Having a backyard wedding was truly the best thing we could have done. I never would have guessed or planned for that to be our wedding venue, but after searching all of the venues in LA and surrounding, cost wise, nothing made sense for our budget and it didn’t feel like us. Insert my cousins.
They are incredible, they’ve been married for almost 20 years and when they bought their current home, they hosted a wedding there and I just remember thinking, their backyard is so bomb. Fast forward to February 2019 after all of my searching, I was like alright, the house has to be it. We went right around dawn, the sun was setting and I just remember feeling like “this is it”. My cousins are so sweet they just kept telling us we could do what we wanted and I remember how romantic, but sexy it felt and I knew then that we were going to be having a backyard wedding. All of that said, let’s get into 6 tips for having your dream backyard wedding.
Backyard weddings can be so amazing when the space is utilized properly. I also understand that this is contingent on the size of the backyard, but if the option is there, it must be a decent size. Creating zones really broke the venue up and made it feel like you could do a bunch of different things at once.
Our zones were seating and tables immediately upon entrance, the tables framed an area that has an in ground trampoline and because we didn’t want people in the bushes or on the dirt they walked in on, we managed to make 13 tables fit in that space. A mix of rounds and banquets which also helped make that zone work.
To the right of that was zone 2 where the DJ, Water activation and Bar #1 were. Then it went Donuts, which was really it’s own corner; bar #2 which also held down it’s section. Cake was on the putting green and then all of our food was on the basketball court. So the size of the backyard definitely helped make this achievable, but I loved the flow and space the yard gave by creating these zones. The area where we had our ceremony became the dance floor and free space. There was enough to do, enough space and it was just perfect.
Play Up the Scenery and Greenery for your Backyard Wedding
No backyard is the same, but if you do plan to, or at least have the option of a backyard wedding, play up the nature that’s back there. Our original wedding colors were black, emerald green and chartreuse. Once we saw the backyard, I was like oh let’s skip the colors and just do black and ivory because the backyard was so green. The entire yard was turf, they have beautiful palm trees, a whole pool and landscaped side mountain and they had full bushes and pampas grass. I didn’t want overwhelm our guests with even more green so I was like, we’re not doing any additional green at all outside of our flower wall.
That made everything more simple, more modern, and fresh and when I envisioned our photos, it only made sense that less was more. They came out better than I could have imagined.
A backyard wedding requires you to bring things in. We brought in EVERYTHING for our wedding. Porta Potties, valet parking, lighting, heat lamp, pillows, liquor, everything you can think of we brought in. That tends to be super overwhelming for people, but we actually did so good especially as far as our budget was concerned. My biggest piece of advice is to research your vendors; deep dive into their work and pay attention to deals, ask questions, just really go advocate for yourself. I had booked most of my vendors by the time I hired my month of planner, if you have no desire to do it, for sure let your planner do it.
I considered 4 or 5 rental places before choosing MTB Rentals. Talk about bang for your buck, they were easily the best decision we made. We personally wanted and had all black vendors which an exception of 3 and that was hard to find initially. I’m glad I took my time and didn’t settle, whatever you do, don’t settle. Ask the hard questions, take advantage of deals and discounts when they offer them and be clear about what you want. We ended up being so blessed by our vendors, most regularly work together and it just seemed like from there, everything effortlessly fell into place.
As far as where to look for vendors, your sites like TheKnot or Wedding Wire are great options, but because those are profiles, I feel like it’s less interaction. I joined a Wedding Facebook group and there I could interact with vendors who were also in the group, it’s where I found our videographers, it was just a huge help. The venues I came across, parks, and outdoor estates etc., it is a wealth of info. There may be groups specific to your location, but all of it is helpful.
Don’t Max Out on Space
This isn’t to say don’t have a huge wedding, especially if you have a huge backyard, but leave some space for nothing if that makes sense. If it was up to my husband we would have had an extra 150 people there and who those people were, I don’t know, but there was no need to max out on space. We had 125 people and the yard still felt spacious enough without feeling crammed or crowded and that really makes for a wonderful backyard wedding experience.
The space where my ceremony was, became open and it’s where people took pictures, the space in front of the pool was open, their home is just incredible really, but had we put a bunch of stuff in those spaces to me it would have felt cluttered and would have added more work to the quick flip. Our transition from ceremony to cocktail hour and then reception was so good.
Play Up Unique Elements for your Backyard Wedding
Our venue had a pool with a waterfall and slide, a half basketball court and an inground trampoline. Instead of trying to find a way to remove those things, how can you use them to make your event more “special”? Once the catering and food was gone, some of my friends and my cousin we’re shooting hoops, yes in their dress clothes and suits, but why not? Why not let that be something that was memorable and fun for them; I mean my cousin does have a Space Jam half court, which is pretty cool. The trampoline, I wanted to do everything in my power to cover it up and initially nobody know it’s there, but instead we made it a spot for late night chills and fun. Covered it with oversized blankets, pillows and rose petals and wow what a hit that was.
I didn’t think it would go over so great, but literally when I look back on wedding pictures and even my own visit to the trampoline showed me how much fun my friends had with it and for that I’m grateful. All of these years waiting for my dream wedding as a former event planner and it was so worth the wait and so perfectly us. If you would have told me I was having a backyard wedding years ago I might have laughed. Now I’m like “who is spending money on a venue? Let me get a backyard”.
Use Side Gates for Access
Unless the house is vacant, you might be saying duh, but when we originally started planning we were going to have everyone come through the house and like rope off the house which in the end sounded crazy and people just had no reason to be in the house at all especially if they weren’t going to be using any of the restrooms.
That left us with 2 entrances on each side of the house that worked for bringing in tables and chairs because they didn’t have to come all the way across the yard. Similar to our caterer, they used the other side entrance and didn’t have to trek across the yard to set up. Our goal for our backyard wedding was wow factor because naturally if you’re driving a distance and/or if the bride has been mum about details, you kind of hope it’s worth the drive. Don’t lie.
Our guests were able to use one side for getting to the restroom and the other to go out front. It really created such a nice flow. If you have the access and enough space, definitely use side entrances.
Overall, having a backyard wedding really allowed us to do the most with our budget. We did have some things gifted to us which helped with cutting costs, but I literally do not regret a single cent that was spent. It will always have been worth it to me. For more wedding posts click below.