When it comes to wedding venues, it doesn’t get more intimate or personal than your very own patio or your in-law’s lakeside cabin. And planning a backyard wedding on a budget is not only possible, it can be downright FUN. No, really, we swear!
Not sure where to start?
No worries, we LIVE for this type of wedding day dreaming and scheming. And we’re all about finding ways to save money because, well, we’re pretty sure there are other things you want to be able enjoy post-wedding.
Like a honeymoon, or maybe some new socks. And, if you’re paying back a giant wedding bill, you might have to start walking around barefoot. Just sayin’.
Ready to start planning your epic backyard wedding? Continue reading for inspiration on how to make each element of your wedding budget-friendly. Also, read our general tips on keeping your wedding budget in-check.
Host a Backyard Wedding on a Budget
The neat thing about working with a small budget is that it encourages you to step outside the box and take creative leaps of faith. Whether it’s diving into the world of DIY, or brainstorming delicious recipes to feed a crowd for example. You’ll discover loads of ways to save money while creating a unique and unforgettable backyard wedding.
Keep reading for some ideas to get you started.
Pick a spot that has meaning to you or that you love for the atmosphere. Maybe it’s your grandmother’s garden, your fiance’s cottage by the sea, or your own backyard. Walk around the area and get to know it on a wedding-planning level to discover its potential.
Make sure it will suit your needs and the number of guests you are hosting. Ask yourself key questions such as:
- Does it have cover from the weather? Look, there are no two ways about it – you absolutely need to account for the possibility of inclement weather.
- Is there a space that’s suitable for dancing? Grass is a lovely carpet, but not always great for boogying down, especially if your guests didn’t get the note to avoid wearing heels!
- Are there suitable washroom facilities available?
- Where will guests be able to park?
Be honest with your answers or you might find yourself in a bind later on in your wedding planning adventures!
Don’t worry, we know you’ll find the perfect backyard, just like you found the perfect partner.
Food and Beverage
Pizza and buckets of beer or a build-your-own taco station and soda fountain? It’s up to you!
There are so many fantastic foods and drink ideas for the budget backyard wedding. Just to name a few:
- Sliders and BBQ
- Cheese boards and picnic spreads
- Rustic comfort food
- Warm bread
The great thing about many of these menus is that they are easy and affordable to put together yourself.
Another popular option we’ve seen is a ‘bar by donation’. It’s a cross between an open bar and a paid bar. Pop a pretty jar on the bar and invite guests to toss in dolla dolla bills to help you cover the costs of their boozing!
NOTE: Check local liquor laws or with the venue, as this option may not be possible.
Pssst….need some inspo?
We just LOVED the spread of food Kaitlyn and Jeremy offered up at their backyard wedding in North Carolina.
Since you’ll be getting married outside, you’ll want to adorn yourself in something appropriate for the season and environment. A summer wedding calls for something cool and casual, while you may want to wear a couple of layers for a winter wedding.
While weather should definitely guide your attire choices, don’t let your venue deter you from wearing the wedding dress (or tux!) of your dreams. Whatever your style (elegant, boho, modern or vintage), you can find an affordable dress to match.
Don’t believe us?
Check out our guide to the Best Online Shops to Buy an Affordable Wedding Dress and our article on Inexpensive Wedding Dresses You’d Swear Cost Thousands!
Seasonal flowers and wildflowers are always a popular choice and are typically less expensive than exotic flowers. Of course, you can always look at what’s already right in front of you, from the colorful potted plants dotting the patio to the looming oak tree that stands watch in your yard.
Place single flowers in vases or bunches in crates or baskets. You might also create a hanging garden by placing mini bouquets in recycled bottles or vases and hanging them from trees, doorways, and the like.
When it comes to budget outdoor wedding decor, your natural surroundings are your best friend. Use them to your advantage when considering how to decorate the rest of the space.
Decor is one place where you can save big by sourcing second hand or going DIY, without compromising on the final look. Some of the most beautiful weddings we’ve come across featured loads of DIY decor ideas.
Elevate any theme with candles and soft lighting, like string lights and paper lanterns. Fill buckets with blooms, use textured linens, or create an altar draped in flowers and fabric.
Wedding coordination includes logistical things like cleanup, parking, permits, and a backup plan in case of inclement weather. You also need to think about extra electrical power, restroom space, neighbors, and yard maintenance.
A lot of couples outsource the job of wedding planning or coordination to a professional. While this definitely saves time and stress, it can be an expensive investment. Take stock of your friend circle.
Do you have a trusted friend who:
- LOVES creating to-do lists
- Is always on time (like, annoyingly so!)
- Enjoys planning get-togethers
Ask them if they might be able to help out with certain tasks in the lead up to the wedding, but be mindful of the time commitment.
For day-of-wedding help, ask your closest family and friends to help with certain tasks, such as bringing out the cake or moving chairs after the ceremony. Spread the work out, so no one misses out on actually enjoying the celebrations, but so they all feel extra special for their part in your wedding day!
One of the things most couples regret not splurging for on their wedding day is photography.
Whether you hire a professional photographer or have a dedicated friend capture special moments, you don’t want to miss out on wedding day photos!
Try and check off all the essentials, from formals and portraits to the reception and beyond.
If you can’t afford a professional photographer on the big day, consider hiring one for an engagement shoot. The cost will be a fraction and since the venue is your backyard, you can still arrange to get some beautiful shots of the place where your nuptials are going to take place!
A backyard wedding wouldn’t be complete without some lawn games. A few wedding game ideas we love include:
- Giant Jenga
- Bocce ball
- Bean bag toss
Get creative with how to keep your guests entertained. If you love wine, why not organize a wine tasting game? Trivia or a scavenger hunt, if done well, can also be fun and serve as a great ice-breaker.
You could also provide music by creating a wedding playlist and renting a small sound system. Just make sure you’re aware of neighborhood noise ordinances.
Top the night off with interactive dessert stations, like a build-your-own-sundae bar, s’ mores station, or a cupcake carousel. Alternatively, you could set up a coffee and hot chocolate station and hand out homemade cookies.
We also love the idea of a dessert potluck. Pretty much everyone has a treasured dessert recipe they love whipping up for special occasions, and what’s more special than your wedding?!
Invitations and Stationery
It doesn’t get more budget-friendly than FREE! Check out our wedding stationery free printables for all kinds of design templates and styles. All you need to do is customize, print, and send to your guests.
You can save on favors and wedding decorations by combining the two. For example, you can give the succulents you use to decorate the tables to guests at the end of the celebration.
And who doesn’t love receiving something edible?
Baked goods, salsa, homemade jams, and the like are always welcome gifts at weddings.
If you have a friend or family member who will act as the wedding officiant, consider the time and effort (writing the service, attending the rehearsal, etc.) they’ll put in and offer a gift as a token of your appreciation.
If this isn’t an option, you can also hire a religious or civil officiant. Although a religious officiant isn’t paid, you’ll be expected to donate to the house of worship and tip the officiant.
Civil officiants generally charge around $200 to $300, but you should ask ahead to see what the service fee includes before you book.
There’s so much to think about when it comes to planning a wedding. We’ve tried to cover all of the big items, but there are many other things you’ll want to consider when hosting a backyard wedding: silverware, tables and chairs, gifts, rentals, etc.
Tips to Keep your Budget in Check
Keeping your wedding budget in check comes down to organization, communication, and creativity. The creative side of planning a backyard wedding on a budget is the most fun part, of course, but staying organized and communicating with your partner is a great way to strengthen your relationship!
Here are some general tips on how to stick to a small budget, no matter where you’re hosting your wedding.
Determine Your Budget First
Hashing out the financial details for a budget-friendly wedding doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. One of the best ways to avoid number-crunching stress is to determine your budget, then break down the total into smaller categories. For example:
- Ceremony: 25% or X amount
- Reception: 25% or X amount
- Food: 15% or X amount
Continue for each category we featured in the above section, including attire, flowers, decor, invitations, etc. This system will help you allocate costs and give you a roadmap to stay on track.
Limit # of Guests
One of the easiest ways to keep your budget in check is by limiting the number of guests you invite to your closest family and friends. Besides reducing costs, an intimate celebration will allow you to spend more time with each of your guests.
Host Ceremony/Reception at Private Residence or Public Space
Done and done! Backyards are one of the best options for the budget-savvy couple and depending on who you count amongst your close family and friends, your ‘backyard’ space gorgeous outdoor patio with a pergola, a gorgeous green space set against a mountain backdrop, or a private beach.
Choose 2-3 Top Priorities
Sit down with your fiance and make a wish list, either together or separately, and let your big-day dreams guide your budget. If you don’t see eye to eye on your top priorities, find a compromise by choosing one top priority each and one that you both agree on.
Look at Alternative Food and Booze Options
A cocktail reception with finger foods, a potluck buffet, a BBQ, or a grazing table – these are just a few alternatives to the traditional plated dinner. And truth be told, from our personal experience, the sit-down dinner is over-rated and the food is often a let-down considering the price.
To keep the booze budget in check, consider offering a limited selection of alcohol, like three varieties of wine and a few beer types.
Ask for Help in Lieu of Gifts
Does someone you know have a skill they can offer up in lieu of a wedding gift? If one of your guests has a creative talent, ask them if they’d be up for “gifting” you and your fiance with their help instead of adding to your kitchen essentials collection (not that you wouldn’t appreciate that!).
Friends with photography, videography, decorating, cooking, baking, or organizing skills are the kinds of friends you want when it comes to wedding planning.
DIY Favors, Flowers, and Wedding Party Gifts
Some DIY projects will save you money, and some are more hassle than they’re worth.
How do you know the difference? You need to think about what items you want to put your time and effort into, how much the items will cost to make, and which projects are practical.
Wedding favors can be simple, yet meaningful DIY items like jars of local honey or coffee beans, a personalized bag of fortune cookies, or a handwritten letter also used as a place card.
You might also consider the DIY route for your wedding flowers, whether that means crafting an alternative bouquet made of seashells or outfitting each table with hand-picked flowers from your garden.
Shop Second Hand or Vintage for Attire and Decor
Let’s face it — most people wear their wedding attire once, and the decorations they spend hundreds on collect cobwebs in storage. Creating a backyard wedding on a budget is the perfect time to shop for unique vintage and second-hand items.
Try sites like eBay and Etsy, as well as your favorite thrift stores!
A Small, But Mighty Wedding Budget
And there you have it, all of our best suggestions and inspiration on how to plan a beautiful backyard wedding on a budget. With your creativity and a little help from your friends and family, your small budget will be plenty enough to create a mighty fine day of ceremony and celebrations.
Remember to have fun, be flexible and keep that budget in check. We know you’ve got this!