Tips for planning your backyard outdoor wedding from a photographers perspective

May 04, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Outdoor backyard weddings are awesome!
As a wedding photographer who really enjoys taking candid photos, I have always liked taking pictures at backyard weddings. I think this is because usually the vibe of the crowd attending these types of events seems to be little more laid back than that which takes place at traditional indoor wedding venues.  Why does this matter? Think of it this way. When you are celebrating your biggest moments in life with your closest family and friends at your own home you and your guests may behave a little differently than you would in a restaurant or other public venue. People tend to relax and enjoy themselves in familiar surroundings. Sometimes this translates into unexpected dives into a swimming pool, impromptu karaoke contests or setting off fireworks from your backyard. This is the recipe for the capture of truly awesome candid photos! 

 Finding an available event venue that is open for booking can be a challenge here in NC especially throughout the months of May -October.  Why spend hours searching all over town for the perfect wedding venue when the best spot to get married might be in your own backyard or nearby park?  A great lawn, sandy beach, local park or a backyard garden can serve as a fantastic space for holding your outdoor wedding and reception. If you're the do it yourself type, the creative possibilities can seem endless due to the money you are saving and the flexibility you may gain with being able to truly personalize your day. However, just keep in mind that this means that since your wedding is completely DIY there is going to be a bit more of a workload involved when planning the logistics such as caterers and entertainment. With this idea in mind here are a few tips you can use if you are loving the idea of an outdoor backyard wedding (like me!)…


Set a budget and stick to it

With a backyard wedding, you are going to need to rent all kinds of things. From tables, chairs, tents, dance floor, bathrooms, lighting and sound equipment to coffee machines, table linens and much more. On top of that, you probably want to decorate your ceremony and reception location with all kinds of things from candles to flowers.
The good thing is that since your getting married in your backyard or other outdoor location, you’ve already saved quite a bit of money by not renting out a formal event venue and you can now afford to not skimp on the quality of the aforementioned items listed above. Make a master list of all of the things you’ll need to ensure that your wedding will truly be special and enjoyable for you and your guests. Prioritize what things are the most important and purchase or book the rental of these items first.


Hire Professionals 

 A professional DJ can make all the difference in setting the right tone (haha!) to the general ambiance felt throughout your wedding day. Of course, it’s fine to DIY this but it’s really nice to have someone else in charge of your wedding day playlist then choosing one of your guests to be responsible for your music. If you choose to DIY the music played during your ceremony then make sure that you’ve got enough extension cords to plug in an amplifier. Bonus tip, if your ceremony spot is located too far away from a plug then consider renting a power generator or using a Bluetooth powered speaker to play your music.
Hiring a professional caterer is definitely something that I recommend! Your wedding day will be much less stressful and you won’t have to ask your family to make food, or your wedding party to participate in dishing out food. Caterers also set up and tear down their setups themselves and have a team of people that will help serve food, keep pans full and coordinate the dinner serving time.


Have a backup plan within back up plans

Here in North Carolina unpredictable weather is the norm especially in spring and fall when the weather here can change in an instant. Having a backup plan for the possibility of inclement weather is essential! Make sure you have a place for your guests to go if there is rain. This location could inside an event tent or another venue entirely if your home cannot accommodate the number of guests attending your wedding. By the way, as a photographer I LOVE taking wedding reception photos inside event tents. The sloped white tent ceiling acts like a light diffuser that reflects the light from my cameras flash quite nicely resulting in exceptionally great wedding photos!
Another good idea is to purchase a large case of tea light candles that you can place on your tables just in case of a power outage. These small candles could prove to be an invaluable source of light if your power goes out and as a bonus, these sweet little candles are delightfully romantic and can be used as decoration to light up your evening once the sun goes down.


Make arrangements for the care of your furry friends

Hire a dog sitter or consider dropping off your pup to a doggy day care if your unable to trust that your dog will be comfortable with so many people going in and out of your house on your wedding day. If your dog is the life of the party at your wedding reception then just make sure that you’ve got a close friend or family member designated ahead of time who could take over the duties of feeding your dog and taking him/her out for a walk when it’s business time.


Parking strategy

 If you’ve got a large backyard or are getting married on a large estate or farm, you may have ample parking for your guests.  Be aware that parking may become a problem if you are getting married in a common residential neighborhood with only double car driveways or narrow streets. Make sure to check with any businesses or nearby churches or parks to see if your guests can park there. You will also want to make sure guests are aware of any parking rules in your neighborhood such as where no parking signs are located or if there are restrictions during certain time frames. If parking anywhere nearby is not going to be possible and you are looking for a large guest list, you may want to hire someone to act as a shuttle driver between a parking location and your home. Don’t forget that Uber or Lyft may be a viable option for your guests too!  

Check out these pics from a few outdoor & backyard wedding days that I have photographed this past year. I think you’ll agree that there is indeed, no place like home!

The Plunge wedding photography portraitThe Plunge wedding photography portraitA bride and groom fall back into a swimming pool in a trash- the- dress session at their reception.
To find out more of how this shot was taken please visit..
To check out the rest of the gallery for this image visit http:/ / sallysiko. zenfolio. com/ p585754492
One second afterOne second afterA second after hitting the water, a bride and groom who took the plunge

To find out more of how this shot was taken please visit..
To check out the rest of the gallery for this image visit http:/​/​sallysiko.​zenfolio.​com/​p585754492

If you have any questions please contact me anytime!

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