by Rachael Baihn & Cory Peters April 02, 2020 4 min read

You’ve said “yes.” Now it’s time to begin planning for the big day. Backyard weddings are popular these days because of the many benefits including the freedom to choose any date for the ceremony. The yard provides a sense of intimacy, it's budget-friendly, and you can even allow your furry friends to be part of the ceremony.

Wedding planning is stressful and sometimes overwhelming for the bride to be. We'll try to make it easier with these six tips to help you pull off a stunning backyard wedding.
1. Landscaping and Setup
Stunning Backyard Wedding
Photo courtesy of the bride Caroline Martin.Weddings require a lot of planning. Start with a checklist to keep you on task. Take an inventory of the yard and decide if you have enough space for your guests. You don't want to cram them into a small space. Is there enough room for a large tent or dance floor?
  • If you’re building a dance floor in the yard, make sure the ground is level. If not, make the necessary repairs before the professionals come out to build the dance floor or set up the reception tent.
  • Hire a professional landscaper months before the wedding day. This will give you time to develop a landscaping plan that matches your vision for your big day.
  • Rent portable restrooms. You can reserve upscale toilets that come equipped with handwashing stations.
  • Check for pests such as moles, mosquitoes, or flies. If there is a problem, take care of it before the wedding. Consider hiring an exterminator a few days before the wedding.
2. Check the Power
Between the lighting, sound system, and equipment to heat the food, you’re going to need a lot of juice. Consult with your DJ beforehand to see how much power he or she will need to keep the guests dancing all night. Reserve a generator as soon as you set the date so that you prevent embarrassing blown fuses or tripped breakers. Talk to the caterer as well to find how much power they'll need for the food items and find out if you’ll need to rent extra pans or grills.
3. Get the Necessary Permits, Insurance
Before you get knee-deep in the planning process, check with your city or county to find out what, if any, to host a large event at your home. See if there are noise ordinances and alert the neighbors (or invite them) to avoid any noise complaints.   Speaking of your neighbors, let them know there will be heavy traffic in the area that day. Make sure your vendors file whatever paperwork for any permits they might need as well. The planning process should also include a phone call to your insurance company to see what damages are covered. Ask your vendors about their insurance policies.
4. Embrace Nature
Stunning Backyard Wedding
Backyards can be transformed into anything you envision — from rustic and casual to elegant and sophisticated. Perhaps you’ll say your vows as the sun is setting or dine under the stars. Decorate the trees overhead with twinkling lights or paper lanterns. Centerpieces and greenery add a touch of elegance. If you've planted a flower garden in advance, you'll save on the florist bill.
5. Choose the Start Time and Menu
The weather forecast may dictate the start time for your wedding. You want to avoid an early afternoon in July when the sun is beating down. It will be tough to get the right lighting for photos and uncomfortable for guests sitting in the heat. Consider starting the ceremony around 5 or 6 p.m, before sunset.Add a touch of creativity to the wedding menu. A “sweets table” is loads of fun. Tables draped with all sorts of candy, cupcakes, and other treats that match the theme of the wedding. Tiny cheeseburgers, pigs in a blanket, and french fries in cocktail glasses will delight the kids. Taco bars and sizzling barbeque will also impress and please your guests. Have plenty of cold refreshments on hand, even before the ceremony begins. Once people start dancing, they will be hot and thirsty.
6. Be prepared with Plan B
Stunning Backyard Wedding
You certainly cannot have guests huddling under umbrellas while you’re saying your vows. Have a backup plan in case Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. If the wedding is on the lawn of the reception venue, prepare to move the ceremony indoors. Rent a tent for your backyard, large enough with flaps to keep the rain out. The tent will also come in handy in extreme heat. Rent some misters or portable fans to keep people cool. Update your guests with any change of plans either on the wedding website or via text messaging.Planning a backyard wedding can be more stressful than having the ceremony at a traditional venue. You'll have more items to check off your to-do list. But if you for the event, and have family and friends pitch in, you can pull off the wedding of your dreams.
Cory Peters is a wedding photographer who does her best work at outdoor venues. She’s photographed couples tying the knot on the ski slopes in Colorado and in the Everglades in Florida. She has a passion for shooting flower gardens all over the world.