Part of the magic of throwing a micro wedding is the ability to utilize and transform seemingly ordinary spaces into magical venues. Though you might not look at your backyard and immediately think ‘venue of my dreams’, backyard micro weddings are actually one of the most manageable (and budget savvy) wedding transformations out there.
But, while it is do-able, it does take some planning. Here, we walk you through every in and out of throwing your perfect backyard micro wedding.
Choose a Backyard
We get it, not every backyard is capable of hosting a wedding, no matter how micro it may be. But just because your backyard isn’t the right fit, doesn’t mean that someone else’s isn’t. Consider asking a family member, friend, or even restaurant if you can host your micro wedding in their backyard.
Some thing to consider when choosing a backyard are:
- Space – is there ample enough space to hold the ceremony, reception, meal, and possibly dancing? Remember, you can double up on spaces here!
- Indoor prep area – if you’re planning to have your backyard wedding catered, is there a big enough kitchen to house them? Is there an area for you and your partner to get ready? Consider what indoor areas you’ll need, especially if you’re going to ask a loved one to use their space. Be respectful of their limitations and open in your communication of needs.
- Bathrooms – is there only one bathroom for your whole party? If so, consider renting a porta-potty or two to make sure lines don’t form (or finicky sewer lines don’t get backed up! This is a real possibility in older houses).
Design a Ceremony Space
Once you’ve picked your backyard, it’s time to start envisioning where each event will happen within it. The ceremony will be one of the first (and most important) events, so start planning and designing the space as soon as you’ve picked your ‘venue’.
You’ll need to think about:
- The Altar – what will it look like, and where will it be? Don’t forget, some of your most special moments and photos will be in this area so think about what’s behind the altar! Greenery and trees are always a good bet, but simple backgrounds like brick, stone, and white boards also end up looking beautiful as well.
- Seating – how many seats will you need and what will you be using? Make sure you have enough room for your guests to sit comfortably. You also might want to consider what kinds of seating options work with the ground they’re standing on. If it’s uneven and you’re using traditional chairs, you’ll have a lot of wobbling going on during your ceremony.
- The Aisle – even though it’s a backyard wedding, you can still get creative with your aisle. Some ideas include cloth, flowers (or petals), and candles.
Also consider the time of day and the season during which you’re holding your wedding. Where will the sun be during the ceremony? If it’s shining directly into your guest’s eyes, then aim to have your ceremony in a more shaded spot.
If you’re having a summer wedding, consider the temperature during the ceremony. If it’s scorching hot out, consider providing small fans or misters to keep everyone comfortable. If it’s going to be chilly or raining, try supplying blankets or umbrellas (this can make for some amazing pictures as well).
Design a Reception Area
One of our all time favorite parts of backyard micro weddings is the ability to create a breathtaking yet intimate reception space. If you have a smaller backyard then think about re-using the ceremony space for your reception (just consider the fact that someone will be responsible for making this change!).
When designing your reception area, think about what parts of the reception are most important to you and work around that.
Are you planning an epic family style meal? Then have a beautiful set table be the focal point of the area and work around that. Is dancing the night away your top priority? Make sure you’ve designated a dance floor that the reception space flows around.
When creating the reception, be sure to consider or include these different elements
- The meal – where will it be served and how?
- Catering – do they need additional space to serve and prep food?
- Bar area – is this accessible to your guests?
- Dancing/DJ – make sure that your DJ is located near the dance floor, and also has access to a power source.
Recruit Your People
You might be the master of party planning, but do NOT try to throw an entire backyard wedding by yourself. It’s okay to delegate some (or most!) of the responsibilities to other people or vendors. This will help lower your stress levels and encourage you to actually enjoy your day.
Remember, you’re only inviting your closest people to this event, so it’s more likely than not that they’ll be thrilled to help you pull it off. If you’re the kind of person who struggles to accept help/generosity, remind yourself that a sweet card and a bottle of wine (or some homemade cookies!) will show the person just how much their efforts meant to you.
Make sure people know well in advance what they’ll be responsible for the days leading up to the event, as well as the day of (nothing is worse than springing a huge responsibility on someone who isn’t expecting it).
Think about giving your wedding party the jobs of handling equipment rentals or taking inventory of supplies. Ask your parents to handle communicating with the caterers on the day of so you can focus on getting ready.
Also think about the special skills of the people that you love and how they might work into your day. Do you have a friend that’s a design genius? Ask them to set up your dinner table. Know someone who loves flowers? Ask them to do your bouquet. Always remember to keep these requests reasonable, and offer to pay if it’s their livelihood or requires an extensive amount of time. While they may insist on doing it free or discounted, be sure that they know what it means to you.
You can also consider creating a mix of DIY and outside sourced elements for your backyard micro wedding. Some examples of this could be designing and making your table scape, but hiring and outside florist to create your bouquet or hanging arrangements. Or doing a DIY apps table, but then brining in an outside caterer to do the main meal.
Pinpoint the elements that feel manageable for you (or your people) to handle, and outsource for the rest.
Choose Your Timeline Strategically
Remember, an outside wedding is largely dictated around the weather and sunlight, and while a micro wedding offers more flexibility in planning, still take into consideration the natural light factor.
Depending on the feel that you’re looking for, you could choose to start earlier in the day and bask in the natural sunlight for your celebration, or start later in the evening and have twinkling lights surrounding you and your guests for the evening.
Don’t forget to think about where the sun will be throughout the event. If you plan to have a sunset ceremony, make sure your guests aren’t positioned directly in the path of blinding sunlight (or, provide cute sunglasses if they are!). If you want more sunlight, then think about the fact that it might also be hotter for longer.
Think About the Season
Having a backyard wedding does tend to put you and your guests at the mercy of the elements, whatever they may be during your chosen time of year.
This will require some planning, but can also be something that you have a lot of fun with.
If you’re throwing a summer wedding, then think about how hot it’ll be during your ceremony/celebration. If you live somewhere that’ll be pushing 80+ degrees out, make sure you have plenty of shade available, and even consider passing out fans and sunglasses. You can also consider starting your celebration in the early evening to avoid the highest temps.
If you’re leaning towards a fall or winter wedding, then think about creating a cozy atmosphere with lots of blankets and hot beverages (coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc.). You should also think about investing in some space heaters or utilize a fire pit if it’s available.
Hosting a wedding in your own backyard truly opens up the creative possibilities. It can also feel a bit overwhelming. To get started, think about what kind of vibe you’re trying to achieve. Then, evaluate if you have a unique natural element within that space. Is there a giant oak tree? Gorgeous flowers that will be in full bloom? A vibrant green lawn? Perfect fences to hang up twinkling lights?
Once you have your star element picked out, begin to plan around that.
Also, think about what your backyard will look like when your big day arrives. If you need to get additional landscaping done, make sure to plan this well in advance. Some couples prefer to plant extra flowers or bushes to make sure that the look is full and healthy.
While a backyard micro wedding is very possible to pull off without hiring a single outside vendor, you still might want to consider it. Whether it’s to alleviate stress, or make sure you nail your desired aesthetic, hiring outside help can make all the difference in the world.
Some of the most common rentals for a backyard wedding include:
- Dance floor
- Outside catering/waitstaff
- Food Trucks
- Outside bartender
Looking at the list, think about which elements you’ve got covered, and which might be worth spending the extra money. Perhaps you’ve got all of the ‘stuff’ but you have a very specific look that you’re going for. Hiring an outside stylist for the day of might be a good call. If dancing the night away has always been your dream, then getting a DJ and dance floor will be worth every penny.
Some of the not-so-fun but VERY important logistics that need to be considered when throwing a backyard wedding include:
- Insurance – obviously you don’t want anything going wrong on your perfect day, but you want to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Check with your homeowners insurance to see what would be covered, as well as any vendors that you’re using. If you need to purchase supplemental insurance for the event, do that beforehand.
- Power source – consider the amount of power you’ll be using for your backyard wedding and where it’s coming from. If needed, invest in renting some generators for your vendors and DJ to avoid blowing a fuse.
- Bathrooms – we mentioned this above but it’s worth mentioning again. Think about how many bathrooms you have in your house and where they’re located. Do you truly want people going in and out and up and down to access the bathrooms? This is especially important if you’re using the backyard of someone else. It may be worth it to rent a port-a-potty or two to prevent lines from forming or people tromping through your house.
- Neighbors – if your chosen backyard has close neighbors, then be sure to give them fair warning about your upcoming event. This becomes even more fun if you give them a ‘night out’ on you. Either give them a gift card to a popular local restaurant, or fill a basket with some wine, snacks, and a movie. Communication is key here because nothing kills a backyard party like getting the cops called midway through.
- Parking – evaluate the parking situation beforehand to get an idea of where your guests might end up. Also consider if there are time limits on the streets near your house, and warn your guests about places they might get ticketed.
- Permits – even though you’re throwing a wedding on your property, you still need to check with the city and see if permits are required for throwing large personal events. This clearly depends on the size of your micro wedding, since you probably won’t need permits for gatherings of around 12 people. But if you’ve invited 30-40+ then check into it and file paperwork if needed.
- Bugs – clearly not the most pleasant thought but something that you should put serious thought into. You don’t want a group of wasps bombarding your drinks station, and you definitely don’t want your guests biggest memory being the 8749 mosquito bites they ended up with the next day. Plan to either provide bug spray, bug repellent candles, or netting.
Have a Plan B
Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t care how much time and effort you’ve put into planning your perfect backyard wedding. If she wants a torrential downpour on your big day, then you’ll need to be armed with a Plan B.
Some ideas for plan B setups include:
- Move the party indoors – if you have the available space, then create a complete indoor set up plan that you can turn to if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Make sure you take into consideration all of the factors above, and plan space accordingly.
- Rent a tent – have a tent rented (or bought) that you can use if the need arises. Make sure the tent has side flaps to protect people from rain, and also consider how the wet ground will work with your plans.
- Move the date – If your event is small enough then consider pushing it back a week or two. This is the beauty of a true micro wedding – ultimate flexibility.
- Have a backup venu – if this is within your budget and you have a close by venue option like a local church or community center, you could always book them with then intention of using them as a backup location, and then just utilizing their amenities (parking, bathrooms, etc) if you don’t end up needing them.
Also remember that Plan B doesn’t necessarily mean a complete change of plans. Summer weddings often experience quick (but intense) bursts of rain or midday thunderstorms, so make sure you also have a Plan B for these specific moments.
Although this isn’t one of the most exciting things to think about when planning your backyard wedding, it is one of the most important! The last thing you’re going to want to do at the end of your night is spend hours cleaning up (this is also true for the next morning).
If you’re having your wedding catered, then check and see what kind of clean up they do. Then, you can either decide to try and convince your guests to pitch in at the end of the night, OR you can offer to pay some of them to take over clean up duty (this is especially true if you have some teenagers attending the wedding!). There’s also the option of hiring a clean up crew to handle the mess.
While this isn’t the most fun expense, people often say it was 100% worth the money to not have to think twice about how the evening would be wrapped up.
Again, if you’re using the backyard of someone else, coordinate with them about when and how cleanup is going to happen. The last thing you want is for them to feel like their house was left trashed after being so generous.
Have you had a successful backyard micro wedding? Want to share with us? Contact us and we’ll chat!