1. Be clear on the dress code.
It’s a backyard… But it’s a wedding… You can’t blame your friends and family for being confused about what to wear. Don’t say, “whatever you feel like” when someone asks – it drives people crazy. Let your loved ones know if it’s semi-formal, informal, or cutoff shorts and flipflops.
2. Think about parking.
Try to make a good guesstimate of how many cars will be pulling onto your street. Can it handle that many? Will your guests need temporary neighborhood parking passes? If there’s a nearby church or school, ask if you can have your guests park there for the day.
3. Check in with the neighbors.
Remember that part about a ton of extra cars parking on your block? Just a quick word beforehand can make sure your neighbors don’t mind the parking crunch and the extra noise of a wedding party.
4. Rent a tent.
Even if you’re sure the weather is going to be gorgeous, make sure you have a tent, canopy, or some sort of backup. It’s better to have one and not need it than the other way around.
5. Take a seat.
Most of your guests will expect to stand a lot of the time, but not all of it. Elderly friends and relatives in particular will need a place to take a rest. This is another area where you may want to consider rentals.
6. Go easy on the sauce.
Your guests will probably be dressed better than at your average barbecue. And unless you have the space for a lot of tables, they may be balancing plates on their knees or holding them while they stand. Take a moment to think about how easy it will be to handle the food you’re planning on serving. Burgers, yes; ribs with caution; and chicken Kiev only if you’re trying to pare down your family tree.
7. Let there be light.
If you’re planning on whooping it up into the evening, think about strings of lights or lanterns, tiki torches, or beach candles for the tables. The effect will be beautiful and keep everyone in a dancing mood.
8. Consider your power needs.
You may want power for lights, your sound system, and to keep chafing dishes warm if you’re going elaborate. Make sure you have enough outlets, or consider renting a generator. (And if you do rent a generator, do a test run to make sure your guests won’t have to scream over it.)
9. Keep uninvited guests away.
You may want citronella candles at the tables or bug-repellent torches around the party to keep everyone bite-free. What you don’t want is a bug zapper – they actually draw more insects to the area. Not to mention creeping out your guests.
10. Dance barefoot.
You know you want to. And the minute you kick off your heels, you give your guests permission to kick up theirs.