Caroline Hax, who writes an advice column for the Washington Post, recently answered a question from a bride who wanted to have a “small backyard wedding with about 75 guests” in her grandmother’s backyard. The bride thought that such a gathering was no big deal, which is to say that she said that all they would need t Two o do is “get some chairs and everything will work out.”

Can you see where this is going?

As it happened, the bride’s family was far more aware of what a wedding for 75 guests requires, as well as the impact that an event of that size can have on the property and the neighborhood. 

The bride didn’t like that thinking at all. So, with high hopes, she appealed to Caroline Hax to help her stop the family from complicating her “simple backyard wedding.”   

To her eternal credit, Ms. Hax set the bride straight on a number of things, with parking, peeing, and permission leading a long list of logistical concerns that need to be considered and managed.

In a world filled with fantasy visions that are reinforced by Pinterest and Instagram, it’s easy to imagine things happening magically. We think that everyone will be light as fairies (and dressed to match!), twinkle lights will appear all around us, and that food and drink service just, somehow, happens. We believe that our beautifully-attired, sweet, and considerate wedding guests will do all of the things that we want them to do, and none of the things that we don’t want to have happen. 

It’s a lovely fantasy. And so, so, not grounded in reality.

Size matters – The greater the number of people involved in a thing, the more complicated the thing is to plan and execute, and the greater the impact of the thing on the venue. Weddings follow this rule in every way.

“A few people” is different than “a couple dozen,” which is way different than several times more than that. Pop over a hundred and things start to change dramatically. Ditto for 200 or more.

Details, details, details… Planning for that backyard wedding needs to take into consideration the condition of the property prior to the wedding, what needs to be done to make it just so, what kind of wear-and-tear will result from even the most well-behaved guests’ presence under the best of conditions, and how to restore the property to its original condition afterward. 

All of those people need to be fed and watered, so the plan needs to include a food preparation space with all of the proper equipment available, plus a place to serve all of that food, and of course, trash collection and removal. Keeping enough food and drink hot and cold may call for more equipment than is normally present. 

What goes in must come out, so unless t Two here are several bathrooms available (and even if there are), you’ll want portable facilities that are inviting enough to get people to use them. It’s a good Two idea to put those facilities far enough away from the ceremony and eating areas that they aren’t intrusive, but not so far away that people won’t use them. And, of course, downwind. Fun fact: I was present for a backyard wedding where the septic system was overrun. We had the pleasure of watching the honeypot truck do its work while we dined al fresco in the Plan B section of the yard…

You’ll want to have tables and chairs, of course, and maybe a second set of chairs for your ceremony. While you can use plastic tablecloths (ick!), or bare tables (double ick!), it’s worth the expense to rent or borrow nice cloth table linens. By the way, the time and expense of having borrowed linens professionally cleaned can be enough to justify renting, not to mention the far greater selection of colors, patterns, and textures available.

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David Egan
David Egan
David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit Chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.