A simple wedding day with close family and friends

Lauren and Anthony had only two requests for their Phoenix, AZ wedding day: to get married and party with the people who meant the most to them. This small wedding in the backyard of the parents of the bride had all the makings of an elegant wedding day without any of the stuffiness or production of a big wedding.

Friends and neighbors all pitched in to help the couple set up the day before the wedding. The ceremony space featured a simple handcrafted arch and spring florals spilling out of wine barrels. As I wrapped up photos of the decor, I noticed I had company. The bride’s friendly pet tortoise was following me around the backyard while I did detail photos. He wandered around munching grass right up until the wedding. Sadly, he was not invited to the party. He did still get a few glamour shots taken.

Decor for a small backyard wedding, including wine barrels, florals and greenery, a handmade arch and live tortoise.

Lauren and her bridesmaids got ready in her mother’s bedroom. Her wedding dress, from Brilliant Bridal, is lightweight and simple, and perfect for a small backyard ceremony. Anthony and his groomsmen waited on the front porch in their suits. Anthony tried to steal a few moments between talking and laughing to read over his vows before the ceremony.

Bride and groom share vows during a small backyard wedding ceremony.
Springtime florals brightened this small backyard wedding.

Backyard Wedding Reception

The Arizona spring weather gave us some rare color with lots of wildflowers to use as a backdrop for portraits of the bride and groom. The couple also gifted their guests with live plants in tiny jars hung in handmade macrame plant hangers. The gated fence serving as the entrance to the wedding was covered in the greenery that also doubled as favors for guests. Some of my favorite elements of small DIY weddings are favors that both serve a purpose on the wedding day and people will actually enjoy (and not throw away as soon as they get home).

Live plants are both decor and wedding favors for this small backyard ceremony.

After the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom’s guests all gathered in big open white tents (with easy dance floor access) for the reception. Big farmhouse-style tables paired with assorted vintage chairs held guests for an elegant spin on a backyard barbeque reception dinner. Conversation and laughter flowed as easily as it would at a block party. The bride’s father started his speech with a shot of tequila and ended with another shot, inviting everyone to really get the party started. The newlyweds stood up to thank their guests and Lauren welcomed everyone to “her mother’s idea of a simple backyard wedding”. It’s funny, because every detail of this day really was so thought out and just as well planned as a big ballroom wedding might have been. Still, every single touch felt so personal and fit for the couple.

Vintage mismatched chairs paired with handmade farm-style tables and benches created outdoor reception seating for this small backyard wedding.

Planning your own small wedding?