So you are planning for your big day and are caught up in the lighter-hearted tasks like cake-tasting, invitation fonts, and music choices. While these tasks can be time-consuming and fun, other important details should be addressed as soon as possible such as venue regulations. This can require more involvement from you if you choose to have an intimate backyard wedding.
If you have a backyard wedding, you will need proper permits before the big day. These permits can include special event permits to register your wedding as a private event, liquor licenses if alcohol is being served, and fire permits if you use a tent, which is classified as a temporary structure.
Along with permits, there are a few factors to consider before you host your wedding in your backyard to ensure the safety and comfort of your guests and neighbors.
Where You Live Matters
Most counties have local laws in place around private gatherings to ensure the safety of all guests and to mitigate breaches to any bylaws. If you live in a city, there are likely restrictions on noise, parking, and when liquor can be served by those with a liquor license.
If you live in a rural area, rules and regulations around backyard weddings may be more relaxed but you should double-check them nonetheless
6 Things to Consider When Having a Backyard Wedding
Even with all the right permits in place, it is important to be a good neighbor and check in with them well in advance of your wedding day to let them know of any festivities that will occur that could disrupt their day such as noise and an increase in local traffic.
2. Parking and Increases in Local Traffic
With an influx of guests to your neighborhood, it is important to ensure that guests know where to park to avoid tickets and fines to you as the event host. This is also an important detail to maintain amicability with your neighbors.
3. Fire Safety
You may need to apply for local fire permits based on how your backyard is set up. As a private event, it should not exceed maximum capacity and if you use a tent there could be further regulations put in place by your local fire department.
Once your tent is set up, a local fire marshal may be sent out to inspect for marked exits, fire extinguishers on-site, and properly enclosed candles and flames.
4. Noise Levels
Most municipalities have bylaws stating when noise from festivities such as music and gathering should cease. Check your city bylaws to ensure you abide by these guidelines to avoid any fines and unhappy neighbors.
If you live in a rural area where houses are spaced relatively far apart, you may find these bylaws tend to be relaxed but you should verify and abide by them for the best wedding-day experience free of any unwanted surprises (like fines and complaints).
5. Portable Restrooms
If you choose to have portable restrooms present for your backyard wedding, you may need the corresponding local health permits to do so.
6. Overall Safety
Consider the overall safety of your property. Tripping hazards from landscaping, swimming pools, and stairs can all pose a liability to you. If you plan to host a backyard wedding, you should revisit your home insurance policy and ensure it covers the aforementioned liabilities so that you do not have to foot the bill for any accidents.
Some insurance companies offer wedding insurance to cover any potential accidents that could happen on your big day. It is best to do your research early in your wedding planning so you feel prepared and worry-free on the day of.
How Many People Can You Have at A Backyard Wedding?
Typically, the size of a wedding is subjective however, when hosting a backyard wedding there are a few regulations to keep in mind. First, you should be aware of the fire codes concerning the capacity restrictions in the area of your wedding (enclosed within your backyard or in a tent).
Most wedding companies should be able to assist you with this but you can also reach out to your local fire department to learn about capacity limits for your space. These limits should be adhered to, to honor any liability insurance should an accident occur.
The other regulations to keep in mind are any Covid-19 protocols put in place by your local and state leaders. You may be required to have a minimized capacity of guests and they may be required to socially distance to prevent the spread of any illness. With the increase of vaccine QR codes, there may be exceptions to Covid-19 protocols for private events like weddings. Be sure to check with your local and state government guidelines to avoid any fines.
Can You Use a Tent During a Backyard Wedding?
You may opt to use a tent for your backyard wedding. Keep in mind that this is still considered a temporary structure and must adhere to local fire and safety regulations. While the tent providers should be able to assist you with this, your local fire marshal may check on the tent once it is set up (and permits have been filed accordingly).
The fire marshal will likely check for well-marked exits, fire extinguishers on premise, and that candles or flames are enclosed and safely contained. Please note, that permits should be filed early as there can sometimes be a waiting period before they are approved.
Can You Have an Open Bar at a Backyard Wedding?
You can have an open bar at your backyard wedding however, those serving liquor must be licensed to do so. They will also need to abide by liquor serving timelines in your municipality as certain places have liquor serving cutoff times.
Do I Need a Fenced-in Backyard to Have a Wedding?
Your backyard does not need to be fenced in to host a wedding however, it can be easier to manage the goings-on at your wedding with fences. Fences can keep out nosy, unwanted guests and can add to the intimate ambiance of your big day.
If your guests indulge at the open bar a little too much, they are also less likely to become disruptive to your neighbors with fences up.
Are There Any Backyard Wedding Restrictions to Be Aware of?
Aside from fire, health, and safety guidelines that should always be adhered to, there may also be Covid-19 restrictions, that could limit the size of your guest list and requirements for social distancing.
Check with your local and state bylaws well in advance to ensure you are following all backyard wedding regulations to avoid any fines.
A backyard wedding can be cost-effective and intimate. To make sure your day goes off without a hitch, be sure to reach out to your municipality to acquire all of the necessary permits and inspections well before your big day.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.