How to plan a Backyard wedding – Backyard Wedding Guide

If you are planning your ceremony and reception at the back of a garden, here are some tips for you! Wether you are planning a Backyard Wedding, here is a helpful guide to assist you in this amazing time of wedding planning!

There is a certain charm that comes along with planning a backyard wedding that grants it with the  homely essence of a special event. Backyard weddings are so unique  and magical! If the wedding is happening at your childhood home or your parents backyard,  the familiarity of having your celebration at such a special location can make for a more relaxed you! Here are a few tips to keep in mind for those thinking about hosting a wedding in their backyard.

What do you need for a small backyard wedding?

 Before anything else you will need to find where it is going to take place! If you are here it most likely means you have a place in mind already! Is it going to be at yours or a friend’s home? 
If you are planning to ask a family member, friend or neighbor to use their backyard, make sure who will be in charge of hosting the event. If you are hosting on their property and need some indoor access, a plan needs to be laid out .
Consider the logistics below and have clear communication on the boundaries and requests to use their property.

How to budget for a backyard wedding?

One of the Pros of having a backyard wedding is that it might help stretch your budget by not having to rent a venue (unless you do rent a garden!) . That being said, backyard weddings can cost just as much as venue weddings!  Backyard weddings are still a favorite plan for some couples because they can be flexible and more purposeful in what they want to do for their wedding day. For many of these couples the location also holds a big significance in their relationship and this big day! 

The cost of a backyard wedding will depend on three main things : the guest count, the catering and the rentals.   

An average budget for the cost of a backyard wedding is around $16000 for 30 or more guests (Source: Business Insider

How do you make a backyard wedding feel elegant?

Planning a casual but elegant backyard wedding can be truly memorable!  Having the ability to include more decorations and be very purposeful with the theme of your wedding is how you can make a backyard wedding feel elegant.   


Finding a theme for your wedding from the start can make decisions and planning easier. If you want to be a more laid back simple theme for your backyard wedding, that’s ok! I had a couple do the “Summer in Minnesota” for their Minnetonka Backyard wedding and it was incredibly fun!

The wedding could be something close to your heart like our traveling adventures together, or you could go for the vibe you want to have like “elegant” and “garden party”. This theme involves the different elements in your day such as the food, accessories, style of your attire, and of course the decorations.
Other popular themes for backyard weddings are “casual” , “rustic”  or “romantic” 


Create your Team

Create a solid team of people you are excited to work with for your backyard wedding, this will make your day go easier!


Find someone that will be great a match for your personalities and a great experience for your guests.  Judge Tom is one of my favorites in MN! 


Finding a local wedding photographer that is able to create fun, memorable and high quality photos of your day should be one of the priorities.


Consider having a planner or coordinator for the day and make sure you have laid out plans for what other help will be needed for the day. You might need someone to grill, to bartend and to serve, unless you will have everything set out in a buffet style. 


A florist and decorator will be able to help you set up a gorgeous scene, as well as help you follow your theme and vibe!


Besides reception music, adding a string quartet or other beautiful music during your ceremony is a great tasteful option.


Before the night ends, you will need to make sure you have a clean-up plan. You can make sure to have some volunteers from your immediate family, but depending on the size of your wedding guest list, the task of clean up might be a lot more than your family can handle. 

Clean-up crew, catering, bartenders and other vendors to help setup and serve are also something you can have in mind.


Figure out your Attire

I could write a whole blog about your wedding outfits, but the main thing you want to consider here is the theme and the elements. Yes! The weather. Pick something breathable, and that lets you move with ease.
Besides going with your theme, your attire will also reflect a bit of your personality and your overall vibe. Suggesting an attire for your guests helps to set the mood for the day as well, many opt for “casual”, but have fun if you like! Inviting your guests to a “cocktail” party , or “garden party” inspired wedding can result in wonderful guest photos!
When talking about attire, let us not forget about a pair of comfortable shoes you can change to, and if your wedding is between April-May,  rain boots might not be a bad idea.

Personalize your Wedding ceremony

Making your ceremony truly yours by adding something unique or alternative to your relationship. Saying your vows in is a big part of your ceremony, and you can also think of having a meaningful unity ceremony .


Think of your guests comfort and entertainment

From having backyard games to cocktail tables around for your guests to set their drinks, thinking of your guests experience will assure you provide them a wonderful time.

You can also prepare to keep your guests comfortable in all weather scenarios. Whether is blankets for the colds, fans for the heat or even flip flops. Sometimes umbrellas work wonderfully for both rain and sunshine!  For  the beautiful Midwest Summer nights, you will want to make sure to hand out insect repellent and sunscreen for your guests.

Backyard games go hand in hand with coolers of icy water, if you ask me. My favorite games are the giant jenga, bean bags and anything peculiar that I haven’t seen before. 

Cocktail Hour

Some of my favorite cocktail hour photos are from backyard wedding photos or outdoor wedding venues. The timing usually is right around when the golden hour starts and is a great photo opportunity and a relaxing time for all. The high energy around the ceremony is over and people want to party!

Your Decorations

Decorations absolutely depend on your style (and budget!) but here is where I love the potential in a backyard wedding. All I can think about to start is Florals! Include flowers, please! A garden or a backyard isn’t a garden without flowers and they are always a timeless decoration that can elevate your event.

Many people think only about Tabletops but having a guest book table with a few personal things to your relationship can be both purposeful and beautiful!

Cute signs to help guest flow are a beautiful way to personalize your backyard wedding! 


Backyard Wedding Ideas

Jumping into Pinterest is both a great and bad idea when you start planning, because you will have so many great ideas! (but you will also have so many great ideas!)  I suggest grabbing just a couple of magazines before your dive in the big world of Pinterest. 

Once you and your partner have a feeling for your style, pick a few words that will go with you and then start pinning. Having a realistic idea of what you can do by yourself or rent through a service is best.

Setting the Ceremony

Picking the spot where you will stand to share your vows, and be declared a couple! Some people opt for an arch while some get a lot more creative with trees or flowers, or parts of the already existing nature.

Clear tent

I usually suggest my couples to stay away from trends, and choose more timeless decoration. That being said, clear tents are some of my absolute favorites.


A decorative arch is a great way to add to your ceremony! 


Rentals Checklist

If I had to pick three, the most important items you will need are the chairs, tabletop (everything to eat) and production (sound/light) . You might or not need a lot of items for your backyard wedding, even if you don’t rent everything here is a complete checklist!  

Rentals you’ll need for a backyard wedding:

  • Tent
  • Overhead Tent Decor
  • Power Generators
  • Climate control (heaters/fans) 
  • Ceremony Arch
  • Ceremony Decor
  • Ceremony & Dining Chairs
  • Dinner Tables
  • Table Runners, Linens and Napkins
  • Centerpiece Vases
  • Table Decor
  • Place Settings
  • Cocktail Tables
  • Serving Tables
  • Gifts Table
  • Guest Book Table
  • Dessert Table
  • Bar (s) 
  • Dance Floor
  • Lighting/ Sound Equipment
  • Catering Equipment 
  • Lounge Vignettes
  • Backyard Entertainment/games
  • Trash and recycling bins
  • Portable Restrooms


Logistics of Backyard Weddings

Safety and Exits

The space where you will have your wedding should be ample and easy to access ! Safety is crucial with a wedding that’s held in the backyard, especially when it comes to liabilities. There has to be a clear flow of people to arrive and leave, and there has to be a way to safely exit without getting hurt. 
Consider walking around the space and make notes of possible holes or hazards that could make someone fall, specially elderly or young guests. 


Having a plan for weather should be very high up there in the list of priorities for any wedding, but especially important if you are having a wedding outdoors and if you are planning it on your own. After picking a date that works for you and your boo, start with researching the historical weather for that date and decide on a plan for bad weather case scenarios.  


A tent is one of the best ways to have a backup plan in case the weather doesn’t cooperate! Both in cases of rain or heat, having a tent is useful for coverage. Installing a tent requires a  lot more work than you would think.  Plan to set up the tent to one side of the backyard and make sure it provides enough coverage. Renting from professional and well reviewed Wedding rental vendors will make your day a lot easier! 


Lighting plays a tremendous role when it comes to a backyard wedding! I discuss natural light below, when you start to plan the timeline (long story short: the sun matters!) but it is also very important to think about the darkness. The lighting is going to create an easy boundary of where the celebrations are happening, and add to the ambiance and photos! Fairy lights, string lights, luminaries and led candles are some of my favorite decorations to see on backyard weddings.


Portable restrooms are a clear necessity, to avoid having people saturate the doors and go inside/outside too long. Consider looking for more beautiful bathrooms that are usually a very well decorated trailer (some are even heated) .

Indoor access

In some cases, you will have an indoor/outdoor combination setting for your event. Most times, there is a house to use for getting ready, preparing food and even restrooms. It can be very helpful to lay out a flow plan on how to  move traffic in and out of the backyard. Planning how you want to use the backyard and the house is great way to respect your host.   


The best part of a backyard wedding is that you can have the fridge full of your favorite drinks and you can use any catering you want! 

The food can be catered, or food trucks ordered. I have noticed an incredibly funner guest experience when there is a food truck and even more with deserts.

Check out these fun options to bring the party to your backyard:

  • MN Nice ice cream!

  •  Food trucks

Neighborhood considerations

Make sure to check with your town or city about any regulations on noise, curfew, parking, lighting or permit regulations that may apply to your wedding event. Make sure to plan the party around those rules !  

In that same note, let your neighbors know with plenty of anticipation about the event, especially if your property is in an area with limited parking. 


Backyard Wedding Timeline Suggestions

The time of your ceremony and lighting

The time and placement you hold your outdoor wedding ceremony is one of the biggest elements to consider! You want to make sure to google the sunset time on your wedding day and plan for when the sun is lower in the sky and truly analyze the placement of the ceremony setup . This will be important for  both your ceremony photos and your guest experience.
Ideally,  the sun would be in front or directly behind the ceremony setup, so either West or East . There is an app called Lumos I use to plan the placement of the sun. Make sure to get it or have something similar if you are planning for a different time of the year.
 The least ideal setup is when the sun is coming from the side and can cause some sort of split lighting situation. This means one of you will be in the lights and  your spouse will be in the light (or opposite) . Ceremony photos in these cases are a little trickier! 

Here is a simple timeline example considering the time of year and sunset time:

Planning your ceremony around sunset is the best idea, here is a  timeline for 9 PM Sunset in Minneapolis 

10:00 Start Getting Ready!

1:00 Getting Ready Photos

2:30 First look/ Couple Photos

4:00 Family Photos 

5:00 Ceremony

5:30 Cocktail Hour

6:30 Dinner

7:30 Toasts

7:45 Sunset Photos 

8:00 First Dances

8:15 Open Dance 



What is the best month for an outdoor wedding in Minnesota?

 Weather wise, the nicest outdoor wedding season in Minnesota spans from from mid May to late September.  “Make sure you have a viable rain/extreme weather backup plan.” says Reena, Minnesota wedding planner . Weather in Minnesota can change very quickly so having a plan for different weather conditions is very important. Think not only about rain, but also about high humidity and strong winds.

Last thoughts on Planning Backyard weddings

Backyard weddings can be a lot of fun when they’re planned with purpose. Have fun planning and take a step back when feeling overwhelmed. You will create a memorable day and will be so happy to enjoy it with your favorite people !   Want to make your backyard wedding even more special to who you are as a couple? Check out my guide on unique wedding ideas!

2024 copyright laura alpizar photography | MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55401  | WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS MPLS  UPDATED 7/13/2024