Getting married is a major life event that you’ll never forget. If you’re planning to walk down the aisle with that special someone, a backyard wedding is a great way to say your vows and tie the knot on a budget. Whether your outdoor space is large or small, it’s easy to plan a backyard wedding if you know where to start. From summer celebrations, elopements, adventures, to a beautiful autumn ceremony, read on to learn how you can plan your wedding for a special moment right in your own backyard.

How to Get Started: Review the Logistics

Before you pick out favors and décor, start with the logistics. How successful your wedding is will depend on where you live, the time of year, and the weather. Try to nail down a date where you feel confident the weather will hold out for a glorious day. Then, get started on figuring out the logistics.

Red tape. Determine whether or not you need a special license to get married in your backyard, as some locations still require a permit to perform official ceremonies in a private space. 

Electrical power. Figure out how to get the right amount of power for music, lighting, and more. An extension cord might do the trick, but be aware that it also poses a tripping hazard. Determine how much equipment will be needed for the wedding so you can get the proper power source set up. You’ll likely need a generator to create power for things like speakers and catering equipment.

Yard prep. Start early getting your yard ready for the big day. Get rid of old dead plants, tree branches, and weeds to create a clean slate for your ceremony and reception. Come up with a layout for seating and the stage now so it’ll be easy to set everything up when the time comes. 

Insurance. Another crucial thing to keep in mind is wedding insurance. You might not think you need it in your own backyard, but it’s good to see what’s covered in case a guest gets injured on your property.

Security. Ensuring home security when hosting a backyard wedding is crucial for your and your guest’s safety, as it safeguards the celebration and creates a serene atmosphere. You can effectively monitor the event and its surroundings by strategically placing a well-equipped home security system, such as outdoor cameras, motion sensors, and smart doorbell cameras. Before the wedding, test the system’s functionality and positioning to ensure seamless coverage. 

Additionally, setting up smartphone alerts and notifications enables real-time monitoring and quick response to unforeseen incidents. Leveraging smart locks also enhances security, allowing controlled access to designated areas. A comprehensive home security strategy safeguards the wedding day and provides lasting peace of mind for you and your guests.

Little practical details. Other things to consider include parking, notifying your neighbors in advance, creating your official wedding program, and having a plan in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Special features. Think about the special features you’ll want to include in your backyard wedding. From a specific theme to your flowers, write down a list of ideas, and tweak them as you go. Do you want an outdoor dance floor or stage? How about separate tables and chairs for the reception? An arch to get married under? Think of planning your backyard wedding the same way you would in any other venue. If you love music, add outdoor speakers so everyone can dance to your favorite tunes. A beautiful fountain can add a nice touch to an outdoor wedding, too. Brainstorm several different features you’d like to see so you can start planning ahead as early as possible.

Plan B. There’s no way you can predict the weather to a T, so be sure you have an alternate “Plan B” in place just in case a storm rolls in. Weather can change in an instant which means you might end up dealing with unexpectedly cold temperatures or a dangerous rainstorm. Draft up a reasonable Plan B where you can move everyone inside your home. If you’re insistent on keeping the celebration outside, reserve a tent that you can use in case of an emergency. Ensure that the sides of the tent are covered to protect everyone from the rain. If the weather happens to be unseasonably hot, have plenty of fans available to keep the air circulation. If it’s cold, stock up on outdoor heaters. Having these safeguards in place will keep your stress level low and the wedding moving along.

Timeline. Wedding planners are experts at creating the perfect timeline, but if you’re doing everything on your own, you’ll need to create a timeline that works. Do your best to schedule the ceremony somewhat early so the skies don’t get dark before you’ve said your vows. Try to avoid too much downtime between the ceremony and reception, since the guests won’t need to travel between venues. If possible, try to schedule your wedding photos before the ceremony begins so you can mingle and visit with guests directly after the ceremony is over. If you can’t get pictures beforehand, consider a few fun backyard games or activities to keep everyone entertained while they wait. Finally, remember to be mindful of your neighbors and try to agree on an official time when the reception will be over. You can always move the party to a local bar or another hot spot later in the night.

Benefits of a Backyard Wedding

While a formal venue is always nice, there are plenty of awesome benefits to getting married in your backyard. First and foremost, you’ll save a ton of money on the cost to rent a venue which can run you into thousands of dollars. That fact alone makes considering a backyard wedding worth the effort! Aside from saving money, here are some other benefits and tips of hosting a backyard wedding:

Your pets can attend. If your pets are part of the family, you can enjoy their company at the wedding. Most venues won’t allow pets, but you can certainly enlist your pooch to be the best man if you decide to get married DIY.

You can host the rehearsal dinner, too. Aside from the wedding itself, you can also host a backyard rehearsal dinner. Have casual food like barbecue catered in, or just cook some food on the grill for your wedding party to enjoy.

A smaller guest list means less money. Since your backyard probably has limited space, that means you can keep your guest list small, too. The fewer guests you have, the less money you’ll need to spend on things like food and entertainment. Using tools like online invitations and a free shared album for guests to upload their wedding photos too is a great money saver, too.

Flexibility with dates. Backyard weddings give you the flexibility to choose any date you want to get married. Instead of planning around the “wedding season” to find an open slot, you can pick any day you like to host your own backyard wedding.

Familiarity. You might be nervous about getting married but doing it in a familiar place is a great way to calm those nerves and help you feel more relaxed and at home.

Sentimentality. Besides saving money and enjoying a smaller guest list, having a backyard wedding carries quite a bit of sentimental value, too. Imagine saying your vows right in the place where you have wonderful memories. Your guests will probably feel sentimental as well, especially if they’ve spent a lot of time at your home and in your backyard. Getting married in this place can create a very meaningful moment for you and your new spouse.

Consider using a wedding calculator app, tool, or excel spreadsheet to be able to plan according to your budget and see where you are exceeding costs or where you could spend more.

DIY Décor and Inspiration

  • If you’re planning a backyard wedding, you’re likely already working on other DIY ideas for the theme and décor. Doing everything yourself gives you the freedom to create almost any style of décor using any theme imaginable. Here are some suggestions to inspire you to create a memorable theme with beautiful DIY decorations.
  • Hang outdoor string lights throughout your backyard to create a warm, magical glow when the sun goes down.
  • For autumn weddings, focus on beautiful colors like orange, red, and gold for décor, flowers, and bridesmaid dresses.
  • Place clear glass vases on each table, and fill them with freshly cut flowers you picked from your yard.
  • Laminate some of your favorite photos of you and your better half to protect them from the weather, then display them on rope or string with clothespins, hang them from a tree like a mobile, or turn the fence into a photo gallery.
  • Consider colored plastic goblets in lieu of glassware. It’s a great way to serve beverages in a beautiful way without having to worry about broken glass.
  • Use texture and patterns outdoors by adding beautiful printed tablecloths or runners over tables. Sheer curtains add a gorgeous, romantic touch to the stage.
  • Get creative with seating, and place a few vintage sofas and chairs outside. You can also use some hay bales as seating if you’re aiming for a wedding with a rustic or farmhouse theme. If it’s a very casual affair, toss some picnic blankets on the lawn for guests — but make sure you have chairs for the older folks or those who don’t want to sit on the ground.
  • Instead of spending tons of money for custom printed invitations, consider printing them at home or through a local printing service. Create the layout and design using a simple program, then print them in full color on heavy cardstock paper.

2021 wedding trends

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting so many lives, weddings are changing in 2021. Many brides and grooms are opting for smaller, more intimate ceremonies and celebrations, and others are looking to get married on a smaller budget. Since each state has its own set of rules, the type and size of wedding you have may depend on your local jurisdiction. Two of the most popular trends are micro weddings, garden weddings, and elopements. Here’s how you can pull these off for a fabulous, one-of-a-kind wedding experience.

How to have a micro wedding

A micro wedding is simply a smaller and more intimate wedding that typically has a maximum of around 20-50 guests. These guests are usually immediate family members and a handful of the couple’s closest friends. Not only is this trend easier to manage, but it’s also less expensive for the couple. With a free venue (your yard,) less food, and fewer people to entertain, it’s easy to see why micro weddings are becoming a preference for couples in 2021. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering a micro wedding:

Limit your guest list. Micro weddings are much smaller than the standard wedding, and that means your guest list will be quite limited. Sit down with your partner and come up with a solid guest list that you can both agree on. Always include immediate family first, then think about the rest of the people on your list and which people in your lives would mean the most if they were to attend. Have a few backup invitees in mind just in case some people decline due to worries about gatherings during COVID-19.

Cut the size of the wedding party: A micro wedding is small, so you may have to say goodbye to the flower girl and ring bearer and cut your wedding party down to just the maid of honor and best man rather than tons of bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Perfect your budget: Since your wedding will be small, you’ll need to think hard about where to focus most of your budget. Maybe you can take that extra money to splurge on a gorgeous designer bridal gown, or perhaps you might decide to save the extra cash for a lavish honeymoon or even a Paris wedding. Think about the areas of your wedding where you want to spend more, like décor or flowers, and put your main focus there.

Spoil your guests. Since you’ll have fewer guests at your micro-wedding, give them a special treat, like a delectable four-course dinner, luxurious wedding favors, or a bit more alcohol to celebrate the occasion.

How to plan your elopement

Another wedding trend surging in popularity right now is elopement. When you choose to get married this way, you’re basically just tying the knot at the local courthouse or in a very private ceremony. In general, very few people are in on the secret. Couples are choosing elopement because they don’t want to wait to get married until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Remember that just because you’re getting married without a huge party afterward, it doesn’t mean that your elopement can’t be special. Consider these elopement tips to ensure that the day is extra-special:

Choose a dream location. Since you won’t have a huge guest list, you can elope in your back yard, if that’s your dream location, or you can pick a special place to get married, like a tropical beach, a beautiful mountaintop, Paris elopement, or anywhere that you both cherish visiting as a couple. This will make for an amazing backdrop for photos, too.

Splurge on a great photographer. Hire an incredible wedding photographer to document your big moment. These intimate photos will be meaningful to you both, and they’ll be a wonderful way to share the moment with your family and friends who didn’t attend.

Celebrate later. Remember, just because you elope, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a celebration later. Get excited about planning an amazing party with your family and friends later that will be much more relaxed, laid-back, and fun for everyone involved.

Tell your closest loved ones. Eloping doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to get married in secret. You can tell the people you love about your plans and why you’re choosing to do it this way so there aren’t any hard feelings later on. Let them know what you’re still planning to have everyone celebrate together – it will just be at a later time.

Dress for the occasion. Even though you’re eloping, you should still dress up for the big day. Have fun choosing a gorgeous gown and a handsome suit so that your photos are spectacular. Consider renting your wedding attire to save even more money while still looking stunning when you say your vows, or go the vintage route and order sweet wedding duds online.

Although wedding trends are changing in 2021, it doesn’t mean that your big day won’t be memorable. Decide as a couple which option is best for you, and remember that what matters is that you’re making a lifelong commitment to someone you love, and the big celebrations can always come later.