How to prepare for a backyard wedding or reception

Your wedding day is the highlight of a dream you’ve had since childhood! You want everything to be perfect for your backyard wedding and reception, from the decorations, flowers, catering, photography, to the small details. An unforgettable backyard reception begins with setting the stage.  

Seasonal Comforts

If you want a traditional June, July or August wedding, you need to prepare for the heat. With Tennessee’s average summertime temperatures in the 90s, it can be uncomfortable for your guests. Consider setting up misters, circulating electric fans or outdoor air conditioning units. Many operate inside tents. If the wedding is in winter, propane heaters will help. You might provide some party favors, too. Those little battery-operated handheld fans or shakable hand-warmers (with your name and wedding date printed on them) serve as great mementos.  

Yard Prep

Before anyone steps foot in the backyard to set up for the wedding and reception, get the lawn and garden ready for action. Mow and edge the grass, weed gardens and flower beds, and treat for outside pests. You may want to add a few mosquito-repelling plants such as mint, basil and marigolds around the edge of the yard. Make sure your lawn can stand up to the heavy foot traffic by watering twice a week. Spruce up the backyard to display beautiful native plants of Tennessee — they’ll look great in your pictures!

Pool Time?

Backyard swimming pools provide special settings for wedding photos. Dress up the pool area with lights and flowers. Place floral arrangements, candles or floating fountains in the water.  Ask your wedding photographer and florist for more ideas. Your poolside pictures will be amazing! 

Poolside is an excellent location to set up dining and buffet tables.  Drape tents and tarpaulins so that they reach the edge of a decorated swimming pool. 

decorations on a table for poolside wedding reception in nashville

Special Touches

It’s all in the details.  Here are a few to help make your wedding day unforgettable, fun, and comfortable.


  • #hashtagwedding: Your friends and family will be taking photos at the reception. Chances are, they’ll post the pictures to their social media accounts. Create a special hashtag to connect the memories … something like #T&Jwedding1990. Place notification cards (with the hashtag) at each table setting so your guests know where to send uploaded pictures.


  • Lawn Games. Set up a giant Jenga display, shuffleboard, checkers, corn hole, and other easy games that guests can play while wearing formal clothes. They will keep a few of your guests busy during cocktail hour (and while you’re having your pictures taken).


  • Portable Restrooms: If you have more than a dozen people at the wedding, you won’t want them traipsing through the house. Portable restrooms have recently gotten an upgrade — they’re fairly big with vanity mirrors, lights, sinks, and real water. Supply your guests with antibacterial soap, adhesive bandages, aspirin and safety pins.



While you’re planning this unforgettable backyard wedding, remember to cover all the bases. 

  • Notify or invite the neighbors (if possible, a month or more in advance). 
  • Find out (before booking vendors) from your city or county ordinances what is and is not allowed. There might be health department rules, fire codes, noise ordinances and zoning regulations to consider. 
  • Make sure there’s ample lighting, especially around steps where people can trip.
  • Parking can be a challenge, especially if your street can’t handle the overload. Consider hiring a valet service.

Outdoor weddings can be unpredictable because the weather is always a factor. Be flexible, don’t worry about things you can’t control and have fun with it.  Some of the best wedding memories come about from the unexpected.


Courtney Fisher is a designer and wedding planner who enjoys incorporating nature into indoor and outdoor weddings. When she’s not working on a wedding, she’s writing about the latest trends in floral and dress designs.


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Krista is a Nashville, Tennessee based wedding and portrait photographer. Visit the "About" section for more info!