For some couples, a sweet, backyard wedding can seem like the perfect way to celebrate their love, while keeping costs low and the celebration simple. They picture a childhood home as the backdrop of pictures, personal touches throughout, and a smaller bill without the cost of a fancy venue.

But this idyllic scene can sometimes be misleading. As they begin planning their at-home weddings, many couples discover they may end up spending more than they bargained for.

When considering ditching the venue to save costs, keep in mind some of the things you’ll need to spend money on.


Before we get into the actual monetary cost, let’s take a look at something arguably more valuable than money…your time. When you’re planning a wedding, you want to spend your time bonding with your betrothed and your family, picking out the fun pieces like dresses, decorations, music, and readings. You may not want to worry about setting the tables, cleaning up, picking up trash, managing dishes, and food distribution, which you might have to do if you’re putting on a wedding yourself. While a caterer can handle a lot of this, you’ll need to know what they will and won’t do and be ready to tackle it yourself.

On top of figuring out and addressing logistics, you’ll be in charge of the appearance of your home or yard. Mowing, pruning, weeding, landscaping…unless you’re hiring someone to do it, which will add to costs, you’re going to have to take care of these tasks.

Now, let’s look at the items, expected or unexpected, you’ll need to rent or purchase for your backyard wedding.


You might not think about these things at first, since many venues already have them and include them in the package price, but whether your at-home wedding is a large or small group, you’ll need to find the chairs and tables where they will be sitting for the ceremony and the reception. And if you want chairs that are a step above your garden variety folding chairs, it could cost you. You’ll also need to budget for tents, china, silverware, and glassware (remember that each drink from the bar requires a new glass), table linens, a dance floor, and evening lighting.

Depending on the number of people you are inviting, you could spend up to or over $1,000 just on chair rentals. And if you are using the same chairs for the wedding and reception, it’s up to you, or some lucky family members, to get those moved in time for dinner! And don’t forget linens like tablecloths and napkins.

The Yucky Stuff

The yucky stuff includes the things you may not want to think about when you’re entertaining a lot of people. This includes trash cans, trash disposal, and yes, bathrooms.

If you’re throwing the wedding at your home you’ll need to consider where your guests are going to be using the restroom. Will you invite them into your home to use the facilities inside? (Do you have enough toilet paper?) If they won’t be coming inside, what type of bathroom will you be providing? If you don’t want your guests to use a Porta-Potty, you’ll need to spring for a bathroom trailer, which is nicer but pricier.

You’ll also need to make sure there are plenty of trash cans and bags available, and someone available to change them if they get full before the night is over. When the festivities are over, you’ll need to consider how you will take care of the trash left behind. If you’re having it at a residence, there might be rules about how many bags of trash you can put out at your curb so you’ll need a backup plan.


Not only will you need to provide the alcohol, but you’ll need someone of age to serve it. You’ll want to make sure to card your guests to avoid serving minors and check the rules around liquor distribution in your area.

Besides the logistics of providing drinks, there’s the cost of hiring a bartender and purchasing the liquor, beer, or wine for the correct number of people. You’ll also need a bar or somewhere they can prepare and serve drinks and options for those that don’t drink. Most importantly, you’ll need to coordinate liquor liability insurance in order to be able to legally serve alcohol to your guests.

Outside wedding ceremony space with white chairs set up.

Extra Items

Here are some more items you might need to provide yourself if you’re throwing an at-home wedding, that might otherwise be provided by a venue.

  • A tent (in case of bad weather during an outside wedding)
  • Heating
  • Electricity/running water
  • Lighting
  • Servers
  • Parking
  • A kitchen area with running water for the caterer

Given this list, it’s easy to see how the cost of renting all the items needed, and preparing a home for a wedding, can add up to or exceed the cost of renting a venue – and can add a lot of actions to your to-do list.

If a small wedding at your home is your dream, then you’ll make it work. But if you need help finding the right venue with the right amount of wedding planning support, give us a call. You can reach our event coordinators by email or phone at 877-545-1002.