Couple smiling at each other in backyard wedding reception

Backyard Wedding Ideas for Every Season

Mar 13, 2020
By Wedding Spot

Looking for backyard wedding ideas? We’ve got you covered! Check out these highly practical and budget-friendly wedding tips. Plus, find out how to customize your backyard wedding based on the time of the year, with unique ideas for fall, spring, winter, and summer. 

Discover backyard wedding ideas for every season:

Here’s everything you need to know about the most major event planning categories for backyard weddings. In each section, you’ll find suggestions for different options, real-life examples to inspire you, a list of tools and supplies you may need, tips on how to save money, and how to adapt to the seasons. 

Backyard wedding ceremony ideas

Some couples prefer to have an intimate ceremony close to home. Then they celebrate with extended family and friends at a different reception venue immediately afterward.

Ceremony options: Build a simple altar space with an archway and platform, or lay an extra-large blanket or decorative rug down to designate the official area. Some couples pick trees to be their ceremony focal point, which can look especially elegant and romantic when decorated properly (think string lights, flowers, and even candles). 

After your altar space is designated, all you need is chairs for your guests. Or, if you plan to do a super quick ceremony (10-15 minutes tops), have them stand in a semi-circle around your altar space. 

Ceremony examples: 

  • Here’s a beautiful time-lapse video of how one wedding planner decorated a simple ceremony arch with flowers

  • Skip the typical square-shaped arch and go with a round one instead. Since you don’t need much else to structurally complete your outdoor venue, splurging a little on your altar space is totally allowed. 


A post shared by Fox & Flora (@foxandfloradesigns) on

Ceremony tools and supplies:

Besides an officiant, wedding license, and a minimum of one witness, you’ll need the following. 

  • Archway or some sort of ceremony space decor

  • Chairs for guests

  • An aisleway (and optional decor for it)

  • A parking solution for guests if your driveway can’t accommodate all their vehicles (this may also require a small valet service team, depending on your party size)

Ways to save: Make a DIY wedding arch for under $50. Also, be sure to use cost-effective seating solutions since chair rentals add up quickly. 

Besides these two items, the next largest expense is going to be a valet service (if you choose to use one). If you can’t find a quote from a professional service in your area that fits your budget, rent a golf cart for the day and have a volunteer escort people to and from their parked cars. Just make sure to reserve the driveway or closest street spots for those who need extra assistance. Let guests know it’s available ahead of time. 

Ways to adapt to every season: The most cost-effective backup for any extreme weather scenario at any time of year is to move the ceremony (and/or reception) inside. For this reason, it’s best to have an emergency plan that includes indoor decor, layout, and seating designs. But don’t worry about reinventing the wheel here — just choose outdoor wedding options that would look great inside your home — or another location — too (and limit backyard-specific rentals where you can if bad weather is likely to save a little extra).  

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Backyard wedding reception ideas

If you and your partner plan to elope or do a courthouse ceremony, you can still share your special moment with friends and family.

Reception options: Some couples choose to do a 2-hour celebration with a toast, cake cutting, and speeches. Others prefer to get a bit more lively with an open bar and dance party that lasts the whole night. If you’re going to do the latter, just make sure you check in with neighbors beforehand and then thank them with a small gift or some leftover cake — or even invite them! It’s also good to check out local noise ordinances and whether or not you need a permit: a quick Google search for your area will help you find the right information. 

Reception examples:

Reception tools and supplies: Just provide food, beverages, and activities. A buffet-style dinner, DIY bars, or heavy appetizers all work well here. Hire one or two bartenders to keep the drinks flowing. And rent a dancefloor if your lawn is uneven. 

Ways to save: Skip the catering altogether or host a wedding potluck. And stick to beer and wine for your alcohol. For music, use free or paid playlist apps like Spotify (they have an ad-free trial you can sign up for ahead of your event) and some outdoor speakers (which you can borrow from friends or neighbors if needed).

Ways to adapt to every season: For fall and winter backyard wedding receptions, add a firepit or two with some lounge chairs and blankets for guests to cozy up in. For rainy spring or ultra-hot summer weather, consider renting tents to protect your guests from the elements. 

Backyard wedding layout ideas

Assuming you want to host both your ceremony and reception in your backyard, here’s how you should maximize your space without sacrificing safety or comfort. 

Layout options: Some couples choose to host the ceremony indoors and the reception outdoors or vice versa. The main benefit of doing it this way is that your staff or volunteers will have time to prep each area separately so guests can immediately transition from one to the other. This method is great for small backyards, but if your space is big enough, you can definitely host the entire wedding outdoors. 

First, choose your altar location. Next, determine where guests will stand or sit to watch. From there, designate your main reception area which will be anchored by your dance floor or buffet tables. After that, fill in your tables and chairs. 

Pay special attention to walkways and how your party will flow. If you need more space for tables, consider setting up an altar that can quickly be taken down or stowed after the ceremony to make way for more fold-up furniture. 

Layout examples:

  • Place your altar on the back porch or entranceway. Then place folding chairs in rows facing your natural stage. Put your square dance floor towards the other side of the property and arrange round tables outside of your dance floor wherever they fit in. 

  • Or, if you’d prefer a more communal, family-style feel, surround your altar space with half-circle tables where guests can watch the ceremony first and eat their dinners later. 


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Layout tools and supplies: Your layout provides the backbone for your entire wedding day. So map it all out using a free tool like Social Tables, which allows you to input exact measurements of your backyard and furniture. Then, you can arrange and rearrange everything to your heart’s content without lifting a single chair during the process. Once you’re happy with the design, use it to figure out exactly what size tent you need, how many heaters you have to rent, and basically any other logistical issue that comes with backyard weddings. 

Ways to save: Transition time between your ceremony and reception is very important because the longer your guests have to wait, the more food and drinks they’ll have to be served. Plus you’ll have to pay for extra event staff to help switch everything over. Which is why it’s best to have a designated area for the first part of the wedding day and a different designated area for the second part. Or, find a layout solution that combines the two with little to no turnover. 

Ways to adapt to every season: Trees are your friend when it comes to outdoor wedding layouts. Try to place guests under them to shield against sun, rain, or even snowfall. Or, use them as your altar, dance floor, or sweetheart table backdrop. 

Also, be sure to leave room in your layout for one or more tents. Even if you don’t plan to use them on the day, it’s good to both have them on hand for emergencies and draft a layout that includes them so everyone knows what to do if the time comes. 

Backyard wedding lighting ideas

Here’s what to do after the sun goes down. 

Lighting options: Candles (both real and electric), fairy or string lights, solar-powered lamps, fire pits, and lanterns are your best bet. Do what you can to limit lights that need to be plugged in because you don’t want to worry about anybody tripping over wires. If you do use light bulbs, make sure to prioritize LED ones to help save the environment (and your electric bill). Also, light all of your tents from the inside and make sure to create a clear pathway for guests to safely return to their cars afterward. 

Lighting examples:

  • Simple string lights look beautiful when you drip them from tree branches. 

  • Light pathways with dozens of votive candles for magical (and practical) touch. 

Lighting tools and supplies: In addition to the lighting elements themselves, you’ll need the right size extension cords (measure everything twice or use your layout software to get it right), backup bulbs, batteries, and matches or lighters. 

Ways to save: Candles are by far the cheapest and most elegant solution. The good news is you can never have too many at a wedding, so place them everywhere and anywhere you can (as long as it’s safe, of course). Also, plan to have most of your visible indoor and outdoor home lights on throughout the evening. 

Ways to adapt to every season: If your wedding might be on a rainy or snowy day, you absolutely need to make sure that your lighting solutions are covered and protected so that no one gets shocked. Buy or borrow cable ramps just in case and prioritize weatherproof LED solutions. 

Backyard wedding tables and seating ideas

Here’s how to make sure everyone is comfortable without blowing your whole budget. 

Tables and seating options: Rent cheap plastic folding tables and chairs for about $2-$10 each (depending on order size, location, and vendor prices) and cover them using chair hoods or bows in any color or style. Or think outside the box and try alternatives like: hay bales with blanket covers, standard living room furniture moved outdoors, wooden or park-style benches, large tree stumps, logs, portable bleachers, patio chairs, or even picnic tables. 

In addition to hosting a ceremony area and reception area, add a hangout space with its own activities. Hammocks, rocking chairs, or even a card table or two are great for giving folks space to spread out after they eat. 

Tables and seating examples:

Tables and seating tools and supplies: Again, you’ll want to add your furniture piece measurements into your layout software to get a feel for how it will all function together. Also, remember to have a couple of backup tables and chairs just in case something happens (wrong delivery order, folding chair won’t stay up, etc.).

Ways to save: Try mismatched furniture pieces in the same general color scheme for a boho vibe. Also, multi-person seating and table solutions (like picnic tables and benches) equal less furniture rental because you won’t have to get everyone their own individual chair. 

Table of people eating dinner at backyard wedding.jpg

Ways to adapt to every season: Consider the materials of your tables and chairs first. For example, metal holds heat and cold really well, which won’t be comfortable during the summer or winter, respectively. Hay might feel itchy on bare legs so you’ll need to test out different covers to see what will be thick enough. And standard living room furniture won’t stand a chance against humid or rainy conditions. 

Backyard wedding decor ideas

Here are some ideas for your home, lawn, trees, and tables. 

Decor options: The most popular decor pieces for backyard weddings include string lights and mason jars (with or without candles). Stock up on those before getting a standout piece or two. 

You’ll need decor for your driveway or entranceway, as well as decorated signs to help guests find their way (as far out as 2 miles would be ideal if your property is tucked away). For these, get some large chalkboard, poster board, or wooden signs with legible handwriting that can easily be read from the road. Flowers or balloons will help them stand out. 

For your home, consider adding matching flowers or balloons to your driveway markers. Then bring in whatever decor elements you plan to use outside and use them in all the areas guests are welcome to be in (like the bathroom and kitchen). Things like flower garlands, bunting, and candle arrangements work well here. 

The rest of your backyard can be filled with streamers, balloons, garlands, bunting, and swathed fabrics to elevate the look. 

And for your table decor, try using centerpieces like galvanized buckets filled with baby’s breath or wood slices topped with burlap-wrapped candles in a variety of heights. Simplicity is key here, so anything with a rustic or boho vibe will fit in nicely. Incorporate as many natural elements as you can. Branches, berries, and plants are all welcome additions to your tablescape. 

Items such as table numbers can be made from faux antique picture frames and glass markers. Chalkboard signs, flower pots, and even horseshoes look great too. 

Decor examples: 

  • This backyard wedding used a hand-painted welcome sign on an aged square of wood leaned up against an antique barrel with a gorgeous flower arrangement topper at their aisleway entrance

  • All you need for this table centerpiece is a slab of wood, a lantern with a candle, and a mason jar holding one type of flower and a burlap bow. 


A post shared by Sugar & Spice (@sugarandspicebride) on

Decor tools and supplies: This list will largely depend on what you want to decorate with, but you can never have too many command hooks and strips, hot glue guns, or kraft glues on hand to help pull it all together. 

Ways to save: DIY options will likely be your best bet for all categories here. You’ll also want to borrow or upcycle as many supplies as you can. Whenever possible, try to choose decor items that you know you’ll use long after the big day. For example, mason jars can be used as water cups in your kitchen. Or you may find that the wedding is a good excuse to finish installing your dream lighting landscape. If you’re really stuck on how to save for your supplies, consider ordering from wholesale companies or directly from the manufacturer on sites like Alibaba

Ways to adapt to every season: The biggest weather-related decor factors are wind and rain. If you expect to have either, make sure your items are heavy enough and waterproof enough to withstand the elements. Most other pieces (like candles, flowers, etc.) can hold up pretty well under heat or cold, although there are always exceptions. 

Explore bonus backyard wedding ideas for every season:

Take a look at some additional practical and creative solutions for backyard weddings at any time of year. 

Backyard wedding ideas for spring

This season is tricky for any outdoor event because you’re more likely to encounter rain than any other time of year. But don’t let that damper your spirits — use these ideas to help keep your wedding both elegant and dry! 

  • Hand out umbrella wedding favors. If you’re worried about some May showers, keep guests dry with some stylish clear bubble umbrellas so they can see through them and comfortably watch your ceremony. 

  • Dress your wedding party in matching brightly-colored rain boots. It will really pop in photos and add some whimsy to your theme. You can even get personalized wedding rain boots for you and your partner. 

  • Give out mini potted herbs as wedding favors. Use plain terra cotta pots and offer a variety of labeled herbs so guests can have fun choosing their favorite! Here are some instructions as well as other DIY herbal wedding favors to consider. 

Backyard wedding ideas for summer

Summer backyard weddings should prioritize hydration, sun protection, and bug prevention. Also, be sure to consider what you’ll do if the temperatures in your area are known to quickly drop after sunset, even during the warmest months of the year (we’re looking at you, SoCal desert weather). 

  • Host a DIY ice cream sundae station for dessert. Include plenty of flavors, toppings, and syrups. Keep it all from melting too fast by hosting it indoors, using a tent outside, and/or stocking up on plenty of ice and ice buckets or freezer tubs to keep things chill. Walmart has a simple budget-friendly sundae bar checklist you can print out and take to the store. 

  • Have mini sunscreen and personalized sunglasses baskets on either side of your aisleway entrance. The white personalized wedding favor sunglasses by Wedding Favors Unlimited are fun without being too out there design-wise. They cost less than $1 each when you buy 36 or more. 

  • Stock up on citronella. Use triple-wick galvanized bucket candles as table centerpieces, add floating candles to mason jars with submerged flowers or lemon wedges, and line window ledges and porches with votive versions to keep mosquitos at bay without sacrificing style. 


A post shared by Amy (Galbraith) Duffy (@amygphoto) on

Backyard wedding ideas for fall 

Love pumpkin spice almost as much as your future spouse? Whether the summer heat is still holding on or winter’s chill is already in the air, these ideas will be perfect for your theme. 

  • Do some pumpkin painting. They double as your wedding favors too! Use mini pumpkins, washable paint, an assortment of brushes in various sizes, some water-filled mason jars, paper towels, and kraft table paper. 

  • Host a hayride. This is most ideal if you live on or near a farm or have access to a local park that allows this activity. You will need a tractor, a wagon that can properly hitch on to it, and some cushy seating like hay bales or blankets. Do a test run a day or two before the wedding and make sure you buy liability insurance just in case. If getting or driving a tractor just isn’t an option, you may be able to hire a hayride service or a local farm business to do it for you. 

  • Set up a hot apple cider bar. Use slow cookers to keep your base ciders nice and toasty. Then, provide mix-ins like whole cinnamon sticks, cayenne pepper powder, caramel sauce, pomegranate seeds, lemon slices, and honey. And don’t forget to add some adult beverage mix-ins to your selection (cinnamon or honey whiskeys are our favorite)! If apples aren’t your thing, try a hot cocoa bar. 

Backyard wedding ideas for winter

As you can probably guess, cold climate locations have a few more challenges (like possible travel delays and keeping guests comfortable) that require extra items that can really add up. You can still host one on a budget especially given the fact that you’ll have access to cheaper off-season vendor prices and deals on tropical honeymoon options. Make sure you get quotes ahead of time. 

Also, triple check the Farmer’s Almanac for the forecasted weather on your wedding date. 

  • Lean into the season. Serve soups and stews as your main course. Have your bridal party wear faux fur capes and hand muffs for photos. Use dried flowers for your arrangements or prioritize in-season blooms. 

  • Rent outdoor space heaters. The rule of thumb is to have one heater for every 1500 square feet. Make sure your rental company tests the heaters in front of you when they are dropped off. Sometimes they’re running low on gas or have faulty knobs, so it’s better to check now rather than later when everyone arrives. And don’t rely on the employees to do it automatically — little details like these are (understandably) forgotten sometimes during busy event weeks for the holiday season. 

  • Provide plenty of thick blankets and proper seating for guests. Your blankets can double as wedding favors. And, for seating, skip the metal folding chairs (since they’ll be very cold against everyone’s rear ends) and opt for wooden benches or covered hay bales instead. 

Complete your wedding planning with a seasonal theme!

Fill in the remaining blanks in your wedding planning binder with some great seasonal wedding ideas like winter wonderland, forest, garden, or even beach themes. 

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Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.