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Kim Sayatovic

Special Considerations When Planning a Backyard Event

Your clients might think events held in their own backyard are a snap--it's your job to set them straight.

Clients have various motivations for wanting to hold events in their own backyard.

Sometimes a site is meaningful and full of memories that contribute significance and make it enticing to host guests there. Other times, it just seems like a good way to save money without venue rental fees and site minimums, among other related charges. When most clients think of backyard events, they perceive them as economical and flexible. Free of venue management with lists of restrictive policies and the fees associated with renting a space, backyard events can look highly appealing.

But clients can be naïve, and it’s your job to educate them. There are several important considerations to keep in mind when helping your clients plan.

1.  Sound Ordinances and Permits

Often, clients are attracted to the idea of backyard events because they like the idea of freedom from restrictive policies, such as a limitation on hours. But bear in mind, many localities have highly restrictive ordinances, especially in more densely packed residential areas. Permits may be required, and noise regulations usually specify a cutoff time.

In order to avoid your client’s event being shut down by local authorities, research any ordinances early on in the planning process, and make sure all necessary permits are in order before the big day. Make sure that the event timing corresponds to the times listed on the permit, and bear in mind that this mean you have enough time not only for the festivities, but for load-in, sound checks and load-out as well. If there are restrictions about sound level or times, let the entertainers know as soon as you are made aware of these restrictions.

2.  Rental Logistics

Backyard events generally require fairly substantial rentals. You need to bring everything in from shelter to tables and chairs to culinary equipment. Rentals need to be coordinated with the planning team, the caterers, the entertainers and any designers to avoid duplications or unintentional omissions.

Often, event clients don’t clearly understand that the delivery and pick-up windows before and after an event can be as long as three to seven days, so let your clients know what to expect and when. Also, don’t be afraid to point out what is obvious to you, but might be new to them. Things such as their lawns being covered from sun for days at a time are completely unexpected, so prepare them for what they will experience.

Your rental professional should be able to help you navigate any additional permits needed for erecting structures such as tents or for using various forms of power such as generators or propane. Allow enough time after final installation (and before the arrival of other key vendors) that you can have the site inspected by the local fire marshal, if required

3.  Liquor Licenses and Serving Requirements

Another consideration for backyard events is how to stay compliant with local liquor laws and serving requirements. A licensed caterer protects guests from foodborne illnesses and provides important services such as wait and bus staff. Trained bartenders know what to serve and, more importantly from a liability perspective, whom to serve as well, as how to cut off partiers who may have overindulged. Discuss liquor license requirements with the events caterer and determine definitively who will take responsibility for securing needed documentation

4.  Parking and Transportation

Parking is another challenge for large events in private backyards. Options may include securing permits for street parking, contracting the nearby parking lot of a church or business, or providing transportation via limo bus or shuttle from a larger parking facility at a greater distance from the home. Valet services may also be able to assist.

It is all too easy to underestimate the real cost of backyard events.

When your clients are trying to determine if a backyard event is right for them, make sure they are given the big picture along with the many important details that are involved in hosting this type of event. Give them the information they need to compare a private home event with one in a commercial venue.

They will not only thank you for your professional insight, but will grow even more convinced of your value as an event expert!

Kim Sayatovic is the founder and chief creative officer of Belladeux Event Design, a full-service wedding and event design firm based in New Orleans.


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