Planning A Backyard Wedding

If you firmly believe there's no place like home, a backyard wedding may be the perfect choice for your nuptials.

Advantages of a Backyard Wedding

The advantages of backyard weddings are numerous. For example:

  • Budget: For a DIY bride working with a limited budget, a backyard wedding is often the most affordable choice. Venue costs are highest in larger cities and during the peak summer season, making backyard weddings a great frugal alternative.
  • Nostalgia: Sometimes, a backyard wedding is appealing because it offers a nostalgic look at your relationship. After all, what could be more romantic than marrying the love of your life in your parent's backyard -- the same spot where you had your first kiss as two innocent young middle school students?
  • Convenience: Destination weddings may be trendy, but there's nothing more convenient than stepping outside to say your vows.
  • Time Constraints: A backyard wedding can generally be planned in less time than a wedding at a booked venue, but please keep in mind that you can't create an event plan overnight. Ideally, you need at least eight weeks to plan and prep your backyard for a wedding.

7 Steps to Planning the Perfect Backyard Wedding

1. Finding a Location

The most important factor to consider when choosing a location for a backyard wedding is whether the space can comfortably accommodate your desired number of guests. As a rule of thumb, you need six to ten square feet of space per guest for row seating. An overcrowded space is the opposite of the intimate, atmosphere you want to achieve. If you have your heart set on a spot that's too small, you'll need to trim your guest list.

After you've established that the location you've selected is big enough, your wedding vendors will likely want to survey the spot. You might need to have a foundation laid to even out the ground for your dance floor or tent. Your caterer will likely want to tour the kitchen facilities to determine if they're sufficient for your reception meal. Even your florist and band might ask to review the location before agreeing to participate in your wedding.

Unless you live in a rural area with no neighbors around for several miles, you'll need to let your neighbors know of your wedding plans as far in advance as possible. If you don't inform them of your plans, you risk the embarrassing situation of having a second party hosted next door or having your neighbors decide the middle of your vows is the perfect time to start mowing their lawn.

2. Taking Care of Legal Concerns

Don't forget to check with local officials to see if you need a permit for your event. Local noise ordinances may require a permit and you might need to obtain permission to have guests parking along your street.

It's also smart to check to make sure your homeowner's insurance is order. Your vendors should have their own insurance policies, but you'll want to make sure your homeowner's insurance will cover any damage that might occur as the result of hosting such a large number of guests as well as injury liability relating to those who've had a bit too much to drink.

In many circumstances, couples planning an at home wedding choose to get an alternative special event insurance policy. The company providing your homeowner's policy might raise your deductible or rates if you need to make a wedding-related claim, so purchasing alternate insurance protects you against this possibility.

3. Contacting Rental Companies

While you rent a venue for your wedding, most of the basic necessities are provided on your behalf. However, couples opting for a backyard wedding need to do their own prep work. Here are some of the essentials you'll need:

  • Tents: Tents provide shelter in case of rain, as well as protection from wind and the hot midday sun. A tent is strongly recommended for any backyard wedding.
  • Tables and Chairs: All of your guest obviously need a place to sit. Don't forget to rent table linens as well.
  • Dinnerware: Unless you plan to make everyone eat off paper plates, you'll want to rent dinnerware for your reception.
  • Generator: Most homes don't have the capacity needed to power everything involved in hosting a wedding, such as lighting a tent or providing power to a catering kitchen. Without a generator, you risk accidentally blowing out power to your home or the entire neighborhood.
  • Porta Potties: Your home's septic tank probably can't handle the number of bathroom trips involved in hosting a wedding, so portable bathrooms are essential. Plan on one facility for every 35-40 guests. Today's upscale portable bathrooms feature amenities like lighting, sinks, and heated water to make them more appropriate for a formal occasion such as a wedding. You can also make your guest more comfortable by adding a basket with necessities such as hair spray, tampons, breath mints, aspirin, and bandages.

4. Preparing the Property

With so many wedding-related tasks to take care of, there's no reason to waste time dusting and vacuuming. To prepare for the big day, you'll likely want to hire a cleaning company to make sure your home is sparkling from top to bottom. Book post-event clean up services at this time as well!

Professional landscaping services may also be needed. Reseeding, planting, and sodding can give your lawn a picture-perfect look. As an added bonus, you'll be able to enjoy your beautiful backyard long after the event has passed.

5. Selecting Your Wedding Decorations

When choosing your wedding decorations, think about what makes your backyard location unique. Try to play up distinctive features like a massive oak tree, gorgeous landscaping, or a breathtaking view. 

Other lovely backyard wedding decor ideas include:

  • Create mood lighting with garden lamps, paper lanterns, or tiny white lights strung across tree branches.
  • Use wildflowers and lights to create a makeshift aisle for the ceremony. For more casual affair, place arrangements in mason jars or recycled tin can vases.
  • Make a pretty photo backdrop with lace curtains strung over a clothesline.
  • Create a "family tree" photo display with your favorite images of you as a couple clipped between two trees.
  • Make use of netted canopies to create a romantic vibe while keeping bugs out of your food and drink.
  • Suspend tables from trees with rope for a casual, rustic feel.
  • Use a flower box as a rustic looking drink cooler.
  • Implement seasonal produce into your decor. For example, large baskets overflowing with ripe apples set the tone perfectly for an autumn wedding.
  • Use wicker lawn furniture and posh pillows to create a cozy seating area or a cute spot for a wedding photo booth.

6. Preparing for Your Reception

At an indoor wedding, dancing is the main form of entertainment. When you're getting married in your backyard, you can be a little more creative. Consider putting out lawn games such as giant Jenga, croquet, horseshoes, ladder golf, and bean toss to keep guests occupied in between dances.

If your guest list includes several children, consider creating a special kid's area with games, coloring pages, and other age-appropriate activities. Keeping kids safely occupied ensures that they'll be less likely to wander off and get into trouble elsewhere on your property.

For your wedding favors, consider items that can be put to use immediately. Sunscreen and bug spray are popular choices, as are tiny handheld fans and bottles of water for summer weddings.

7. Having a Backup Plan

Obviously, the threat of bad weather is the biggest obstacle in planning an outdoor wedding. A tent will provide some protection against the elements, but that shouldn’t be your only backup plan. To guard against a sudden downpour, choose an alternate indoor location and provide the address on your wedding invitations so guests know where they should go if your wedding gets rained out.

Aside from the challenges associated with rain, you should also make sure extreme temperatures won't make your guests uncomfortable. If you're getting married during the summer months, provide electric fans and portable air conditioners. During the fall or winter months, use propane heaters to make the area more comfortable.

A Day You’ll Never Forget

The intimate atmosphere of a backyard wedding lets you celebrate your love for your future spouse surrounded by the people who mean the most to you. Although planning this type of wedding presents its own unique challenges, the rewards are simply priceless.

Written by: The Printable Wedding Team