Purple Clover Events

Purple Clover Events

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times.  I’m a fabulous wedding planner, but you can’t trust me with tech!

While I’m working to fix issues with the website, please check out the wedding planning resources here at Planning Collective.  If you’re looking for information on wedding planning service, please email me at Kate@PurpleCloverEvents.com

How to Plan a Backyard Wedding

How to Plan a Backyard Wedding

How to plan a backyard wedding

Backyard Weddings

It happens to most brides at some point in the planning process.  The thought “we should just do a simple backyard wedding” crosses your mind.  While it is possible to have a simple backyard wedding, it’s often much more involved than most couples realize. 

In this post, we’ll go over the unique things you need to think about when planning a backyard wedding.  I do want to point out that the majority of these items will also pertain to a “unique venue” where you are responsible for bringing in all rentals, catering, and other services. 

The one thing I find in common about many of these spaces is that couples find that it can be an easier or cheaper option than renting a more traditional banquet hall or hotel venue. And then they find out that there are a ton of extra details that they need to worry about.

Before we get into it, I want you to grab the free guide that I’m going to reference throughout this post.  It’s going to outline the step-by-step details that we’re talking about here, as well as include a backyard wedding planning checklist.

All right, let’s get started. Our first two steps are going to sound pretty familiar.

Step 1: Backyard Wedding Budget 

Just like any wedding, you must discuss the budget first before you commit to anything else. The difference here is that a backyard or a unique wedding venue typically requires more vendors and logistics than you need to budget for. We’ll get into the specifics with steps four and five, but the biggest cost for a backyard or unique venue is going to be the tent costs or the venue rental, the hard rentals, meaning tables, chairs, etc., and then the catering and bar service that includes the staffing that you’ll need. 

These items combined will typically make up about 40% to 50% of your budget, so an oversight in any of these areas can really throw things off significantly. 

Step 2:  Create your Guest List

Again, this one sounds a little bit familiar, but it’s really important to make sure that you know how many people you’ll be inviting to your wedding, and if your space can accommodate it. 

If you’re unsure if your backyard or space can accommodate the guest list that you’re thinking about, have a rental company come out and determine the layout and capacity for the area. They can come out and measure the space and let you know what size tent you’ll need and how many people can fit under that tent. F

Step 3: Determine your Location Needs

Most couples planning a wedding at a unique venue start with a specific location in mind, like your backyard or a certain space at a family home. People often underestimate how much room they’re going to need and forget key elements that you need to host an event at home. 

Let’s talk about some of those now.

  1. Will you need different areas for the ceremony, cocktail hour dinner and dancing? How will the guests transition from one area to the next? 
  2. Do you have room for food service, like a catering prep area or buffet tables? I typically recommend a separate tent, but some caters are able to work out of the house or their catering trucks. Either way, the area needs to be easily accessible for them and easy for them to leave after dinner and not have to drive across a dance floor or a packed tent.
  3. Will you need to bring in restroom trailers? I recommend one toilet per 50 guests. And if you don’t want people inside the house, or maybe you’re going to have more people than the bathrooms in the house can accommodate, you will need to bring in trailers. (I will say that the portable restroom industry has significantly upped its game in the last few years. There are some really nice restroom trailers that you can rent. Your guests won’t even know that they’re in a bathroom trailer. Now, of course, these come at an extra cost, so we’ll want to make sure to add that into the budget.) 
  4. Is there electrical and water access in the spots that you need? So for catering prep, those restroom trailers, the band or DJ, lighting for the tent, lighting for main pathways, etc. Make sure you know where those electrical access points are and let your vendors know. 
  5. Is there an accessible parking area for the guests or for valet to park? You’ll typically have one car per two guests, but don’t forget the vendors will also need their cars close by. 
  6. Check with your city for details on noise ordinances. You’ll typically find that amplified music needs to stop at a certain time, but you can continue the party a little bit after that. Honestly, it all comes down to your neighbors, which brings us to
  7. If you’re worried about crabby neighbors, get ahead of it by offering them an invitation to the party.  Chances are though if they’re crabby neighbors, you don’t want them at your parties. So what we’ve done in the past is we’ve offered to pay for a hotel for them for the night so they can enjoy a nice staycation and you can avoid the noise complaints, shutting down the party. 
  8. Make sure to have a backup plan for bad weather. Ideally, you will not need to use it, but if you don’t have a plan for where the guests will go if mother nature does not cooperate, you’re taking a huge risk that can’t easily be addressed last minute. 

Step 4: Determine What Rental Items you Need

Organizing and booking your rental items is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to hosting an event at home or a unique venue. 

The main items that couples need are going to be:

  • Tent(s) for possible rain, but also for shade on sunny days
  • Tables (guest tables, catering prep, food service cocktail tables, etc)
  • Chairs for both the ceremony and the reception, 
  • Linens (both tablecloths and napkins) 
  • Serviceware (plates, dishes, silverware, flatware, and all of those details that you’ll need for the actual food service. 

For the full list, make sure to grab the free guide. 

Step 5: Determining What Staffing Help you Will Need. 

When your wedding is being held in a traditional venue, like a banquet hall or a hotel, you don’t need to worry about staffing for the event. When you opt to have your wedding in your backyard or a unique space, you will need to bring in all of those staff members. 

Now, sometimes most of this is going to be covered by your catering team, but make sure that you have this conversation with them ahead of time to ensure that everything is covered. So you’re going to need a catering company and a chef, wait staff that stays through the end of the night to bus the tables and clear the trash, and licensed bartenders (I recommend one bartender per 75 guests). 

You’re going to need to make sure that you have somebody to set things up and to tear it down. If you’re having the event at your house, I would highly recommend hiring a team to clean the house earlier in that week. You may also want to consider a valet team, somebody for coat check depending on the season of your wedding, and security if applicable. 

Step 6: Create your Layout 

There are free software tools out there, so I would recommend you sign up for AllSeated, Social Tables If you’re a member of Planning Collective, you’ll have a layout feature within your Aisle Planner account. 

Please do not just sketch out a layout by hand. It’s likely that things will take up more space than you anticipated. So while that’s a great way to start, make sure that you do have some kind of system that is putting things together by scale, because likely you’re going to think you can fit a lot more items in the space than is actual reality.

While you’re putting this together, I want you to remember these things that are commonly left off of layouts: 

  • Gift table
  • Place card table, or a spot for your seating chart 
  • The bar and space for a bar back table and guests traffic/lines (So make sure the bar isn’t put right next to one of the guests tables)
  • Dance floor or space for dancing (I recommend you start with a 12 by 12 space and anywhere up to 30 by 30 would be a very good size dance floor)
  • A catering prep area, check with the caterer to see how much room they need, and if they need any tables for their prep. 
  • If you’re assigning seats for the guests, make sure that you assign table numbers on your layout. It is a very easy thing to miss. 
  • Coffee and water stations, as well as a dessert station 
  • Table or a spot for your DJ or your band. 

Step 7: Setup and Tear Down Logistics

As you’re getting your quotes from the rental companies, you’re going to see that most companies will include drop off only, except for the tents. 

This means that you’ll be responsible for setting up and tearing down all of the tables, chairs, and other rentals. It seems simple, but it can be a very time-consuming task. 

Here are some tips to help you save either money, time or sanity, hopefully a mix of all three:

  • For setup, you can typically arrange to have the delivery of the main items (so the tent tables, linens, chairs) have that set up a couple of days before the wedding and picked up a couple of days after. 
  • If you have family and friends around, you can save quite a bit of money by doing the setup yourselves, if not, it is worth adding in that extra setup fee so you’re not running around and doing that last minute on the day of the event. 
  • Make sure that you give a copy of the layout to whoever will be in charge of the setup and discuss any possible alternatives that may need to happen.
  • For tear down, make sure to clarify with your rental company what their expectation is at the time of pickup. Do the tables need to be stacked by the driveway or will they take them and fold them down from under the tent? Can the chairs be left set up under the tent? Many companies have extra fees if they arrive and they’re not ready to be loaded up on the truck. 
  • Don’t forget about the trash at the end of the night. It may be tempting to say you’ll take care of it the next day, but the mess that a few critters can make overnight can be significant. So if your caterer is not staying to handle this through the end of the event, make sure you have a plan for where the trash will go and who will be taking care of it throughout the event.
  • And timing. If you are at a unique venue, make sure you have a clear understanding of what their setup and tear down timeline is. If you only have a couple of hours for setup and an hour or so for tear down, you’ll most likely need to hire somebody to help make it happen in that allotted time. The tasks often take much longer than you anticipate, and you don’t want to be running late on the wedding day or be hit with additional fees at the end of the night if you go overtime with your venue. 

Okay, I know I just threw a lot of information at you guys, but don’t stress out!  Take it one step at a time, and it will all come together. 

Again, make sure to grab the free guide to help you track all these details. You can also head over to the Wedding Planning Collective Facebook Group to get more support in the planning process.  


Marriage or Mortgage?

Marriage or Mortgage?

Marriage or Mortgage?

Hey guys!  This weeks post is a bit different, and I’m excited to share it with you!  We’re going to talk about two of my favorite things, weddings and reality tv!

If you follow me on Instagram, @planningcollectively, I’m sure you’ve seen that I binged the new Netflix show called Marriage or Mortgage right away, and LOVED IT!   For those of you not familiar, the premise of the show is that engaged couples have saved between $20-$30k, and they are deciding on putting that towards a wedding, or a down payment on a home.  

Each of the 10 episodes features a different couple, and they work with realtor Nichole Holmes and wedding planner Sarah Miller to go through the options available to them with either option.  They tour 3 homes within their budget with Nichole, and Sarah walks them through potential venues, catering options, and other wedding details for their dream day. 

In the end, the couple meets with both Nichole and Sarah, and tell them what they’ve decided.   The episode wraps up by flashing forward a few months, to see the couple in either their new home, or on their wedding day.  

Earlier this week I had the privilege of chatting with one of my favorite  couples that was featured on the show, and I’m excited to share that with you all here!  Check it out, and then scroll down to see my key takeaways for all couples that might find themselves in a similar position.  

Denise & Nick are one of the most loved couples from the show. They are the absolute sweetest, and i’m so grateful that they could share a bit about their experience in not just the show, but how they went about making their decision.  This is your official spoiler alert that we do talk about their final decision, so if you haven’t watched yet, make sure to do that first.  Their featured in the second episode titled “Adopting New Traditions” 



    So what are my thoughts on the show?

    Many people have an immediate reaction when they hear about the premise of the show, and it’s definitely not in favor of weddings.  I have to admit, when I first heard about the show, I was very nervous that it was going to be a horrible reflection on the wedding industry.  That’s actually what initially made me watch the show right when it came out, planning to do a podcast episode defending the wedding industry. 

    I was very pleasantly surprised that the show really did a great job representing the decision making process, and how, for some, it can be a really tough call to make.  Of course, it is a reality show, so there there were some things that were thrown in for entertainment purposes on both sides that might not be standard for most couples either buying a home or planning a wedding.  And because we only see 44 minutes of a weeks worth of filming, there were some important details that didn’t make the final cut.  I can’t speak to the real estate side of things, but I did want to highlight a few of my main take-aways here.  

    1. Everyones financial position is different.  While we only get surface details on what the couples do for a living, and certainly not any info on the status of their bank accounts, we do know that they have a certain amount of money set aside for either a wedding or home.  I did love the approach that this meant they were taking with the wedding budget, having a big picture number of what you actually have to spend, vs. planning a wedding and then figuring out how to pay for it.   I get into this conversation about the budget, and how most couples plan their wedding backwards in Episode 2.  Make sure to check that out, if you haven’t already! 
    2.  Everyone’s life priorities are different. If you’re looking to start a family, spending money on in vitro, school, or other massive expenses, putting a chunk of money towards a wedding (or a house, for that matter) may not be at the top of your list. On the flip side, if your family/friends don’t live close to each other, or you don’t get to see each other often, the idea of having everyone together in one room to celebrate your marriage could be an amazing experience.  We often hear that the best gifts to give are experiences, and that’s exactly what a wedding day does.   Now, I would guess that a few of the couples could probably afford to do both at a similar level, but that doesn’t mean that both would be priorities for them 
    3. Everyone’s wedding priorities are different.  For this one, I’m going to refer you to the first episode of The Wedding Planning Collective Podcast.  I go over the main categories of wedding planning, and help guide you  through what your priorities would be fore your wedding day.  
    4. The negotiations seen on the show are definitely not the norm. Again, I can’t speak to what might be normal deals when you’re buying a house, but I’m guessing both sides received some of these amazing discounts because of the potential promotion of the show.  That said, a wedding planner can definitely help save you money.  Sometimes it’s in actual line item discounts from their vendor connections, but often it’s by saving you from making really expensive mistakes! 
    5. And finally, you can do both!  No one is saying that whichever you pick, you can never have the other!  You don’t need to spend all your savings, whatever that might be, on one or the other.  Whether you split the difference evenly, or favor one or the other.

    So, what are your thoughts?  Check out Marriage or Mortgage on Netflix, and then head over to the Facebook Group to discuss!

    5 Things you Need to Know about Pinterest Weddings

    5 Things you Need to Know about Pinterest Weddings

    If you’re planning a wedding, you’ve most likely spent some time on Pinterest.  I really love the platform, and I encourage my clients to use it.  But there are 5 things that you need to know about when it comes to wedding pins on Pinterest. 

    The biggest thing to note is that many wedding photos are you’ll see are styled shoots.  That means that it’s not an actual event, but rather a collaboration of vendors working together to show off their work.  If you see only one reception table in an open field, or just a ceremony set up with only a handful of empty chairs, there is a good chance it was from a styled shoot.  

    Now, I’m a fan of styled shoots, and have participated in a few myself.  The problem is that they are often not realistic for several reasons: 

    1) Vendors want to promote new/upgraded/top of the line products.  This means you’re typically seeing their best products/services, which might not be conducive to a typical wedding budget.

    2) If you’re looking at a photoshoot at your venue, the layout or set up might not be realistic.  For a styled shoot, you don’t need to worry about the guest flow, size of the event, or if the catering staff can make their way between the tables.  Make sure to discuss these details with your planner or the contact at your venue.  

    3) You’ll often see fully set tables, or things set up that wouldn’t be set out for a typical wedding.  For example, most weddings won’t have the dinner plates set out prior to the guests arriving.  The guests will get them at the buffet, or the wait staff will bring them with dinner.  Because of this, your tables might not look as “finished” as the pictures, or you may want to rent charger plates to complete the look. 

    4) PLEASE don’t ever put glass containers or candles down your aisle.  I absolutely love the look of an aisle lined with candlelight, you’ll see photos of them all over Pinterest.  The problem is that I can just about guarantee that a guest is going to bump into one, sending wax and broken glass everywhere.  And it’s going to happen just minutes before the ceremony.   

    An alternative would be to use flameless candles set out on their own, or in lanterns.  I’ve seen some gorgeous photos of strand lighting along the aisle.  Make sure to consider guest safety, and not creating a trip hazard with where they are plugged in.  Keep in mind that most ceremonies occur earlier in the day when the candles or lights won’t be visible.  If this is the case, you most likely wouldn’t have the same visual impact as the styled shoot photos anyway.

    5) And the final issue with planning your wedding on Pinterest is that you have no concept of budgets.  For styled shoot images, you typically see only one or two tables or settings.  If you were to replicate that design for all the tables, it could be a very expensive wedding!  Even if the photos are not from a styled shoot, often the most popular pins are from higher budget events.  It’s easy to fall in love with a look, only to be disappointed to find out what the actual cost would be to make it happen.  

    Now that I’ve spent all this time warning you about the negatives of Pinterest, why do I still encourage my couples to use it?  

    1. The visual of the images makes sure you and your vendors to be are on the same page.  There won’t be any confusion over shades of pink, or the shape you’d like your bouquet to be.
    2. It’s a great place to get started, especially for those lost or confused about wedding design

    Finally, I want to share a few tips with you to make the best of your Pinterest experience!

    • Do you love a table design, but it doesn’t fit in your budget?  You can use it for your head table, and use a more affordable design for the guest tables.
    • If you’re flexible with the type of flowers you use, ask your florist if there is a cheaper alternative available to create a similar look to an inspirational picture.
    • Add notes in the comments about what you like and dislike about the pin. You might love the flowers, but not the chairs or linens used.  Adding these notes in helps to ensure everyone to be on the same page.
    • Follow your venue and vendors for more inspiration for your wedding.  

    Including your pets at your wedding

    Including your dog in your weddingTo so many people, our pets are a legitimate extension of our family.  Some might even prefer the company of their furry friends to most other humans, and I don’t see anything wrong with that!  This does often lead to an important planning issue to handle, how do we include our dog, cat, llama, or pot-bellied pig into our wedding day?

    Over the years, we’ve seen quite a few different attempts at this, and some work better than others.  So here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to decide on the best way to incorporate your pet into the big day:

    Rules of the Venue  The first question you should be asking is to your various venue coordinators.  Many venues will allow a quick visit for photos with your pet, but might restrict the animals to being outside, or only for a few minutes.  Most churches are strict about this, so if you are having your ceremony at a church, you’ll most likely not be allowed to have them there.  It can’t hurt to ask though!  Reach out to your contact at the church or venue and ask if there are any restrictions to bringing in your little guy or gal. 

    Personality & Temperament  The next thing to think about is how will your pet react to the craziness of the day.  If you’re hoping to have them walk down the aisle, but they are nervous around groups of people, it’s probably not a great idea to put them in that situation.  On the flip side, if they get SO EXCITED to see people, it’s probably asking for a very chaotic and stressful moment right before your big moment. 

    Serve as a ring bearer or flower girl  If your pet passes the personality and temperament part of this quiz, it’s often tempting to include them as a flower girl or ring bearer, which is absolutely adorable!  My HUGE suggestion is to avoid the temptation of tying the wedding bands to the collar, or having them carry them on a pillow to bring to the Best Man.  Your little guy could have just taken home Best in Show at Westminster, I’m still going to recommend you put fake rings on that collar or pillow!  I actually give the same advice when we’re talking about little kids having the real rings.  Once those church doors open, or everyone stands and the music starts to play, the eyes of the audience on them can make them act out of character.  Previously cooperative little boys might sit down and refuse to go down the aisle, and well behaved golden retrievers might run for that squirrel in the distance.  It’s definitely not worth the risk, so make sure a responsible member of the wedding party is hanging onto the real rings before the ceremony begins. 

    Logistics of the venue  Another big consideration you’ll have to make is regarding the logistics of the space.  Is there an outside space suitable for potty breaks?  Where will your cuddly buddy go after the photos or ceremony?  Make sure the venue has a safe and comfortable space for them, or better yet, arrange for someone to take them home where they will probably be happier.  If they will be staying onsite, or if you will be at a hotel and they can stay in the room, make sure to bring some familiar toys and/or blankets with you so they have something familiar, and are less tempted to “explore” the new space!

    Will you have a sitter available?  This seems like a simple one, but a lot of our couples get stuck with this because most of their “go to” pet sitters will be attending the wedding, and are most likely close friends/family that you don’t want to be absent because they are taking care of Fido.  If you need to bring in someone new to help on the wedding day, I always recommend that you have them come by to meet your pet(s) a couple of times before the wedding day.  That way everyone will be familiar and comfortable with each other beforehand. 

    What will they wear? It’s tempting to think that you’ll be able to dress your little one up in an adorable tux, or cute tutu dress, but if your pet doesn’t let you put so much as a festive bandana on at Halloween, it’s probably unlikely that you’ll succeed with this one.  Test it out though.  Sometimes they just need to get used to something new, so don’t wait until the wedding day to dress them up.  If the full outfit isn’t going to work, you can always add a bow or a bowtie to their collar, or dress up their leash with some lace or to match the wedding colors.  We’ve also had floral collars made for them, and they are so adorable!  Make sure to snap some pics right away though, they often get curious about them pretty quickly!

    What will YOU be wearing? It’s important to not forget that you won’t be in your normal wears on the big day either.  Whether you’ll be in a tux, suit or fancy white ball gown, your little guy has the opportunity to do some damage.  If you know he/she is a jumper, avoid taking photos outside where their paws will get dirty.  You can also bring a white sheet with you to use as a barrier between the elements, and the photographer can help arrange it so it’s not visible.  Make sure to also have several lint rollers around so that those tux jackets will be pet hair free afterwards!

    What if your pet can’t be at the wedding? If, for whatever reason, your pet can’t actually be present at the wedding, there are still plenty of ways to incorporate them into the big day!

    • Take them with you to your engagement photos and display those at the reception
    • Use images for stationery items like table numbers, favor tags, or welcome bag stickers
    • Have a custom cake topper made of them, there are lots of sources on Etsy!
    • Have a “doggie bag” table with dog treats for the guests to take home at the end of the night
    • In lieu of favors, make a donation to a rescue or shelter

    How will you be involving your pet in the wedding day/plans?  Share your ideas on the Collective Forum!