3 Tips for Planning Your Backyard or DIY Wedding
Updated: Feb 3
2020 and the global COVID-19 pandemic have brought a lot of changes to the wedding industry. One of the biggest shifts that we've seen is towards smaller backyard ceremonies. We love the intimacy of these weddings and think it's a great trend! How great would it be to look out your back window in years to come and reminisce on your big day? Here are a few planning tips from a photographer's perspective that will help you to achieve the wedding photos you've always dreamed of, right in your backyard.
1). Work with your photographer to select the ceremony time:
This is important for any ceremony, but by doing a backyard wedding, usually there is more flexibility with the timeline. When I'm scouting out a venue, there are two things I'm thinking about when it comes to the ceremony time and they both center around light.
Select a time where the light is soft and filtered, not direct and harsh.
A wedding at noon in your backyard will produce photos with harsh shadows under your eyes and very bright light. Additionally this time slot can be uncomfortable for you and your wedding party standing in the heat. Choosing a time when the sun is lower in the sky will help to mitigate these effects. You can Google your date and location to look up when sunset will be on your day to help with this planning. The soft, golden light you see in picturesque wedding photos, are usually taken within an hour before sunset. As a bonus, the lower sun will help avoid squinty eyes!
Select a spot to say your vows that has even light.
When considering where to say your vows in your backyard, avoid spots that get mixed light. This will depend on the time of day that you select for your ceremony, so do this after you've selected your time. Once you have a time, look at the light at that time of day and find a spot that is either all in shade, or all in sun. Try to avoid shade that has speckled light (When you look at the ground it should all be one color, not with spots of light on it.) It can be tricky for photos if one of you is in the sun and one is in the shade during your vows.
2). Create a clearly marked aisle & center your ceremony background (such as an arch) to this aisle.
This is especially important if your guests are standing for your ceremony. People love symmetry. Having clear, straight lines leading up to the couple creates clean photos that allow the viewer to focus on the couple without distractions. Additionally, mark the ground where you and your partner will stand so that you're centered to your background. We've photographed so many weddings where the couple is off center to their arch for the whole ceremony - you'd be surprised how often this happens! We know how much design and planning goes into these things and we want them to look perfect. Marking the spot, means you will have one less thing to worry about when walking down the aisle!
3). Hire a coordinator. If it's not in the budget, select someone to be your day of coordinator.
We can't stress enough how much it helps to have a coordinator. Having someone else worry about keeping everything on schedule will allow you to enjoy your wedding without worrying. Backyard weddings generally are a lot more work because you don't have a venue setting up everything for you. Having someone to accept any day of deliveries and make sure they make it to where they need to will keep everything going smoothly. Coordinators do countless things throughout the day that you may not even think of beforehand. They often can get you discounts with other vendors as well, so it may be more in your budget than you think! We recommend asking your photographer for a recommendation on who they've worked well with in the past.
Personal Style Tip:
We love shooting at venues with string lights. Not only do they give that romantic glow to photos, but they also provide a lot of creativity for photographers. When they are used in the background of photos they help create what is referred to as bokeh. (For string lights this usually looks like hazy light globs, see below.). Note: LED lights don't always show up in photos though, so be sure to avoid those if possible.