Beautiful bride and groom photograph

When the words “backyard wedding” come to mind, there are usually some less than fairytale like connotations that come along with it. A backyard wedding can be a romantic and beautiful theme style wedding if done correctly. When one thinks of a backyard wedding the image of lawn chairs and a barbeque reception may be imagined, however, backyard weddings are so much more than what the name suggests. We have some beautiful inspiration and tips for planning a gorgeous, rustic country backyard wedding.

Choosing a backyard wedding

Weddings can be stressful and locating an open venue in Wisconsin can be difficult. Perhaps you are a couple in a hurry to get married and want to waste no time becoming Mr & Mrs, a backyard wedding has no waiting list and is an exclusive venue just for your special day. Backyard weddings are stress free and often have a relaxed atmoshpere. Guests are often not required to dress formally so that they can fully enjoy the down to earth style of the wedding. Backyard weddings are fun and can include yard games to keep your guests entertained. There are many opportunities for you to get in touch with your crafty side and create some beautiful diy pieces. Backyard weddings are fuss free and have a simple, yet rustic elegance about them. Whatever the reason for choosing to have this style wedding, the day will be as special and memorable as you choose to make it. Backyard weddings are more suited to the couple planning an intimate spring or summer wedding, and who are looking for the “less is more” approach. | James Stokes Photography, LLC backyard wedding venue | James Stokes Photography, LLC

The Venue

Choosing the venue for your wedding day is a huge decision. If you don’t already have a special family backyard in mind, you may have to consider asking friends and family if they know of a suitable location. Living in the country gives you an advantage right away as the properties are usually large and picturesque and look just like some of the top wedding venues. Consider a venue on a lake or by a stream or one that has a beautiful rustic barn that can be turned into a fairytale reception area.

When choosing your venue, you need to take a few things into consideration:

-The outdoor area should be evenly grassed, you can’t have your guests seated on an uncomfortable slant throughout your ceremony and reception.

– The outdoor area needs to be big enough to perhaps have a tent if there is no other indoor option, you always need to plan for the possibility of bad weather.

– The venue needs to provide good photographic opportunities as well as be accommodating to your guests. Trees may look gorgeous in photo’s but if your guests can’t see past the trees at your ceremony it leaves a lot to be desired.

– There needs to be restroom facilities outdoors, whether the venue you choose has enough restrooms or whether you need to hire a company to provide adequate facilities, this is an important factor that cannot be overlooked.

– Are there electrical plug points and supplies for your outdoor ceremony and reception. Lights, DJ’s and bands, food warmers and other equipment all need a power supply.

– You may have to end your night time celebrations early. You need to make your neighbours aware of the function and take any noise restrictions into consideration.

– Visit your venue a year in advance if possible. This will allow you to see the location at the exact time of year that you are going to get married. Take note of the shade, will your guests be sitting in the sun for the duration of the ceremony? The light needs to be even for the best photo’s to be taken as well. Visiting the venue at the exact time a year in advance allows you to pick the best time of day or evening for your ceremony and reception to take place.

– Will there be enough space for your guests to park their cars? If the property doesn’t have space for your guests, consider hiring transport to fetch them from a safe location where they can leave their cars.

There are many factors that come into play when choosing a backyard wedding and it may not be as simple or as inexpensive as you had imagined. With proper planning and preparing, your backyard wedding dream is fully achievable. Hiring a wedding planner is an excellent option for backyard weddings, it takes a huge amount of stress and planning off of the bridal couple. | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC country backyard wedding venue | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC

The Ceremony

Your backyard ceremony needs to be carefully planned. Firstly you need to have a spot for the pre-ceremony gathering. Guests are most likely to arrive well ahead of time and need a space where they can relax and wait for the ceremony to begin.

The majority of backyard ceremonies happen in the beautiful outdoors. You need to take the season and time of day into careful consideration. If the garden is filled with trees and shade, then the time of day becomes less of a challenge. If your venue doesn’t have a vast amount of trees then you may have to consider moving your ceremony to late afternoon so that your guests don’t bake in the summer heat. If there are little or no trees, perhaps a few canvas umbrella’s will be practical and won’t take away from the beautiful setting. Use them to your advantage and add decor to them. Hang delicate tea lights and flowers from the umbrellas or wrap your favourite flowers around the base. The comfort of your guests is of utmost importance. Don’t forget to consider the direction in which you are facing. You don’t want your guests to be blinded by the afternoon sun, nor do you want to be squinting through the glare as you say your I do’s. Have a basket of cute fans for each if your guests to stay cool during the ceremony, these would also look lovely in your photo’s.

Consider planning a gorgeous evening wedding, what would be more romantic than saying your wedding vows in the golden glow of the sunset and dancing to your first song as a married couple under the evening stars. Use your surroundings to your advantage, if there is a swing in the way, use it as a focal point or a decor piece. Get creative and make the most of the beautiful setting that nature has provided for you. If the garden is one level, perhaps have a platform for you as the bridal couple to stand on. This will make it easier for your guests to feel part of the ceremony and will also provide the best photo opportunities. Create a pretty altar feature to stand under while saying your vows, this is a simple trick to add rustic romance to your ceremony. Drape a simple piece of fabric and add some flowers, or create a rustic little arch with wood and drape fabric or flowers over it. Have a backup plan for bad weather, although most guests can must a slight chill for a little while, most of them won’t be too happy sitting in wind and rain to witness your union. If there is no indoor option, then it is best to have a good supply of umbrellas for the day – just in case. Have a wooden crate with blankets in for those who may need to keep warm, this is also a lovely option for guests with small children who may enjoy sitting on a blanket during the ceremony.

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The Reception

The ceremony is over and you are stolen by your photographer for your first photo’s as a married couple, you guests need somewhere to wait for your return. An outdoor space is a good idea as it needs little planning and decor. Have a couple of tables and chairs with drinks and snacks for guests to enjoy while waiting.

Creating interesting things for your guests to do will help alleviate any impatience. Have a photo gallery or a place where guests can write special notes for you, if you are a whimsical couple, have some of your favorite games for your friends and family to enjoy. A photo booth is a fun option for both pre-reception and during the reception. Provide fun little props for your guests to use to create their own memories. These photos also serve as lovely thank you gifts for your guests.

This is what the guests have been waiting for! Food, drinks and a night full of laughter and dancing. You want to create the most romantic and memorable wedding reception possible with the space that you have. If there is no rustic barn or outbuilding, perhaps hire a tent company to create a whimsical tented reception. The fabulous thing about tents is that there are very little limitations. You can still have the fairytale draping and lighting that most brides dream of while enjoying the beautiful country night sky.

The reception area should have enough tables and chairs to seat each guest, as well as tables for catering and wedding gifts, and a spot for the DJ should you choose to have one. You don’t want to have your guests crammed into a small space, it is important to make sure that there is ample space for everything you need in the reception area.

Round tables are very generic for wedding day seating plans. Work with the space that you have. If you need to use long tables, make it work. Many couples are choosing to have long harvest style tables at their reception so that guests can better enjoy each other’s company. A dance floor is another important factor to consider. If there isn’t enough room indoors for a large dance floor, get creative and create a cute outdoor dance floor for the guests who want to dance the night away under the stars.

A huge bonfire is a fun and easy way to add another exciting element to your reception and works perfectly for those nights that get chilly out in the country. Creating a separate seating area is also another popular trend, use the outdoor space that you have to provide an area outside of the reception for guests to enjoy conversation and drinks. | James Stokes Photography, LLC backyard wedding reception | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC Country Wedding Band | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC romantic country wedding reception | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC

Food & Drinks

Catering for your guests is one of the most important aspects of your wedding. While your wedding day is an important and special day for you as the bridal couple, your guest’s comfort is of utmost importance. You don’t want your guests walking away from your wedding with anything less than magical memories and a satisfied palate. The food and drinks play a very important role in creating those memories.

Offer pre-ceremony drinks for the guests who like to arrive very early, a small glass of fresh juice or a glass of champagne are both great options for summer weddings. For the colder days have a coffee bar where your guests can enjoy something warm while they wait for the ceremony to begin. When the ceremony is over, you will be whisked away by the photographer to capture some of your dream wedding photo’s, don’t forget to take good care of your guests while you are absent from the scene.

Backyard weddings don’t often allow for a wide variety of food options. You have to take the weather and storage options into consideration. If there isn’t space to keep food warm or cold, opt for cocktail snacks that are great served at room temperature or cheese platters with a variety of cheeses, crackers, and preserves. Should you be fortunate to have enough space and heating options, a buffet is another great dinner choice. A buffet style dinner cuts down on catering costs and allows your guests to help themselves to a warm meal. Try choose foods that won’t spoil easily and that aren’t too dependent on the weather, for instance having a seafood buffet in the scorching hot summer isn’t the greatest idea.

Stay away from desserts that need to be chilled and go for tasty miniature pastries and cakes instead. A sweet buffet or bar is a classic this year, you can offer a variety of mini country treats, s’mores are one of my personal favorite’s and offer a fun experience for your guests to enjoy.

Offer drinks that complement the food, having a bar area is always a hit with your guests, or have bottles of wine on the table for your guests and incorporate it with your table decor, this is space saving and cost effective. Alcohol is always a good option as it doesn’t spoil and is easy to store and serve. Pitchers of lemonade and iced tea are really great and space saving too, be sure to have the pitchers topped up for your guests. Spa water is a very popular and refreshing drink, and they are so simple to make yourself.

Another cute idea is to have a picnic theme, your guests can enjoy their own little picnic basket of food, drinks, and treats. You can include a small bottle or Mason jar of a signature drink in the basket, and there will be no waste because guests get to keep their bottles. | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC Wedding desserts country wedding | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC | James Stokes Photography, LLC



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