Originally Published on May 26, 2022. Last Updated on June 12, 2023.
Are you and your partner planning a backyard wedding? First of all, congratulations! Second, props to you for your thoughtful venue choice.
A home wedding is budget-friendly, personal, meaningful, and can be customized to fit your vision. You can make your nearing nuptials as grand or as casual as you wish.
Since you chose a backyard over a traditional wedding venue, there are a few extra things to take care of. To ease any stress you may be feeling, we’ve created a list of 20 backyard wedding ideas you can use to make your day seamless and memorable.
Outdoor Wedding Planning Tips
1. Plan for the Weather
Rain on your wedding day is a sign of good luck, but not for your hair, makeup, and dress. This is where tents are handy barriers to keep inclement weather away from you and your guests. Many rental companies offer tents that come with amenities you’ll appreciate, such as:
- Built-in heaters or air conditioning.
- Retractable walls that keep wind and insects out.
- Built-in lights and sheer curtains.
- Set-up and tear-down service.
2. Set Boundaries (in the House)
Perhaps you want a private area where your bridal party can get ready, or maybe you have babies that need a quiet space to nap during the wedding reception. Whatever your reasons are, take a preemptive approach to keep guests from wandering around your house. Block off areas you don’t want anyone entering by hanging signs and locking doors. Let your friends and family know the off-limits areas so everyone is on the same page.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
Allowing loved ones to be part of your special day takes tasks off your plate and adds an extra level of sentimentality. Here are a few duties you can delegate:
- Have craft-loving friends help you make decorations.
- Ask your woodwork-loving uncle to build you a rotating cake stand.
- Put your soon-to-be mother-in-law in charge of directing vendors and ensuring the wedding party sticks to your timeline.
4. Tidy Up Your Yard
Ask your family and friends to help you clean up your landscaping a few days beforehand so you can get the job done faster. Weeding, trimming hedges, edging, and mowing the grass will make the yard a beautiful backdrop for your big day.
5. Share the News with Neighbors
This is a courteous thing to do if you have neighbors nearby. Parking and noise will be the main reasons for giving them a heads-up if you have a long guest list. A few months beforehand, print out flyers and stick them in your neighbors’ mailboxes. If your neighborhood has a Facebook page, post the update there too.
6. Procure the Proper Permits
Before booking vendors, contact your town administrators to learn about local laws, regulations, and ordinances you’ll need to follow and what permits you need. If permits are required, let your vendors know because they might have to complete and file extra paperwork.
7. Have a Photography Plan
Having a solid idea of what you want gives your photographer a great foundation to build on and ensures photos and videos go off without a hitch. We recommend doing these things early on:
- Give your photographer a list of must-have shots, shots to avoid, and locations (including addresses) where you want to take photos.
- Ask your photographer how much time they need for pre- and post-ceremony shots.
- Warn your photographer about any uneasy family dynamics (e.g., the recent passing of a loved one, divorced parents, etc.) This helps them avoid any awkward moments.
- If you and your bridesmaids are getting your hair and makeup done professionally, consult your stylists to find the best time to get started and add that to your timeline.
- If you’re not doing a “first look,” plan a cocktail hour after the ceremony so guests can toast to your happiness while you finish up photos.
- Schedule your photographer’s arrival time, and share details that will make traveling easier: where to park, road construction, busy railroad crossings, etc.
- Create a lenient timeline that won’t have anyone rushing, and share it with your wedding party so they can get their own plans in place.
8. Hire Help
If it’s in your budget, consider hiring someone to assist you in planning your backyard wedding. There are different types of wedding professionals that will help you based on your needs:
- Wedding planner: A wedding planner assists engaged couples in the planning and execution of their wedding, from day one to the big day. They can help you keep track of your budget, book hotel rooms for out-of-town guests, ensure the groom remembers his tux, play liaison between you and your vendors, and handle any other details that come up.
- Wedding coordinator: A wedding coordinator manages your wedding day, not pre-planning. They’ll work with you beforehand to create a timeline and handle any day-of details so you don’t have to.
- Wedding designer: A wedding designer’s sole purpose is to make your backyard wedding visually stunning. They’ll help create a design concept that fits your vision, space, and budget. On your wedding day, they’ll oversee the setup and teardown of all decor.
9. Get Insured
Insurance for weddings isn’t required, but having it and not needing it is better than the alternative. We suggest finding out what your homeowner’s insurance covers and checking with your vendors to see what insurance they carry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and read insurance policies to learn what you’re responsible for.
10. Have a Backup Power Source
You’ll need a lot of energy to power the lighting, sound, heating and cooling elements, food equipment, and other electronics on your wedding day. It might be more than your house can handle, so rent a generator to prevent blown fuses and outages.
Backyard Wedding Decor Ideas
11. Something Old: Create Your Own Decor
Search antique stores and thrift shops to find pre-loved treasures you can transform into wedding day decorations. A unique idea is a bouquet made using vintage costume jewelry. You can add extra meaning by incorporating pieces that belonged to your mother or grandmother, keeping them close to your heart as you walk down the aisle.
12. Something New: Add an Arbor
Style an arbor as a tasteful backdrop for your wedding ceremony. Build one from a pre-made kit, or create your own to make it unique. After the wedding, don’t take your arbor down. Instead, leave it up so you can have a visual reminder of your special day.
13. Something Borrowed: Use Family Photos
Reach out to your family and your soon-to-be family to ask permission to borrow photos of loved ones who have passed on or are not able to be there with you. Reserve a special row of seats to display the pictures; that way, they’ll be there with you in spirit on your special day. It’s a touching tribute that everyone will appreciate.
14. Something Blue: Adorn Yourself or Your Setting
Continuing with the theme, the last thing a bride needs is something blue. Traditionally, the blue item is worn—think jewelry, shoes, or a headpiece. However, if you want to put your own twist on the tradition, incorporate the color into the decor or backyard setting. Try bachelor buttons in your floral arrangements or light blue lounge furniture where guests can relax during the cocktail hour.
15. Let Nature Decorate
If you or your partner have a green thumb, put it to good use by creating natural decorations through landscaping. It’s a thoughtful, budget-friendly way to make your backyard wedding unique. Here are a few recommendations to make your landscaping extra special:
- Plant from seeds: Time your planting right so the flowers bloom on your big day.
- Pick in-season plants: Flowers that are in season when you get married are less expensive.
- Use local flora: Plants native to your area will thrive in your landscaping plans.
- Pick perennials: Give yourself a visual reminder of your wedding day year after year.
- Design edible decor: Incorporate fruits, vegetables, and herbs into your landscaping. You could even include some homegrown produce in your wedding menu.
16. Include Games
Dancing and an open bar are great, but make the most of your backyard by offering other forms of entertainment during the cocktail hour and reception with fun lawn games such as cornhole, giant Jenga, and beer pong.
17. Offer Kid-Friendly Activities
Don’t forget activities for the little ones. Give children their own play space, complete with sturdy kid-sized furniture, snacks, outdoor games, and craft supplies.
18. Style Separate Spaces
If you have enough space, style a secluded area away from the lights and dance floor where guests can kick back with a refreshing beverage. Style the setting with comfortable outdoor furniture and low lighting to set a relaxing mood.
19. Add Your Favorite Foods to the Menu
One of the most memorable parts of any wedding is the food—and an unforgettable way to feed your guests is by serving your favorite foods in out-of-the-box ways. Rent a food truck, opt for donuts instead of a wedding cake, or light a fire and set out ingredients for s’mores.
20. Invite Furry Guests
It’s your wedding and your backyard, so have complete freedom to invite whomever you want—including your four-legged bestie. Add them to your wedding party as the “dog of honor” for extra-memorable photos.
How do you plan a backyard wedding on a tight budget?
Here is a list of things to do to plan a backyard wedding on a budget:
- Keep your guest list short.
- Make your own decorations.
- Go thrift shopping to find clothing, tableware, and decor.
- Instead of gifts, ask family and friends to help you plan and prep.
- Pick one or two things to splurge on, such as a photographer.
- Get some food catered and make the rest from scratch.
How much space do you need for a backyard wedding?
You should plan for at least six square feet of floor space for every guest you invite. It might be time to trim the guest list if you have a small backyard and a large headcount.
What time of year is best for an outdoor wedding?
Backyard weddings are at the mercy of the elements, so choose a time of year when the weather in your area is mild and pleasant. This makes traveling easier for out-of-town guests, and no one will be ducking inside your house to get out of the cold or heat. Thinking aesthetically, spring and fall are preferred wedding seasons because of the natural beauty of blooming flowers and changing leaves.