Backyard Wedding Sites: From Gardens to Glass Houses | Lavender Magazine

When two people decide to embark on a new life together, there’s always cause for celebration. While media (both past and present) feeds us the idea of a grand wedding fit for royalty, the realities of hosting and paying for these kinds of events gives many couples pause. People want a day they will always remember, a day they set aside to celebrate their love with their family and friends—not necessarily one that’ll put them thousands of dollars in debt. Enter the micro-wedding (also called a mini-mony), a new craze that helps couples find the balance between the elegant and the economical. 

“We’re not trying to be a small traditional venue,” says Carolyn Germaine, Co-Founder of Backyard Wedding Sites, along with Louise Nyquist. “We’re not talking about repeating all the pieces of a big wedding. We’re just going to do a ceremony—you might have champagne and cake afterward or you might bring in a caterer, if you have 40 people or more.” The official standard for a micro-wedding is less than 50 people and gives the couple much more flexibility with the itinerary.

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Germaine

Thank of BWS as a sort of Airbnb for private wedding venues, a service that connects like-minded couples with a site that fits their personalities, vision and budget. It started in 2019, when an engaged Germaine started looking for a private garden where they could throw a small wedding ceremony. She didn’t want something overly traditional, but was still hoping for something more special and private than a public park. She figured somebody must’ve conceptualized this already, and that it’d be as simple as a Google search.

 “I thought that list has to exist!” Germaine says. “And so I’m looking all over for it and, lo and behold, it doesn’t exist.” Fast forward: it’s after the wedding, and she’s contemplating this conundrum: How can couples seeking a non-traditional local wedding venues browse them on a user-friendly interface? Why doesn’t this exist? And why couldn’t she be the one to create it? While putting some feelers out to local gardeners, she met Louise Nyquist, who was immediately on board.

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Germaine

 “There are people who are disenfranchised that need a place,” Nyquist explains. “That’s what we really wanted to rise to, is offer more places for smaller venues, for a smaller [carbon] footprint. So, people could really enjoy their company, the people that mean most to them.”   

For these two women, that environmental aspect is key. 

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Germaine

According to Kate Harrison’s The Green Bride Guide: How to Create an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any Budget, the average nuptials creates about 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. When you consider that approximately 2.5 million weddings take place every year in the U.S., those numbers reach astronomical proportions. As longtime environmental advocates, Germaine and Nyquist wanted to create a company that did its part to decrease those impacts. And so BWS was born, which offers both green and Covid-conscious wedding experiences. 

“There are people who are going to want larger weddings, medium-sized weddings and smaller weddings,” Carolyn concedes. “We just recognize that we’re filling a void between public weddings and traditional venues.” 

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Germaine

The world and its goods and services are changing. For those of us looking for more unique, fun and oft-budget-friendly lodgings, we have services like Airbnb and Hipcamp. Same goes for BWS, which caters to the creative and environmentally conscious set. Not to mention those non-traditional couples looking for a totally inclusive venue: “We embrace weddings of all race, religion and sexual orientation,” adds Germaine. 

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