Booking a wedding venue is so much better than a backyard wedding.
I know, I know, I’m biased, so of course I’d say that – but there are a lot of things that going in to hosting a wedding day that you may not have even thought about or realized.
Backyard weddings often end up costing more than weddings held at a venue (especially now that we’re offering mini-mony packages for 2021). While it seems like, up front, it will save you money, it really doesn’t. Some of the reasons why will be covered below. A venue can amortize these costs between all of the weddings they’ll host in a year – you’re doing it as a one time investment.
Surprisingly, the biggest cost at weddings isn’t the venue – it’s the food/beverages. The average cost per plate is between $50-100. That’s $5000-10000 for 100 guests, regardless of venue or backyard.
Want to know what you can expect to pay local vendors? Check out this blog post by one of our photographer friends.
At Pemberton, we have two different package types we offer: the Mini-Mony and our Full Wedding. Our pricing is comparable to most local wedding venues, and in many cases, more affordable, especially with everything we include (these would be things you’d have to add in to your budget to buy or rent if you did a backyard wedding):
•55×90 fully dressed covered space
•175 White folding chair with padded seat
•Wood benches for Ceremony site
•12 – 72” Round tables
•4 – 8’ rectangle tables
•Full size wood custom bar
•Wood door way for entrance
•7 Wine barrels
•8×12 Wood photo wall
•Vintage buffet (White)
•Custom candy bar/Cigar bar
•Fire pit (optional)
•Two stall Luxury Restroom trailer
•Golf cart valet service
•On-site wedding venue coordinator
•Getting ready house with 3 floors (complete with AC)
Let’s also talk capacity. How many people can your backyard safely hold (we’ll talk about parking later), if there were an emergency? Average square feet per person is 6 to 10 feet.
And… landscaping. This is part of a venues annual budget. The lawn, any upkeep, it’s all budgeted in. Any improvements – all are amortized into the rental costs for all the weddings they’ll have that year. That means any one fix isn’t being paid for all at once… so it costs less. Any improvements you’ll need to do to your backyard space will need to be added into your budget, and will likely hit a bit harder since no one is sharing those costs.
We have a landscaping team that comes out and prepares and takes care of the wedding venue property on a regular basis, especially during wedding season. You don’t have to pay an additional landscaping fees for your wedding day.
If you’re having a backyard wedding, where would your wedding party and family get ready? For a space to be comfortable, you need to plan to have roughly 6sqft per person, and you really want a space that has very little clutter, space to hang dresses and suits, tables and chairs for hair and makeup and people to sit, lots of accessible outlets, and neutral walls and ceilings.
Where will people put everything that they need to get ready (their own hair and makeup, the clothes they’ll be putting on and their bags for the clothes they’ll be taking home, etc)? Where will they get dressed, privately? Where will you get dressed and still have room for your photographer and videographer in the room with you?
Think about what you’d want those photos to look like – is there a space in your home (or the home you’re getting married at) that could accommodate everyone, and have all of the things that are important (read this post here to see what’s important for a ready room)?
If not, how much work would that take? Or, would it be better to rent a hotel or AirBNB to accommodate everyone and everything that getting ready entails? If so, add the cost on for the fixes or the hotel/airbnb to your budget.
We have a three story getting ready house on the wedding venue property that has plenty of space, all of the important things (lighting, wall color, chairs, neutral backgrounds, restrooms, kitchen space, outlets, tables, big screen TVs, etc. Your wedding party can spread out between their designated floor and the shared central floor and not feel crowded.
We also have AC and a bar in the getting ready house at the wedding venue. Hard to beat that!
During your wedding, you’re going to *probably* have a professional photographer and have photos taken. You’ll have family photos, wedding party photos and couple photos.
Think about how large or small your family is – is there a space in your backyard that has a distraction-free and pretty background that’s big enough for your family photos, or wedding party photos? Is there enough variety of spaces for your couple photos so they won’t all look the same?
If not, is there somewhere nearby your house that you can go to for photos? If that’s your plan, make sure you account for travel time to and from that spot, and that you also think about transportation for everyone who needs to go there.
With our sprawling farm, you have tons of room and lots of options for photos – no matter how large your wedding party or family might be. From trees to river to farm buildings and land (complete with cows!), a beautiful white fence-line and statement weeping willows, we have you covered.
SET UP & TEAR DOWN
With a backyard wedding, you need to plan for someone to oversee the setup, and for people outside of your family and wedding party to help set up (they’ll be too busy getting ready and having photos done). You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of time for setup (leaving things out overnight can ruin them because of dew-points, even in the summer).
We offer an on-site coordinator the day of your wedding to make sure any rentals and florals are dropped off and put in the correct places, and to oversea your set up team. There is plenty of room for vendors to park at the wedding venue and have easy access for unloading and re-loading when they drop off or pick up items. While they don’t do the full set up or tear down for you, they can make sure your team pulls of your dream wedding vision with pro direction.
This tends to be a huge cost that most couples forget. Even in July and August in the PNW, you run the risk of rain. First, check this handy tent size calculator to figure out how much space you’ll need when you rent a tent. You’re going to want to plan $500-1500 for tent rental. You also need to make sure that you have enough flat space for the tent, installation, and room for the tent rental company to come in, unload it and set it up and later pick it up from your back yard.
Other rentals would be things like reception tables and chairs and a bar, tables for DJ, cake, guest book, food, drinks, gifts, etc. You would need to factor the cost of renting these things into your budget. For 100 guests, you’d need to plan to spend between $500-750 for tables, $150-300 for chairs, and $250-2500 for a bar (price doesn’t include bartender, cups, ice, serveware, containers or alcohol).
Your wedding venue rental includes many of the items you’ll need for a complete wedding experience:
•175 White folding chairs with padded seat
•Wood benches for Ceremony site
•12 – 72” Round tables
•4 – 8’ rectangle tables
•Full size wood custom bar
LIGHTING & POWER
You’ll want to make sure you have power for lighting and your DJ (and possibly for the bar or drink station if you have warm drinks). If you have a wedding that stretches into the evening after dark, you’ll need plenty of café or string lights throughout your reception set up and yard lights for safety of your guests while they walk around. Your DJ will need power for their setup. Make sure you test any power sources and have a backup plan if you blow a fuse at the power site.
We have power available at both the tented reception area and in the interior reception space at the wedding venue. We also provide café lights.
NEIGHBORS (& NOISE)
When you’re planning a backyard wedding, make sure to not only check city noise ordinances, but any HOA ordinances as well. What time is quiet hour, and what’s the decibel limit they’ll allow? Will there be someone with a decibel meter on site managing that so you don’t disturb your neighbors or break any laws? Also, you’ll want to make sure you go around and talk to your neighbors about your event so they’re aware it’s going on (and hopefully not mowing the lawn or using a chainsaw during your ceremony or reception).
The Pemberton Farm ceremony and reception sites are set far back on the property nestled next to the Snohomish River … and not near any neighbors.
Next up, think about catering. What kind of space will your caterer need for prep and set? Can you provide that, in addition to all of the other space needed?
The wedding venue property is large, and there is plenty of space for your caterers for prep and set. We also don’t limit who you can hire (but we do have awesome caterers we can recommend for almost any budget).
Whether you’re on site at a venue, or in your backyard, if you’re serving alcohol you will need someone who holds a MAST 12 permit to be the one pouring. It’s illegal to open pour at weddings & events in Washington State. The repercussions of ignoring this can be devastating and costly, and we hope that no one would knowingly take that risk.
You will need to hire a licensed and insured bartender and either they can provide the alcohol or you can – so whether you’re at a venue or at home, this cost will likely remain the same. Pour Girls and Some Guys has a great article on why you need to hire a professional bartender.
Instead of trying to find someone on your own or asking a friend to get their permit, we offer a list of preferred vendors that include great, licensed and insured bartenders to help manage your event. We also have a wood bar at the wedding venue.
Want a dance floor or designated dancing area? Flooring is usually rented by the 4ftx4ft square, and each piece is between $40-80. A 12×12 dance floor is normal for 100 guests (when allowed), so you’d want to plan that expense (minimum of $400). Again, like the tent, you ‘ll want to make sure you have ample flat space for the dance floor to be set up, and room for the rental company to deliver and set it up, and later pick it up from your backyard.
The hangar/covered space at the wedding venue doesn’t need an additional dance floor. If you do plan to dance out under the tent, you can add on a dance floor rental if you’d like – and our space is flat and ready for a dance floor.
You may be tempted to just let you guests use your restroom – but your house plumbing is really only suited to a small number of people (usually one more person than there are bedrooms) – so you’ll need to rent portable restrooms. It’s ideal to have one bathroom per 50 guests. You’ll need a flat, level surface for the portable restroom company to place the bathrooms on. You can expect to spend between $300-1000 on portable restrooms, depending on the style you get, how many you need, and who you rent from.
Not only does our getting ready house at the wedding venue have two restrooms for you and your wedding party, but we provide a luxury restroom trailer with 2 restrooms.
When attending a wedding, most people arrive in groups of 2. For a wedding of 100 guests, that means parking for roughly 50 vehicles of all sizes. Do you have room for that many vehicles (make sure you ask neighbor permission before assuming), or is there a space nearby you could rent? If so, add that cost, and the cost of a shuttle, into your budget.
The wedding venue has a designated parking area, and a golf cart shuttle to bring guests to the main ceremony site from the parking lot.
And the biggest one of all …
Just for piece of mind, and ease for your wedding party, family, and you as a couple, booking a wedding venue may relieve some stress. Not having to worry about all of the little details (like having a plan if it’s muddy or if a vendor doesn’t arrive, or something goes wrong), can be well handled at a wedding venue.