I never intended to post a blog about my own real, backyard wedding. But since I got married in a beautiful Airbnb in San Antonio, I have a few tips on backyard weddings. Plus the photos by Alejandra Sol Casas are amazing.
Why did we opt for an elopement? Since it was both of our second marriages we chose to only invite our children, siblings (we both have only 1), and our parents. That basically sent us over the standard elopement guest count. So maybe I should call it a small, micro wedding. Whatever it was, it was small and private.
Personal note: I also invited 3 of my closest friends to help with the food, and get me and my kids ready. I have been wedding planning long enough to know I was not going to have family or myself setting out food after the ceremony. After that, one of my friends showed her amazing organizational and creative gifts and is now my assistant.
Here are my 6 tips for planning your backyard wedding:
1. Decide the type of wedding you want:
-Elopement (under 12 guests)
-Small or micro wedding (under 70 guests)
-Traditional wedding (over 100 guests).
This will determine the size of the backyard as well as the guest list, style, and aesthetic (feel of the wedding.) Make sure to set the appropriate budget for the type of wedding you want as well. A $5,000 wedding goes a lot further if you only have 20 people versus 70 people. Be reasonable.
2. Consider the location
Think about everyone you know and their homes. You might have a family member or friend with a beautiful backyard or big open field. Think about the trees, landscape, and water features. Then, visit it to see if it is the way you imagined it (or Facetime/Zoom the owner if that would be more appropriate)
Perhapse a home doesn’t come into mind, consider looking for an Airbnb that hosts events (be sure to chat with the host/owners even if they state events are ok. Sometimes they have additional fees for guests. Also, ask if you can scope out the home before booking.) Many rent-able homes have great backyards that butt-up against golf course or green belts that give added landscape and trees to the backyard.
Pro tip: Ask these questions when considering a property for your backyard wedding:
How many people can you comfortably fit in the backyard?
What would be the rain plan?
Where will the bride and groom get ready?
Where will everyone park?
Who should stay in the home overnight?
3. Pick a date and book the location (or at least mark it on the calendar)
Oh wait, you don’t have to book it like a traditional wedding venue (unless it is an Airbnb) but you will need to set the date and get to Save the Dates and/or Invitations.
4. After the ceremony
Is the type of wedding you’re wanting going to include a meal at the location afterward or at a restaurant nearby? If you want to eat on location you need to consider the landscape for tables and chairs as well as the bathroom facilities (you can rent a simple Port-o-potty or luxury Powder Room trailers, you decide). You will want to make sure your guests are comfortable from the sun and weather so consider renting a tent. Also, if you want to dance and do more traditional wedding reception things you may be able to use the deck or a gazebo as the dance floor (rental companies also have dance floors and stages you can rent if you want it more luxurious)
Personal note: I had a morning wedding with a partly catered brunch afterward. My sig and I enjoy cooking so we made our crepe wedding cake as well as the creme brulee. We catered in breakfast tacos, a capered salmon plate, charcuterie board, pastries, and fresh fruit. All of these were special to us – our favorite meals. To drink we had a mimosa bar with fresh fruit and various juices and sparkling wine to choose from. I opted for no dancing after the wedding. We simply hugged our families goodbye and went off to a separate Airbnb while the family stayed and enjoyed the pool.
5. Make sure that all the vendors understand the layout of the property and where they are to set up
Communication in this area will really help when it comes to your wedding day. If you are working with a wedding coordinator they should be on top of this. If not, the best way to do this is with an email to all the vendors outlining a timeline to drop off, where to set up, for how long, and when/where to pick up.
Pro tip: sketch out a map for the vendors. Even if it is just with a pencil and paper it can really help the vendors to know just exactly where everything should be set up.
6. Check local permits and HOA’s
Some areas have permits that have to be pulled in order to have large gatherings (especially since COVID-19) but not many. Some neighborhood HOA’s have restrictions or guidelines that need to be followed. No one wants to have a knock on the door and shut down the wedding when a simple permit could have been retained. Do your research for your city and neighborhood on backyard weddings/gatherings.