Planning a wedding can be a glorious adventure, a stress-inducing nightmare, or fall somewhere in between. One crucial part of the planning process is choosing the venue that will host the special day. Most are familiar with the traditional church or resort destination wedding, but one option should not be overlooked – the backyard wedding.

Backyard weddings are perfect for the couple who are casual by nature and not entirely comfortable with the formalness of a church ceremony. Backyard weddings are also ideal for anyone on a tight budget who can’t afford to dish out big dollars on the location alone. This environment also creates a relaxed setting for both the bridal party and the invited guests because you don’t have the added pressure of potential scheduling conflicts or need to wrap up the ceremony or reception by an exact specified time to accommodate the next group using the space.

Although the backyard venue might not be the most traditional, you can still include other traditional elements in your backyard wedding if you so desire. A classic white wedding gown will look even more beautiful under the natural light. Professional photographers can use elements of nature as part of the backdrop in the wedding photos. Professional caterers can deliver and setup their delicacies on tables outside just as easily as they can inside, but avoid having them prepare any foods that spoil easily in warm temperatures, and ask them to use fondant frosting to decorate the cake instead of temperature-sensitive butter cream. Professional floral arrangements can be intermingled with the colorful setting already provided by Mother Nature. DJ’s or bands can even setup and perform in this venue with the help of a few extension cords.

A few extra precautions should be taken when planning a backyard wedding. The weather is one major factor. Tents or canopies can provide much needed shade on a sunny day, or some shelter in the event of rain. Secure items in place in case the wind comes up. Have a misting system, fans, or space heaters available in case it is too hot or the temperature drops suddenly. It also doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan, such as moving the wedding from the backyard into a nearby facility if extreme weather hits.

An outdoor venue does not limit the number of guest you can invite, as many formal indoor venues do. Wedding guest should be alerted well in advance of the ceremony, however, that the wedding will be held out-of-doors. This will give them time to plan to dress appropriately and bring along any items they might deem necessary, like sunscreen or an umbrella.

Some wardrobe suggestions may be worth considering in a backyard wedding. The bride and bridesmaids may want to avoid the spike-heeled shoe to prevent sinking into the lawn as they walk. A wedding gown with a long train may not be practical as it drags along the ground getting dirty and picking up bits of twigs and grass. Strapless gowns in the middle of winter and long-sleeved, heavily beaded gowns in the height of summer would not be recommended.

Backyard weddings do not have the benefit of using standard equipment provided at a leased venue. Things like tables, chairs, dishes, and linens won’t be automatically included. All of these items can be rented from party rental stores. Depending on the casualness of the wedding, these items could also be mixed and matched by borrowing them from friends and family – a cost saving option, as well. Arrangements will also need to be made for bathroom facilities for the guests. If the facilities near the backyard venue aren’t adequate, consider renting some portable facilities that can be easily camouflaged in a corner of the yard or beside a nearby building. If plans for the ceremony or reception extend beyond sunset, installing temporary lights in the backyard will be important both for ambiance and guest safety.

Noise can be more of an issue at backyard weddings. When choosing a backyard location, consider how close the backyard is to major thoroughfares or busy roads and intersections. Also try to avoid being too close to things like dog parks, children’s playgrounds, sites undergoing construction, etc. No one wants to try and say their vows over the sound of honking traffic or barking dogs.

Insects and other “critters” can also be a nuisance in an outdoor venue. Getting married under the arches of a gorgeous tree sounds beautiful and romantic until there is a squirrel or bird overhead dropping things down on the bride and groom. Arrange for the vows to be said under a trellis or with that gorgeous tree in the background instead. Depending on where you live and the time of year, it also may be a good idea not to host the ceremony too close to standing water to limit the number of pesky insects, especially mosquitoes.

Not all of the planning for a backyard wedding has to revolve around avoiding bad weather, bugs, noise, etc. Planning for a backyard wedding can be a lot of fun, too. Maybe it’s just something silly, like wearing shorts or sunglasses at the wedding or having everyone sit at picnic tables. But it could also involve something bigger and more creative, like outdoor games. Setup a volleyball net. Have a water balloon fight. If it’s in the evening, do a bonfire. For those creative, non-traditional types, the options are endless.

Overall, backyard weddings are a fun alternative to more traditional settings. They save money and are much less structured. The bride and groom have the flexibility to be truly creative with the ceremony. People aren’t constrained by walls or time limits. The beauty of nature adds an incredible element that can’t be duplicated in any event center. And, most importantly, the wedding will be an unforgettable good time!