How to Plan a Backyard Wedding

Wedding planning doesn't have to be filled with stress, expense, and navigating difficult family dynamics. Make it a fun and unique experience by hosting your big day in the comfort of your own (or a loved one’s) backyard. Backyard weddings offer intimacy, personalization, and often a huge cost-saving advantage. However, they also come with their own set of challenges and considerations. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you plan the perfect backyard wedding.

10 Steps to Planning a Backyard Wedding

1. Assess Your Space

Before deep diving into the planning process, evaluate the backyard space. Consider the size, layout, and landscape. Ensure there's enough room for your guest list, ceremony, reception, and any additional elements like a dance floor, food truck or photo booth. Make note of the terrain and how it might affect seating, walking paths, and tent placement and that it will be accessible for all of your guests - young and old.

2. Check Permits and Regulations

Consult local ordinances and homeowner association rules. Some areas have noise restrictions, parking limitations, or require permits for large gatherings. It’s crucial to handle these legalities early to avoid any last-minute surprises. You will also most likely need event insurance - typically around $150 fee, but definitely worth the simple paperwork to make sure you're covered (just in case).

3. Guest List and Invitations

With a backyard wedding, your guest list will likely need to be more intimate due to space constraints. Create a guest list that reflects the cozy, personal nature of the event. Send out your invitations well in advance and consider including a note about the casual, homey atmosphere so guests know what to expect.

4. Plan for Weather Contingencies

Most venues have solid backup plans in the event that nasty weather rolls in. It's the one big thing we can't control and that everyone always worries about. Weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to have a plan in place well before wedding day. Consider renting a tent to provide shelter from rain or intense sun, heaters or fans can also be a good idea for temperature control. Look into providing umbrellas and blankets for added comfort.

5. Hire the Essential Vendors

Even though you’re hosting at home, professional help can ensure your day goes smoothly. Key vendors to consider include:

  • Caterer: Look for catering companies experienced in outdoor events. What type of dining experience do you want for your wedding? Family style? Formal? Food trucks? Picnic?
  • Photographer: Capture the beauty of your special day with a photographer who understands how to work with natural light and outdoor settings. Be sure to share some special memories of the location so that they can get a feel for your relationship with the property.
  • Florist: Enhance the natural beauty of your backyard with floral arrangements. I typically recommend florals for at least the ceremony site and table settings, but your florist will be able to give additional suggestions.
  • Musicians or DJ: Set the mood with live music or a curated playlist. Do you picture a dance floor or just a designated grassy spot to bust out the moves?
  • Rental Company: You likely don't have equipment for 30-60 people laying around your house. You'll want to find a rental company that will drop off tables, chairs, linens, cutlery, glassware, restrooms, and any additional decor you may want to have set up.

6. Decorate Thoughtfully

Backyard weddings allow for personal and unique decor. Utilize the natural elements of the space—trees, gardens, or patios. String lights, lanterns, and candles can create a warm and inviting ambiance as the sun sets. DIY projects, like handcrafted signs or family photos, add a personal touch.

7. Food and Beverage Setup

Decide on your catering style: a formal sit-down dinner, buffet, or casual BBQ. Ensure there are enough serving stations and consider hiring servers to help with distribution. For beverages, set up a bar station (or two) with plenty of options and consider hiring a bartender to manage drinks.

8. Entertainment and Activities

Plan entertainment that fits your space and the vibe of your wedding. Lawn games, a small dance floor, or even a photo booth can provide fun and memorable experiences for your guests.

9. Parking and Transportation

Arrange for parking solutions if your neighborhood has limited space. You might need to hire a valet service or arrange for a shuttle from a nearby lot. Inform guests about parking logistics in your invitations or wedding website.

10. Post-Wedding Cleanup

Plan for the cleanup process. Hiring a professional cleaning crew can be a lifesaver after a night of celebration. Ensure all rentals are scheduled for pickup the next day, and enlist help from friends or family to assist with taking down decorations and tidying up. This was one thing I overlooked with my own wedding and we ended up doing all the cleanup from our welcome party on the morning of our wedding... and then again the morning after our wedding. Not an ideal way to spend our free time. I highly suggest having hiring someone else to do the cleanup!

Looking to bounce some ideas off of someone who's seen their fair share of backyard weddings? Reach out! Let's plan a backyard wedding that's perfect for you and your partner!

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me, Kate Seymour

meet kate

Adventure Elopements + Intimate Weddings

vermont, new england and the wild west