I always knew that when we got married, it would be a backyard wedding. One of my summer jobs as a teenager was to play in a classical music string quartet, playing mainly at weddings. This experience gave me enough insight into the inner workings of wedding planning to know that dealing with renting a venue (or multiple venues) isn’t always the easiest option. I was also realistic about the costs associated with renting a venue, and decided I’d rather invest in my own property.
Our Backyard Wedding
My husband and I were married in August 2015. We hosted the wedding ourselves in the yard of our home. Our goal was to host a simple, relaxed event. Since we decided to have a big wedding, we wanted our guests to have fun! We also didn’t want to spend too long planning it (or paying for it!). Our backyard wedding ended up being kind of like a garden party or BBQ which happened to include a wedding ceremony.
I’ll eventually write a post about the details of planning and hosting a backyard wedding, but for now, here is how our own backyard wedding turned out!
We live in a small rural town where we were able to buy a family home for the price of a condo in the city. Our house is a heritage home with a large yard, full of mature trees and little perennial gardens. We are lucky to have 0.4 acres (2 city lots), which was enough to host about 100 guests. If we had a smaller yard, I would have done the same thing but just invited fewer people.
We held the wedding ceremony and reception entirely in the backyard without much of a fuss. There was even room to build a large dance floor out of plywood, which also served as a platform for the wedding ceremony. We didn’t get too fancy with the ceremony decor, as the ceremony area became the reception area immediately after the wedding ceremony finished.
The Bridal Party
One of the benefits of living in the town you grew up in is that your childhood friends stick around too! My bridesmaids were all childhood friends and family. Waredrobe-wise, we kept it simple with cotton and linen cream dresses from a regular clothing store rather than formal bridesmaid dresses. It’s way too hot outside for synthetic fabrics anyways!
As an avid gardener, I tried to add little touches of the garden wherever I could. I wore a sprig of rosemary from my garden in my hair. It complemented the dark green we used in the wedding decor and also smelled amazing!
The boys wore herb boutonnieres made by a wonderful local organic flower farmer. They also had a lovely scent and held up well throughout the day without wilting in the sun. I’m not sure that boutonnieres are entirely necessary for a wedding, but if you do have them, they don’t need to be a bunch of flowers! They can just be a few sprigs of greenery from the garden.
One of the best parts about getting married in your own backyard is that you can get ready at home without the bother of transportation. I really liked the comfort of being at home getting ready with my bridesmaids while also being able to keep an eye on the setup happening in the yard.
Check out how beautiful my bridesmaids are! They are probably smiling because I let them choose their own dresses 😉 Honestly though, I think it’s important to really consider the well-being of your wedding party and guests. If no one had any fun at my wedding, I’d rather just elope and save everyone the bother. If you’re lucky enough to have the wonderful help and support of family and friends for your wedding, treat them well!
Backyard Wedding Flowers
Our flowers were in line with the informal vibe of a backyard wedding. The bouquets were pretty wild…full of dark green foliage and simple white flowers. Everything was local and organic, which made me feel good about the footprint of our backyard wedding. I briefly considered trying to grow and collect my own bouquets, but decided that the stress was not worth it! I’m so glad I didn’t put that pressure on myself and left the flowers up to a proper flower farmer with event experience.
Wedding bouquets don’t have to be formal! I do love big, formal bouquets, but they didn’t really suit a relaxed, backyard event. These garden bouquets were far more appropriate for a welcoming gathering at home. My bridal bouquet was almost all foliage, with just a bit of Queen Anne’s Lace, some white Scabiosa, and a Cafe Au Lait Dahlia.
We did have some lovely floral touches around the house and the yard, including this foliage table runner in our office. It was made by the same organic farmer/florist who put together our wedding party flowers.
My aunts put together an absolutely stunning foliage swag for the front of our house. I LOVED it! The swag was one of my favourite little touches of the wedding. Now I put up an evergreen swag on the porch for the holidays because it reminds me of our wedding.
Backyard Wedding Ceremony
We held the ceremony in the late afternoon. It can be quite hot in our area in August, especially during mid-day, so I wanted to let the real heat of the day pass before we started the ceremony. The boys wore suits, so it was good that we didn’t hold our wedding at noon!
I wasn’t at all nervous before the wedding, and I think that half of that was because we were at home rather than in some strange place. We were in a comfortable setting surrounded by our closest family and friends (and my garden lol)…what could be better!?
Holding the wedding in the late afternoon also got rid of that weird gap between the ceremony and reception. Since we did a lot of our photos before the ceremony, we were able to start the party as soon as we walked back down the aisle.
One of the benefits of getting married outdoors is that many of the photos have a nice dark green backdrop. We chose dark green as our wedding colour because I love dark green, but also because it would be easy to coordinate. The foliage is dark green, the photo backdrops were lush greenery, and the herbs and other decor were various shades of forest green. Easy peasy!
Here’s the whole wedding party on the front steps of our house. Most of the wedding activity happened in the backyard, but we did use the front of the house for photos and as a welcome reception area when guests first arrived. In the photo above you can see the foliage swag that my aunts made! I love it still…so much.
Garden Party Food and Drink
Immediately after the ceremony, we had trays of appetizers available for guests on the deck. We set the tables up like a “Farmers Market”, with local fruit and vegetables in market boxes with little market cartons that guests could use to collect their snacks. We also had charcuterie boards of cheeses and meats to go with the wine that was served. Everything was super simple…no fancy canapés…just fruit, veggies, charcuterie meat, and cheeses.
Dinner was served informally over an hour or two. Rather than having named place settings for everyone, we just set up some long white tables where anyone could grab a bite and sit down for a few minutes. We didn’t have speeches or that sort of thing, so missing the formal dinner was a non-issue for us. We served dinner in this way to keep our backyard wedding feeling more like party than like a stuffy reception.
My aunt and my mom made a garden-themed cake for us. It was perfectly simple, with just a bit of foliage around the base and some tiny white roses on top. I completely left them up to their own devices on the cake, and am so glad I did! It was perfect.
My brother was in charge of drinks, and he did a great job. Guests had prosecco or sparkling water before the ceremony as a welcome drink, then local sparkling wine after the ceremony, followed by a selection of mostly local beers and wines for the rest of the evening. We did have a scotch bar later on in the evening, but for the most part, kept the drinks simple.
And yes, rather than having a bunch of coolers around for the drinks, my brother filled our entire hot tub with ice and bottled drinks….and it worked. It worked well!
Backyard Wedding Party!
Another fun thing was the photo backdrop. One of my lovely bridesmaids it for us out of green astroturf with white tissue paper flowers. It was off to the side, so people could take a few minutes and snap some photos. It was hilarious to see the photos on Instagram afterwards!
After dinner, we partied on the dance floor that my husband built with my dad and brother. It was nice to be outside where the air was cool and with the twinkling lights. It definitely wasn’t a fancy party, but it was the perfect backyard wedding reception for us 🙂
So there is just a little hint of what our wedding was like. Thank you to everyone who made our backyard wedding possible!
xox Mary Jane and Kyle
Vendors – Our Backyard Wedding
- Photography: Lightwell Photo
- Wedding Party Flowers: Hartwood North Organic Farm
- Wedding Cake Flowers: Armstrong Flower and Gift Shop
- Dinner Catering: The Brown Derby Cafe
- Wedding Dress: Watters
- Bridesmaid Dresses: Aritzia
- Groom’s Suit: Brooks Brothers
- Groomsmen Suits: their own
- Rentals: NorVal Rentals
- Shade Sails: Lee Valley
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