Three Outdoor Wedding Themes We Love

Beaches are inviting, and nothing says glam like a ballroom bash, but for a truly personal celebration, home settings are hard to beat. Cozy up to three backyard weddings that took romance to new heights last year.

Boho-Chic Soiree
boho chic wedding

With the help of wedding planner Jen Bergmark of First Pick Planning, this Southern California couple hosted just 12 of their truly nearest and dearest in their cozy backyard on the outskirts of San Diego. 

backyard boho chic wedding

Bergmark asked the florist to create a hedge wall in the backyard, and then adorned it with a large, circular sign engraved with the couple’s last name. String lights crisscrossed above to give the entire space a romantic air after sunset.

boho chic outdoor wedding reception

Guests sipped cocktails while they waited for the bride and groom to take their turns walking down the aisle to the tune of a ukulele strumming “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Vows were exchanged beneath a sleek triangle arch decked in pampas grass, and the first kiss was punctuated by the approving yelps of the couple's two pups — wearing matching leis, just like the groom's.

boho chic outdoor wedding ceremony

After cheering the big moment, guests mingled on the patio nibbling on passed appetizers.

boho chic wedding place setting

The seated dinner ended on a sweet note — a choice of red velvet or coconut cake, plus cookies and crème brulée.

boho chic wedding cake

The pandemic meant no dancing other than the couple’s first spin, but Bergmark says there’s plenty of time for the couple to take the party back to Tahoe with a larger assortment of friends and family this coming Labor Day weekend. “They really did make the most of a trying situation,” says Bergmark. “To see how happy they were — everyone was — you would have never guessed this was their Plan B!”

boho chic wedding decor

boho chic wedding decor
 Photo: Jillian Rose Photography

Welcome Home 

 backyard wedding

 This dreamy backyard bash took place at the home of the bride's parents, planned by wedding designer Michelle Cousins, owner of Michelle Leo Events

backyard wedding

Sitting high above Provo, Utah, the house offered spectacular views of both the city and the mountainside. Next, the guest count. The couple didn't want a huge wedding, but they also didn’t want a micro wedding. The solution? A small number of close friends and family arrived early in the evening for the ceremony. Afterward, larger groups arrived in two sets for an open-house style reception. Guests were given an allotted time to arrive and depart based on their last names. Finally, the fun stuff. The focal point of the day was the circular ceremony arch festooned in flowers and pampas grass.

backyard wedding ceremony

backyard wedding sign

Twinkling lights dotted trees as well as the climbing ivy that defined the patio. Instead of long, family-style tables that Cousins is known for, there were large round tables carefully spaced apart. "Lush centerpieces and lots of candles helped make the tables feel more intimate," she says. "When the guest list gets trimmed, that usually leaves more budget for florals, special linens and other décor."

backyard wedding reception

backyard wedding reception

Even though guests had to adhere to a strict time frame, the celebration was anything but rushed. "The beauty of a home wedding is that they're more relaxed because the couple feels comfortable," she says. "Yes, there was a pandemic, but this was the couple's dream wedding. Everything about it was personal and perfect."

backyard wedding cake
Photo: Steph Kirk

Garden Party

garden wedding

This New England bride didn't have to look far to find the perfect backdrop for her dream garden wedding: it was her childhood backyard. Growing up in a town outside of Boston, the bride loved the peonies that bloomed along the side of her house. When the planning began pre-pandemic, she asked her wedding designer, Sarah Crowell of Mavinhouse Events, to use the distinctive blooms as inspiration. But with an August wedding date, peonies were out of the picture. "So we went all out with roses and hydrangeas in different shades of pink and white to give her that garden feel she was looking for," says Crowell.

garden wedding

 garden wedding ceremony

garden wedding reception

The guest list was whittled down from 350 to 75, but that didn’t minimize the planning and preparation. "We brought in a tent in a size we'd normally use for a larger wedding, just so we'd have room to spread out the tables," she says.

garden wedding reception

Servers walked the grounds with drinks and appetizers. Guests could also grab pre-plated selections from a raw bar. In addition to cake, the couple handed out individually wrapped sugar cookies that were painted with a picture of their puppy, who had helped the groom propose.

garden wedding cake

Like the other couples mentioned, this duo had to forgo guest dancing, but Crowell says people stayed to mingle and enjoy each other’s company. "Home weddings are always special because of how deeply personal they are, but this one felt even more so because of what has been going on," says Crowell. "It wasn’t lost on anyone there that they were surrounded by love."

garden wedding reception
Photo: Henry + Mac