How to Plan an Unforgettable Backyard Wedding

 Bride and bridesmaids posing on the front steps of a house with flower petals falling over themPhoto: Bella Freehold / Heather Marie Leicy 

We all have a vision of what we want our wedding to be …

Some people dream of getting married in a castle. Others prefer to keep it simple with a quick wedding in Vegas. Some couples want to say their I do’s in an unconventional space like a zoo, museum, or library. 

Or maybe, just maybe, you want to keep it close to home and throw a bash in your own backyard.

Whether you’re looking to throw a micro wedding or say your nuptials in front of hundreds of guests, here are seven backyard wedding ideas for an unforgettable night!

1. Make a Plan

Bride and groom posing with bridal party in backyardPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Atlanta / Haley Birdsey

Thinking about wedding your beloved in shorts and flip flops while your grill-master dad flips burgers on the grill? If that’s what you want, go for it!

It’s pretty easy to pull off a great backyard bash, but even the most casual, DIY wedding requires some planning.

For example, if you’re having a barbecue on a summer day, make sure you have plenty of ice and water, plus a tent or overhead covering in case it rains on the big day.

If you’re having a theme, be sure to buy decor that transforms the yard into a one-of-a-space. 

Every wedding, regardless of how big, small, casual, or grand, requires forethought. It is possible to pull off an outdoor wedding quickly, but preparations are still a must if you want a party that you and your guests will never forget. 

Wedding planning for a backyard wedding is just like planning any other wedding. If you want your backyard bash to rival upscale events in traditional venues, hire a wedding planner.

If you’re looking to keep it lowkey and laid back, enlist a bridesmaid or a family member to help you plan and coordinate the big day!

Looking for the perfect bridesmaid dresses?

2. Hire a Landscaper

Before the big day arrives, hire a landscaper to prepare your yard

Get the biggest projects done about two months beforehand. That includes pulling out weeds, removing old bushes, and planting any new flora or fauna you want to bloom on the day of.

It’s also good to lay down pavers or install a temporary walkway. Some of your guests will probably wear heels, and walking in stilettos on grass is REALLY hard.

A day or two before the wedding, have your landscaper come back to do a last-minute mow. That way, the lawn will be in tip-top condition when you start setting up tents or arranging tables.

3. Pick a Theme

Bride and bridesmaids posing in backyardPhoto: Bella Philly / Diana and Korey

You can choose a theme based on your existing backyard or change your yard to match your theme. Either one is doable!

An outdoor backyard wedding offers lots of options. You can make it rustic, boho chic, or super glamorous. The possibilities are endless!

There are plenty of cool wedding themes to choose from, and you can even choose one based on the time of year. For example, consider turning your celebration into a Halloween party if you're having a fall wedding! If you’re saying “I do” in December, create a winter wonderland vibe!

Related: 15 Winter Bridesmaid Dresses for Every Aesthetic

4. Rent the Must-Haves

Bridesmaids standing under wedding tent during wedding receptionPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Knoxville / Abigail Malone

Get ready to rent, and put a tent at the top of the list! 

You never know how Mother Nature will behave on your special day, so be sure to rent a tent. Even if it’s a bright sunny day, a tent will still provide shade and help keep your loved ones cool and comfortable. 

You’ll also want to rent tables and chairs so that you have enough seating for everyone on your guest list. You can use the same chairs for your wedding ceremony and your reception, but if you’re creating different spaces for different elements of the day, be sure you have the manpower to move them around during the transition. 

Rental companies also rent dance floors. Put one inside your tent and dinner is over, you can turn your tent into a major dance party! 

Bonus tip: It’s a good idea to read up on the local laws so that you don’t break any noise ordinances.

The higher your guest count, the more likely it is that you’ll want to rent dishes, glassware, and cutlery. Unless you’re skipping the cocktail hour in favor of a cocktail reception, consider renting complete table settings, including table linens and centerpieces.

If you think the weather might be too hot or too cold, rent AC units or outdoor heaters. You want your guests to be comfortable, regardless of the weather.

And don’t forget the portable potties. No, we’re not talking about those big blue ones you see at outdoor concerts and tailgating parties; we’re talking real-deal portable BATHROOMS that are so nice you’ll forget you’re outside.

Add chalkboards as signage so your guests know where to go!

5. Create Different Areas

Lounge area with couch at wedding receptionPhoto: Real Bella Weddings

Traditional wedding venues offer a variety of seating and lounge areas, and your backyard can do the same.

Use your tent for dining and dancing. Create a lounge area outside the tent where people can relax, talk, and take a break from the music.

If children or teenagers will be in attendance, designate a section of your yard for lawn games like cornhole or giant Jenga. It will give the kids something to do!

You can also set up self-serve beverage stations. Think stainless buckets filled with bottles of water and bar stations serving up signature cocktails and ice-cold beers.

The more guests you have, the more drink stations and bartenders you’ll need. 

6. Hang Some Lights

Wedding table under string lightsPhoto: Enzo De Gasperi

You’ll definitely want to illuminate your backyard, but you can go as big or as small as you want. 

It may seem romantic to dance under the moonlight, but it’s not always practical.

Instead, hang chandeliers inside your tent or from your trees. Cover every tree in white lights. Drape strands of string lights overhead.

Lighting always sets a mood, so channel your inner Cher from Clueless and devise a lighting concept that complements your theme and style. Whether that entails bright lights or dimly lit candles that do double duty as wedding decor, lighting is an easy way to create the vibe you want!

This is your backyard, so you get to make the rules. Consider passing around sparklers at the end of the night, shooting off fireworks, or sending paper lanterns into the night sky.

Little details like these are the ones your wedding guests will remember well beyond your big day. 

7. Get Creative With the Food

Like the lighting, your food should align with your theme. If you’re keeping your backyard bash casual, make the food fun as well.

Get a food truck or two. Set up small dessert tables and serve s’mores or ice cream sandwiches. There’s no need to serve sweetbreads and foie gras if you’re having a carnival-themed wedding.

Be sure to let your caterer know the limitations of your kitchen so that they can prepare ahead of time. For backyard wedding receptions, buffets and stations are usually the way to go!

We love backyard weddings. In fact, we love any wedding that feels unique and personal to the couple.

So make a plan, pick a theme, and landscape your yard. Rent a tent, a dance floor, and portable restrooms. Add some ambient lighting, create a few different seating areas, and serve delicious food, beverages, and desserts.

No matter what your wedding day style may be, keep these tips and tricks in mind and your at-home wedding just might be the best celebration of the year! 

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