If you’re dreaming of a small, intimate backyard wedding with family and friends gathered around—you’ve come to the right place. You don’t need an extravagant venue or fancy décor for your special day. And these days, there are plenty of ways to make it happen.
When you’re planning your big day, it’s easy to get caught up in the details. But don’t forget that the most important part of a wedding is the people who come to celebrate with you!
A backyard wedding is a beautiful way to get married in an intimate setting. But, when you’re planning your own backyard wedding, it can be hard to know where to start. So, we’ve created a guide with the top tips for pulling off a successful and memorable backyard ceremony and reception!
It’s always a joy to help couples plan their weddings but working with those looking for an affordable, intimate wedding near home is especially fulfilling. So for those of you wanting to have a backyard wedding in the future, here are some tips and tricks for pulling it off without breaking the bank.
There is nothing more romantic than a backyard wedding. You can do so many things to make sure it’s special and memorable for your guests. You can add some greenery or flowers, have someone play the guitar on the lawn, or even get dressed in your own home! But no matter what you do, everything will be perfect because of how much love there is in the air.
How do you pull off a backyard wedding? You need to be creative and make sure that your guests are comfortable. It’s the bride’s job to make sure her family and friends feel appreciated on this day. If you have the budget, it can help to hire a caterer or at least find someone who is willing to provide food for their services.
First things first, make sure the weather is good! Check the forecast before doing anything else so that you can prepare accordingly. You’ll also need a permit from your local municipality if there’s any chance of rain or storms.
Now that we’ve got those two out of the way let’s get into planning! Planning for your backyard wedding includes securing catering services, decorations, hiring musicians and more; all these details are important in ensuring everything goes well on your big day.
That being said, if you are looking for an intimate backyard wedding on a budget, here are some helpful tips for pulling off your perfect event.
The Pros and Cons
The backyard wedding is one of the most sentimental and unique of all the locations available to a bride. A private sanctuary of sorts, that place where you have experienced so many great moments in life, it is only fitting that you may wish to consider this option when planning for your new life together.
That said, if one aspect of your decision-making is that this would be a great way to save money, you might be in for a surprise.
It should also be pointed out that outdoor events are not for everyone. However, suppose you are the type of person who loves surprises, who has a spirit for adventure, who can make that great cup of lemonade when life gives you the occasional lemon. In that case, you are the perfect candidate for a backyard wedding.
If not, stop right now and return to the venue location books. Outdoor events, by definition, are subject to elements and situations that cannot be totally controlled. I see this as another feature that will keep your event special and most certainly guarantee that guests will remember your wedding as one of their favourites.
But how do you achieve all this while maintaining an acceptable level of anxiety? On any wedding day, two very important words come into play, and for the caterer, it is not “I Do” it’s “What If?”.
The “What If” game gets you mentally prepared for many of the different scenarios that may occur and how they would be handled. It’s the opportunity to reduce the element of chance and discuss the solutions. The following are a few of the larger issues you will want to discuss.
There are many aspects to consider, and not one of them is straightforward. Weighing up the following pros and cons should help you decide whether such an idea is suitable for you.
1. The informality of a reception at home
Not every couple wants an elaborate wedding reception with a six-course dinner; many want to relax with their family and close friends. A wedding at home can be an informal, fun occasion, with a simple barbecue or buffet instead of a more formal wedding meal. In your own home or garden, you can do whatever you like without having to follow the usual wedding format of a hired venue.
One reason weddings at home are gaining popularity is that couples are looking to reduce the overall cost of their big day. Although you will still need to hire items such as a marquee and furniture, you won’t have the cost of hiring a venue, and you can bargain with your own choice of suppliers to be sure of getting value for money.
An off-premise event (one held anywhere other than a hotel, special event venue or restaurant) should not be confused with an inexpensive event. Depending on your vision, it may not end up costing more than a similar event held in a ballroom, but it will rarely cost less.
Why? Because all the things the facility has built into their pricing have to be considered and then arranged for in your backyard. This is similar to going to a restaurant and ordering a la carte. The final bill usually ends up costing more, but you get exactly what you wanted – and that is what makes it so special.
Securing an all-inclusive reception venue can eat up to 50 per cent of your budget, a nonissue if you’re considering a loved one’s yard or your own. And the sentimental value can be priceless.
You will save on-site fees, but you still have to shell out for rentals, including portable restrooms, a dance floor, and, potentially, a tent (if inside the house isn’t a viable rain plan). And if the home’s kitchen doesn’t suit your caterer’s needs, add cooking equipment to that list.
Pests can present problems, too, so spend time in the yard to determine where they like to swarm (the last thing you want is the neighbour’s bug zapper going haywire). Then suss out parking, permits, and liability insurance, which covers personal injury and property damage.
3. Your home’s personal significance to you
Holding your wedding at home or at your parents’ house can make the day a very personal affair. Assuming that your parents have lived in their house for a long time, having your wedding there can be particularly special as familiar trinkets and childhood memories will surround you.
Although rain isn’t as big an issue, to ignore the discussion would border on being negligent. A plan should be in place (and can be fine-tuned as the event gets closer and weather reports become more accurate) where one phone call gets the rental company started.
It would be best if you planned for bad weather. For example, will you want all your wedding guests in your home if it starts to rain? A marquee is a good option, but if your garden isn’t big enough, then you need to think of alternatives.
We get it—the last thing you want to do while planning your wedding is…plan another wedding. But worst-case scenarios happen, and you’ll want to be organized. “You have to move fast to set a rain plan in motion,” says Hanlin.
Don’t tempt fate (and major day-of meltdowns): If there’s no indoor option, put a deposit on a tent, just in case. Tentexperts.org can provide a crystal-clear breakdown of your options (there are more than you think!).
And should you wake up to drizzle and a bummer forecast on the big day, don’t wait until right before guests start arriving to make the call. The more time you have to prepare, the better.
One tool that can help in the planning is the brand-new, user-friendly AccuWeather app, providing a minute-by-minute forecast that zeros in on what’s happening at your exact address.
But just as important as this “Plan B” is how you are going to react. Your guests will feed off your emotions – if you can have a great time regardless if you see this as nothing more than an inconvenience, your guests will follow your lead and make sure you have a great time.
5. Bug and Wind-Proof Your Venue
When picking flowers, remember that hardy blooms like roses, zinnias, and dahlias stand up to gusts and rain better than delicate blossoms, says floral designer Sierra Steifman, owner of Poppies & Posies, in New York City. Also, keep in mind that baby’s breath, scabiosa, and peonies are particularly attractive to pests.
To deter insects, incorporate natural pesticides, like rosemary sprigs, lavender, mint, and thyme. If your wedding is near mosquito-attracting water, you’ll need something more powerful, like citronella torches or candles. (Or, if you’re marrying on your property and go the exterminator route, have the site sprayed 48 hours beforehand, so the chemical smell dissipates; learn about alternative green treatments at ecosmart.com.).
Avoid lightweight vases or centrepieces that can tip over in the breeze, or opt for wilt-proof beauties like potted plants or fruits and vegetables that will help weigh down arrangements. And unless you want someone to spend the night striking matches, keep lit candles in tall, breeze-blocking vessels.
6. There may well be damage to your property
No matter how house trained your guests are, there is likely to be some damage to your home or garden should people be permitted to drink and dance in it.
Even if the party is in the garden, you may get some damage if guests make their way through the house to use the bathroom or get drinks. Make sure you account for repairs in your budget. Don’t forget you will also have a lot of mess to clean at the end of the reception; you can’t just leave it to someone else to deal with as you would at a venue.
7. Uninvited Visitors
While planning for the layout of your backyard event, the caterer will suggest locations for cake tables, bars, guest seating, coffee or food stations – whatever is desired, based on traffic flow, wind and sun expectations, etc.
All of this is happening months and weeks before your event. An experienced caterer will want to revisit the site often but especially during the event week to ensure that none of Mother Nature’s less popular friends has moved into your neighbourhood.
If the cake table were to be located where a new colony of ants has moved in, changes would need to be made. Look for bee or wasp nests signs and remember that dog that likes to bark three doors down; maybe we can write a nice letter to the homeowner asking for assistance on your special day.
Arrange canopies and umbrellas where necessary and, if the food tables are set on the ground, not on a deck or a floured surface, consider spraying the table legs (and only the legs!) with bug spray.
At one recent event in a backyard that abutted a parkland area, a professional team was needed to spray the property’s periphery. This, and citronella candles, helped keep a large swarm of summer bugs in control for the day.
8. There are likely to be space restrictions
Unless your home is very spacious, there will always be a limit on the number of invitees it can comfortably accommodate.
You may need to cut down your guest list to be sure you can fit everybody in, and you may need to rethink your ideal wedding setup. For example, it’s unlikely you will have separate areas for a drinks reception, the wedding meal, and a dance floor as you may do with a booked venue.
9. Crowd Flow
Creating movement or flow is always a consideration in a backyard event. We have some tricks we can use to help solve this issue. Bars become strategic magnets that can easily pull people from one area to another.
Sometimes, it is good to have a bar set away from the main entrance and then utilize beverage stations or servers with trays offering champagne or specialty drinks as guests arrive. Obviously, the same is true of tray-passed hors d’oeuvres or food stations.
Guests seem to follow the following rule — if there is a beverage, something to eat or a view, they will find it. Therefore, your caterer should use this to your advantage.
Utilizing this concept at a recent wedding in a rather small but multi-decked backyard, we held the ceremony on one deck. We then used our appetizers and an elaborate martini bar located on another deck as a way to move the group following the ceremony.
While guests enjoyed the cocktail party, we reset the ceremony area for dinner. (The tables and chairs had been hidden behind a decorative lattice screen we installed in what otherwise would have been plain view because there was no other storage area.).
Once the formal pictures had been taken, and the newlyweds had a chance to mingle with their guests, the flow naturally pulled them back to where food stations had “magically appeared.”
While guests enjoyed their feast, the cocktail area was transformed to accommodate a wonderful dessert display and get ready for the dancing and festivities that were planned to take this party into the night.
These types of logistics are the norm for backyard events. But, making them happen in a seamless and almost mystical way is the sign of someone really good at playing the “What If” game.
The Benefits of Having a Backyard Wedding Ceremony
A backyard wedding ceremony offers a lot of perks without breaking the bank. In fact, it’s a great way to save money! From complete freedom in the guest list department, absolute control over the decor and setup, to total flexibility in terms of dates and planning, it’s a perfect mix between your traditional, big wedding and an intimate, smaller one.
1. Complete Intimacy
Since you’re not renting a venue, no restrictions are in place, except the ones you and your partner decide on.
Depending on the size of your backyard, you can have as few or as many guests as you’d like. If you decide to invite more people last minute or if you’d like to include pets in your wedding, for example, there will be no extra fees to pay.
The backyard wedding ceremony allows you to say your “I do” in a place that’s familiar to you, a place that nobody else has ever gotten married before, a place that’s completely yours. There is a certain charm and a special kind of magic in this, unlike using a venue that’s popular with couples.
Whether you decide to keep the guest list short or want to invite many people, the intimate wedding won’t be affected, and that’s just one of the many benefits these weddings have to offer.
The fact that you’re not paying for a venue opens a world of possibilities. For example, you can take the originally planned budget for a venue and use it to turn your backyard into the perfect wedding space you’ve always dreamed of.
You’re basically starting with a clean slate and can really mix, match and play around until you get to something you and your partner both love. There are a lot of rental companies out there that you can rent items from. These items vary and can be as small as plates and cutlery to stuff like chairs, tables, lights, and even a dance floor!
If you’re worried about the weather, you can always rent a tent and have a beautiful backyard tent wedding. There are many backyard wedding ideas online, so you can always look something up or hire a decorator. Venues usually take up the biggest chunk of the budget, so you can really splurge on other things with no worries by eliminating this expense.
Since you decide who’s invited, when they’ll arrive, what you serve, how you’ll have your backyard wedding decorated etc, you are practically in control of everything.
You’re not going to be bound by availability, so you can pick any date you want and have your wedding then. Many couples have special dates in mind when they first start planning a wedding but later find out that they’ll have to compromise since the venue is already booked for their date. With a backyard wedding, you won’t have this issue!
Also, if something comes up, you can always reschedule and not pay any fees or be forced to wait months until another slot opens up.
Another great thing about the backyard wedding is the fact that you can have both your ceremony and reception at the same place. This way, your guests won’t have to rush from one spot to another, and everything will be much easier and more relaxed.
What’s more, getting ready will be more fun as you’re already in your home, a space you know and love, so the pre-wedding edge will be significantly smaller.
To Sum Up
Choosing a backyard wedding is a wonderful option but one that should be entered into with a total understanding of what it will take. Risks exist at any event, regardless of the location. However, if you have done your homework and hired the right team to assist in making your dream become a reality, the rewards will be great.
An at-home wedding is special because it reflects who you are. It is unique, and, if approached with the right attitude, a fantastic memory awaits you at the end of the day.
By deciding to hold your wedding ceremony and reception in your backyard, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of excitement and an amazing, unique safe wedding experience everyone attending will never forget.
You’re going to be the one who holds all the strings, and you’ll be able to set everything up just the way you like it. By renting out furniture, premium tableware, lighting, a tent, or other necessary items, you can transform your backyard into a stunning venue and all that at a fraction of the cost.For couples who love intimacy, are creative, aren’t afraid of a little challenge, and absolutely love the outdoors, the backyard wedding ceremony is all kinds of perfect.