The exchange of wedding vows is one of the most important events in life. It can also be one of the most expensive. Wedding venues can range from a church social hall to an exclusive country club. A backyard wedding can be as special, romantic and intimate as you like, and it can be done on a budget.
If your ceremony is short, it is acceptable for guests to gather around and stand during this portion of the wedding. Consider seating for older relatives or others with medical conditions that preclude standing. Once the ceremony concludes, you will need tables and chairs for your guests to eat, drink and socialize. Check rental companies for pricing, and include delivery and setup charges in the budget. Before placing an order for furniture rentals, think outside the box and do a little sleuthing. Check with local churches, schools and civic clubs for tables and chairs. If you have a relationship with any of these sites, organizers might be willing to let you use tables for free providing you arrange for pickup and return.
The menu for a backyard wedding can be tailored to fit the tone you wish to set. A formal dinner is possible but will require professional catering services. Other options for a backyard event include a barbecue, cold buffet, hors d'oeuvres or a simple dessert and champagne theme. How much you feed your guests depends on the time of day and how you long you plan for the reception to last. If you are set on having a traditional wedding cake, it will serve as dessert as well as decoration. But a simple backyard wedding can forgo tradition. An array of cookies, pies or homemade desserts brought by friends and family members will keep the budget in line and offer a delicious alternative.
When the wedding venue is a backyard, floral options are endless. If time is on your side and the wedding plans are at least a year in advance, you can plant flowers that will decorate the yard as well as be cut for bouquets and centerpieces. Time of the year will be a factor, so research which flowers have a blooming season that coincides with your nuptials. If planting and cultivating your wedding flowers is not up your alley, purchase potted plants that can be planted in the yard post-wedding. These can be used to decorate guest tables as well as the aisle leading up to the ceremony location.
Decorations can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. Renting linen tablecloths and napkins is reasonable and sets the stage for elegance. If the budget allows, chair covers will heighten the formality if that is the desired look. White lights are economical and can be strung in backyard trees and bushes, under patio umbrellas and along aisles and pathways. Couple these with small votive candles on tables for a soft and romantic ambiance.
Music for a backyard wedding can range from acoustic musicians for ceremony music to a live band to tunes broadcast from an iPod. Ceremony music provided by a guitar, harp, keyboard or even bagpipes are acoustically suited to the outdoors. Ask musician friends if they are willing to provide background music for your backyard wedding. Canvass local high school and college music departments to hire music students at a reasonable cost.
Ideas for a personal memento for your wedding guests are numerous, especially for a backyard wedding theme. Packages of seeds for the same flowers used in your wedding make a special remembrance that can last for years. Consider making a donation to a local charity in the name of your guests in place of individual gifts.
Cindy Phillips began writing feature articles in 2007 with her work appearing in several regional newspapers. With more than 30 years experience in the corporate arena, her business expertise includes all aspects of marketing and management. Phillips earned a Bachelor of Arts in English education from SUNY New Paltz.