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How to Create an Intimate Backyard Wedding Reception

How to Create an Intimate Backyard Wedding Reception

bride and groom cheer as they drive away on the back of a gold cart

Intimate weddings have never been more in demand than in times like these, and backyard wedding receptions are right up there with it! While vendors are encouraging couples to consider postponing before canceling for a variety of reasons (read on here for more deets), many couples are not in a position to even consider postponement. Whether it’s a financial strain, family health, layoffs at the forefront, our hearts go out to you. And we wanted to offer encouragement today that there is a way to still experience a wedding that goes beyond the courthouse ceremony. We’ve been seeing several couples opt to wed in the comfort of their own homes, and these backyard weddings have honestly been so touching in all their personal details + intimate moments. If you’re curious about the ins and outs of an at-home wedding, especially amidst the current climate, read on for all the things you should consider and how you can make it work for you.

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Backyard Wedding Hall of Fame

1. Backyard Wedding in California with Chic Black Details
2. Contemporary Montecito Wedding at Home
3. Whimsical Backyard Wedding with Southern Charm
4. Modern Shabby Chic Wedding with Tacos and 50 Shades of Pink
5. Wooded Backyard Soiree with a Tuxedo-Wearing Alpaca

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Photo by Natalie Watson with florals by Amy Osaba at Blackberry Mountain for Goop

Backyard Wedding Reception Decor Checklist

Let’s be real. A backyard wedding reception amid Covid-19 is going to look a little bit different. Your guest count will need to stay on the smaller side, but the beauty of micro weddings is that you can indulge in so much more.

  1. Photography
  2. Meaningful Details
  3. Food & Drink

Now don’t mistake the moony, laidback vibes typically associated with backyard weddings for little responsibility or prep. If you’re going to be planning a wedding at home, there are a whole lot of things to consider. We always recommend hiring a full-service event planner to help you dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s (at the very least a day of coordinator!), but to give you an idea of exactly what you’ll want to think about, we’re gonna break it down for you from a wedding pro’s mindset…

Here we have a comprehensive starter guide on how to have a backyard wedding reception including logistics and the nitty-gritty of having a wedding at home, and follow along for how to adapt to current restrictions for a small wedding guest count.

Choosing a Wedding Dress for your Backyard Wedding

If you’re looking for a wedding dress for your backyard celebration, we have shared a list of over 50 wedding gowns under 1k that you might love and also this curated selection of 30 bold wedding dresses under $700 that can (literally) fit the bil. Casual wedding gowns don’t have to be boring NOR break your bank!

Wedding Dresses Under $700

Hire a Wedding Coordinator

The Holy Grail of wedding planning advice is this: always hire an event coordinator to keep your workload to a minimum. We know that you picked your backyard to make it easy, casual and just plain ole’ FUN! However, it takes a village and the wedding coordinator will be the ringleader. The last thing you want on your wedding day is a million phone calls from your different vendors with questions. Choose a professional wedding coordinator that can help you figure our transportation, juggling vendors and their requirements, plus the weather. There are a hundred different things to consider and having a professional wedding coordinator to handle that for you will allow that casual and cozy vibe that you’re going for.

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Photo by Sasithon Photography of The Wedding Artists Co with planning by Jove Meyer and florals by Designs by Ahn

Your Normal Routine

Okay here’s where you get to think about the most obvious considerations that are so in your face, no one ever remembers to consider them. What does a typical day at your house look like? What time do the sprinklers go on? Do you have lights automated to turn on or off at specific times of day? Do you have pool cleaning crews that come on regular schedule? Is there a school bus drop-off at a certain time of day that could interfere with an outdoor ceremony? Assign a family member who knows all of these things too to do a mental walk-through of all these considerations AGAIN on the wedding day (because you’ve already thought about this in advance and prepped accordingly, right?) to triple check that there won’t be any mishaps on the wedding day.

Event + Guest Flow

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Flower Aisle Wedding Canary Lichen Hues Backyard Wedding

One important consideration is traffic control. When choosing your locations for the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception and dancing, be sure to think about how guests are going to get from one place to the next. From ceremony to cocktail hour, you’ve got everyone rushing into the same space at once. Think about which route can accommodate the most people and have a plan in place to direct them accordingly (signage, a coordinator, a line of servers with tray-passed beverages leading the way… you do you!) It’s also worth thinking about the diversity of your guests. Do you need to prepare an alternate path for anyone in a wheelchair? What if you have an elderly family member who cannot walk too far or too quickly? Is there maybe someone you can assign to transport them by golf cart from one spot to the next? Do you have seats assigned to ensure that your loved ones will be seated at places of honor, regardless of how quickly they arrive to their seats?

massive backyard wedding in California
Luxe Backyard Wedding in California shot by Juliana Aragon Photography and planned by Jenn Robirds Events


Remember that heart-breaking moment in Father of the Bride, where George Banks is FINALLY about to eat his $200/head meal and Franck pulls him aside because the police are waiting outside for him to explain the hundreds of vehicles blocking off the residential street? Don’t let that be you. If you have more than even 15 guests attending your at-home wedding, you’ll definitely want to consider where everyone is gonna park. And also, how + when they’ll be able to leave. Is there maybe an offsite location where everyone can park, and you can hire a shuttle service to move people back and forth? Or how about a valet service where they will again, utilize an off-site parking lot. Or maybe encourage your guests to take an Uber from their hotel if everything is pretty close by. If you do opt for a shuttle service, talk to them about having regular runs back and forth from the off-site parking starting from a certain time during the reception. That way your guests have a bit more flexibility on when they can depart.

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Photo by Jérémy Ferrero with planning by Wanderlust Wedding and florals by Julie Guittard Fleuriste

In the words of Matthew McConaughey, alright, alright alright! Now that you’ve done the research, put on your planning belts and made some key decisions, I’m betting you’re readyyyyy to partayyyy. Or at least perhaps we can interest you in a backyard wedding reception playlist we whipped up for some laidback musical vibes to set the mood.

Check out our backyard reception wedding playlist here!

If you’re looking for even more planning advice, check out our best tips on curating your wedding guest list here!

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