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Planning a Backyard Wedding

If you’ve got a small wedding budget, or you’re after something intimate, a backyard wedding could be a perfect idea. They can be just as beautiful as a big wedding, and as lavish or as frugal as you like. 

A backyard wedding often means a restricted amount of guests which in this current climate of the world isn’t a bad idea! Here we provide you with all the things to consider when planning a backyard wedding and include a free backyard wedding checklist.

Wedding ceremony arch, altar decorated with flowers on the lawn

The backyard

Just because it’s going to be your wedding, it doesn’t mean it has to be your backyard. If your yard isn’t suitable, but the yard of a friend or a family member is, ask them! It’s a big deal hosting an event like a wedding, even if it is small, so show them that you will consider all that’s necessary for the day to go well.

Depending on where you live there may be certain limits on the number of guests allowed, or there may be noise restrictions, especially if the wedding carries on into the night.

You’ll also need to let neighbours know, far in advance, that a wedding will be hosted there. These are important steps to take because the last thing you want is police showing up to break up the party after noise complaints!


Ensure that whoever’s backyard it is knows that guests may need to also come inside to store gifts, bags or use the restrooms. Extra outdoor restrooms can also be hired to avoid guests coming inside.

The budget

Once you’ve sorted the backyard, it’s time to delve into the budget. A small backyard wedding still has costs involved and they can stack up quickly if you don’t keep an eye on the budget.

The budget needs to cover –

  • Food, the wedding cake and alcohol
  • Wedding attire
  • The wedding officiant
  • Photography and videography
  • Stationery and flowers
  • Décor like centerpieces and bunting
  • Hiring of marquees, furniture, linens, plates, cutlery and glassware
  • Music and lighting
  • Wedding insurance
  • Beauty appointments, gifts and other miscellaneous costs

Costs can be saved on the venue (hopefully the use of the backyard is free!), as well as wedding transport, food costs and plenty of other areas. It’s just a matter of keeping track of it all.

Autumn decorations for the wedding ceremony. Wedding arch for off-site wedding ceremony, decorated in autumn theme.

Guest list

A small guest list can mean making some hard decisions when it comes to deciding who to invite.

Firstly, find out how many people can be hosted at the wedding. Secondly, decide for yourselves, who is it that you most want at your wedding.

It can be easy to get swept up in who you ‘should’ invite and not want to offend anyone who doesn’t get an invite. However, you need to remember that your wedding is your day and it’s not actually about anyone else. Invite those who you really want there, not just out of duty.

Wedding invitations

Save money by sending out only digital RSVPS and wedding invitations.

Be patient and understanding that in the world’s current climate, not everyone will be able to come or sometimes they’ll need to pull out close to the day.

A backyard wedding is easier to postpone than a big wedding with a booked venue, so if too many guests can’t come it can be moved. Sending out notice via email to let guest know the changes is much faster than via the post.


There is money to save in this area of the budget. A small wedding means fewer people to cater for and there are plenty of options on how to feed your guests.

If your wedding theme isn’t lavish, then the food can be rustic and simple. You could choose a favorite restaurant to cater, or even do it yourself with friends or family.

Buffet and family-style is a great way to feed a crowd without the need for waiters or seated serving.

The wedding cake is going to be much smaller and cheaper too if it only needs to feed 20-30 people as opposed to 100. If someone in your friends and family is a fantastic baker, they might like to bake the cake for you!


You’ll need to check whether you require a liquor license to serve alcohol at a backyard wedding. This will differ depending on where you live.

Or if you’re having a dry wedding, let your guests know.

Backyard barbeque party at summer wedding

Hiring décor and furniture

When planning a backyard wedding you’ll need to hire chairs, tables, decor and crockery to serve and seat eveyone.

You’ll likely need to hire or borrow –

  • Chairs and tables
  • A marquee to protect from the weather, and something that provides shade if your wedding is on a hot day.
  • Linens (table cloths, napkins)
  • Cutlery, plates, glasswear
  • Portable restrooms (especially if you want your guests to stay outdoors and not go in the house)
  • Lighting and speakers for music
  • Heating for when it gets colder
  • Decor to suit your wedding theme.
  • An arch for the altar

Costs can be saved by hiring chairs for the ceremony and then reusing them to seat guests at the reception. A marquee can also be used for the ceremony, and then set up again for the reception.

If you’re doing this you’ll need to consider who is going to be moving these tables and chairs around on the actual wedding day. You may need to hire someone for this job.

D.I.Y décor and favors

A backyard wedding is a perfect opportunity for DIY décor for your wedding as you won’t need to make huge numbers of anything.

DIY table centerpieces, bunting and garlands or wedding favors for guests can be fun activities to do together with your spouse on the lead up to the wedding. It also gives your wedding an intimate and personal touch.

You could DIY your wedding arch too!



A few good speakers and an iPhone can be all you need to provide great music and atmosphere at your backyard wedding.

Get your guests involved by asking them their favorite tunes! Then customize your playlist for the reception and the ceremony.

Wedding attire, hair and makeup

Here you’ve got the choice to go all out with your wedding gown, or make it simple! A small wedding will mean a small bridal party (if any at all!) so hair and makeup costs are saved here.

Your wedding dress doesn’t have to be a traditional white gown. You can choose an outfit you’ll be most comfortable with on the day. If you are after the traditional wedding dress but your budget won’t stretch too far, you can get gorgeous designer dresses second hand.

Wedding dresses often only get worn once so it’s nice to give a new lease of life to a stunning dress.


Skimping on wedding photography and asking friends or family to do this for you instead will save money but it’s not something we advise that you do.

Your wedding photos are a physical reminder of your day so you do want these to be as good as they can be. A good wedding photographer will be able to capture all the special moments of the day and do it well.

If you are trying to save money on photography you could ask if you could have the photographer there for fewer hours, perhaps just to photograph the ceremony. Then the reception and dancing photos can be done by guests, but at least the main photos will be professional.

Backyard wedding setting - wooden tables with bohemian decor around swimming pool.


This is something to consider, especially if the wedding is in a suburban neighborhood. There may not be much parking around the venue.

See if you can find an alternative parking area for guests and let them know.


Organize a few fun games for guests to play in the backyard during the time between the ceremony and the reception.

If you’re hosting children too, a few kids activities like colouring or simple crafts will keep them entertained.

Free backyard wedding checklist

Here’s a free backyard wedding checklist! Click on the list below to take you to a printable page.

Final thoughts

Planning a wedding is long process but when it is all said and done you will have one of the greatest experiences of your life as you embark on married life with your partner.

If you are planning a backyard wedding it still comes with a lot of the same wedding planning activities you need to do at any other wedding venue.

Here we have provided you the all the knowledge and tools you need to have a successful backyard wedding.

Related reading6 Months To Plan A Wedding – Complete Guide

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