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Denise DeSimone
Jan 14, 2014

Top 10 Backyard Wedding and Reception Tips

If you’re thinking about hosting your wedding and/or reception in your backyard, we have some great tips for you.

Here are our best backyard wedding ideas, tricks and answers, whether you’re getting married here in Boston or elsewhere.

Elegant Backyard Wedding Ideas

1. Plan it.  Backyard weddings are a great way to save money on the venue space, although you must remember that you’ll need to consider many things before you can commit to this idea.  First question:  Do you or your parents have a backyard big enough for your wedding?  To answer this, you must think about your guest list and about what type of reception you would like to have. Do you envision a plated dinner or a buffet?  Passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktail bar or grilled picnic food?  Each type of reception comes with different capacities.  Will you also be hosting your ceremony in the backyard, or just the reception?  You’ll need even more space if you’re hosting both.

backyard wedding house

Tip:  Talk to a rental company or a catering company—yes, we can help answer these questions!—before you make this decision.  They will know how much space you will need to set up tables, booths and a dance floor to accommodate your guest count, and will likely suggest different catering options that best meets your visions and space constraints.

2. Prep it.  If you have at least 8 weeks’ time, you should be ready to prep the backyard.  If you’re hosting a backyard wedding in the summer, great!  Nature can take care of most of your décor costs—although you’re going to have to help it along.  Plant your gardens this year with your event design and layout in mind.  It will be difficult, though, to get your gardening in order without knowing where everything will go.

prep the flowers

Here’s a great tip:  talk to your wedding planner, rental company or caterer about the event layout before you do any work.  Sometimes there are tables and prep areas that our clients forget to take into consideration or new layout ideas we come up with to maximize the space when we visit the site.

3. Theme it.  Whether you’re looking for a simple backyard wedding or an elaborate, elegant wedding design, your theme will drive most of the aesthetic decisions from here on out.  Sophisticated country?  Vintage?  Rustic?  Whimsical?  Every theme comes with different flowers, photo frames, centerpieces, chairs, linens, catering choices and more.

theme your party

4. Tent it.  This is one of our biggest recommendations.

tent it

We largely recommend this: rent a tent!  Not only will this come in handy should there be a little inclement weather on the day of your wedding, but it also provides you with much needed shelter from things as simple as too much sun or a light breeze (think of your delicate decorations on the tables…you don’t want them to tip, break or blow away!), gives you privacy and adds decorating opportunities (see: light it up).  Trust us when we say tents are great for backyard weddings large and small.

5. Dance floor it.  What’s a backyard wedding reception without a dance floor?  Lots of holes in the grass, that’s what.  Be kind to all those women in high heels and those poor blades of grass growing in the danger zone, and rent a dance floor for guests to use in lieu of just a grassy area or even a patio or deck.  You’ll want something flat and smooth.

wedding tent

Hint: this is definitely a recommendation that’s right up there with renting a tent on the must-do list.

6. Light it up.  A huge perk of a backyard wedding is that you can light up this space with as many (or as few) beautiful strands of lights as you could possible want—and you can begin the stringing as early as you need to since no one else is renting your event space.  We suggest stringing lights throughout the ceiling of the tent and wrapping them around trees.  Consider hanging or placing even more lights, Chinese lanterns and candles on chairs, tables, trees and other natural shrubbery.  Wedding lighting is worth the upgrade almost every time.  Take a look at these photos.  What would they look like without such exquisite lighting?

wedding lights

7. Rent it.  Rent your tables and chairs from a rental company—or through your catering team, who will either rent the equipment themselves or know with whom you should speak for the best styles for your budget.  When you rent your equipment, you won’t have to worry about the setup or take down.  You just show up, sign on the dotted line and the entire reception will be constructed for you.

outdoor tables and chairs

Huge tip: you will not regret this help on your wedding day.  Also worth considering is the temperature.  Are you hosting your wedding on the hottest day of the year?  Consider renting equipment that will help cool down your guests so that no one gets too hot and uncomfortable.  If you’re hosting a late fall backyard wedding and the evenings are known to cool down, there are plenty of attractive looking heater options you can also rent from your rental company.  Another big tip: temperature controlling equipment is always a good idea.

8. Personalize it.  It’s your backyard—let people know!  Personalize your backyard wedding with the kind of intimate details only a backyard wedding could afford.  Hang Polaroids of you two from the tent or on the backs of your chairs.  Showcase your baby photos and engagement photos.  Display your parents’ and grandparents’ wedding photos around the backyard or frame them for a side table.  Decorate the tent, the trees and the tables with memorabilia that is special to you two.  Don’t forget about the inside, either.  In the bathroom, for instance, leave something special, like perfume and cologne, mouthwash and floss and other toiletries along with framed photos of either wedding-related things or photos of you and your fiancé.  Turn the living room and kitchen inside the house into a shrine commemorating your relationship.  This day is all about you.

9. Separate it.  Depending on how much room you have to work with, consider creating different “areas” or zones in your backyard.  For example, incorporate a casual seated area away from the dance floor and tables that provides guests a little bit of intimacy.

10. Game it.  With an outdoor wedding—and one in your backyard, nonetheless—you get to host games and entertainment your way.  Set up a couple of lawn bag or cricket games.  Guests can play while they wait for you to finish your photos or while they have a cocktail.  As long as the sun is still out and the music’s not dance-material, your guests will be looking for something to do.

outdoor wedding games

Tip time: take a look at your guest list and make note of how many children will be at your reception.  Consider a small children’s tent or game area.  Backyards without fences might lead to wandering children, but the more occupied they are by fun and games, the less likely they’ll be to wander into trouble.

11. Remember it.  Come up with creative ways to remember your wedding day.  The obvious is to hire a photographer, which probably seems as though it’s a must-do.  We agree.  Document as much of that day as you can.  Also consider hiring a videographer, renting a photo booth, setting up a photo or video guest book and more.  More creative guest book ideas for backyard weddings can be found here.

outdoor wedding signs

We hope you think these backyard wedding ideas are useful!  Even more useful, though, might be our biggest backyard wedding planning tips.  For your reference, we have laid out our biggest tips from within each backyard wedding idea right here:

  • Tell your catering or rental company your guest count and ask them to visit the site before you decide your yard is big enough for your ceremony and/or reception.
  • Talk to your vendors before you plan your garden so that you can incorporate this year’s design into the event’s layout.
  • Rent a tent!
  • Get yourself a real dance floor.  Decks and patios aren’t stable or comfortable enough.
  • You will never regret the setup and teardown help of a respectable rental company.
  • Rent equipment to cool down or heat up your outdoor area.
  • Give the children something to occupy them, or risk little wanderers.

For even more backyard wedding inspiration, visit our Weddings Pinterest board.

Are you considering a Winter Wedding instead?  Take a look at these hot winter wedding reception ideas!

Don’t know if you want an indoor or outdoor wedding or reception?  No problem!  We’ll help you make your decision with this long list of pros and cons for indoor and outdoor weddings.  Indoor or outdoor, you’ll want exquisite tablescapes and table settings for your big day.  View these 10 Ideas for a Beautiful Wedding Tablescape for more inspiration.

You’ll also be interested in the latest wedding trend in Boston–a wedding registry, for your actual wedding!  Take a look at this unique and growing concept.

Denise DeSimone

Denise is an Event Planner at BG Events & Catering.

Brought to you by BG Events & Catering, Boston area catering and event producers.

About Us

It all started as most events do—with a vision. From the very beginning, we’ve challenged ourselves to go bigger, do better, and create more from less. Every day for us is a new chance to blow your mind with a spectacular new visual setting, a wildly outstanding venue, and a uniquely flavorful and inventive menu. This is the BG Way—working with you, calling on your imagination, and making every event magical. The next great event idea starts here.

We believe there is magic in every event, and there are no limits to where it can be found.

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