How To Plan A Small Backyard Wedding

6 min read Apr 21, 2021

Small Backyard Wedding

A small backyard wedding still requires big plans.

If you and your partner love the great outdoors, then a small backyard wedding could be a pretty perfect way to celebrate your union. While stress may not be entirely unavoidable, backyard weddings are still all sorts of wonderful because they’re beautifully intimate, and you’ll be surrounded by a small group of people you love the most. Whether you’re aiming for a small event to dial down the fanfare or you’re simply keeping a keen eye on your budget, a small backyard wedding could be the answer.

Backyard weddings may sound effortless and laid back, but make no mistake, they still require plenty of planning and forethought. Ahead will take an in-depth look at small backyard weddings and walk you through some crucial steps to help you plan the wedding of your dreams.

Small Backyard Wedding

Benefits of a small backyard wedding

Less expensive

It’s hard to argue that one of the biggest benefits of a small backyard wedding is that they’re less expensive. Without the hassle of footing a hefty bill for a lavish venue, caterers to feed a small army, and all the bells and whistles that come with a big event, you’ll likely save a considerable amount should you opt for an intimate outdoor event.

More flexibility

Planning small weddings often offer couples a little more flexibility when it comes to the date and time of their nuptials. If you wanted to have a brunch wedding or an early afternoon wedding and serve lunch, you could easily do so with a small event in your backyard. Additionally, small backyard weddings eliminate any potential issues that come along with peak wedding season or weekends.

Small Backyard Wedding

Intimate guest lists

Intimate guest lists are another wonderful aspect of a small wedding. With a small backyard wedding, you and your partner can make mindful decisions about who’s in attendance when you exchange your I do’s. Moreover, a shortened guest list often allows you to spend more quality time with your guests, and there will be plenty of breathing room to take it all in and enjoy the day.

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Sentimental value

Choosing to have a small wedding in the backyard of the home you grew up in is pretty special. Not only is that location filled with memories of days gone by, but now you can add one of the most special days of your life to the list.


Small Backyard Wedding

Pet friendly

And last but certainly not least, with backyard weddings, pets are always welcome. Whether you refer to them as your best friend or your fur baby, your dog or cat (or goldfish) can also be part of the festivities in the backyard.

Small Backyard Wedding

Planning tips for a small backyard wedding

While small weddings can be low-key, low stress, and possibly land on the low end of your budget, there still plenty to do to ensure that things go off without a hitch. If you’re not planning on hiring outside help to coordinate the day’s events, then the logistics are likely on you, your partner, and anyone else that loves you enough to get roped in.

Set up

While having a small backyard wedding sounds easy enough, it’s important to remember that there is still a slew of little details that must be taken care of prior to the big day. Two such details are yard maintenance and event setup. Landscapers, for example, must be booked pretty far in advance, particularly in the summer and spring, which is prime time for these businesses. In fact, it’s not uncommon for landscapers to be booked out as far as three months. Even if you choose to skip the landscaping, you’ll likely still have to cut the grass and maybe trim back a hedge or two in the week leading up to the event.


The great thing about a small backyard wedding is that nature essentially provides most of the decor. Even without landscaping, an outdoor wedding opens up a world of possibilities; the trees, grass, and existing foliage will often provide a beautiful setting on their own. While you can certainly add dramatic centerpieces, you can skip them just the same without missing a beat. You can choose colors that complement the outdoor scenery or add bold pops of color with the linens, the accent decor, the flowers, or your bridesmaid’s dresses.

Small Backyard Wedding

Consult with your chosen officiant

Although times are changing, some ministries still don’t recognize marriages that occur outside of the church; therefore, the religious officiant you had in mind may have their hands tied both legally and ethically. If your chosen officiant cannot perform your ceremony, you’ll have to go to plan B. In this case, you’ll probably need to get a friend or family member ordained, which could take some time (in some cases up to two weeks). Of course, you don’t want any surprises as your big day approaches, so do your best to hash out this important detail well beforehand.

Restroom accommodations

Most couples who choose to do a small backyard wedding will likely just assume that that bathroom inside their home should suffice. For a guest list with 20 guests or fewer, that might work, but if your list rounds out at 50 or so guests, you may want to consider adding additional facilities.

Fifty people using the bathroom inside the home quickly add up to a lot of foot traffic over a few hours, not to mention it could be taxing on the plumbing. And of course, there’s always murphy’s law to contend with — what happens if the toilet suddenly stops flushing or the pipes get backed up, yikes. A portable toilet might be one of those things that you just can’t skip.

Beyond the question of whether or not you should even rent a portable toilet, there’s always the question of placement. Ideally, you should work out well in advance where the toilet will be located. Look for an out-of-the-way spot that’s easily accessible, and stay away from tables (obviously) and high traffic areas to keep things flowing.

Small Backyard Wedding

Power and lighting

If you think the party will go on well into the night, remember that you’ll need additional lighting. And don’t forget that food service and entertainment may tax the home’s existing power as well. To avoid any surprises, you might want to consider a backup generator; be sure to talk to caterers and DJs in advance so you can plan accordingly.

Also, don’t forget about keeping your guests comfortable. A small backyard wedding with a gorgeous backdrop of beautiful fall colors may sound delightful, but you’ll have to figure out a way to keep your guests warm when evening temperatures begin to drop. Likewise, fans may be necessary if you’re nuptials take place in the warm summer months.


Permits for a small backyard wedding

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but a private backyard with guests in attendance may require a permit or two.
Your local fire department might require permits if you have party tents (temporary structures) or open flames (think candles and chafing dishes). Additionally, fire marshalls may schedule a visit on the day of your event. They’ll likely check to make sure that exits are clearly marked and that fire extinguishers are available and accessible. Every county is different, so your search for more information should probably begin with your county website.

Small Backyard Wedding

Be a good neighbor

Remember that whether you have 15 guests or 50, that still amounts to a lot of traffic and parked cars in your neighborhood. Ideally, you’ll want to let your neighbors know as soon as possible; this gives them plenty of time to make alternate arrangements for themselves and plan ahead.

Small Backyard Wedding

Have a backup plan

All the pre-planning in the world cannot save you when the weather decides to go rogue. So, for any outside event, one of the most important things you can have is a backup plan. The best rule of thumb is to plan for sunshine and whether it’s moving the party inside or having tents in place, have a Plan B. With enough forethought, your backup plan can be just as beautiful, and staying one step ahead won’t leave you feeling like the day was upended.

Small Backyard Wedding

Small backyards weddings are supremely intimate and endlessly beautiful. While they may seem like a cakewalk compared to traditional weddings, the truth is they still require a good deal of planning. From permits to generators and from landscaping to extra toilets, there are plenty of boxes to check off, so try to be as organized as possible and stay one step ahead. Also, it would serve you well to remember that certain things are beyond your control. Keep an open mind, stay nimble, and always, always, have a plan B.

Written by Janessa White

Janessa White is the co-founder of Simply Eloped and has helped thousands of couples plan elopements. As an expert in the field, she has been featured on Martha Stewart,, Vox, and HuffPost. Janessa thinks elopements are the ultimate way to tie the knot.