Wedding

Having a Backyard Wedding | Why I Had a Backyard Wedding

This blog isn’t specifically a guide that tells you exactly how to have your backyard wedding and the logistics of it all (link to a Junebug Article below that covers more of that!) - it’s an overlook at how your backyard wedding can be (for examples : it’s whatever you want) and some of the pros of having one!

What I am covering :
Why I had a backyard wedding
What is a backyard wedding?
Location
Guest List Size
Animals
Saving Money
Different or Traditional?
Junebug’s List for a Traditional Wedding, but in your backyard


Why I had a backyard Wedding :

I am the youngest of 8.. my first sibling to get married was my sister when I was 5 years old - this was the start of my family’s well-known parties. We are an Irish Catholic family, so parties are an important part of our lives - weddings and wakes, and everything inbetween. My sister got married in a church, and then had her reception on my family’s farm. We rented a big tent and everyone was invited. This was always my idea of what a wedding was - it was a casual gathering of friends and family, to drink and dance and celebrate.. not something we could have spent tens of thousands of dollars on. After that, there were 4 more weddings before mine and Johnny’s. Each one was a little different, but they were all a wild rumpus of a thing. The party went on all day and all night, some even stayed up until the sun rose. Johnny & I had that same sort of wedding, we planned it in 5 months, and it was the absolute best day of our lives that we talk about all the time, and that we want to plan another one all over again (said no bride ever). There are very few things I’d change about that day (I wish we had gotten ready together, so we could spend more time together that day).

That being said, not everyone has a huge, close family like I do, so everyone’s reason for having a backyard wedding is different.

The reason I am drawn to photographing and attending big weddings and small weddings like this is the casualness of it all - the knowing exactly what you want, and having it. Not doing what is traditionally done, but having the wedding day you want, and letting no one change that.

photo of Johnny and myself at our wedding by    www.imelizabethlauren.com

photo of Johnny and myself at our wedding by www.imelizabethlauren.com

What is a backyard wedding?

A backyard wedding can be whatever you make of it. It doesn’t need to be in your actual backyard. It can be in a family member’s, a friend’s, an airbnb’s, a rental home’s. It doesn’t even need to be in your town, your state, your country. It’s basically finding a home you are drawn to as a couple, and making it yours for your wedding day.

You can have whatever kind of food you want (stations, food trucks, make your own, bring your own).
You can have a timeline, or no timeline, with what you want IN the timeline.
You can dance all night (under the stars) because there are often no cut-off times.
You can have a tent, or no tent.
You can get ready together, in a place that means a lot to you.
You can decorate as much or as little as you want.
Your ceremony can be wherever you want (the woods, the water, the garden).
You can spend your money where you want.
You can have it on whatever day you want, because no one has already booked that date.
It can be as wild or low-key as you want. Skinny dipping? Yes.

One of my favorite examples of a backyard wedding is this blog by the Scottish photographers The Kitcheners.

They got ready together in a home, took their chairs, their instruments, their family members, went into the rainy woods, and got themselves married. If you do nothing else from here on out, check out this blog.

Backyard Wedding Inspiration Backyard Wedding Guide

Location

The location can be anywhere you want - turn it into the vacation for you (and your friends and family), or keep it close to home for the sentimentality. Weddings don’t need to be full of disposable decorations. It’s about you two and who you are together. So, sit down and think about the places in the world that mean the most to you, and go for it.

My sister-in-law grew up going up to a small island in in Maine every summer, where her family had a house for generations. Ever since she was small, she imagined getting married in the front yard of that house, over looking the water. So, the week surrounding their wedding, we went up and rented houses and stayed on this island (stuck somewhere between the 1950s and 1980s). The day before their wedding, all us ladies went to a wild flower garden to pick our bouquets and flowers for decorations. They had a couple tents for cover, just in case of weather, but we danced out under strings of lights and stars, and ended the night skinny dipping.

You can see the blog post here of the festivities leading up to their wedding, and the wedding day.

A few months after their wedding, they had a party for everyone who couldn’t make it to Maine, and again, danced under the stars (this time in the rain) back home on my family’s farm.

Backyard Wedding Inspiration Backyard Wedding Guide

Guest List Size

I am the youngest of 8 children, with 18 nieces and nephews (and counting) any time we have an immediate family gathering, it’s nearly 40 of us. Yes. That’s more than most guest lists in total. Then Johnny grew up in a small town with a lot of close friends. It was hard to narrow down our list, so we decided to go all out. Because we made the food ourselves and had no indoor space to worry about, we invited everyone. By the end of it, we didn’t keep track of how many people were there, but it was easily somewhere between 300-400 people. On the opposite of this, if you’re really doing a small backyard space, you can have as few people as you want (the two of you? a few close friends? your pups?)

Backyard Wedding Inspiration Backyard Wedding Guide

Animals Allowed!

At my brother’s reception, he had his dog and any other dogs anyone wanted to bring, because the wedding was on our farm! If animals are a big part of your life, and your friends’ lives, this gives you a chance to have them be a part of your day (:

Backyard wedding planning and inspiration White Sails Creative Photography

You can save money

Not booking a venue is the biggest cost cut ever. If you have a backyard wedding somewhere across the country or world, you’re able to buy plane tickets and rent an airbnb for a fraction of the price. Or, if you’re having it right there at home, you can spend more on what is meaningful (taco trucks).

You can also save money on decor, because you can use things from around the house if you want to add any decorations, but if you’re getting married outside, you don’t have to decorate the trees or mountains.

You may need to rent a tent, tables, and chairs (depending on your plans for the day) but that’s nothing compared to a venue.

White Sails Creative Backyard Wedding Guide  Inspiration.JPG

So, that brings us to the most important question: what kind of backyard wedding do you want? Sit down and have a chat with yourselves. What do you want for your wedding day? The amount of guests don’t matter in the beginning, but what’s important to you for the layout of the day?

something different, and simpler.

If you’re wanting a simple wedding, where you get ready together, you all gather round, you exchange your vows, you play your music, you eat whenever and wherever you want to eat, you dance when the music’s good, you sit on what’s available - you can do that now, and I’d love to help.

A traditional wedding, but in our backyard.

Do you want the layout to be the same as every other wedding you go to? Do you want a cocktail hour, a DJ, a caterer, a sit-down meal, a dance floor, a guest-book table, a photo booth, lots of bathrooms? That would be more on the traditional side, and would take more planning to have it in your backyard. If you want a list of things to do for a traditional wedding that you’ll just be having in your backyard, Junebug Weddings has a great list of everything you need.

Jessi & Austin | Lake At Cedar Hill Summer Wedding | Linville, Virginia

Jessi and I met when we were younger and danced at the same studio through highschool. Then Jessi and I were in the same public speaking class in college my first semester, and we just keep bumping into each other throughout life. Every time I see her or hear from her, it’s an instant mood-lifter. When she reached out asking me to photograph her wedding, I was thrilled because Jessi and her family have always been a happy presence throughout my life. The idea of photographing such incredible people on their WEDDING DAY was just too much. I also photographed their engagement session - a freezing sunrise on Lake Arrowhead in Luray. It’s one I share a lot of photos from, so I’m sure you’d recognize it - Jessi & Austin’s Engagement Session Blog.

The expectations of this being a ridiculously joyous day did not fail me - this was one of the most fun wedding days I’ve ever photographed. It was stunning - the mismatched plates, the weather was so warm and breezy, and the dancing was just incredible. I keep reminiscing on this day as if it were my own wedding, it was just that wonderful.

I’d like to shout out this venue, too. They are pretty new and they are AMAZING. I cannot recommend this place enough. Look at this ceremony location?! And the light in the reception barn?! I just can’t wait to go back here!

Salubria | Scottish Styled Wedding Shoot | Historic Home in Virginia

I am forever thankful for this wonderful community of creatives I’ve met through this journey as a photographer. I’ve done quite a few styled shoots, by myself or with one other person. But as soon as it becomes a joint effort with other creatives in different fields (florals, cakes, jewelry, etc.) it’s just an entirely different ball park.

This shoot was inspired by how much I missed Scotland and how much I wanted to photograph a wedding in the Scottish Highlands. After that, it all sort of fell into place. I found this BHLDN dress months ago, and shortly after that I found Salubria. Ace and I connected on Instagram around the same time, and I had been working with Jen (with Flourish and Root) and Bijou’s Sweet Treats for quite some time now. Jen and I met up a couple times to discuss this shoot - she and I had worked on a project together last year, and I knew I wanted to make this one even better and put months of planning into it. She and Kat helped me SO much with pulling it together in the days leading up, and the day of.

I had been traveling for 3 weeks before this shoot - between photographing a wedding in Maine and an elopement on the West Coast, I came home and immediately helped with a local community of women pull together an event on Saturday, and then pulled this shoot together on Sunday.

It went SO well for just happening so suddenly all there at the end. I’ll admit I was terrified, considering all of my own time I was putting into it as well as everyone else’s that I was asking to come along with me somewhat blindly.

I’m emotional now thinking about it all, and I am so very thankful for everyone who believed in this idea enough to help me with it and to actually pull it together with me.

If you are planning a wedding and are looking for some vendors to create something STUNNING for you, I have a list :


Photography : White Sails Creative
Videography : Sage & Silhouettes
Floral Design : Flourish Root
Hair & Makeup : Hairpins N Lipstick
Cake : Bijou’s Sweet Treats
Venue : Salubria
Styling & Set Up : Flourish Root
Dress : BHLDN | Anthropologie
Groom’s Suit : Harris Tweed
Bridal Jewelry : RU.ST
Paper Suite, Calligraphy, & Design : White Sails Creative
Models : Molly & Michael


and Johnny :) for helping me with all my crazy ideas and loading up the car with stuff and unloading it and loading it all back up and moving all the furniture around wherever it was needed.

AHH.

Photography : White Sails Creative
Videography : Sage & Silhouettes
Floral Design : Flourish Root
Hair & Makeup : Hairpins N Lipstick
Cake : Bijou’s Sweet Treats
Venue : Salubria
Styling & Set Up : Flourish Root
Dress : BHLDN | Anthropologie
Groom’s Suit : Harris Tweed
Bridal Jewelry : RU.ST
Paper Suite, Calligraphy, & Design : White Sails Creative
Models : Molly & Michael