How to Throw the Perfect Backyard Engagement Party

backyard engagement party rachel may photography
Photo: Rachel May Photography

There's no need to book a restaurant or country club when you can celebrate this exciting news at home!

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Troy Grover

When it comes to an engagement party, there's no better place to host the couple's closest family and friends than in the comfort of their own home (or in the home of someone who's close to them). If you're tasked with throwing an engagement party for the future Mr. and Mrs., why not look to your own backyard? Sure, restaurants and country clubs are nice, but nothing feels more relaxed or celebratory than a gathering in someplace as intimate as home. Should you be lucky enough to live in a space with a beautiful backyard, you might as well take advantage of the space. Trust us, the couple and their guests will appreciate the outdoor fête that much more.

An open-air party presents the opportunity for an experience that's uniquely laid-back and chic. Not sure how you'll pull that off? That's where we come in: We asked a handful of our favorite wedding experts to share their very best tips for throwing the ultimate backyard engagement party. And they've seriously covered it all. From how to work with your existing landscape and tips for utilizing garden-grown flowers to choosing the décor and the right food and drink to serve, you'll find everything you need to help you plan the engagement party of the year. One of our favorite tips relates to the vendors you choose. Our pro suggests hiring caterers with plenty of experience working in non-traditional venues. That way, you know your kitchen and electrical setup won't pose any food-prep problems.

For more expert-approved backyard engagement party advice, click through here.

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Create an Ambiance

backyard engagement party liz and ryan photography
Liz & Ryan Photography

"The key to a great backyard engagement party includes chic, simple lighting and comfortable, stylish seating. It's important to remember that this is not the wedding, it's a celebration and a nod to what's to come. Simple, elegant outdoor lighting such as candle lanterns and string lights are just right for creating a mood that is laid-back and romantic." —Christen Ryan, Owner and Creative Director, Ryan Designs

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Understand the Landscape

backyard engagement party gab herman and tyson photography
Gab Herman & Tyson Photography

"When it comes to planning an al fresco gathering, Mother Nature is one of our greatest assets. Use the qualities of your outdoor space to structure the environment for the evening. Making sure your landscaping is intact will guarantee the perfect party backdrop!" —Kristen Gosselin, Owner and Creative Director, KG Events & Design

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Make Sure to Have Ample Seating

backyard engagement party sarah carpenter
Sarah Carpenter

"Connect your landscaper with your event planner so they can create a cohesive atmosphere for your guests. Plan on giving your garden lots of extra care in the weeks leading up to the party, then add plenty of seating for your guests." —Callista Osborn, Owner, Callista & Company

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Offer a Variety of Entertainment

backyard engagement party rachel may photography
Rachel May Photography

"From croquet to cornhole, lawn games are the perfect way to break the ice and let guests mix and mingle with the added bonus of a little friendly competition." —Brianna Sumey, Director of Sales, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

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Integrate Sentimental Elements

backyard engagement party anne robert photography
Anne Robert Photoraphy

"Hosting an event in your backyard gives you the opportunity to keep things simple, sentimental, and personal. Of course, never miss an opportunity to jazz up the bar area with décor! Using blooms that are sentimental to you, or even grown on your property, is a great way to make every detail more personal." —Diana Venditto, Owner & Creative Director, Eventi Floral & Events

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Personalize Seasonal Cocktails

backyard engagement party laura marchbanks photography
Laura Marchbanks Photography

"Greet your guests with cocktails (both alcoholic and non-) that are customized to the setting. Is the backyard full of blooming flowers? Think about offering a garden-inspired cocktail with herbs or edible flowers from the yard or offer the groom's favorite assorted whiskeys in a tasting station paired with his favorite bites. Sometimes the most unexpected details can be the most appreciated and will enhance a charming bar set up." —Aleah and Nick Valley, Founders, Valley & Company Events

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Consider a Tent

backyard engagement party jana dillon photography
Jana Dillon Photography

"Tenting is ideal for hanging installations of flowers and lighting, as it creates the framework to really transform the ceiling of a space and not just your immediate surroundings." —Morgan Childs, Creative Director, Moana Events

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Encourage Fork-Free Foods

backyard engagement party ashley kelemen photography
Ashley Kelemen Photography

"Stick to foods that are easy to serve, share, and eat while standing!" —Ashley Kelemen, Owner and Photographer, Ashley Kelemen Photography

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Adorn Open Spaces with Beautiful Signage

backyard engagement party grant daniels photography
Grant Daniels Photography

"Beautiful signage sets the tone of your party as your guests arrive. Use a fabulous chalkboard artist to create a sign to express the style of the celebration!" —Mary Wright Shah, Creative Director and Planner, Diamond Affairs

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Find a Focal Point

backyard engagement party carrie wilcox floral design
Carrie Wilcox Floral Design

"Choose a beautiful backyard tree as the focal point for your party. If your event is during the summer, it could be a wise old oak tree donned with ribbons in the color palette of the wedding." —Carrie Wilcox, Owner, Carrie Wilcox Floral Design

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Incorporate Vibrant Hues

backyard engagement party brklyn view photography
Brklyn View Photography

"Add a lot of fun color by styling low, whimsical centerpieces over a hand-painted table runner." —Michelle Edgemont, Creative Director, Michelle Edgemont Design

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Utilize Garden Florals

backyard engagement party jen kroll photography
Jen Kroll Photography

"A backyard engagement party wouldn't feel as homegrown without clipping fresh flowers from the gardens to use as centerpieces. With all the gorgeous spring and summer cottage perennials planted in gardens each year, a celebration is a perfect cause to get out the clippers and the mix-matched vintage vases." —Alicia Fritz, Owner, A Day in May Events

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Create Playful DIY Stations

backyard engagement party melanie duerkopp
Melanie Duerkopp

"For a fun and casual drink station, create a DIY bubbly bar with carafes of different fruit juices and sparkling wine. You can also add Lucite ice tubs filled with mini Pellegrino's for those who want to mix in something non-alcoholic. This not only alleviates the need for a bartender, but also let's your guests get creative with their mixology skills." —Christina Millikin, Owner, Glow Events

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Get Creative with Tablescape Presentation

backyard engagement party charlotte jenks lewis
Charlotte Jenks Lewis

"Don't feel the need to restrict yourself to a classic bar and buffet table. Create an unexpected and delightful surprise for your guest when they arrive with chic picnic dining all set with your favorite fresh foods and summer cocktails." —Jennifer Zabinski, Founder and President, Jennifer Zabinski Events

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Embrace Your Natural Surroundings

backyard engagement party mary mchenry photography
Mary McHenry Photography

"Make sure to incorporate the beauty of the natural space within your décor." —Andi Dyal, Founder and Principal Consultant, ANJE Soirees

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Seek Out Exclusive Vendors

backyard engagement party j wiley photography
J Wiley Photography

"Choose a caterer with a proven track record for working in unique spaces, and enough service staff to truly make your guests feel at home. Schedule a walk-through with them to work out all the operational details well before your wedding date!" —Cassy Anderson, Owner, Cassy Rose Events

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Elevate Décor in Covered Areas

backyard engagement party ashley sawtelle
Ashley Sawtelle

"Incorporate greenery into a tent or covered space to bring a little bit of the outdoors in. Come rain or shine, you have a safe space for your party while making the tent feel like an extension of your surroundings. —Ashley Sawtelle, Owner, Ashley Sawtelle

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