If you’re looking to save money and get married in a casual, meaningful environment, there’s nothing better than an at-home backyard wedding! Who doesn’t love a magical backyard venue where you can get married in the same place that you have created so many other awesome memories? Plus, you know availability won’t be an issue since your backyard isn’t likely to get booked up by any other weddings!

But sadly, a backyard wedding can be really stressful. There’s a lot to plan and work out when you take on hosting duties yourself, especially if you’ve never organized a big event like this before. A wedding in your backyard can even end up being more expensive than renting a venue!

So to ensure your backyard wedding doesn’t go over budget or cause you to pull your hair out with stress, we’re sharing our seven top tips for the perfect backyard home wedding. Plus, check out some fun ideas for your outdoor nuptials at the end of the post! 

at home wedding in garden with young hip & married
by Jordyn Keller Photography

1. Make it a small backyard wedding

One of the best ways to make your at home backyard wedding stress-free is to keep it small. Unless you live on a sprawling estate, odds are your backyard can only host so many people comfortably. So plan on keeping your wedding guest count low.

Not only do you have space constraints with a home wedding, but you also are missing venue experience. Assuming you haven’t hosted a backyard wedding before, there will be a lot for you to learn and prepare for. That’s a lot easier to do when you’re hosting 20 people, instead of 200. For example, with just 20 guests, you can probably use your own kitchen and bathroom instead of needing to hire portable toilets and construct an outdoor kitchen.

One of the biggest benefits of having an at home wedding is the fact that it can be so personal and intimate. The best way to keep that intimate vibe is with a small group of special loved ones!

2. Consider the logistics of an at home wedding

Before you dive too deep into planning your backyard wedding, make sure you’re thinking through all of the logistics. Remember, your house isn’t a professional wedding venue, so you’ll need to think about things that regular venues already have taken care of.

Here are a few logistics to consider before you get married in your backyard:

  • Do you need more electricity or power for everything you’ll have to plug in, like speakers and lights?
  • Do you need to rent bathrooms if the one(s) in your house aren’t enough for all of your guests?
  • Do you need insurance? This is especially important if you’re serving alcohol.
  • Do you need a permit? Check to see if you need a special event licence, particularly if you’re playing music.
  • Do you need to rent chairs, tables, etc?
  • What’s the parking situation like where you live? Will guests be able to park on the street all day/night?
  • How do you plan to handle the excess garbage and recycling?
bride greeting guests at her home wedding in the backyard
by Erica Miller Photography

3. Hire the right vendors

Because this is probably the first time you’re planning a wedding in your backyard, we highly recommend hiring a wedding planner. An experienced planner who specializes in backyard weddings will be invaluable, especially as you don’t have venue staff to fall back on. A planner can help you sort out everything – including things you didn’t even realize you needed!

In addition to a wedding planner, you may also want to hire people to assist with set up and clean up. Since you don’t have dedicated venue staff, this role may end up falling to your friends and family or even you. The last thing you want to be doing the morning after your wedding is cleaning up beer bottles from the lawn!

With all of your other vendors – such as your caterer, DJ and wedding officiant (we know good ones!) – make sure they’re aware of your outdoor space and that you’ll be hosting your wedding at a private home. Some vendors may need to see the space ahead of time or make arrangements with you to coordinate things they’ll need, such as a prep area in the kitchen for your caterer or enough fridge space for your wedding cake.

4. Have a rain plan for your outdoor home wedding

An outdoor wedding means crossing your fingers that Mother Nature is on your side. In case she decides not to be, you’ll want to have a rain plan ready for your backyard wedding.

Depending on the size of your group and outdoor space, you may be able to use umbrellas for a quick ceremony or move the party underneath an awning or gazebo. For larger groups and spaces, a tent is usually a good option. You could also plan to move the party indoors, though this will mean having enough space inside your home and getting it ready to host everyone.

Besides rain, you’ll also have to think through other weather challenges. If it’s going to be sunny, can guests find shade easily? You may need to set up some covered areas, provide fans and/or create a water station. For colder outdoor weddings, consider providing blankets or setting up heat lamps.

garden wedding at home with young hip & married
feature image & above by Clint Bargen Photography

5. Let your neighbours know what’s up

The last thing you want is for your backyard wedding to get shut down by a neighbour who thinks music past 7:00 pm is unacceptable. Or worse, a neighbour who holds a grudge against you for years for blocking their driveway with your wedding decor. Avoid all of that by giving your neighbours a heads up about your home wedding.

Reach out to your neighbours ahead of time and provide them with all of your wedding details. That way, they know exactly what to expect when, plus they can make arrangements if they’d prefer to be out of the house. It would also be a good idea to deliver this news in person. It’s harder for a neighbour to make a noise complaint if they recall your smiling face, rather than a piece of paper you put in their mailbox.

Even if you have given your neighbours a heads up, you should still be respectful. If you want to throw a rager with loud music, strobe lights and a fog machine until 3 in the morning, a townhouse backyard is probably not the place to do it.

6. Make decorating your backyard stress-free

One of the best parts about a backyard wedding is that you can keep your decor pretty minimal, saving you time, stress and money. After all, you’re getting married in a beautiful backyard setting! Lean into the natural vibe of your backyard environment rather than trying to transform it into something else with tons of decoration.

While you can keep decor minimal, you will want to make sure all of your yard maintenance is taking care of. This is something you may have to start weeks or even months ahead of your wedding date. Depending on your space this might mean regularly watering the lawn, pulling weeds, planting flowers, trimming bushes and trees, power washing the patio, removing nests, etc. Don’t forget to remove any personal or unsightly items before the big day, such as that fluorescent green garden hose.

Of course, if you want to decorate for your backyard wedding, you absolutely can. Keep things outdoorsy with fresh flower bouquets, pampas grass, hay bales or natural materials, like linen or distressed wood. If the rest of your backyard looks great, you can focus your attention on just one decor piece, such as an arch for your ceremony. This is also a great chance to do some DIY for your backyard wedding.

Young Hip & Married Shawn Miller officiating at backyard wedding
by Erica Miller Photography

7. Just the ceremony or a backyard reception too?

When planning your backyard wedding, you’ll need to decide if you’re just having the ceremony in your backyard or if you’re planning to have the reception there too.

If you only do a backyard ceremony, you’ll have less to plan. A ceremony is much shorter than a reception and doesn’t require as much space. You could ask guests to stand for a short ceremony, meaning you won’t have to bring in as many things or hire as many vendors. For your reception, you could move inside your house or all head to a nearby restaurant.

If you also have a backyard reception, you’ll need to spend more time (and money) planning a larger party. You’ll probably have to rent tables, chairs and a dance floor. You’ll also have to think about noise restrictions, alcohol licenses and what you’re planning to do if the night gets cold.

While more work, doing the reception in your backyard may be more affordable than moving to a new location. It may also give you the intimate environment you’re looking for.

Our favourite backyard wedding ideas

Now that we’ve discussed our top tips for planning a backyard wedding, we also wanted to share some of our favourite backyard-friendly wedding ideas:

Include your pet: An at home wedding is the perfect opportunity to involve your furry friend in your special day. You could walk down the aisle with your dogs or have a getting ready photo shoot with your cat. Just make sure your pets have a safe space they can go if they start to feel a little wedding-ed out.

Make the most of string lights: One of the most magical parts of an evening backyard wedding is seeing it all lit up with beautiful string lights overhead. We recommend testing out your lighting ahead of time so you can make sure the string lights work and you have enough. For larger spaces, you may need to bring in extra lighting so your guests can see what they’re having for dinner!

Set up backyard games: A fun idea for your cocktail hour or reception would be setting up backyard games for your guests, such as cornhole or giant jenga. After all, you are in a backyard! These games are easy to set up and usually quite inexpensive to rent (or borrow from a friend). Plus, they make a good alternative if you don’t want to have a dance floor. Glow in the dark bocce, anyone?

lawn games at backyard wedding
by Jordyn Keller Photography

Reuse your plants: Another huge plus of a backyard wedding is the chance to reuse your plants, rather than one-day florals that we see at most wedding. Of course, you can have flowers and greenery already planted in your backyard to use as a backdrop for your nuptials. For any new flowers or greenery you bring in, you can plant them in your backyard after your wedding or bring them inside as houseplants.

Serve farm to table: Farm to table dining is a great idea for a backyard reception, since you’ll be eating in a beautiful, outdoor space surrounded by nature. Bonus points if you serve anything you grew yourself in your garden!

Close off rooms: If guests or vendors will be using the inside of your house during your backyard wedding, such as using the bathroom or prepping in the kitchen, make sure you close off any rooms that are out of bounds. Of course you trust that your guests and vendors won’t be snooping, but closing off rooms makes it clear what areas are in use so no one gets lost.

Personalize your backyard wedding: One of the best reasons to get married in your own backyard is the chance to personalize your day. This might look like getting ready in your childhood bedroom or planting a tree right in your own garden during your unity ceremony.

Bring the indoor, outdoors: For small backyard weddings, you can save money on rentals by bringing some of your own indoor furniture and decor outside. You can use your own chairs for the ceremony, your own vases for centrepieces and even get creative, such as using your bookshelf to serve dessert or champagne. Of course, this idea only works if you’re okay with your indoor stuff being outside in the elements and potentially being damaged by guests.

Lean into the backyard theme: We’ve already encouraged you to lean into the backyard theme by embracing your natural environment, rather than bringing in tons of decor. But you can take it a step further! For example, start your ceremony with a lemonade stand, serve BBQ for dinner and end the night roasting marshmallows over a fire pit.

bride and groom kissing at a table at their backyard reception
by Erica Miller Photography

We hope these tips and ideas have inspired you to plan your own backyard wedding while keeping things as stress-free as possible. Speaking of stress-free, did you know that’s one of the phrases couples most often use when booking one of our officiants?

We’d love to be a part of your backyard or home wedding ceremony. Check out our ceremony packages and book today!