A Designer's Tips for Transforming a Backyard Into a Wedding Venue
Having a backyard wedding comes with its pros and cons. Not only is it more intimate, but — and this is likely the biggest draw — it also allows you to save some serious money. On the flip side, however, you're building the wedding from the ground up, and suddenly you find yourself asking a million questions: How many tables do I need? Do I need a professional to come out here to manicure my lawn? Where do I even start with creating the ceremony backdrop?!
Take a breath, though. Yes, it's a lot to take in and a lot to figure out, but with a few tips in mind (and a well-organized Pinterest board to reference frequently), throwing a backyard wedding can be done.
1. Create an entry
And make it as dramatic as you'd like. Your guests are arriving at a wedding — your special day — after all, so it should feel like they're stepping into an event they'll never forget.
"It can be as simple as a balloon arch or as fancy as a cascading balloon garland," says Andrea Rosewall, an interior designer in Glendale, Arizona.
2. Create a DIY photo backdrop
By no means do you need a photo booth, but it's more fun if you do. If you do ditch it altogether, you'll still want some sort of background your guests can take their own photos in front of.
"I know, they are everywhere and could be considered overdone," Rosewall starts, "but you can use something unexpected, like a couple of rustic old doors with garland and lanterns. Or, if you have a natural background at your home already, jazz it up."
3. Add layers
This isn't any ordinary backyard party, so don't treat it as one. Think bigger!
"This occasion is going to be photographed by everyone — everyone!" Rosewall says. "So keep that in mind and make sure that it doesn't look like a regular garden party. You need to add layers, height and color. It needs to be dramatic; [add] large potted plants or lanterns [either] hanging or clustered."
4. Create entertaining areas
During your wedding planning, it's easy to forget one part of it — likely because you'll be so busy getting ready: the pre-ceremony. While guests are arriving and waiting for the ceremony to begin, be sure to have an area where they can mingle — and maybe even grab a small bite or beverage.
"Place the ceremony where the light is going to be best," Rosewall says. "There is such a thing as the golden hour. Avoid strong shadows or areas where the sun is very bright."
That's not all. Think about where the ceremony will take place and where guests can let loose after dinner.
"You also need a place for dinner, dancing and games," she continues. "You can use the same space over again," she says and suggests using a simple pipe and drape, which you can rent or DIY, to hide all the behind-the-scenes setting up. "By separating areas, you can create a more dramatic reveal. It might seem like a lot of work, but it is one simple way to keep guests away from the dinner area or out of the ceremony area if the bride and groom are taking pictures."
5. Have a ceremony background
"It centers the ceremony," Rosewall says. "Avoid anything too metallic or fabrics with a lot of sheen for the photos' sake."
That said, you'll want to elevate the officiant, bride and groom, and ensure you have speakers set up — it won't be quite as impactful if you can't see or hear what's happening.
"Make sure that you have taken into account all possible noise interferences so that the ceremony is not interrupted," Rosewall advises. "You can let neighbors know ahead of time, so no one starts doing yard work during the wedding."
6. Create pathways for your guests
"Take them on a journey," Rosewall says. Popular options include using candles, string lights and flower petals.
7. Get your yard manicured
Your grass needs to look its very best. Like Rosewall said earlier — the special occasion will get photographed by everyone.
"Have a professional come do the yard a couple of days before," Rosewall says. "Make sure that all irrigating systems are turned off. It'll be worth the extra bucks you spend making your backyard picture-perfect."
8. Think about the little things, the necessities
We're talking about toilet paper here, folks. Keep plenty of it on hand, and keep all garbage out of sight.
"Stock the bathrooms well, and don't be scared to have baskets of toilet paper and hand towels readily available," Rosewall says. "Also, hire someone whose sole job is to take trash out and away and to replenish items, soap, cups and napkins and make sure candles are always lit."
9. Embrace linen
"Linens are easy to overlook," Rosewall says. "Layer and textile at a wedding: You can use different colors and unexpected finishes."
10. Use your pool to your advantage
Lastly, don't hide the pool — make it part of the wedding.
"If you have a pool or a water feature, really play that up," Rosewall says. "It can have a big visual and atmosphere payoff with very low investment."