Backyard weddings happen to be one of our all-time favorite celebrations. Familiar spaces and the great outdoors make for unforgettable soirées. But how, exactly, do you successfully plan and execute a backyard wedding? Today we’re breaking down everything you need to know about planning a beautiful backyard bash to celebrate your nuptials. Read on for our top tips...and get ready to plan a backyard wedding to pure perfection.

1. Bring on a Pro from the Get-Go


Oftentimes, when people opt to say I Do in a familiar backyard, they assume (because of the familiarity and intimacy of the venue, along with a smaller guest list) that they can get away with planning the entire soirée on their own. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The logistics involved with planning a backyard wedding call for the help of a professional wedding planner. We recommend bringing one on from the get-go to help you get an honest feel for what’s possible in your outdoor space and what’s not. You don’t want to get months into the planning process only to realize your neighborhood doesn’t allow that food truck you booked or that your home isn’t going to be able to power all of those marquee lights you’re dreaming about.

2. Start Planting and Prepping


One of the very first things you should do when you plan a backyard wedding is get a solid gardening timeline going. If you envision getting married in front of a potting bed full of tulips, you’ll need to work backwards from the week you want them to bloom in order to figure out when to plant the bulbs. If you don’t quite have a green thumb, you may want to consult a local nursery and hire them to help. Think through your entire backyard space and garden area, and consider exactly what you’ll want it to look like on the day-of. Then, work backwards from the date of your wedding to create a timeline so you know when to plant what in order to bring your vision to lush, lovely fruition.


Pro Tip: Do your best to keep any dogs off the grass in the weeks leading up to your wedding—you don’t want unsightly yellow spots on your lawn on the day-of or, worse, holes if your pup is a digger. You can also try grass-saver and dig-deterrent products from a local pet store if keeping your pooch off the lawn prior to your nuptials is purely impossible.

3. Plan for Weather


As with any outdoor wedding, you’ll want to talk to your planner about weather woes. Even if you’re getting married in sunny Southern California, don’t skip this step. What happens if you get rain at the last minute, or if the winds pick up and make eating dinner outdoors impossible? Do you want to bring in a tent just in case or have a backup indoor venue secured? These are all considerations to go over with your planner well in advance.

4. Don’t Forget the Logistics


Lighting, electricity, bathrooms, parking, noise restrictions—the logistical list is long (as in really, really long) when you plan a backyard wedding. Again, this is where a professional planner comes in. You’ll need to consider everything from having backup generators on-hand to bringing in outdoor bathrooms for your guests if you don’t want them traipsing through the home to use the restroom. Parking is especially important when it comes to backyard weddings. Is there a nearby park or public area where you can have guests meet and hop on a shuttle bus to the home where the ceremony is being held? Chances are, your neighborhood doesn’t have room for 50+ vehicles parked on your street—make parking, shuttle, and/or valet arrangements ahead of time (and clearly communicate these details on your wedding website).

5. Be a Good Neighbor


Last but not least, this one is a biggie. If you live in a gated community or HOA, you’ll definitely need to look into the rules regarding what your neighborhood does and doesn’t allow when it comes to parties (this includes any noise restrictions). Beyond that, though, you’ll want to let your neighbors know well in advance that you’re hosting a wedding. Don’t have time to stop and chat with every single neighbor? Spend a day dropping off sweet treats (think: plate of cookies) along with a note detailing your event and what they can expect on each neighbor’s doorstep. Be accommodating and kind, and, if you’re feeling extra generous, invite them to stop by for a cocktail or two during the reception.

Photos courtesy wedding photographer Cara Robbins

Santa Barbara wedding planner Wild Heart Events