21 Backyard Wedding Ideas + Checklist to Plan Your Big Day

The Zebra
June 17, 2019

backyard wedding

 

You may not need to look too far from home to find the perfect space to host your wedding. Consider having your big day right in your own backyard to save money on venue costs and add a special memory to a spot you already love. These backyard wedding ideas will have you ready to say “I do” in a place that feels just like home.

While a wedding at home can be appealing, there are quite a few factors to consider before walking down the aisle. Starting with the guest list, you’ll need to make sure the yard can accommodate everyone and their plus ones. The cost of rentals can add up quickly with tables, chairs, tents, speakers and more. Other things to consider include knowing what your home insurance policy covers in case anything goes wrong and obtaining necessary permits to stay in compliance with your city's laws.

To help you transform any regular backyard into an elegant wedding venue, we’ve created a backyard wedding checklist to plan your special day. From lush and dramatic to modern and simple, these backyard wedding ideas will inspire you to create your own haven for tying the knot.

 

Select a wedding theme

Before choosing your decor, you’ll want to select a theme for your backyard wedding to guide all of your planning. Consider the amount of space you have and the built-in natural features that exist. For inspiration, look to these themed backyard weddings to spruce up your space.

 

Classic Elegance

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Keep things light and fresh with lush florals and simple details. Hang chandeliers in outdoor spaces to really turn up the magic and set the tone for a fun evening. This timeless color palette brings a classic beauty that is sure to stick with you and your guests for years to come.

 

Rustic Garden

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Emphasize the outdoor nature of your wedding by turning your backyard into a secret garden oasis. Mix natural textures like wood with bright florals to add some contrast to your decor. This theme invites you to play with colors and rely on natural beauty for your big day.

 

Bohemian Glam

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This theme balances something new and something borrowed to give your yard a chic boho vibe. Warm up any space with vintage rugs and fabrics to create an intimate atmosphere. Then use fresh, bold flowers to turn any piece of decor into a whimsical piece of art (including pets!).


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Decorate your backyard wedding

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Source: Gina Brocker

An outdoor wedding incorporates natural elements in your ceremony and reception. You may have a sprawling lawn, patio space or water features to work with so decorations go far beyond just a table centerpiece. Add personal touches like family photos throughout the house and yard to highlight the sentimental value of your special day.

 

Flowers

A backyard wedding gives you a chance to be your own floral designer. Depending on the season, you may be able to plant special flowers and a garden ahead of time. Incorporate seasonal florals into your tables, chairs, and decor to emphasize the nature around you. Whether you DIY your flowers or order from a florist, you can turn any backyard into a secret garden.

 

Landscaping

Preparing for a backyard wedding is a team effort. Landscaping the lawn and surrounding areas will make a big impact on the look and feel of your backyard wedding. Don’t forget to pay special attention to any pools, fountains, fire pits, gardens, decks or lawn furniture. Spruce up these spaces to take advantage of all of your resources.

 

Lighting

Set the mood of your wedding by using creative lighting ideas. Outdoor lights transform any space into a cozy setting. You can use a variety of lights and lamps to create an eclectic vibe or use candles and fire to turn up the heat at your wedding.

 

Tablescapes

Whether it feels like an intimate dinner or an energetic block party, decorate your dinner tables with plate ware and centerpieces that match your wedding theme. Tables are blank canvases that allow you to add flowers, fabrics, and decor of your choice. Go rustic, traditional, or glam by setting a table that is both inviting and well-designed.


Set the backdrop for your ceremony

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Start your wedding by wowing guests with a one-of-a-kind ceremony. Depending on the weather and time of day, make sure guests are comfortable and that your photographer can work with the lighting. Have a backup weather plan in case you encounter some unfortunate conditions. For example, utilize a tent or covered patio for shelter from rain or snow. If you plan on a winter wedding, provide blankets and heaters to keep guests warm. For summer weddings, have fun with frozen treats and maximize the shade with umbrellas or cabanas.

Whether you go for soft and romantic or bold and beautiful, you have the chance to make the space your own. One benefit of a backyard wedding is the freedom to decorate as you wish, so have fun with the florals and colors!

 

1. Give guests a warm welcome

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Source: Don Mears Photography

Create an inviting ceremony space by bringing in different textures and warm colors. Vintage rugs can turn an ordinary lawn into a magical wedding aisle.

 

2. Invite your pets to the altar

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Sources: Justin Kunimoto and AJ Dunlap

For pet lovers, a backyard wedding is the best opportunity to share your big day with your beloved pets. Make them feel part of the ceremony with a special flower crown or decorated leash.

 

3. Have fun with your ceremony setting

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Source: Eder Photo

Take advantage of all the backyard has to offer. Whether it’s a pool or fountain or maybe an outdoor fireplace, you have the chance to say your vows somewhere truly unique.

 

4. Keep your guests comfortable in any weather

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Source: Karlisch Studio and Fresh Look Photography

Whether the temperature is hot to cool, keep your guests are comfortable during the outdoor ceremony. Provide refreshments before they take a seat to cool them off or offer cozy blankets to keep them warm.


5. Set the mood with lighting

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Source: Eric & Jamie Photography

Lighting doesn’t always have to come from above! Using lanterns and candles, you can create a ceremony spot that feels warm and inviting.

 

6. Create a dreamy backdrop

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Source: Spindle Photography

Use sweeping fabrics in your wedding colors to create a fairytale setting like this gorgeous gazebo. Set the stage for your debut as a married couple!


7. Build a beautiful arch

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Source: L & B Photography

Have fun with color and bring in bright florals for a beautiful wedding arch. After the ceremony, this makes the perfect backdrop for guest photos.

 

Celebrate with a backyard bash

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After saying your vows, continue the celebration with your closest friends and family in an outdoor space that radiates love! Backyard weddings can feel more intimate, familiar and cozy than big event spaces. Plus, event venues can be one of the biggest wedding budget expenses, so a backyard wedding may allow you to spend more in other areas. Bring the party to your yard by going all out on unique entertainment, fun games, and delicious food and drinks.

 

8. Entertain with lawn games

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Source: Jen Menard Photography

Keep guests entertained during cocktail hour while you take your wedding photos with fun lawn games like croquet and bocce ball.


9. Spruce up your drink station

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Source: Krista Jones Photography

Continue the outdoor theme by adding greenery and flowers to your bar. This garden-themed champagne cart fits in at an outdoor soiree.

 

10. Personalize with details

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Source: North Bloom

Lead guests to their tables with simple and beautiful seating assignment signage. Customize the tables by adding place cards that match your wedding theme.  

 

11. Host a cozy dinner party

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Source: Kaitie Brainerd

Move dinner indoors for an intimate setting with your closest friends and family. Work with the space you have and tie your table decor and centerpieces to match the room.

 

12. Transform the tent

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Source: The Anastasia Co.

Renting a tent for your backyard wedding is a great way to provide protection from the elements, no matter if it’s hot, cold, windy or rainy. If you’re concerned about the look, tents can be transformed with some florals and greenery.

 


13. Give guests a local taste

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Source: The Ganeys and Street Surfer Food Truck

Food trucks make an excellent dinner option for backyard weddings. They can pull into the driveway and serve your guests throughout the evening.


14. Indulge in your favorite meals

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Source: Joe+Kathrina via Junebug Weddings

Backyard weddings are all about giving guests a taste of your life so why not feast on one of your favorite meals? Pizza always makes a delicious addition to any wedding menu and can be customized to guest’s preferences.


15. Offer snacks of the season

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Source: Evermine

Perfect for an outdoor fall wedding, these caramel apples make a great dessert after dinner. Add a cute tag and give your guests a sweet treat.

 

16. Get cozy by the fire with a s’mores bar

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Source: Tonya Staab

A s’mores bar is a hit for guests of all ages. Provide different kinds of chocolates and toppings so that guests can customize their dessert. Using a firepit or a tabletop s’mores maker, you can turn your wedding into a cozy campfire.

 

17. Bring nature to the party

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Source: Missy Loves Jerry

Accentuate the outdoor feel of your wedding by bringing floral arrangements. Decorate tables and even your cake with flowers to build on the natural theme.

 

18. Light up the dance floor

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Source: Laura Memory

A solid dancefloor is a must for backyard weddings. Since many guests will be wearing heels and dress shoes, this is a much better alternative to dancing on the lawn.


19. Dress up your dessert table

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Source: Goodness Gracious Events

Using chandeliers and creative displays, you can wow your guests with desserts of all kinds.


20. Keep the party going with late night snacks

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Source: Barnett Photo

Add a popcorn bar to your reception to fuel the party late into the night. Guests can mix and match their favorite flavors and always come back for seconds.

 

21. End the night with a backyard concert

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Source: Tanya Volt Weddings

Treat your guests to a private concert in your own backyard. Hang some outdoor lights to create an ultra-romantic evening.

 

Backyard wedding checklist

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Once you’ve committed to a backyard wedding, start prepping the yard and contacting vendors to plan for the big day! Use this checklist to make sure you cover all the bases from rental equipment to logistics.


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Backyard wedding logistics

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Source: The September Co.

It may not be a picnic in the park, but planning the details of your backyard wedding can go smoothly with proper planning. Consider these behind-the-scenes factors or work with a wedding coordinator to iron out all the details ahead of time. After your backyard wedding, marital bliss is just around the corner!

Rental equipment

Unless your guest list is very small, you’ll most likely need to rent tables and chairs to host your wedding at home. Also, consider renting portable bathrooms to accommodate your guests—and don’t worry, there are some luxury options available that look more like trailers. Other rental items include tents to shield from rain, wind or sun and speakers to pump up the party.

Electricity

No one wants to be sitting in the dark at your wedding. Purchase or rent generators to keep up with the energy demand of lights, speakers, any fans or heaters and food preparation.

Noise and neighbors

If your wedding will be in a neighborhood, you have to be considerate of the noise you’ll be creating. There may be certain quiet hours or permits to comply with. Talk to your neighbors beforehand to make sure you’re on the same page so that all runs as planned.

Permits

Check with your city to make sure you obtain all the necessary permits when it comes to fire codes, noise, and serving food and alcohol. The last thing you’d want is for the police to shut your celebration down!

Insurance

Review your homeowners insurance policy documents to see what your policy covers as far as liability, damages, and injuries on your property. Research other home insurance companies to make sure you have a policy that fits your needs both short-term and long-term. It’s not fun to think about anything going wrong but it’s best to be prepared.

Parking and guest accommodations

If guests will be traveling to your wedding destination, organize all of the parking and lodging details. Whether you have parking spaces or room for overnight guests, let them know ahead of time so they can plan. You may want to book blocks at nearby hotels and encourage ridesharing to your wedding.

Clean up

After you’re whisked away at the end of the night, someone will be responsible for tear down and clean up. Square this away and plan to have a team of people ready to work with vendors at the end of the party.

For couples who like the outdoors and value sentimental spaces, a backyard wedding is just the right solution. Create a space that’s uniquely yours with decor and personal touches for a special wedding venue right in your backyard.