Recommended Backyard Wedding Menus
A backyard wedding is a beautiful outdoor ceremony and reception in a garden/ outdoor setting. The Los Angeles area is a great place for a backyard wedding due to warm summer nights and some sections of town having large picturesque backyards appropriate for a backyard wedding.
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We helped a client throw a lovely wedding reception under the stars in a backyard garden. The theme was fall and had a cake and desserts reflecting...(click on highlighted event's name for more details)
There's nothing quite as intimate as a private home wedding. We recently catered a 50 person wedding in the backyard of a beautiful home in Malibu ...(click on highlighted event's name for more details)
Have you locked down the perfect backyard wedding venue? (If not, please give us a call - we have a number of great places we can recommend. Update: this is still true in the era of COVID and they're harder to find so let us help). While many people have a relative or friend with a beautiful location that they can take advantage of, we've seen a rise in wedding venues as well as rental properties on AirBnb and VRBO used for backyard wedding events. There are also some gorgeous public and private mansions outside of the well-publicized ones.
A great outdoor space is generally the centerpiece. Lesser considered items that jump out as the event approaches tend to include things like altars (if ceremony onsite), separate spaces for ceremony and dinner (otherwise you're looking at a flip), bathrooms (here comes the trailer rental), dance floors (lawn + stilettos = funny), kitchen access (else we're building one in the garage), power (for that massive outdoor speaker set for the DJ...no but really we need it for kitchen equipment), parking (yay to the valet), cold/rain backups, and ensuring you've done enough to keep the neighbors at bay (maybe park off street and don't bring the concert speakers?).
It's pretty common to combine the wedding ceremony with the reception if you're not holding the ceremony in a church, temple, or other religious facility. It certainly makes it easier to not have to move a number of guests across town (if you do, we often recommend a shuttle or uber over lots of cars in a neighborhood setting + cocktails). You'll want pretty flowers, a charismatic officiant, and a photographer who's mapped out all the right angles.
You'll probably want to greet people with some light food and drink, since it's LA and you'll need to allow for some time where people find their way across town. You'll have your altar set up in the perfect spot and rows of chairs lined up for your guests to watch. Your master of ceremonies will get all the guests to move from up and about to in their seats and music will signal that it's time for the wedding party to make their entrance.
If you've done the ceremony onsite, then you may or may not be dashing off for photos and a change (and watch out for that mascara if one of you is known to get a little teary). If you're doing the flip, now is the time, so make sure guests have some place to go (or want to move furniture). We generally recommend a passed service or display so people can mingle and take group selfies (providing some selfie sticks increase the chance of getting an album-worthy shot of Nanna and the cousins, but the funny ones generally won't come this early.) If you're onsite, then it's a great time to do a reception line and greet everyone. We tend to keep our captain in your vicinity so you get a chance to sneak in some appetizers and drinks.
This is when your planner/ coordinator earns their keep (if it's a flip, it'll also happen just before on getting the tables laid out and places set...make sure staff is allocated by name between planner and caterer ahead of the event). You need to get everyone to their tables. You may have speeches (hopefully that have been vetted, timed, and practiced). You also have food that's been timed to be just perfectly finished with the planned timing on the schedule. For most cultures (or for any plans involving offsite transportation), wedding timelines aren't something to be strictly adhered to. You want your planner to be able to appropriately communicate schedule changes within the "speak now or forever hold your peace" windows that mean your guests will enjoy the delicious meal you paid for. (Once our chefs start to fire the meal, we will look at attempts to insert anything new into the schedule as an insult to your reputation and hospitality.)
Once dinner's over, it's time to have fun. There will be a first dance. And then more dancing. And maybe a bit of lubrication (we recommend signature drinks over shots to keep people off the rafters). And lots of great photos. And more dancing (for our Jewish friends, there may be chairs involved - hang on tight!). And the slicing of the wedding cake (party trick: you can order a smaller cake and get a backup sheet cake to keep it more manageable). We recommend plenty of water and coffee to let people mix it up, especially if there's a drive involved.
Toward the end of the night, the couple traditionally hops into a car and drives off. Whether your taste is a classic Rolls Royce or a convertible with trailing cans and a big sign, you'll probably want to give people something to throw at you on your way out (BTW - rice has been replaced by most couples with something softer when it hits, but you'll still want to make sure you've got something easy to clean up if you want your deposit back). And then while you bask in the moment, make sure you have appointed someone to be in charge until the last guest leaves the dance floor and we've been able to pack up and sign out our crew.