backyard wedding set up

Backyard Wedding Ideas for A Fairytale Day

Jul 3, 2023
By Wedding Spot

There's something undeniably charming about a backyard wedding. Maybe it's the relaxed, intimate atmosphere, the sentimental value of getting married in a place that holds special memories, or the fact that it’s easier to work with a smaller budget. Whatever the reason, backyard weddings have become increasingly popular in recent years. They offer a unique opportunity to personalize your big day and create a truly memorable experience for you and your guests.

But with so many details to consider, planning a backyard wedding can also be a daunting task. In this post, we'll share some creative ideas and practical tips to help you plan the perfect backyard wedding, from food and drinks to decor and entertainment.

Check out 27 essential backyard wedding ideas for any budget

Backyard wedding theme ideas

1. The basics: casual or formal. A casual backyard wedding embraces the rustic, bohemian vibe of the outdoors, with flowing fabrics, warm florals, and natural accents like wood and stone. Alternatively, a more formal, black-tie affair, with elegant linens and sophisticated floral arrangements would look stunning against the green of your backyard.

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2. Think outside the box. If you want to create a truly unique experience for your guests, you might consider incorporating an uncommon theme, such as a vintage circus or a Hollywood glamor party. Backyard weddings are a blank slate, so take advantage and go big!

3. Consider the season. Outdoor weddings are uniquely suited to use nature to their advantage. Take advantage of blooming flower beds or turning leaves when planning your backyard wedding theme. Work with the natural color palette of the season in your space.

Decor ideas for backyard weddings

4. Add more greenery. In the summer, your backyard is probably flush with greenery. Use it to build a fairytale archway or architectural hedges. Try creating a lush, natural canopy of greenery and flowers, using trellises, arches, and other supports.

5. Thrift it. Vintage furniture, glassware, and linens are all great additions to you backyard wedding ideas. Thrifting can also be a great way to save some space in your budget, especially since it will likely cost drastically less than using a rental company.

Backyard wedding food and drink

6. Go with a buffet BBQ. The barbecue is a classic American tradition, and feels right at home in someone’s backyard. Ribs, chicken, brisket, pulled pork, and other barbecue favorites are a great option for a casual backyard wedding. You can set up a grill or smoker, or hire a catering company that specializes in barbecue.

7. Fire up the finger foods. Bite-sized appetizers like mini quiches, skewers, and meatballs are easy to eat and perfect for mingling. You could also serve a cheese platter or charcuterie board. If you can find local produce, you’ll be able to pair the flavors with the ambiance.

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8. Serve some delicious tacos. Whether you opt for traditional beef, chicken, or pork, or try something more unique like fish or vegetarian tacos, they are always a crowd-pleaser. You could set up a taco bar with all the toppings to allow your guests to build tacos to their taste.

9. Make your own personal pizzas. Who doesn't love pizza? You could hire a food truck or set up a pizza oven and let guests customize their own pies with their favorite toppings. Remember to have options for your guests who don’t eat meat and those who are lactose intolerant.

10. Serve picnic-worthy salad and sides. To balance out the heavier main dishes, you could serve fresh salads and sides like grilled vegetables, corn on the cob, or mac and cheese. Fresh vegetables are always a great idea, even in the fall and winter, when they can be roasted and served warm.

11. Offer signature cocktails. Create a signature cocktail or two that reflect your personality or wedding theme. Think about serving them in mason jars or personalized glasses. If you have a favorite pet or movie, or even a close family member you’d like to honor, this can be a great way to do it.

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12. Go with classic wine. If you're having a more formal backyard wedding, consider serving a selection of wine. Choose a few different varieties to offer your guests a wide selection of options. You can try to find local vineyards, or choose selections from all over the world for a globe-trotting vibe.

13. Add some craft beer. For a more casual affair, beer is always a popular choice. Consider offering a mix of craft and mainstream beers to appeal to different tastes. With breweries popping up all over the US, you should be able to find some great options.

14. Pour a little lemonade and iced tea. For non-alcoholic options, you can't go wrong with classic lemonade and iced tea. You can even add some fresh fruit or herbs to give them a twist. Work with the season on this—strawberry and blueberry lemonade are great in the summer, and apple and pomegranate are comforting in the fall and winter.

Backyard wedding lighting inspiration

15. String twinkle lights. Stringing twinkle lights across the yard can create a magical and romantic atmosphere. Try wrapping them around trees, drape them along the fence, or hang them above the seating area. Think about intertwining them with your flowers and greenery for a lit-from-within look.

16. Light it up with lanterns. Lanterns come in many different styles and sizes, and can be hung from trees or placed on tables to add a warm and cozy glow to your backyard wedding. Make sure your lanterns match your theme—wrought iron looks classic while gold looks sleek and modern. You could also fill them with flowers or candles for an extra-natural touch.

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17. Artfully arrange candles. Candles are a classic and timeless way to create a romantic ambiance for your backyard wedding. Place them on tables, line the aisle with them, or float them in water. If you’re going for real, live candles, remember to keep fire safety top of mind.

18. Try out projection mapping. Projection mapping technology allows you to project images and animations onto a surface, such as a wall or tent. You can use this to project a beautiful floral pattern or a custom animation that tells your love story.

19. Take advantage of fire pits. If your backyard wedding is taking place in the cooler months, fire pits can provide warmth and a cozy atmosphere. In the summer, they’re great for that quintessential backyard cookout feeling. Just remember to keep safety in mind, especially if you’ll be serving alcoholic drinks.

Ideas to incorporate flowers into your backyard wedding

20. Highlight what’s there. You may already have flowers at your backyard wedding venue. If so, consider complimenting them in your bouquets, table arrangements, and decor. If you’re feeling ambitious, this could be a great source for some DIY flower arrangements.

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21. Plant some seeds. Whether it’s in the ground or in pots, if your backyard wedding venue is accessible in the months or days leading up to a spring or summer wedding, we recommend taking advantage of some landscape coordination. Green thumbs help, but you can also get advice directly from the experts at your locally owned plant nursery.

22. Hang floral installations. Hanging floral installations can add a touch of whimsy and romance to your backyard wedding. Consider hanging floral chandeliers, garlands, or wreaths from trees or pergolas. We also love adding flowers to wedding arches!

Pro tip: The flowers you choose should reflect your theme and color palette, and should help create a cohesive look throughout your wedding space.

Beautiful backyard wedding attire ideas

23. Let your dress code decide. For a more casual, bohemian vibe, consider flowing fabrics and natural accents, such as flower crowns and bare feet. Alternatively, you can opt for more formal attire, such as tuxedos and ball gowns, to create a more sophisticated, elegant, old-world look.

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24. Embrace the natural surroundings. When selecting attire for a backyard wedding, take inspiration from the natural surroundings. Soft, earthy tones like blush, sage, and beige can look stunning against a natural backdrop, airy lace looks beautiful against fluffy greenery, and a sleek slip dress looks smooth with an in-ground pool.

25. Choose comfortable shoes. Since your wedding will be held in a backyard, comfortable shoes are a must. Opt for flats, sandals, or wedges, or even consider going barefoot for a more relaxed and natural feel. Nontraditional shoes are welcome in your own backyard.

26. Play with accessories. If the attire is more relaxed, use accessories to add some personality and style to your outfit. For example, a flower crown or statement earrings can add a touch of glamor to a simple shift dress, with delicate jewelry balancing out a fluffy dress.

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27. Consider the weather. Since your wedding will be held outdoors, it's important to consider the weather when selecting attire. Lightweight fabrics and breathable materials like cotton or linen can be ideal for suits in hot weather, while a light jacket or wrap can be useful in cooler temperatures. If you know weather will be a concern—think getting married in the middle of rainy season or in the middle of winter—make sure you have options for weather-proofing your attire.

Pros and cons of backyard weddings

We spoke with a number of wedding experts to hear what the professionals have to say about backyard wedding pros.

Cost. As Dustin Sitar, CEO of The Groom Club, told Wedding Spot via email: “The most obvious pro of a backyard wedding is the cost. It is much more affordable – by thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars.”

Flexibility. “Get creative!” said Andrea Zajonc, wedding photographer and co-founder of Elope in Portland in a conversation with Wedding Spot. “Venues come with restrictions, and you have limited set-up time. With a backyard wedding, you can get as personal, elaborate, or unconventional as you want!”

Sitar agrees, adding: “There is also often a lot less stress with setting up and taking down everything since you have weeks and days before and after to do so, whereas with a rented venue things have to be done typically just day-of. You also don’t have to quick everyone out by a certain time - you set the rules and can party all night long if you want!”

Customization. “A backyard wedding allows for a more intimate setting that can be personalized to your tastes and preferences,” notes wedding photographer Shea Winter Roggio. “This provides a unique backdrop that can enhance the overall aesthetic of your wedding photos.” Plus, Roggio says that the couples they photograph during backyard weddings tend to be more relaxed in this familiar setting.

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While backyard weddings can be incredibly romantic and intimate, there are also some potential pitfalls that you'll need to be aware of which is why we’ve gathered some things for you to think about.

Cost. Yes, we’ve listed cost as both a pro and a con for backyard wedding ideas. That’s because when we interviewed our wedding experts, an overwhelming majority said that backyard weddings aren’t always the budget-friendly choice.

“You don’t necessarily get the help of professionals that a venue would provide for set up, take down, catering, etc. unless you hire that help separately,” Sitar points out. “This keeps you from saving as much money as you could.”

“There are several costs involved in backyard weddings that most people don't think about,” Atlanta-based wedding planner and designer Ashlie Muller told us. “First you need the space to hold your guests, and parking areas. There are also some ordinances in cities that you'll have to go through to hold such an event and parking. Because you're working from scratch, you will need to rent every element: tables, chairs, linens, lighting, along with decor, catering, and servers to handle everything.

“There is also the necessary rental of portable restrooms. It may seem like a good idea for guests to go inside and use your home restrooms, but you'll need to account for the amount of guests you have and depending on your septic system, it could get back up. Then there is the needed kitchen for the catering company.

“I suggest keeping your guest count as low as possible.” Fewer guests means fewer tables, chairs, plates, decor, and favors! It’s both cost-effective and convenient.

And don’t forget about electricity! “[Backyard weddings] also require additional generators to give power to the catering team, DJ, lighting, bathrooms, etc.,” warns Mattie Engleby, assistant planner at BLB Events.

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Control. “It's also a little difficult to keep guests actually outside [at a backyard wedding],” shares wedding and event production company The Meyer Photo Video Group founder Ashley Meyer.

“If it's too hot, or cold, or not enough cover you'll find guests trying to sneak in the house. Weather can really throw a wrench in plans. Having a rainy wedding will not affect a bride with a venue wedding as much as an outdoor wedding. Even if there is a tent, you could be faced with muddy grounds, side-ways rain if it's windy, or even very humid mist in the summer.”

Weather isn’t the only element of the Great Outdoors you can’t control at a backyard wedding. “While nature is very beautiful it does come with the unexpected. One outdoor wedding we did, during the ceremony a kitten photobombed the ceremony. At another, we were getting bear sighting warnings all night.”

If these incidents were to occur at a professional wedding venue, it would be the staff’s responsibility to enact their protocol. But if it’s happening in your own backyard, it’s all on you.

Plan the magical backyard wedding of your dreams!

With a little creativity and planning, you can create a beautiful and memorable wedding that reflects your personal style and values. Whether you opt for DIY florals and attire or hire professionals to bring your vision to life, a backyard wedding can be a budget-friendly and meaningful way to start your new life together.

Up next, get even more inspo for an unforgettable park wedding or a garden wedding that won’t break the bank.

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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.