Bring on the Backyard Weddings!

venue: Valhalla, Tahoe

photo credit: Woodmancy Photography

Flowers: Helianthus Floral Design

Let's be honest here, COVID-19 is a curse word to so many in the world today. There is so much negativity on social media, in our homes and in basically every conversation we have! Let's talk honest for a minute: It's been tough, it's been real tough. Whether your business has been closed, you've lost work or even if you have been blessed and had a steady job throughout the last few months, life is confusing and hard right now! COVID is a sensitive subject and one that many just don't want to talk about anymore.

The wedding industry has taken a major hit since mid-March 2020. I don't think anyone could have predicted the impact of a pandemic. Literally in 48 hours we were shut down, no warning, no preparation, just a message saying we have to shut down. No more weddings. Can you imagine the panic not only by the business owners (in the wedding industry) but the hundreds and hundreds of couples who this affected? Guys...when I said this has been tough-IT HAS BEEN TOUGH! Lots of tears and lots of trying to figure out alternatives for these couples who have been planning their wedding over a year!

There has been so many hard conversations with our #shesaidyescouples. Trying to find ways to still have weddings has been a challenge. Due to COVID-19, we have had to change what a wedding looks like. Giant weddings are out and small, intimate gatherings are in! I have heard many of my clients say

I'm just not excited about wedding planning anymore

It makes me so sad to hear this! It literally breaks my heart! Guys, I get it! You had the dream of a big lake-side wedding surrounded by all your family and friends, beautiful farm tables, plated dinners, a flowing bar and a dance floor that no one would dare not be on! It's what you have been dreaming of! I want to reassure you that your wedding may look different but it can still be grand!

If I can encourage you during this time I would tell you one thing:


There is something special about being surrounded by your closest family and friends. The conversations are more personal and as a wedding couple you have an opportunity to actually talk to every single person attending. You get to personalize the details and provide a dining experience that is distinctive with personal chefs and an intimate atmosphere. Don't give up on your wedding dreams! The most important part of your wedding day should be the ceremony. Build it up! Make it special-make it a little longer. When a wedding has to shift to being smaller, magic begins! The focus changes to making sure we have decor at every corner to making sure we get to spend quality time with our friends and family on one of the biggest days!

Weddings do look different these days. I want to outline a few things to think about when changing your big wedding to an intimate wedding and especially to a private estate or backyard setting:

  1. Budget: Assess the budget. Just because you are reducing your guest count and possibly moving your venue doesn't mean you have to start going "cheap" or "give up" things you wanted. Having fewer guests can be a bonus when evaluating your budget! Did you want more flowers but it was not working in your budget? Now you can add more flower touches. Did you want speciality cocktails at the bar, now you can! Try and use the 'extra' money on things that maybe you didn't have to plan for prior. (bathrooms, parking issues etc..)

  2. Vendor Team: Your vendors are glad to do your wedding in a backyard or private space! You most likely have already paid for their services (or at least put a heavy deposit down). Bring them with you! It's important to talk to your vendors and "re-work" scope of service. Don't assume the same services you had originally contracted will be the same. Asking questions like: are the hours the same for service, will you have the same amount of servers, do you need additional power or do we owe you a different amount for the final balance since the scope of service may have changed. Communication is key when switching to a smaller, intimate wedding. But consider keeping your rental company for setup and teardown. Just because you've moved to your backyard, let your family have a stress-free night!

  3. Parking: Most venues have ample amount of parking so parking (most of the time) is not an issue. However, when moving your wedding to a home or private estate, parking is something to definitely address. Take into consideration your neighbors. They many not want 75 cars parked on their street. I have advised many of my couples to use some of the extra money in the budget to provide private transportation, shuttles, to and from the wedding. Talk to limo and shuttle companies! Finding a central location where guests can be picked up and dropped off at the end of the night is an added touch but also keeps the neighborhood happy. Consider having all your guests stay at the same hotel or area to help with the pick-up and drop-off.

  4. Lighting: You most likely will need to talk to your rental company to add additional lighting. You want to make sure that your guests are safe at all times! Not only does market lighting or additional lighting on the dinner tables look stunning and sets the mood, it serves as a safety precaution!

  5. Bathrooms: I can't stress enough how important it is to keep your guests out of the home during the ceremony / reception! Provide everything the guests need OUTSIDE! There are some pretty phenomenal bathroom companies out there. Guys! Bathrooms with running water, flushable toilets and some even have air conditioning and music playing. They are the top of the line when it comes to bathroom services! Make room in your budget for nice bathrooms!

  6. Backyard Maintenance: Take a few weeks before the wedding to get the backyard ready. Clear out weeds, pick up dog poop and make sure the backyard is guest ready!

  7. Power: You might want to consider having generators as backup or use them for certain parts of the day. Talk about a buzzkill... nothing like the dance floor being packed and the power goes out! Generally, you want your DJ on their own circuit along with the lighting for the night.

  8. Clean-Up and Dinner Service: It's very common when weddings get moved to the backyard to overlook services that are generally provided by the venue. Don't assume your guests are going to walk their plates to a trash can (if you go disposable) or that a family member will stick around at the end of the night to clear tables. Ask your catering team to provide this service or reach out to an event service company and bring in staffing to clean and maintain the backyard.

We live in a COVID world, unfortunately. When planning your small, intimate wedding try to keep all your guests in consideration. Some are comfortable not social distancing and others prefer it. Have a handwashing, mask, and hand-sanitizer station for your guests. Let your guests know you are happy they are there, no matter their comfort level. Take the extra precautions. Find out before the wedding who prefers social distancing and make sure they are seated according to their comfort level. I also suggest assigning ceremony seating as well. It will take you an additional 30 minutes to do this task. Your guests will be so happy you did!

Just don't give up on your wedding dreams! So much beauty comes in simplicity! No matter what, you will be married, and your guests will understand the change of events. If you don't have a planner, definitely use some of the extra budget money to secure one! They can literally save the event and help you re-imagine the day!

Vendor Recommendations:

  1. Rentals: Celebrations Party Rentals

  2. Bathrooms: Executive Washrooms

  3. Transportation: Reno Tahoe Limo

  4. Event Clean-Up:

For all your planning and coordination needs: Contact She Said Yes Weddings at

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