Backyard Wedding Planning & Ideas

Your Backyard Wedding Guide

With large-scale celebrations currently on hold, many couples are opting to celebrate at home with a backyard wedding. Backyard I do’s are a great way to have an intimate wedding with a smaller guest list (or even a private virtual ceremony to share with friends and family from afar). They can also help to keep costs down and give the wedding a more personal, sentimental feel. While backyard weddings are typically understated, there are still a lot of factors to consider. We’ve created an easy guide that covers everything from how to use your space to the best times of day for photos!

How to Utilize Your Space

The first step in planning is designating different spaces for each part of your celebration—where you’re getting ready, where you’re having the ceremony, the reception area, and more.

Getting Ready

You’ll need two designated rooms where you and your partner can get ready. Consider your bedroom, master bathroom, or den.

The Ceremony

For your ceremony, pick a space in your backyard with a focal point: a tree, garden, French doors, or a water feature if you have it! Something to create a backdrop that will enhance your photos.

The Reception

Set up a reception space away from the ceremony area and separate it with a tent or signage. If you’re using the same area for ceremony and reception, designate a time to break down the ceremony setup and set up a place to celebrate!

Special Moments

Are there any totally unique or scenic spots that you could include? Make sure to mark those for photo ops!

Natural Light

Note any areas that offer natural sunlight and shade! This will come in handy when planning your photographs—it also lets you know what time of day may be best for the ceremony to start. For those having a virtual wedding, make sure you position the camera so it isn’t blocked and can easily pick up sound!

Vendor Space

Having vendors come to the house? Have a space designated entirely for them so they can set up and prep there while the ceremony is commencing!

What You’ll Need to Plan Ahead

Backyard weddings can seem simple, but there are still plenty of factors to consider. You and your partner will need to plan for weather, parking, and even bathrooms among other things!

Virtual Guests

Streaming your wedding to friends and family? Make sure you have working equipment (computer, tablet, phone, etc!) and make sure they have the correct link. Designate someone as an A/V monitor and have them keep an eye out for any issues during the ceremony.

Weather

With backyard weddings, you run the risk of dealing with whatever weather comes along. A popular option is using a tent to shield your guests from rain or shine—look for a rental company that can help with coverings. (For more bad weather tips, check our recommendations for—pun intended—a rain check!)

Landscaping

You’ll want to prepare your backyard for a party by giving the flora a little facelift. Refreshing any patchy parts of the lawn, adding some new blooms to a flower garden, and power washing any patio or deck is a great start! Hanging greenery like ivy, garlands, or wreaths can also add a natural touch to your day.

Helping Hands

Whether you’ve hired a dedicated vendor, a wedding planner, or a few really good friends, make sure you have a designated crew to help you set up & clean up!

Bathrooms

If you’re having more than 10 people per bathroom, it may be worth it to invest in a restroom trailer. We’re not thinking about those construction site port-o-potties though! There are plenty of deluxe, portable bathrooms you can rent as a luxurious option.

Like A Good Neighbor

Weddings are joyful events and should be celebrated, however it’s important to be respectful of your surroundings. If you’re expecting to party into the night, let your neighbors know and familiarize yourself with local noise ordinance laws.

Insurance

We’re not insurance experts, so make sure to check with your home insurance provider to make sure you’re covered in case anything happens, like an accidental injury or damage around the house. You’ll also want to cover your bases with any city laws, like fire codes or zoning issues.

Backup Generator

With extra power needs for sound, lighting and more, it’s a good idea to rent a backup generator to ensure no outages during your day!

Parking

If there isn’t enough space in your driveway and street or laws don’t permit parking after certain times, be sure to let your guests know of any nearby lots (schools, churches, etc.) on your wedding website. Another option? Hire a valet service that can park your guests’ cars at a nearby lot!

Wedding Planner

If you're working with a wedding planner, be sure to research their experience with at-home and backyard weddings. You can also decide to work with a day-of coordinator who can ensure things will run smoothly as you enjoy the day!

Food & Drink

Another important part of the wedding? The FOOD! When you’re having a backyard wedding, it’s up to you whether you want to have homemade cooking or hand it over to a caterer—you’ll also have to figure out the drinks situation and clean-up!

Food

If you decide to go with homemade cooking, set up your meal buffet-style with tables for your guests. If you go the catering route, choose whether your guests can serve themselves or if you’ll have a wait staff. (Bonus to having a wedding at home is having a bigger budget for all your favorite dishes!)

Drinks

A stocked bar is a party necessity, but you need to decide whether your guests can serve themselves or whether you’ll hire a bartender. (Tip: check with your caterer if they have a drinks package!)

Signs

If you’re doing a homemade spread, you’ll need signs for each dish, plus a few to let guests know if they should help themselves or be seated.

Trash

Make sure you have a few extra trash and recycling bins to keep it clean throughout the day—if you ended up hiring wait staff, double check that they can keep an eye on this!

Renting Furniture

Depending on the size of your guest list, you may need some extra furniture to accommodate everyone. Here are the essentials:

Ceremony seating
(enough for your guests plus a few extra, just in case!)
Reception seating
(spread a few chairs or comfy seating options around if you’re not having a sit-down dinner. A vibrant couch makes a great photo op!)
Bar
Tables
(enough for your guests and food setup)
Tent
(even if you don’t plan on having one, you can put a hold on a tent as a backup plan)
Linens & tableware
(enough for your guests and extra in case any are dropped)
Lighting
(string lights, twinkle lights, globe lights, candles, anything that brings the ambience you crave!)

Timeline Ideas

Since a backyard wedding has a more casual feel, it can be a little challenging to signal a change in events or when it’s time to go home. Here are some tips for organizing your timeline:

Take note of how the sun hits your backyard at the times you’re planning to have your ceremony and reception. If you’re planning to have your ceremony at 4pm and the area is coated in sunlight, it may be smart to invest in umbrellas or a tent!

Find out when your area will experience the “golden hour”—the time of day when the quality of light is perfect for photographs. You can look this up online or snap some practice pics in your yard to get an idea!

Allotting enough time for setup is key—you don’t want to be scrambling before your ceremony starts! Work backwards from your ceremony start time and make a plan for setting up and utilizing your help.

To signal that the party is winding down and it’s time to go home, plan a sendoff moment that fits with your aesthetic like sparklers, sky lanterns, or even silly string!

Final Tips

• Hosting a virtual wedding? Include your guests watching from afar in a virtual reception—share your signature cocktail recipe, your dance floor playlist, and open the “mic” up for any virtual guests that want to make a toast!
• If it’s a hot summer day, invest in sunscreen for your guests and put out citronella candles at night to keep the bugs at bay!
• Provide blankets or set up heaters for chilly evening events.
• Sunglasses, fans, and umbrellas are helpful items that can double as favors for outdoor weddings!

photos: Dani Nicole Photography | bride: @chelsea_sarah

Last but not least, you’ll need to find the perfect look for your celebration! Whether you opt for a breezy gown or an of-the-moment jumpsuit, embrace your bridal moment with a look that’s uniquely you.

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