The majority of our intimate weddings and elopements have some backyard elements to them, whether it’s where they are getting ready at a house and we do some photos in the backyard or if the couple has their ceremony and reception in the backyard. Most of our backyard weddings are at rentals in the area and it allows for more people to come together for the day in a beautiful location that is super laid back.
Planning a backyard elopement or intimate wedding in the mountains of West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia (or anywhere really) can be a beautiful and intimate way to celebrate your love. You can still have some adventures to some epic locations too, even when you have a backyard dinner/reception.
Here are some steps to help you organize your special day:
Choose the location
Decide where you would like to have your elopement in and pick a specific location. It can be a state park, a national park or forest, or even your own backyard if you have a gorgeous view. You can also have the ceremony in the state/national park and then have the reception in the backyard of your rental (as long as it’s allowed of course). Choosing where to have your ceremony first and then selecting where to stay is the best route to take. We also mix up the locations a bit so you get a bit of different scenery during the day (ie: location for first look, location for ceremony, location for couples images after ceremony, location for sunset photos, and more). There are many rentals that allow small gatherings in our area and we can help you to find the perfect one that is close to a location you love.
Check the regulations of the location you choose
We will always check the rules for the location you have chosen. Some areas may require permits, while others may have restrictions on the number of guests, whether pets are allowed and other restrictions such as the flowers they allow (some national parks don’t allow real ones or if they do, they have to be native to the area).
Choose a date
Pick a date that works for you and your guests. Keep in mind that some mountain areas can be more challenging to access during certain times of the year due to weather or road conditions. Snow and the roads are always a factor in the winter. There will always be a chance of rain in the east coast too. We always help with choosing a good date. We can’t guarantee the weather will cooperate, but we can guarantee a day of amazing memories!
CHOOSE a photographer
Hey oh, that’s us! ;) Hiring a photographer can help you capture the memories of your special day. Look for someone who has experience with mountain elopements/weddings and whose style and personality match your preferences. We are super laid back and love more candid moments. We love being like a fly on the wall and capturing moments you may not even remember. We also like to crack some jokes and quote The Office, so there’s that. ;)
If you and your guests need accommodations, have them book them asap. Look for cabins or lodges in the area that can accommodate your group. We have certain spots around here that we can suggest that can hold all of your intimate wedding guests in the same area.
Create a guest list
Decide who you would like to invite to your elopement or intimate wedding. Remember, one of the benefits of having an elopement or intimate wedding is that you can keep it small and intimate and only have the people closest to you, there. Also, remember that it’s YOUR day.
Choose any of the other vendors/Companies YOU NEED
There are some vendors you will definitely need and some you may not. It all depends on how elaborate you want it to be and if you have help on your day to make it stress free. Here are some vendor types you might need or want for your day:
- Hair + Makeup
- Planner (partial or full planner)
- Live Music (or music in general – many of our couples use playlists for the dinner and ceremony)
- Dress/Suit/Shoes company
- Shuttle service
- Tent rental (consider it definitely if you are in an area that rains/storms a lot)
- Extra activities (white water rafting, tubing, skiing, snow tubing, etc.)
Plan the ceremony
We can always help with this. Decide on the ceremony details, such as the officiant, location, vows, and any readings or rituals you would like to include. We always say to hire an officiant that knows you two better, which is a friend/family member most of the time. They always have better stories to tell and always keep the crowd entertained.
Choose the decor
Decide on the decor for the ceremony and reception area. You can keep it simple with just a few flowers, greenery and candles, or go all out with a full mountain-themed decor. If it’s an outdoor wedding, more candles and lights are better for ambiance and images. We have a lot of couples who get their table flowers from local farmers markets, which is pretty awesome! We also have some planners that do full and partial planning, design and decor in the area that we can suggest.
Plan the DINNER/reception
If you are having a dinner or reception with your guests, you have to decide on the food, drinks, and entertainment. You can keep it simple with a picnic-style meal or hire a caterer to create a full meal for you and your guests. We have some really great catering and restaurants in the area. We also have many couples hire local musicians to play music from before the ceremony through most of the reception.
Prepare for the weather
Keep in mind that mountain weather can be unpredictable. We always have a plan in case of rain or other inclement weather, and make sure your guests are prepared with appropriate clothing and footwear. This area is known for rain/mud, so make sure you have extra shoes and jackets. We also have a lot of couples rent tents in case of rain for the dinner part of the evening.
PLan for the End of night
The cool thing is that you can do whatever you want. Most of our couples have music playing through the evening and end the night sitting around a fire pit and talking to their friends and loved ones. Have some s’mores, some drinks and some good talk to end the night in a great way.
Backyard intimate weddings are some of our favorite days. You can get ready at a beautiful place, head to a gorgeous mountain overlook and then head back to your place for a wonderful evening with your friends and family without having to worry about driving somewhere else. You can just be in the moment. By following these steps (with our help of course) we can help you create a beautiful and memorable backyard elopement in the mountains. One that will be talked about for years down the road. Not for it being flashy, but for it being meaningful.