There are many different details to consider when planning an intimate nuptial or “backyard” wedding. To keep things simple, we're breaking down the information by category and providing top tips for each.
Ceremony design elements to consider:
If the budget will allow, consider renting Chiavari or cross back chairs. They will elevate the design of your nuptial as opposed to standard white garden chairs.
Don’t forget about aisle decor. To keep things simple, you could scatter rose petals down either side of the aisle, you could place rugs down the aisle if you’re going for a boho feel, or you could even put together floral arrangements to line the aisle. There are many cost-effective ways to elevate your ceremony.
Do you have an old, vintage mirror hanging up in your home or stored away in a garage? Repurpose it and utilize it as your Welcome sign. Consider placing sustainable confetti at the welcome station for guests to throw as you exit your ceremony as newlyweds!
The ceremony area is also another great location for guest favors. Especially during COVID, you can customize these by providing custom face masks or mini hand sanitizers in case people forget theirs. The bonus in providing custom face masks, is guests will be wearing masks that you don’t mind seeing in photos.
Although these can be on the higher end of expenses, consider a floral installation for the arbor. TIP: reach out to your florist, provide them with a budget you’d like to stay within for the floral piece (i.e., $300) and they’ll create something beautiful for you without spending a fortune.
If you’re not hiring a DJ to keep costs low, remember you’ll need speakers, a microphone, cords to connect music, and a device to control music from. TIP: don’t forget a point person to run the music.
And finally, consider providing a live streaming option for those who cannot attend. You can do this via platforms like Zoom or Facebook. Those who cannot attend will surely appreciate this.
Reception design elements to consider:
I highly recommend providing seating arrangements for both ceremony and reception, especially the reception. If you have an old window frame or vintage mirror, you can repurpose this and utilize it to write your seating chart on. It adds another element of decor to your wedding. While this is great to ensure a COVID friendly wedding, it's also nice for guests in general. Most couples don't realize this, but guests would prefer to know where they are supposed to sit. It's really difficult as a guest attending a wedding and trying to find a seat or fighting for a seat at a table so you aren't separated from your family/friends. If you organize this in advance, it's easier for guests to find their seats and takes a level of guest difficulty out of the equation. You'll be glad you did.
Have someone move the ceremony table and signage to the reception space after the ceremony concludes. This will leave room in your budget for other elements.
Since you’ll be assigning seats, don’t forget table numbers and place cards at all tables.
Remember to book the following because most catering companies do not provide these. If they do, they are at an additional cost:
Stemware (including water goblets, wine glasses, champagne flutes)
Dress up your tables with chargers and linen napkins.
Re-use the ceremony chairs and designate someone to move them to the reception space at dining tables. This will leave room in your budget for other elements.
Similar to the ceremony, if you are not hiring a DJ, designate someone to move the sound system to the reception space and coordinate music, especially for all formalities (first dance, formal dances, toasts, etc.).
Food and beverage details to consider:
There are many unique food trucks out there. Consider hiring a food truck service to provide the food and beverage element at your nuptial. They can be much more cost effective while still providing the level of service you’re seeking. Even better, they don’t take up as much space! Do some research and when you contact them, make sure to ask if they provide bar services and hors d’oeuvre options.
TIP: if you’re looking to save on costs, consider hiring a licensed bartender and purchasing all of the alcoholic beverages on your own. Be sure to ask the bartender if their license covers this type of service. TIP: when reaching out, be sure to ask for all-inclusive quotes. You may incur costs like corkage fees, handling fees, service charges, staff fees, etc. These are not typically discussed when initially reaching out so be sure to be specific when asking questions. You don’t want to find any hidden fees once you’ve locked in the vendor.
Make sure the catering company provides trash and trash removal service. This is often an oversight and then you’re stuck finding trash bins and trash bags day-of and then figuring out how you’re going to dispose of everything after the event.
Another thing to consider is water and champagne service. Ask the catering company if they can include filling and refilling of water goblets as well as filling of champagne flutes for the formal toasts. The last thing you want guests to worry about is water on their table and how they are going to get their flutes filled for the toasts. TIP: make sure you add filling of champagne flutes to your timeline so the catering company knows when to fill them or flutes won't be filled in time for the toasts.
Planning details to consider:
There are many guidelines and restrictions that must be followed when hosting a wedding/event during a pandemic. Your guests will need to know these guidelines and restrictions prior. In an effort to avoid lots of messages from your guests, consider creating a wedding website where you can communicate this type of information with your guests.
TIP: also consider creating a private Facebook event page where you can provide updates that guests will receive notifications about. When you update your website, guests will not receive notifications. When you post on your Facebook event page, guests will receive notifications in real-time and will always feel up to date on your event details. This is very important given all of the guidelines and restrictions we are under in this industry. You don’t want to leave your guests in the dark.
One thing you may want to include on your wedding website is information on food and beverage at your nuptial. When hosting a private, “backyard” celebration, guests often think they are able to bring their own food/snacks, especially their own alcoholic beverages. TIP: make it clear on your website/Facebook event page, that outside food and beverage are not allowed. You could be held liable if anything happens.
Logistical things to consider:
If you’re not planning to hire a professional coordinator to handle details for your big day, be sure to assign tasks to those who plan to assist you day-of. The last thing you want to do on your wedding day is set up, coordinate, and breakdown your wedding.
TIP: assign people based on category. For example: ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, etc. Then assign them based on set up, event coordination, and breakdown. People want to help, but they need to know what you need help with. If you are explicit about the WHO, WHAT WHEN, WHERE, and HOW, people will have clear direction and things will get done much more efficiently and effectively. It will be like a well-oiled machine!
Guest details to consider:
Create an A list and a B list for invitations. In most areas, you’ll be limited on guest count. Always expect at least a 25% drop off on your RSVPs. Once you receive a “decline” you can immediately send an invitation to someone on your B list. Also, anyone on your B list that you couldn’t invite, can be invited to your online streaming service of your wedding. You can send them customized invitations inviting them to your online streaming event and they’ll feel just as included as those who are attending in person.
TIP: consider having guests take COVID tests prior to attending your event. This will add another layer of protection and peace going into your wedding day, knowing that those who are in attendance have been cleared.
COVID friendly details to consider:
To ensure guests are following safety guidelines at your event, supply elements that will entice them to follow them. For example:
Provide sanitizing stations around your venue.
Create and supply signage detailing guidelines and restrictions so guests are always aware. You can get creative with these and design them in a way to match your event style/theme.
Provide distance between all seats. Place a maximum of 6 chairs per table. This will ensure there is ample space between chairs at guest tables.
As mentioned before, assign seats/tables by immediate families or those who are traveling together.
Planning a wedding is exciting and exhilarating. It's one of the most important days in your life. You want everything to go perfectly. Then in the middle of planning you start realizing how stressful and exhausting it can be too. That's why we've created A La Carte services - to provide you with assistance no matter what phase of the planning process you are in.
Check out our A La Carte services and let us know what you're struggling with or simply just don't want to do. We'd love to jump in and help in any way.
Planning your wedding day should be fun and exciting. If it's anything but that, let us know and we'll take care of the pieces that don't bring you joy.
Here to help in any way.
Ashley + team