Hello! Intern Ashley here! I got the chance to work my first private backyard wedding. This was a completely different experience than the last wedding I worked, which was at a venue. The first big difference I noticed was how much more set has to be done. At a venue, more than likely tables and chairs are already set up and in place. At a private home, there are no venue staff so a lot of the setting up has to be done by vendors and day-of staff.
Make sure to hire ENOUGH staff… actually BRING IN EXTRA! You can always use an extra set of hands with private backyard events. Remember, venues usually have site managers and staff to assist with set-up, break-down, cleaning, keeping an eye on restrooms being cleaned and stocked, assist with crowd control and parking…the list goes on and on! So, make sure to have 2-3 additional staff members per 75 guests when it comes safety and to create THE BEST guest experience. I learned that most of KYAE’s backyard events have 7-12 staff members onsite to assist with set-up (especially if lots of DIY projects), help with traffic flow, parking is a BIG one, drive golf carts, greet, keep people out of the house (or areas they are not supposed to be in) and the biggest help is with clean up at the end. Also make sure the catering team is staying to until the end for clean up and have a good plan with all of the trash. Who will be removing it, where will it be stored during the event and make sure to have plenty of trashcans with the correct size of liners.
Another difference I noticed is related to restrooms. Obviously at a venue there are restrooms and the perk of indoor plumbing for 100 of your closest friends and family, however at a private home wedding restrooms must be brought in (restroom tailor). This is because a private home’s septic tank cannot handle hundreds of flushes in one night. That being said, most people don’t want to use a restroom trailer, so we assumed guests would try and sneak inside the house to use the indoor restrooms. To prevent that from happening we stationed one of our staff by the front door of the house to make sure only the wedding party was entering the house. We also had hand washing units throughout the area to give places for people to keep safe and hands clean while they mingled and ate all of the delicious food.
Another aspect I would like to chat about is electricity. This couple specifically, had a large band, catering, lots of special effects and safety lighting, and large fans to keep guests cool on a warm Summer day, which all required electricity. All of this electricity could not come from the house, so spider boxes and large generators had to be brought in, in order to produce the amount of electricity needed without blowing any fuses. I learned a spider box is a portable power distribution box. There were three spider boxes and two generators.
Also be mindful of parking. Make sure to have enough professional staff on hand like we did to make sure people park where they should and avoid places that they shouldn’t park. Have special parking for vendors closer to the tents so they can get to supplies and materials they may need throughout the event and set-up. Have LOTS of signage throughout the space. If parking is further away, offer golf carts to assist with the “hike.” Some might not mind the walk but also think of safety at the end of the night once it’s dark. Make sure that area is well lit too.
The biggest aspect that is different from a private home wedding and a venue wedding is alcohol safety & liability. We had to be mindful that the owners of the private home had their own normal alcohol stash so we had to have an open conversation with the wedding party, family and all of those at the rehearsal to remind them that ALL alcohol MUST come from the bartenders during the event. This allows us as professional vendors to keep an eye on guests, monitor alcohol intake, count drinks and keep everyone safe… because at the END of the day the HOSTS (and vendors) ARE liable… We also made sure they kept the closing of the bar 30 minutes prior to exit to keep with ALE/ABC laws and to stop serving of alcohol and offering bottles of water, tea and sodas for those final 30-45 minutes and actually about 2 hours of clean up.
Overall I enjoyed working this private home wedding. It was definitely an experience I’m glad I got to have. I learned a lot more about logistics at a private home wedding versus a venue wedding. It was a lot of work but it was a beautiful wedding after it all came together. Remember to drink LOTS of water, fuel up with plenty of food and work smarter not harder… and take your time when doing tasks to avoid mistakes and any accidents.