film + digital photography

How to plan a backyard wedding

Once upon a dream you watched a chick flick where they had an amazing backyard wedding full of twinkly lights, florals, and stolen kisses under the moonlight.

This movie fantasy can be a reality with the right vendor team.


Are you using your home, a family home, or renting an airbnb?

This is important to decide first because that will limit your guests, activities, and possibly different state laws.

If you are using your own property (or family home) take note of everything that needs to be done.

-Yard work
-Planting of florals for your own bouquet
-Deep cleaning the home
-Bathroom for guests
-Water + food for guests
-Table + linens + utensils + chairs
-Arch / Ceremony Unity area

If you are renting a space (like an airbnb) talk with hosts and let them know your plans. Always ask how many people you can have at the space, and what rules they would like followed.

Always be upfront and never lie to a host!

But seriously… how dreamy would a small wedding be at this Mountain Cabin!?

Rustic Mountain Side Cabin

Vendor Tips for Backyard Wedding:

Make sure to have a public space for guests, such as the bathroom, fresh water, and even a spot to put coats if the weather calls for it.

If you want to close off part of your home signs, or roping off areas is a polite way to keep guests where you want them.

Look into renting a port-a-potty. Modern trailer set ups have water access and everything handicap ready. Like these ones below..

Check out these modern trailers for a porta john

Make sure your location is easy access for vendors + guests.
Some locations will not allow for certain set ups (like a tent wedding). Others if they are on dirt roads, make sure vehicles can get down them to set up for you.

If you are planning on bringing a private chef, see if they need any equipment for cooking.
Otherwise, ask your caterer what they might need as a table to set up buffet food on.

Photography – will you be leaving the space to take photos some where else? Let’s consider any travel time in your overall timeline.

Day of Coordinator:
Highly recommend because they can do all the little details, and make sure things are set up so that you can just enjoy your day. Even small weddings take a village to put on!


You will most likely need to rent tables + chairs for your guests, and even the possibility of hiring someone to come in set up, and tear down.

Look into someone like Borrow my Vintage for getting a bunch of rentals from one vendor!

Iowa Vendor Blog Post:

You can even look into renting table cloths!

When it comes to renting decor, we can brainstorm or bring on a wedding planner.


Make sure you are planning a back up plan for weather!
It can rain, or be extremely hot.

-Rent an industrial AC unit if having a outdoor summer wedding
-Blankets for guest gifts
-Basket of flip flops for dancing in the yard
-Spot indoors incase of rain
-Tent area for indoor / outdoor use
-Dance floor
-Fire pit (make sure you Leave No Trace and drown any fires after your done!)


Backyard Wedding Timeline:

How about a sample timeline to get your creative juices flowing?

8:00 am – Wake up + Coffee together
9:00 am – Start Hair + Makeup
10:00 am – Board games with friends + family
11:00 am – Brunch
12:00 pm – First look of Ceremony Spaces
1:00 pm – First look as a glammed up couple
2:00 pm – Family Photos
3:00 pm – Friends and/or Wedding Party Photos
4:00 pm – Activity as a Couple (Hiking, Photo op with their Dog, Roam around town, Additional Creative Portraits)
5:00 pm – Ceremony
5:30 pm – Cocktail Hour with Guests
6:00 pm – Sunset Photos as a married couple
7:00 pm – Dinner
8:00 pm – Dancing
9:00 pm – S’mores + Campfire
10:00 pm – Mingling with Guests
11:00 pm – Guests Leave

Backyard Wedding Decor Ideas:

Small weddings are perfect for going more all out with a creative invite, or decor.

Here are a few ideas:

-Tent Wedding
-Large Floral arrangements
-Blanket bin for guest gifts
-Campfire + S’more kit
-Large Arm chairs
-Cocktail area
-Styled Invite seating chart
-Ceiling Floral Decor

Legal things that come with a Backyard Wedding:

Depending on what state you want to get married in you will need witnesses + someone ordained to sign your marriage license. (Again state depending, each have different rules, look into your own state)

Some couples may choose to get the legal paperwork out of the way before their backyard ceremony. This ensures they don’t have to worry about mailing anything back, or forgetting to sign something!

You may also need to purchase additional insurance to host an event.

Is your home part of a HOA? Check with your home owners insurance!

Safety! Is your home set up for children? It’s okay to make your wedding adult only, just set expectations so that no one gets hurt at your wedding.

ALSO – consider gifting your neighbors a “thanks for your patience we will be done by X hour”


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We help quirky and untraditional couples find joy and adventure on their special days by providing passionate and wild photography that captures the big moments of loveā€¦ and all the little candid ones in between.


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