Outdoor weddings are a popular option these days, but as many couples quickly find out: outdoor venues aren’t always affordable. Along with the high costs come lengthy rules that can put a damper on your fun. The alternative? Festive and affordable backyard weddings! Here are 4 backyard wedding ideas that will inspire you while planning your wedding:
1. Backyard Wedding Decoration Ideas
Backyard weddings are affordable. How affordable? That’s really up to you. A frugal couple could get away with a $1,000 casual wedding with rented folding chairs, potluck buffet, and BYO alcohol. For those looking to bring formality into the backyard celebration with tents, catering, and a good wedding planner, you might be looking at closer to $10,000. What’s important to remember is that backyard weddings allow for a sliding scale of costs. So, no matter what your budget is, you can pull off a backyard wedding.
Decorating creates much-needed ambiance no matter what the location. Here are some decorating ideas for your backyard wedding reception:
Use What You Have
Trees, plants, pond, or pool — use what you have to make your wedding decor stand out. For instance, twinkle lights on trees and added decor in plants are perfect canvases for your themed decor. On top of pools, you can float candles, floral arrangements, and even balloons. Using what you have means your decoration integrates seamlessly into your surroundings and gives your event a polished appearance.
Display Your Wedding Hashtag Around Your Yard
Why does your wedding need a hashtag? A personal wedding hashtag is a great way to collect photos from your guests, and if you’re impatient like us, waiting 6 to 8 weeks for your photographer to get their pictures back to you is hard! On the big day, print signs or write your hashtag on chalkboard signs, to encourage people to use your wedding hashtag. Place signs on tables, in planters, hung from trees, or wherever people congregate as a reminder to use your wedding hashtag in all their social media posts.
The following day, you can look forward to browsing through your social feed for amazing and candid photos posted by friends and family.
Embrace DIY Decor
To stretch your budget and add a homespun flair to your wedding, try your hand at DIY decor. Here are some ways to set the mood for a backyard wedding:
- String lights for a warm glow
- Pitch a tent (especially if the forecast is calling for inclement weather)
- Stage various seating areas for people to mingle
- Add fire pits for warmth and cozy atmosphere
- Create centerpieces with mason jars and flowers
- Write your own place settings
- Make a photo booth using PVC and fabric
All of these ideas are easy to do yourself, and again, can be adjusted to match your budget.
2. What to Serve at Your Backyard Wedding
What about backyard wedding ideas where food is concerned? Since the cost for your venue is minimal (or free), you can put your money where your mouth is. Being outdoors and without having to choose from a list of a venue’s “preferred caterers,” you have so many options available to you. Instead of a formal sit-down dinner, here are some ideas for feeding your guests:
Have a BBQ
Nothing says home cooking like a good ol’ fashioned BBQ. If you have a friend or loved one who takes their BBQ seriously, you might have a home chef on hand to help. Otherwise, there are services that will bring in the smoker, meat, and serve your guests delicious grilled meats along with comfort food sides like mac and cheese, greens, cornbread, and variety of sauces.
Tacos, fried chicken, falafel, burgers, vegan delights, and so much more are available from food truck businesses. Support local, and bring the food right to your yard. You don’t have to worry about servers or coordinating caterers and place settings. Guests will sip cocktails as they order and receive food of their choice off the menu. The food truck takes care of the rest!
Bar Cart or Outdoor Bar
Instead of asking guests to go in and out of the home to get drinks, bring the bar to them. Use a bar cart or a portable bar to set up a cocktail and drinks station for your guests. It can be a serve-yourself situation, or you can hire a bartender for the night to mix up tried and true drinks or even a signature wedding cocktail.
For those with budget in mind, a full bar isn’t necessary. One or two wine selections and beer are enough to keep your guests happy, and for those who prefer an alcohol-free wedding, mocktails and punch tasty options.
Display Your Food
A food display fulfills a function and is one way to add decor to your wedding while enticing your guests. An artisan bread table with fresh whipped butters, a giant charcuterie board, or candy buffet are feasts for the eyes as well as the belly. You can incorporate wedding colors through linens, ribbons, and food labels. Food displays make a statement, and watching your guests indulge can be oh-so gratifying.
3. Backyard Wedding Ideas for Activities
Being in an outdoor venue gives you options. You’re not constrained by the typical schedule: ceremony, cocktails, dinner, and cake followed by dancing. These days, wedding guests are looking for something different. Here are some ideas to get your guests on their feet and in the moment:
Set Up a Dance Floor
Your heel-wearing bridesmaids and guests will thank you! Instead of sinking into grass and dirt while cha-cha-ing across the lawn, set up a dance floor. Rental companies specialize in this specific need. Materials range from wood parquet to white, black, or checkerboard patterns. The size of the dance floor depends on how many guests are attending and dancing. For 12 couples, you’re looking at a 9’ x 12’ dance floor, while 100 couples will require closer to 24’ x 30’. The cost will depend on the size, but you can expect to pay an average of $1000 for installation, rental, and breakdown. As a centerpiece to your reception, a dancefloor makes a big difference in atmosphere and adds formality to your event.
Hire a Live Band
While DJs are a wonderful way to get people dancing, nothing beats a live band. Here are 5 reasons to hire a live band:
- Non-dancers will love the concert
- Bands tend to interact with their audience
- Band members may double as announcers
- Professional musicians are flexible and will tailor the music to the event (i.e. introduction music, dinner music, and dance music)
- Unparalleled ambiance, especially with proper lighting
Live bands are also local artists that can use support and patronage. By hiring local acts, you’re contributing to your local economy and giving up-and-coming artists a chance to get exposure.
Offer a Variety of Lawn Games for Your Guests
If you’ve ever been to a brewery or restaurant with a patio, you might have noticed the variety of games available to patrons. Giant chess sets, ring toss, Jenga, cornhole, and shuffleboard tables are easy to rent. Some games, like cornhole, are affordable to purchase. To create a keepsake that you can keep until after your wedding, consider having a custom cornhole, Jenga, or ring toss game built. Not only will it add to your decor, but it’s something you can enjoy for years to come. Your guests will thank you for the entertainment.
4. Backyard Wedding Photography
When it comes to capturing your big day during a backyard wedding, the most important thing to do is prepare ahead of time. First, make sure you photograph all of the bridal party before sunset. A good rule of thumb is to allow 1 hour to 45 minutes for your post-ceremony photo session if you include other family members in the photos. The open bar and lawn games provide much-needed entertainment while photos are being taken.
Second, you’ll want to prepare for rain. If photos outdoors are not possible due to inclement weather, have a plan B and plan C ready. A tent, photo booth, or an area in the home are all possible photo opportunities. Before the wedding, take a good look around for alternatives to ensure you get the shots you want.
Our last backyard wedding ideas for photography are to erect a photo booth or backdrop. Either can be done inexpensively or, if photos of your wedding are a high priority, hire a photo booth company. They will set up the backdrop (if you don’t have one) and will take photos. The best part? They print the photos in real time for your guests to take home with them as souvenirs. These services can run from hundreds of dollars to the low thousands depending duration of service and add-ons like photo props.
Make Your Special Day One to Remember with these Backyard Wedding Ideas
Backyard wedding ideas are trending more and more. Couples are opting for a homey and affordable option to traditional wedding receptions. Take these backyard wedding ideas and transform your space into something beautiful and memorable for your guests and, most importantly, yourselves.