Hosting a Backyard Wedding on a Budget

Depending on where you are in the world, you may be able to—gasp—meet with people outdoors in small groups! Here in B.C., the guidance from our patron saint of public health, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has accommodated necessary combinations of responsibly socially distancing, get togethers of groups up to six, and wearing masks while spending most time outdoors, or all of the above!

This means all of the happy couples marrying in B.C. this summer and fall can feasibly arrange a very specific and modest outdoor get together to celebrate their marriages with their immediate family and close friends. In the spirit of hosting a safe, socially distanced backyard wedding in the time of COVID-19, we looked into the logistical aspects of keeping things safe without sacrificing your budget or your wedding day aesthetic. 

COVID-safe picnic backyard wedding on a budget

Photos from Wedding Lady and One Curious Dream.

Embrace the rustic vibe of a backyard picnic

Unfortunately, gone are the days of romantic long table dinners where your guests may sit shoulder to shoulder and clink glasses in celebration. Social distancing and keeping your social bubble small is the name of the game. For this, we love adorable picnic-style gatherings. With only a few stipulations, this arrangement can work to minimize the possibility of spreading COVID-19 while retaining the spirit of togetherness. 

Picnics are excellent options because they lend themselves well to social distancing measures: set up blankets, one per natural "bubble," with six feet distance between each group. Encourage people to bring their own cutlery and drinking glasses, and to pack these out when they go home. Everyone can sit on their own blankets, and if there is cause for groups to get up, like serving themselves if you provide food, it can be done by each blanket so there are no crowds in a given area. 

Go for batch made, low stress foods

If you are providing food for your socially distanced backyard wedding, opt for batch made and low stress food that can be easily divided. This is a crucial aspect of keeping your celebration safe. One person should have the task of dividing safely prepared meals into several vessels, and those vessels should be distributed to each picnic blanket to serve only that party. This dramatically lessens the likelihood of transferring the virus through the touching of communal serving-wear, bowls, glasses, gravy boats, salad tongs, etcetera. Instead, have one person prepare each bowl, and each bubble serve themselves.

For extra bonus points, invite your guests to bring their own food. We know, we know—in a normal circumstance this would feel extremely tacky! But bringing your own food in your own dishes and sticking to your own blanket is the safest way to share in outdoor celebratory space.

Use tea lights and candles to light your backyard wedding on a budget

Photo from Be Makeful and Pinterest.

Opt for candles

The easiest way to spruce up your backyard wedding on a budget is with candles. Did you know that tea lights float in water? Gather tiny mason jars, or purchase a set of glass votive holders and fill with a small amount of water. Light your candles and set them atop the water, and watch them bob along its surface creating a lovely natural movement in the light. This water has a practical function, as well—should a dog or child knock a candle over, the water will help tamp any chance of grass or nearby foliage catching on fire. 

Candles are such versatile decorations, too. Set them in odd-numbered bunches atop tables or stumps and hand a few out to each of your picnic stations to keep the grounds lit once the sun goes down. Easy, cheap, and effective.

Paper plates and wooden cutlery

Alternatively consider supplying paper plates and wooden cutlery for your guests, or other single use goods which can be composted (or tossed into a big ol' bonfire!). This will not only cut down on dishes that need to be washed following your celebration, but will reduce the number of hands on each item. With compostable goods, just let your guests know how to dispose of them on their own. No fuss, no muss—and no virus. 

Match clothing with your guests to create visual cohesion

Photo from WWD.

Coordinate clothing colours

The virus has pervaded every aspect of our wedding planning, and a lot of us are missing the feeling of planning a beautiful, aesthetic, perfectly coordinated celebration. The photos! What about the photos? No group hugs, no dance parties, no adorable posed bridal party images. So how can we tailor our COVID-19-safe celebrations to still produce gorgeous photos?

One suggestion: ask guests to dress in a specific colour scheme. Perhaps you've heard of Dîner en Blanc, for example—the annual outdoor BYO-everything-including-food which requires guests to dress in head-to-toe white. The premise? Perhaps a bit laughable. But the photos speak for themselves. Even at a distance, you and your guests will look like you belong together, and the photos will reflect that closeness even if you're six feet apart.

Any other tips for hosting a cute, safe, backyard reception? Let us know below!

xo D&C

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