With a little creativity, you can create a fairy tale in your own backyard, and you might save a bundle, too. The trick to a lovely backyard wedding is to not try to mimic a big gala wedding on a limited budget, but instead embrace your strengths: intimacy, originality, and charm.
Things to consider for a backyard wedding
Planning a backyard wedding can be even more fun and less stress if you ask your friends to pitch in and give skills instead of gifts. This will give your celebration a personal touch that is more meaningful than mass-produced budget supplies. You may even discover some of your guests have hidden talents such as decorating, performing, or preparing food for your wedding.
The informality of backyard weddings means they don’t have to be stuffy. If you have a fun idea, dare to try it. Consider seldom-seen options like a BBQ banquet, hiring a taco truck, or serving home-mixed signature cocktails. You have almost unlimited options in the direction you take your celebration.
Sure, you want to get your hair and makeup perfect for your big day. But remember, the state of your yard says a lot about you, too. Get your backyard looking its best for its debut in front of your friends and relatives. In the weeks before your wedding, hire a gardener or get down and dirty yourself and utilize landscaping with blossoms that match your color scheme.
Having an evening or twilight wedding? Chase away unwanted guests (of the six-legged variety) with citronella candles or bug-repellent tiki torches. Avoid treating your yard with harsh pesticides if guests will be bringing children. The flames, as a non-toxic alternative, also create a lovely, romantic atmosphere.
Decorating with Living Flowers
When choosing flowers, think ahead: What blooms will be at their peak for the time of day of your wedding? Many flowers only open fully during the day, or only release strong scents at night. Morning glories, for example, would add a delicate beauty to a daytime wedding, whereas an evening wedding would be perfectly complemented by the natural perfume of night-blooming jasmine.
While you may be a master gardener, living plants can be finicky. To be completely sure that your garden will be in full bloom for the day of your wedding, consider renting blooming varieties from a local nursery, florist, or rental house to intersperse with your native buds.
Don’t forget about your yard’s non-floral upkeep. Be sure all wooden surfaces have been painted, treated, and stained, and all metal is rust-free. Be sure to do this a few weeks before the wedding, so any harsh smells have a chance to dissipate. Also keep an eye out for potential tripping hazards, like divots or hoses, and be sure these are cleared before the event.
Preparing the Neighbors
Check with your neighbors well in advance and let everyone know when you’ll be holding the wedding and how many guests you expect. You don’t want to fall afoul of hostile neighbors when you’re occupied trying to be a good hostess. If you encounter opposition from your neighbors ahead of time, you may have to bite the bullet and invite them for the sake of keeping the peace. You can also do something nice for them as a pre-emptive thank-you, such as bringing by a fruit basket or a gift certificate to a local restaurant.
Keep in mind that the number of cars in the neighborhood may also cause neighborly contention. If there is limited parking, you may want to hire a valet service for the night. You can also arrange with a nearby business to have your guests park in their parking lot instead and arrange for a shuttle to take people back and forth at the beginning and end of the evening. (This can be a hired driver or a generous friend.)
Rent, Don’t Buy
Rent a tent, even if good weather is predicted. You’ll still need it for snow or even cold weather (in which case you should rent some space heaters, too). Beware of high winds and stake down your tent well, or look for tents with built-in gaps that the wind can flow through rather than straining against your tent and causing loud flapping sounds. Always rent a bigger tent than you think you’ll need; once the tables and chairs are set up, the extra room to move around will be appreciated.
Do you want to get your guests dancing? If your lawn isn’t up to the task (because of moisture or uneven surfacing), you can rent a dance floor for the evening. Be sure to let your rental company know how many guests you expect so you can pick an appropriate size.
If you’re serving food, what will you serve it from? The average household doesn’t have dining sets large enough to serve a yard full of guests, so if matching silverware and plates are important to you, you can rent everything from cutlery and napkins to large chafing dishes from local rental companies.
What kind of lighting do you want? Lighting goes a long way towards setting a mood. Use hanging lanterns or strands of lights in trees and around the edges of tents for a romantic glow. Uplighting can also be dramatic if there are any trees or yard sculptures you want to highlight. This also works for the cake table.
Backyard weddings can be a beautiful celebration of intimacy and originality. You have the opportunity to gather your friends and family in a relaxed atmosphere where everyone can kick back and have fun. Even better, saving money on the venue means you’ll have more to spend on other aspects of your wedding, like a nice dinner, or the perfect dress.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.