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. There are special considerations and hidden costs, however, to an event at home.
One of the biggest incentives in support of a backyard event is the expectation that your party can go much longer than it could at a typical event venue. Local laws, though, may prohibit or limit the level of noise and there are likely time restrictions as well. Check your local laws and determine if a permit can be obtained for the date of the event that will extend the time and protect you from irritated neighbors filing police reports. DJs and live entertainers need to be fully informed about the restrictions well in advance of the event. Don’t forget to include enough time for a proper sound check in your permit request.
The Catersource Monday Night Party outside of New Orleans, LA involved both indoor and outdoor elements, requiring over 200 staff to execute. Fireworks required a permit, of course. Photo Gary Coleman
Also important, and usually neglected as a consideration, is the extra cost of staff when hosting a backyard event. Most venues have staff on hand as part of the rental fee, but rarely do private homes have staff on hand. Offering your prospective clients full-service catering that includes necessary labor for preparation, service, and clean up can help immensely. Additionally, to avoid a hefty fine, address the need for an alcohol license and trained bartenders early so their costs are factored into the overall budget from the start.
“Most clients realize that rentals are necessary for backyard events, but they may not understand the extent or expense involved.”
Most clients realize that rentals are necessary for backyard events, but they may not understand the extent or expense involved. Not only will they have to consider everything from guest tents, catering prep and service tents, flatware and china, tables, chairs and lighting, but they may need to bring in unusual rentals like a source of power or guest bathroom facilities. Many of these items require permits themselves, and possibly even scheduling a fire marshal inspection on the event day before guests arrive.
The logistics of delivery, setup, and take down are all very complex, and you’ll need to demonstrate the need for securing a team that includes full-service catering, event logistics and management, and all of the necessary equipment and labor. As an event professional, you’ll need to play the role of educator and expert to help clients come to terms with these additional expenses.
Parking for a large event at a backyard property is another area where clients often don’t realize there can be a financial and legal responsibility for a host. Rarely is there sufficient street parking for a large event. Your clients may need to consider renting a space offsite where guests can park and be shuttled in. A valet service may also be required. Check local regulations to determine if a permit to occupy parking spaces is needed.
Help your clients weigh out the relative costs and benefits of a backyard event versus one at an established venue. Show the numbers side-by-side and give an accurate, expert account of the differences, then allow them time to consider both options. Understand that the realities of a backyard event and the complexities involved in hosting one may be a complete shock to them. Your ability to help them understand and navigate the ins-and-outs of backyard events will not only ease their minds and provide support they badly need, but it will immeasurably increase your value as an event designer as well.
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, Louisiana.