there are live entertainment, check if this require MAPCA license.
Manpower on the Wedding Day and Post-wedding
Apart from service staff and bartenders, usherettes, valet and RELA volunteers, it is also important to assign general service staff to clear plates and broken glasses, cleaners to keep toilets clean and standby technician in case of power supply interruption. You will also need to consider the post clean up after the function (especially the cleaning of your house) and any additional gardening work that needs to be done after the tents are taken down.
Cost & Budget
There are many variables to the cost of hosting a backyard wedding, depending on the size of your land, scale of your wedding, practicality of your house layout and so forth. There will be certain costs that might pop up depending on the issue at hand and you might end up with a total expenditure that is way beyond the budget that you started off with. This is one of the reasons why we always advise our clients to do it at event spaces that already have proper facilities in place.
Once you have worked out all the above pointers, then you can be assured of a successful backyard wedding! However, if you do not like the stress that comes with all these work and uncertainties, here are some of our recommended venues in Malaysia.
- The Great Lawn at Awana Genting
- Sentul Pavilion Glasshouse at Sentul Park