It's a great way to cut corners. With half the money you would have spent on a more traditional venue, you can deck out a good-sized backyard. That probably means shaving off at least a grand from your wedding expenses, which is nothing to sneeze at (who sneezes at things anyway?)
But it's not just about the money. Backyard weddings have other advantages over commercial venues. First, you probably won't have the strict time limits, which means you will have a lot more time to set up and you won't have someone watching the clock to kick you out at the end. Believe me-- there are plenty of hot-shot venues that will charge you extra if your music stops at 11:02 instead of the 11:00 you contracted for! The thing I like most about a backyard wedding, though, is the intimacy of it. A home feels so much more personal than any grand ballroom, surrounded by close friends and family where no one feels obligated to be something they're not. If you're the couple that wants to make a big deal without making a big deal, the backyard wedding may just the ticket.
But there are a few drawbacks-- or potential drawbacks-- to be mindful of.
Trying to fit cars for over a hundred wedding guests on a typical residential street can be an issue. Sometimes it's worth getting a trustworthy nephew or friend to help park cars, especially for the older guests.
Most backyards are fairly well lit-- just not in a style fitting an elegant wedding. Brighten things up with uplights on the trees, strings lights overhead, paper lanterns, etc. Most equipment rental places or DJ/entertainment companies (including ours) will offer uplights and market lighting and will even set them up for you. You can even get cheap string /market lighting at places like Target, Wal-Mart and Amazon.
You'll have a lot of people visiting the loo over the course of five or six hours. If the house doesn't have at least two bathrooms with plenty of handtowels and toilet paper, or if you just don't want all the foot traffic inside, you may consider renting some nice portable ones.
Don't forget the heat lamps. Even if it is in the middle of summer, you should probably have at least one around for the evening-- your aunt will appreciate it.
Remember what we said about the intimacy of it all? That's very true, but watch out. If you cut too many corners, you're wedding reception will start to look like just another summer barbeque. So hire professional vendors and go big on decor and lights wherever you can.
Oh yeah, them! Unless you live next door to your own mother, your neighbor won't think the day is nearly as big of a deal as you do. So be sure to tell them ahead of time what you're doing, get their blessing, and offer an agreed-upon time when the music will be off. Depending on your relationship, you might even invite them to come over once they here the music cranks up.
Bottom line: if you devote half the money you would have spent on a a venue to sprucing up a backyard, you can have a wedding as elegant as any your guests have ever seen. We've done weddings in every type of venue imaginable, and we've seen fairy tale weddings to end all fairy tale weddings! But the backyard wedding has a special place in our hearts. If done right, and with just enough added sparkle, it will be a very special evening that both you and your guests will remember and appreciate forever.