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Photo by Stacy Hedman
Getting married in your own backyard has so many benefits – no venue costs, you can pick whichever date you want, and it’s totally personal and unique. However, planning a backyard wedding is quite different than planning a wedding at a hotel, country club, or other venue, so we rounded up our top tips for putting together a fabulous backyard wedding.
Know the Rules Your town or county may have rules and regulations when it comes to hosting a wedding at home – from noise ordinances to parking permits, you may have some paperwork to fill out! Call your town or county office to find out what’s needed – or hire a wedding planner with experience in this area to help you navigate the procedure.
Have a Plan B Even if you live an area with amazing weather, we hate to break it to you, but it may rain on your wedding day. Whether it’s moving the celebration inside your house or erecting a tent, you’ll need to make sure you have a clear plan for bad weather. Also make sure that you have climate control – heaters, fans, air conditioners, etc. so that everyone is comfortable.
Avoid a Bathroom Crisis If you’re hosting more than just a few guests, we recommend bringing in bathroom trailers. While you may think your home bathroom can handle all of the, er, traffic, if something goes awry, it will be a major issue.
Consider the Kitchen Sure, you may have been able to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 20 in your kitchen but a full wedding meal with cocktail hour for 150 guests? That may be more than your kitchen can handle. Consult your caterer about this one – they may need to create an outdoor kitchen to prep your wedding meal.
Prep the Yard You’ll want to make sure that your backyard is in good shape for your wedding day. The lawn should be mowed, leaves raked, and any insect situation under control well in advance of your wedding day.
Check out some of our favorite backyard wedding décor ideas here!
Photo by Jonathan Young Weddings
Figuring out where your guests will sit is an important part of wedding planning. Once you have all of your RSVPs and know exactly who’s attending your wedding, you can start creating a seating plan. Here are a few of our top tips!
Assign Tables This is a wedding, not a high school cafeteria! Even if you’re hosting a laid-back and casual wedding, you’ll still want to make sure everyone has an assigned table and doesn’t spend the evening awkwardly hunting around for a seat. While you don’t have to assign guests’ seats at each table, you may do so at more formal weddings. Also, make sure that table assignments are clearly spelled out on escort cards or seating charts.
Types of Tables While round tables are the standard, you may also choose to have your guests sit at long family-style tables or square tables or even cocktail tables! Pick the table shape that suits your style – and guest count – the best. Round tables usually can seat 6 to 10 people, square tables can seat 8, and long tables usually start at eight people, but depending on how much room you have, long tables can seat many more guests!
Sweetheart Table: Yea or Nay? It’s time to answer that important question – do you and your future spouse want your own private table at the wedding or would you prefer to sit with your guests? Some couples prefer to sit a deux to steal a few private moments during the reception, while others feel that a sweetheart table puts them “on display” and would rather sit with family or friends. Decide what suits your style best before moving forward with your seating plan.
Seat Your VIPs Think about your families and wedding party. If you’re not having a sweetheart table, you may sit either with your wedding party or immediate family members from both sides. Couples can seat their wedding party in a variety of ways – but make sure that each wedding party member is seated with his or her date, even if that means breaking the party up over several tables. It’s a nice idea to sit both immediate families together, but you may also give each set of parents’ their own table to sit with their close family or friends.
Consider Guests’ Needs Use common sense – elderly guests should not be seated near the band or speakers, people should be seated near those they know or have something in common with, and children should be seated with or near their parents. Seat younger guests, or those more likely to dance, near the dance floor, while older guests or those who might want to focus more on conversation, further away from the dance floor.
Check out some of our favorite ideas for reception tables and seating here!
Photo by SH Photography
It’s your wedding – so it’s essential that you’re surrounded by people you love. So while you’re working on your guest list, you may encounter some people about whom you might ask “Do I have to invite them?” Here’s a primer on what to do about those on-the-fence folks.
Co-Workers This one is your call. If you work in a small office where you socialize with your co-workers outside of work, then by all means, invite them. However, if you aren’t personal friends with your colleagues, then you aren’t obligated to invite them. If you go this route, keep the wedding talk at work to a minimum to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.
Parents’ Friends You Don’t Know Your mom really wants to invite her new friend from her yoga class – now what? If you’re paying for the wedding, you can quickly nix it, but if your parents are paying for everything, it’s a bit trickier. You can sit down with your mom and calmly express that you really want to be surrounded by people you actually know and love at your wedding, but if she insists, there isn’t too much you can do.
Your (or Your Fiance’s) Ex Even if you and your exes are still good friends, you should probably skip inviting them to your wedding. Your future-intended may claim that he/she is cool with inviting an ex, but it may start drama later on.
Your Friend’s New Boyfriend The “Should I invite plus-ones” debate is one that will probably keep you up at night. The bottom line is, you don’t have to invite plus-ones, but once you make a decision you must stick to it – no exceptions! Read more about inviting plus-ones here.
Kids This is similar to the plus-ones debate – if you decide against having kids at the wedding, you need to be consistent. The one loophole would be to only invite the children in your wedding party, but no others. For more advice on inviting children to your wedding, click here!
Photo by Jessica Lorren Organic Photography
Tossing the bouquet is a tradition that has been around for decades. Usually, all the single ladies gather around, the bride tosses her bouquet, and whoever catches it will be the next to wed. While it’s certainly a fun tradition, some feel that it’s a little outdated. If you’re looking for an alternative to the bouquet toss, try one of these ideas.
Anniversary Dance Instead of making a spectacle of all of the single gals, why not celebrate the couple who’s been married the longest? Have your DJ play a slow and romantic song (“Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole is a good choice) and then call out numbers of years that a couple could be married. As he/she announces the years, couples who have been married for that long must leave the dance floor. The couple who has been married the longest receives the bride’s bouquet as a prize!
Give an Incentive Attach a fun prize to your bouquet before tossing, and then invite all of the ladies, not just the single ones, to participate. A gift card to a favorite store or restaurant is a popular choice.
Split it Up Honor the important women in your life by giving your mother, new mother-in-law, grandmother, and/or any other close female relatives a single stem from your bouquet. Don’t forget to save a stem for yourself to preserve if you so desire.
For the Kids Got a flower girl who simply idolizes you? Surprise her by allowing her to keep your bouquet to decorate her room. She’ll be so honored and excited – the look on her face will be reward enough for you!
Use it as Décor Your bridal bouquet can do double-duty, serving as a reception table centerpiece or to decorate the escort card or cake table. It’s a great money-saver!
Just Skip It There’s no rule that says you must have a bouquet toss. If you feel that it will break up the flow of your reception and you don’t want your guests leaving the dance floor, then feel free to just forget the whole thing and party on!
Want more ideas for your bridal bouquet? Check out the hundreds of ideas here!
Photo by 52Forty Photography
Most couples want their weddings to be unique and personal, so why not try these twists on tradition to keep things interesting. They’re not so out-of-the-box that you’ll confuse or upset your guests, but they’ll make your wedding super memorable.
Have Cocktail Hour Before the Ceremony
If you’re hosting your ceremony and reception in the same place, consider offering cocktail hour before the ceremony. It might sound totally weird, but look at the positives – your guests won’t be famished post-ceremony, and it will pretty much guarantee that everyone is on time for your walk down the aisle – even if someone arrives late to the cocktail hour, they’ll still be in their seats by the time the ceremony rolls around.
Offer Other Entertainment
From photo booths to caricature artists to lawn games and cigar bars and more, provide your guests with an alternative to dancing – especially if your crowd isn’t into dancing. Just make sure that whatever activities you provide, they fit your personal style and work within your wedding venue! For more wedding entertainment ideas, click here!
Serve Dinner Cocktail or Family-Style
Instead of serving a sit-down or buffet-style dinner, why not do a small plates menu featuring different stations so that guests can get up and move around throughout the reception – a great way for everyone to mix and mingle. Another idea: Serve dinner family style. Passing and sharing food will get everyone chatting and provide a light-hearted and relaxed feel. Click here for more creative catering ideas.
Don’t Assign Seats
This works especially well if you’re having a smaller wedding and your guests all know each other well. Skip the escort cards and allow your guests to sit wherever they like. Again, this is another nice idea for a more casual and relaxed wedding.
Skip the Traditions
Bouquet toss, garter toss, long speeches – all of these “interruptions” might pause the flow of your wedding reception. Let your guests enjoy the party and keep the music going throughout the night. Keep the speeches to a minimum (save the long ones for the rehearsal dinner), and feel free to skip the bouquet and garter toss (for some alternative to the bouquet toss, click here!).
Photo by Kurt Boomer
You’re probably stressed out enough about your wedding going according to plan. Add in all of the wedding day superstitions that some say will cause “bad luck” on your wedding day and you’re bound to lose it. Check out these wedding superstitions
Superstition #1: Seeing each other before the ceremony is bad luck.
We say: There is a certain magic about couples seeing each other for the first time as one walks down the aisle, but for many couples, waiting until the ceremony doesn’t work with their wedding-day timeline or style. A “first look” photo shoot pre-ceremony can be just as magical, and we promise, it’s not bad luck at all.
Superstition #2: Looking at yourself in the mirror when you’re fully dressed in your bridal attire is bad luck.
We say: Um, hello? Clearly you want to look at yourself in all of your wedding-day gorgeousness before you head down the aisle – so this superstition is clearly outdated. But if the mirror breaks? Well, that’s another story (just kidding!).
Superstition #3: You must wear something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
We say: Sure, this is a fun tradition, but if finding the requisite items is causing you stress, you don’t have to do it. Check out these ideas for easy ways you can incorporate something old, new, borrowed and blue!
Superstition #4: The bride must be carried over the threshold when you arrive home for the first time after the wedding.
We say: Sure, it’s a cute tradition, but don’t freak out if you forget. You’ll probably be exhausted right after the wedding anyway!
Superstition #5: Getting married on a date that includes the number 13 is bad luck.
We say: Ask anyone who got married in the year 2013 (or Taylor Swift) – the number 13 can totally be good luck, so flip this superstition on its head and get married any day you desire!
Photo by JaneCane Photography
It’s one of the only universal wedding truths – you can’t control the weather. So what do you do when the forecast calls for rain (or snow or sleet or hail or high wind conditions) on your wedding day –especially if you’re planning an outdoor celebration? Here are our top tips to help you prepare for not-so-great weather conditions.
Have a Plan B from Day 1
When you’re looking at outdoor wedding venues, make sure you ask what the rain plan is. Even if the location where you’re marrying is known for sunny weather, you’ll still want to make sure you’re happy with the bad weather alternative. Whether it’s putting up a tent or moving the entire event indoors, make sure your venue provides you with a firm plan before you book.
Enlist Vendors’ Help
If rain or other bad weather is in the forecast, talk to your vendors about how they plan on handling the situation. Wedding planners or site coordinators are particularly adept at moving things around to help plan for bad weather. Ask for help or advice where needed and be flexible if certain details of your wedding need to change.
Consider Both Major and Minor Weather Issues
Of course, rain is always a concern, but also think about high winds or unseasonably hot or cold weather, as well. Your guests’ comfort and safety should be your primary concern. If the weather is hot, consider bringing in fans and providing your guests with cold beverages throughout the day. For colder weather, heaters and blankets may be necessary. And if the weather conditions are simply too uncomfortable, consider moving things indoors – even if precipitation isn’t an issue.
You may want to research wedding insurance as an option, particularly if you’re getting married during hurricane season or in the wintertime on the off-chance that you need to postpone your wedding.
But, if you’re simply dealing with a little rain or a bit of snow, make the best of the situation! Find umbrellas and rain or snow boots that match your color scheme, and take some fun photos outdoors. Talk to your photographer about finding creative ways to take outdoor photos. And remember – rain on your wedding day is considered good luck!
Looking for more inspiration and ideas? Check out this stunning rainy day wedding and these snowy winter weddings!
Photo by Levi Stolove
From the moment you started sharing the happy news of your engagement, you’ve probably been inundated with questions. When’s the big day? What’s your color scheme? What type of dress do you want? Before you can answer any of these questions, you need to come up with a general idea of the type and style of wedding you’re looking for. Sounds overwhelming, but it actually can be easy - and fun! Here are our top tips.
Look at Photos
Start by perusing wedding photos and ideas and saving the ones that excite you. There doesn’t have to be any rhyme or reason to the photos you choose, just that you like them. Then, take a look at your saved photos and try to find some common ground between them. Are there certain colors you gravitate toward? Or do the photos all come from weddings at a specific venue type?
Casual or Formal
One of the most basic decisions you’ll need to make is if you want a casual or formal wedding. Do you picture your guests wearing long gowns and tuxes in a grand ballroom or having a picnic-style reception outside - or something in between?
Is there a particular venue where you’ve always dreamed of getting married? Or even just a type of venue that you like - a beach, garden, ballroom or historic inn, perhaps? Think about the type of wedding that would best fit with your ideal venue - a beach wedding calls for a more casual feel, while a wedding at a historic inn could be more vintage-inspired. Often times the venue you choose is the first step to deciding on your wedding style - it helps narrow down the options.
Talk It Out
Sit down with your fiance(e) and have an open and frank discussion about how each of you picture your wedding day. Start by each writing down a list of adjectives that describe your ideal wedding, then compare lists. Make a note of the words you have in common, as well as the words that you disagree on. Try to find common ground and come up with a final list of "wedding adjectives" to share with vendors as you meet them.
Once you have decided on your wedding style, it’s important to stay focused, especially when dealing with your vendors. If you’re planning a formal and classic wedding, don’t switch to a vintage-inspired and casual wedding halfway through the planning process. Make a decision and stick with it for your own sanity!
Looking to get started finding your style? Check out classic, modern, rustic, and vintage wedding inspiration to decide which style you like best!
Photo by Melissa Copeland Photography
From dress stains or rips to headaches to paper cuts, there are a variety of minor mishaps that can occur on your wedding day. But instead of worrying about them, be prepared! Create a wedding-day emergency kit or ask one of your bridesmaids to do it for you. Even if your wedding day is smooth sailing, you’ll be glad you had these essentials on hand:
Things may get a little emotional on your wedding day, so be sure to have a pack of tissues close by at all hand. If your dress has pockets, all the better – if not, ask one of your ‘maids to stash some tissues in her purse for you.
Double Stick Tape
Also known as “Fashion Tape,” this can help your gown stay in place, especially if you’re wearing strapless. It can also secure a ripped hem (which can happen if someone accidentally steps on your dress).
A shoe heel breaking can leave you barefoot on your wedding day (unless you’re having a beach wedding, in which case, we say go for it!). Bring a back up pair of heels that are around the same height as your primary shoes, just in case of an unforeseen footwear malfunction.
We highly recommend that you take the time to enjoy the food on your wedding day, but take a moment to check yourself in the mirror afterwards – and be sure to have some floss on hand just in case of any unsightly food particles!
Of course, any prescribed medication that you take on a daily basis is a must, but also bring over-the-counter medications, in case of headaches, stomach issues, or allergies.
Sewing Kit with Scissors
Be sure to have a sewing kit on hand (with scissors!) in case of loose threads or buttons, accidental rips, or even just your bridesmaid forgetting to take the tag off her dress! Also important: Someone who actually knows how to sew!
Because blood on your wedding dress isn’t a great look.
Stain Removal Pen
Always good to have in case of a stain on your or one of your VIPs’ attire. Depending on the fabric of the stained attire, one of these bad boys can be a lifesaver.
It doesn’t always work, but chalk can be a quick fix for a stain on a white wedding dress.
For sipping drinks pre-wedding so you don’t ruin your lipstick!
Feminine Hygiene Products
Because…well, you never know.
Your spouse-to-be will thank you.
Concealer and Lipstick
Even if you’re having your makeup professionally done, chances are some of your makeup might rub off by the end of the night. Freshen up with a little concealer and lipstick so you look great for your grand exit.
Follow our Advice Editor for even more wedding planning tips!
Chances are, your groomsmen are not accustomed to taking formal portraits on the regular. So try to keep things relatively natural and easy for them when it comes to taking pictures. Here are a few of our favorite “poses” for groomsmen shots.
The most traditional of the groomsmen poses, your guys stand in a row or, if there are more than five or six of them, in two rows, hands in pockets. It's so GQ.
Photo by Sherri J Photography
The "We're All Friends Here"
Hopefully, all of your groomsmen are pretty close - and even if they aren't, at least they can act like it by putting their arms over each other's shoulders, frat brother style.
Photo by Maxwell Monty Photography
The "Just Taking a Stroll"
Fact: People look more natural in photos if they're in motion. So, tell your groom and groomsmen to take a walk together. Their faces will look much more relaxed, you'll see!
Photo by Melvin Gilbert Photography
The Seated Pose
Your groomsmen may feel more comfortable posing while sitting down. And here's a bonus: these portraits will show off those cute socks!
Photo by Petula Pea Photography
The Groom in Front
It's the groom's special day, so give him some pride of place by having him stand a few steps ahead of the rest of his best buds. This is a particularly nice pose if all of the guys are dressed fairly similarly.
Photo by William Innes Photography
The "Do Something Funny"
Of course, you'll need to take some more traditional portraits, too, but if it helps your guys loosen up, let them have some fun with their portraits. Add props like sunglasses if you'd like!
Photo by Steven and Lily Photography
The Jumping for Joy
If you can get your groomsmen to try it, it's pretty cool to have a shot of them in midair!
Photo by Wren Photography
Need we say more?
Photo by Weston Neuschafer Photography
Looking for more groomsmen attire ideas? Check out our Fashion Editor's board for even more men's attire inspiration!