How to Host a Backyard Barbecue Wedding Shower

For a bridal shower or any type of party, learn how to create a casual, farmhouse-style atmosphere packed with comfort food, drinks and cocktails, and loads of charm.
By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Create a Functional Layout

Backyard barbecues are meant to be relaxed, laid back and carefree. From the overall layout to the decor and menu, guests and hosts alike should be able to simply hang out and enjoy each other’s company. When designing a buffet for a backyard barbecue wedding shower, focus on easy access to and around the table as well as creating an aesthetic packed with texture, rustic finishes, shapes and objects reminiscent of classic farmhouse style. Create four main zones: a buffet, a sit-down seating area, a drink area and open yard space for games. Should table space become limited, keep hay bales nearby to allow guests to instantly access more seating.

Dining Table With Plenty of Seating

To ensure your backyard barbecue is all about the food, consider setting the sit-down dining table in the center of your outdoor space. This will position guests equally between the drink station and the buffet table, making it more efficient to get up from the table for second helpings.

Farmers' Market Centerpieces

Get creative with your backyard barbecue centerpiece by creating a farmers’ market-style paper-bag-and-fruit grouping. First, gather bags in different heights and colors, as well as fruits ranging in different shades and tints of the same hue. Next add weight to the bottom with a 2” to 4”-thick layer of pea gravel topped with foam packing peanuts until the bag is two-thirds full. Lastly, add fruit along the top of each bag, rising approximately 2” above the top. Add another layer of visual interest to each bag with ribbon or burlap, and be sure to group bags together with a balanced range of heights and spacing. Get the detailed instructions

Galvanized Tubs Become Lighting

Bring industrial, down-on-the-farm flair to your backyard barbecue buffet with galvanized metal tub pendant lights. To make these, pick up large, round tubs; 1”-thick sisal rope; pendant wiring kits;and large globe bulbs from the home improvement store. Drill four holes into the top, evenly spaced apart for rope as well as a fifth hole centered for the light-bulb socket. With the tub turned upside down, insert the pendant kit components up inside the center drilled hole of tub, feeding the wire through the hole until the head of the socket sits flush inside. Cut rope to size so that the bottom of the tub sits between 32 and 36 inches above the surface of the table. Attach two strands of rope, one on each side of the tub, through all four drilled holes, wrapping the pendant kit wire tightly to the rope. Add a heavyweight swag hook to ceiling, then attach rope onto hook and plug each tub pendant into an extension cord. See more of the how-to instructions

Natural Rope

In addition to structurally supporting the galvanized metal tub pendant, sisal rope introduces rough farmhouse style and texture into a rustic-themed space.

Mini Apple Pies

Put a fresh spin on an American classic with individually sized homemade apple pies. While they may require some more time in the kitchen since multiples will be baked, they’re much easier for guests to handle and enjoy as finger foods as they make their way around your backyard barbecue.

Cup o' Ribs

While barbecue ribs are one of the most popular menu items for backyard entertaining, they’re also one of the messiest. To make handling barbecue ribs more guest-friendly, serve them in small clear glasses complete with barbecue sauce covering the bottom. This will allow guests to dip their ribs continually, eliminating trips back and forth from the buffet table.

Keep It Hot

When it comes to hot food, disposable catering trays warmed with ethanol gel cans are the best fit. Disguise the low-budget trays by placing them toward the back of the buffet table, then layering other platters and stands in front of and around them.

Casseroles

The term "no fuss" is what barbecue buffets are all about. While more upscale wedding showers often entail formal servingware and vessels, backyard shindigs are all about keeping things simple and easy. Casseroles are a perfect fit, not only since most are classified as comfort foods, but also due to the fact that casserole dishes come straight out of the oven and onto the table.

Flatware Colander

Casual, farmhouse style decorating incorporates creative touches meant to add humor or work as conversation-starters. Get creative with risers along your backyard barbecue buffet table with repurposed risers such as colanders, strainers or any kitchen pans or platters which add color, shape or texture. When laying out flatware, consider industrial touches such as galvanized metal baskets rather than formal place settings.

Plates and Condiments

Since guests will be lining up to serve themselves, dedicate one end of your buffet table to making plates, linens and condiments easily accessible. Stack plates up casually, keeping them elevated with risers. Transfer ketchup and mustard from their containers into restaurant condiment bottles for a more personal touch.

Hay Seating

Hay bales are an excellent alternative to outdoor chairs, especially when entertaining with farmhouse style. Easy to move around and able to accommodate up to three guests each, hay bales can be made a bit more comfortable and decorative with the addition of woven mats or cushions placed along the top.

Horseshoe Place-Card Holder

Although guests will be serving themselves at the buffet table, it’s wise to consider an assigned seating plan to help encourage guests to get to know one another. Bring all-American farmhouse style to the table with place-card holders made from horseshoes. To make these, you’ll need bailing wire, horse shoes, decorative paper, letter stamps and ink pads as well as twine or strands of hay. Bend the wire back to create a stand for the horseshoes, then stamp names onto decorative paper, and attach with twine or strands of hay through the integrated holes of the horseshoe. See the detailed instructions

Lemonade Stand

Bring a classic Southern summertime touch to your backyard barbecue with a lemonade-stand drink station made from discarded shipping pallets. First, stand the pallet upright to create the front facade. Next, use discarded wood from a second pallet to create the structure of a sign as well as a sign itself made from a simple piece of pressure-treated plywood with hand-painted letters. Add a piece of 16”-deep by 4’-long pressure-treated plywood along the top of the pallet front to create a shelf.  Get the detailed instructions

Sweet and Tart

Once your do-it-yourself lemonade-stand drink station is in place, stock the plywood countertop with clear glass beverage servers filled with lemonade, iced tea and/or signature juices as well as color-coordinated glasses and even a tip jar to gather money for the couple's honeymoon fund.

Adult Beverages

American farmhouse style usually incorporates industrial elements. Create a freestanding or wall-mounted beer station with galvanized pipe and precut 2”-thick pressure-treated pine planks sealed with exterior paint. Use flanges and elbows to connect the pipe to the wood.

A Little Western Touch

Add an unexpected touch to your yard with antlers or taxidermy. Not only is this a way to bring more rural American style to your soiree, but it also adds another conversation-starter certain to have guests breaking the ice.

Drink Tubs

Instead of plastic coolers, display ice-cold drinks in galvanized metal tubs sporadically placed throughout the backyard. This is an excellent way to avoid guests crowding in the same spot, and will encourage them to move around more.

Signature Cocktail

Bring a custom cocktail touch to your iced metal bins by creating signature cocktails pre-mixed and served inside Mason jars.

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