of a Backyard Wedding
June 14, 2003 Jennifer & Kenny were married in the backyard of
Jennifer's family home in Cape May Court House. Jennifer's
mom helped with a lot of the planning and provided
AtlanticCityWeddings.com with a ton of information on some of the
more difficult aspects of planning an outdoor wedding.
Special thanks to the mother of the bride for spending the time to
share these wonderful tips and ideas!
Style: When we decided to have a
backyard wedding we knew we wanted something very elegant.
We had so many ideas we could have spent a fortune so we
tried to do most of the decorating ourselves.
We looked through books in Borders for a lot of ideas such
as flower baskets filled with petals for the flowergirls.
Organizing Tips: I started
early because I’m one of those nuts about getting organized.
started with a file folder for each category such as bridal gown,
tents, flowers, etc. Every
time we picked up a business card or met with someone in that
category we put their information in the folder.
As we narrowed down our choices the top picks would move to
the front of the file folder.
Otherwise, if you make a folder for each business you would
have a lot of files. It made it easy to just organize by category. Then once we decided on someone we would write their name and phone
on the tabs under the category listing.
The people that I chose were just wonderful – especially
Guest Lists– We used Microsoft Excel to
organize the guest lists.
Backup Plans for Rain: It rained
every day in the weeks before the wedding except the day before
and the day of the wedding. The
tents we rented were designed to withstand hurricane force gale
winds and they’re grounded so you’re protected from the
lighting. Sides can
be put on it in case of rain.
I got the sides more for wind and so napkins weren’t
blowing around. We
also had plans for how we would do the ceremony indoors if it
rained but I just knew it was going to be one of those beautiful
Tents: We looked at a lot of tents.
They have beautiful tents with windows and sides that can
be removed. The
company we chose, Rental City in Vineland, came out 2 days before
to put up the tent. We
requested they come out 2 days ahead so the ground would be dry
underneath and so we would have setup time.
Also if you have any problems with the tent it gives you
time to correct it. They
charged one set up fee which included delivery, set-up and
We rented a tent for up to 200
to make sure it was big enough. We figured it would be better to
have extra room than not to have any elbow room.
Some places we looked had less expensive tents but they
looked cheaper. Some rental companies even had guttered tents and
the poles were covered so it looked really nice. The place we
chose, Rental City, had
a nice website and it helped us pick out exactly what we wanted.
The website also had a list of what they rent and the costs
for each item. Also, some
of the tent places don’t have everything, some do – we needed
chairs, tables, tablecloths, glassware, etc.
One of the drawbacks on the
rentals though was the breakage & cleaning fee. You have to pay extra if food is caked on the dishes and
because everything sat for two days before the tent was broken
down (the wedding was Saturday) we had an added breakage and
cleaning fee. Also
be sure to ask about cancellation fees.
If you want to change the # of glasses or guests after you
sign the contract ask if there is there any kind of fee.
We had to change the number of guests and were charged a
cancellation fee when it was a minor change in the size of order,
not a cancellation. The
tents, however, were very pretty.
Catering: We used Cindy’s Catering. She
helped us with ideas on planning the wedding.
Some caterers provide the dinnerware, some do not so its
important to ask. We
also had to take into consideration where the caterer would work
the day of the wedding. We
set up a staging area for the caterer.
A tent covered portion from the back porch to the main tent
was set up for the caterer.
One of the most time-consuming parts of
planning the wedding was trying to coordinate everything between
the caterer and the rental
company. The caterer helped us decide what was necessary and
not necessary and had some great money saving suggestions.
For example, rather than have coffee cups, cream and sugar
on all the tables (not everyone drinks coffee), she suggested
having a coffee station instead.
She also suggested using our own baskets for bread baskets
on the table vs. renting them.
Setting a Timeline: You have to follow a timeline the day of the wedding.
We discussed a general plan for when dinner would be served
but the caterers knew exactly how to time it.
It was decided that only the head table would be served by
the caterers, everyone else would get in a buffet line.
The ceremony was scheduled for 3:30pm and we were just a
little behind. 4-5:30pm
they served hors d’oeuvres while the photographer took pictures
of the bride, groom and bridal party.
5:30-7pm Salad & Dinner were served.
7:30pm – Cake was served while the vegetable & cheese
crudite station was rebuilt.
8pm – The After Party.
We had additional guests arrive at 8pm just for the after
party with dancing and drinks until 10pm.
We hired the bartender to stay as long as we needed him.
Some of the guests even stayed past 10 (mostly the younger
The Menu: Click
here to see a detailed menu from the wedding.
Lighting – We planned the wedding close to
the full moon for added light but with a tent you can have
electricity so lighting isn’t a problem.
Even with just candles it probably would have lit the tent
Restrooms: Our house is an old farmhouse with only one bathroom so we
had to hire a Port-O-Potty company.
We needed something nice because it’s a wedding.
I used Atlantic Able & Caprioni Portable Toilets.
The bathrooms we chose needed an electricity hookup.
My son-in-law ran an extra line out – he knew how to do
it but we could have run them from the electricity in our barn.
The women had 2 stalls, the men 1 stall and the bathrooms
were even air-conditioned. They
were really nice, more like a bathroom in a house than a portable
We set up a smoking station away from the tents with
buckets filled with sand. Trash
cans were placed very inconspicuously.
Alcohol & Ice:
We needed a lot of ice and hired Sea Isle Ice Company to
bring ice to the house. We used coolers and trash cans lined
with plastic for ice. The
guests were mostly a beer drinking group so we had 2 kegs of beer
and a few cases of canned beer, which if you didn’t break the
case you could return. We
also had an extra refrigerator where we kept wine and liquor.
Unopened bottles could also be returned for credit.
Our caterer brought lemons and we hired our 2 bartenders
from the caterer. We
placed the 2 bartenders at 2 different stations so there wouldn't
be long lines.
Parking – Guests parked here on the
property. The lane
off the road is 1,000 feet.
The Groomsmen’s jobs were to help direct traffic or to
park cars for the guests but people parked where they weren't
supposed to anyway so you could see the cars in the background
during the ceremony.
Checklist for the Night before: We had the grass to mow.
I considered lanterns for the trees but with all the rain
we had had we didn’t do it.
Instead we decided on luminaries for the walkways.
We just never got around to it the night before.
The unexpected: The night before the wedding the
groom’s house burned down, including his tuxedo, so many things
we planned to do didn’t get done.
Fortunately the bride’s dress was at my house and the
wedding gifts came to my house.
The morning of the wedding my daughter had to run out to
buy makeup. We also
had to get another tuxedo from the formalwear company. Some of the things we had planned on for the night before
didn’t happen because the fire was right around dinner time. We never had a rehearsal dinner because everyone went to the
groom’s house to see if they could help.
We didn’t get set up for the ceremony the night before;
we didn’t get the candles and candleholders on the tables: all
the last minute decorations we had planned on doing the night
before didn’t get done. The
day of the wedding a lot of people helped to get things set up,
including the caterer and other people we had hired, so it all
worked out. In spite
of the fire the night before it was a beautiful wedding.
If I had to do it over again: Instead of an aisle runner – everyone was tripping over it
with the uneven grass – an aisle of petals might have been
nicer. I also would have had a backup person to help the day of