A wedding right in your backyard
Bride and groom walking on lawn, rear view

A backyard can provide a uniquely meaningful backdrop for a wedding ceremony or reception.

"It's special, it's yours, it's one of a kind," event planner Anne Bryan says.

Often the backyard holds treasured family memories or a personalized landscape that adds poignancy to a wedding celebration, says Bryan, owner of Tucson's Creative Events. "There's a special reason why (couples) want to have it there."

Bryan and landscape designer Lesley Mansur, owner of Great Gardens, offer several ideas on how to spiff up the landscape and make the backyard become the magical setting for that special day.

Plants: If you have several months to grow something, you can choose plants that will provide exactly the atmosphere you want. But keep the long view in mind. "I make sure everything they used (for the wedding) they were willing to use in the landscape," Bryan says.

Containers can set the right mood quickly, says Mansur. "You can have a riot of color or be very monochromatic," she says.

In a large container, mix seasonal annuals that match your color scheme with plants you'll want to keep, such as herbs and garden greens, she suggests. Then place the containers along walkways or to define gathering spaces.

Also consider using aromatic plants for a scentful atmosphere. Chaparral, rosemary and mint are good candidates, Mansur says, as are seasonal flowers.

Trim plants away from public areas to provide more space and avoid snagging clothing, Bryan suggests. If you don't want to cut something off, tie it back with coordinating ribbon to get the plant out of the way.

: Convert your fire pit into a table, Mansur says. Place an arrangement at the bottom of it, then cover it with a ready-made glass tabletop.

Do the same with tall containers for cocktail tables.

For a client, Bryan had a removable platform built over the swimming pool. It can be stored and used again.

Make the pool part of the décor by floating flowers or other meaningful items, she adds.

: Change the bulbs in the pool to match the wedding décor, Bryan suggests, or float tubes of waterproof LED lights.

Define a gathering area with strings of lamps shaped like lanterns or lotus flowers, Mansur suggests, or use a string of oval lights reminiscent of Italian bistros.

These need to be plugged in, she warns, so be sure cords are safely tucked away. Painting the cords brown makes them disappear from sight.

Battery-powered lights that are slightly larger than tea lights add colorful, flameless illumination on tables, she says. She found some at IKEA, which also sells small, solar power options as well.