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Surprising Ways To DIY An Outdoor Wedding On A Shoestring

No budget? No problem. Contrary to what the wedding industry might want you to think, it’s possible to plan the outdoor wedding of your dreams without spending a fortune. 

A bride and groom embrace in a grassy field, the bride smiling with closed eyes while holding a bouquet, and the groom facing away from the camera.

From choosing your venue to selecting your decorations and everything in between, there are many ways to DIY your outdoor wedding. These creative and effective ideas will help you cut costs so you can enjoy your special day to the fullest, whether your wedding is months away or just around the corner.

Venue Selection

Did you know that the average couple spends around $12,800 on their wedding venue, according to a study conducted by The Knot? It’s no surprise that many couples might want to lower prices. Hosting your wedding in a public space or backyard is a clever way to save money without compromising quality.

Although easily overlooked, local parks are excellent options for outdoor weddings. If you’re lucky enough to live near the beach, you may also want to consider hosting your wedding there. Just check whether your local authorities require any permits.

Backyard weddings are a cozy, intimate option for those looking to maximize charm and minimize costs. Don’t have your own backyard? Your friends or relatives might be willing to host. You can also look into renting a backyard through a third-party online platform at a much lower cost than a traditional venue.

Outdoor wedding ceremony setup with white folding chairs draped in lavender fabric, a flower-adorned arch, and a petal-strewn white aisle runner in a garden setting.

Decorations

From fairy lights to fresh flowers, there are seemingly limitless options available for your wedding decor. Instead of purchasing items that may only be used once, think about creative ways to reduce your decor costs.

Leah Ingram, author of 15 books on shopping, wedding planning, gift giving and saving money, recalls how she made the most out of her wedding decorations. “At my wedding reception, my mother and I potted perennial flowers and clustered them at the center of each table,” remembers Leah. “During the event, they were the decorations.” And when the wedding was over? “We asked the guests to take them home so they could plant them in their gardens.” 

Something Old, Something Borrowed

Check local resale, trade and buy-nothing groups to see if any gently used decorations are available at lower prices. If you live in a major city, contact wedding rental services to see whether their prices make sense for your budget. 

Don’t be shy to ask your friends and family if they have extra decorations to loan you for the big day. Golden Christmas lights, for example, are beautiful additions to an evening reception outdoors.

Willing to Try Out the DIY Life? 

Handmade decorations are a thoughtful way to add a personal touch to your celebrations. They can also be a fun activity for your wedding party to create together. A balloon arch, homemade signs, floral centerpieces made from thrifted bottles, DIY paper flowers and handwritten name cards are just a few of the many decorations you and your friends can make.

An assortment of cold cuts, cheese, and fruit arranged on a platter for a wedding.

Catering and Food

A wedding reception just wouldn’t be complete without food. But with the average cost of catering at $85 a head, according to The Knot, can you serve your guests a high-quality meal while keeping prices down?

Leah’s secret weapon for entertaining a crowd is wholesale clubs like Costco and BJ’s. “Use your membership to get wine and spirits on the cheap,” she advises. “They have some of the best prices around.” 

Plus, you might be able to find a “super affordable” cake while you’re there. “Sure, it won’t have the layers traditional wedding cakes have,” Leah says. “But those cakes are delicious.”

Potluck Style

If you’re planning a backyard wedding, lean into the casual atmosphere by inviting guests to bring their favorite dishes to a collective buffet. Have some ideas ready for guests who might feel unsure about what to contribute. A wedding charcuterie board, for example, is an easy crowd-pleaser. At the end of the night, encourage everyone to swap dishes so that each guest takes home something new.

A woman grilling skewered meat at a backyard BBQ.

Backyard Barbecue

Who can say no to an I Do BBQ? From hamburgers to faux-burgers to grilled seafood, there are a plethora of options to satisfy any guest. To stay on budget, cook cheap cuts of meat on the grill like top sirloin and skirt steak – when cooked perfectly, nobody will know they aren’t expensive!

Elevate your menu by adding some unique dressings and sides. For example, tiger sauce pairs well with any type of protein. Bonus points: provide disposable bibs and wet wipes to help your guests keep themselves spotless.

Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie boards are another great option for an outdoor wedding. It’s a great way to serve your guests a variety of food, plus they are just gorgeous. Contrary to popular belief, a wedding charcuterie board doesn’t have to break the bank; there are plenty of ways to execute one without overspending.

First, you can focus on a specific food group. For example, assembling a dessert charcuterie board may cost less than a full brunch board. You also can choose a serving option based on your budget. You can serve the goodies on a table, on platters, or on charcuterie cups or grazing boxes. You can even opt for a per table option. 

Additionally, you don’t have to use artisanal meats and cheeses. Cured meats and everyday cheeses can make a delicious and appealing charcuterie board. Don’t forget to use seasonal fruits and vegetables to save money!

Drinks

When planning your food menu, don’t overlook drinks. Batched cocktails or mocktails in large pitchers are a great option for a crowd. Offering bottled or canned drinks? Embrace the backyard vibe by filling a wheelbarrow with ice to make a DIY drinks cooler.

Apparel

Finding the perfect outfit for the big day can be a lot of fun — or a lot of financial stress. Thankfully, thrift stores, online marketplaces and your family’s closets are all more affordable places to shop for wedding attire.

Don’t give up on a custom fit just because you aren’t buying apparel from a bridal boutique. If you buy clothes off-the-rack or second-hand, you can invest some of the money you saved in alterations at your local tailor. 

Handmade soap bars wrapped in burlap and decorated with small sprigs of dried flowers arranged in a wicker basket on a floral tablecloth.

Wedding Favors

Continue the DIY theme by creating handmade favors for your guests. Anything goes when it comes to your wedding party favors – they can be simple as personalized bookmarks or as extravagant as mini succulents in decorative pots.

Homemade jams, seed packets, soaps and body scrubs are all cost-effective ideas that your guests will actually use. I personally love getting handmade or homemade favors from any event, because I know that they come from a place of love. Here are a few more ideas to inspire you and get your creative juices flowing:

  • Essential Oil Blends: Give your guests the gift of aromatherapy by choosing an essential oil blend as a wedding favor. The possibilities here are endless – you can give out a bottle of your favorite summer diffuser blend if your big day will be in the summer or a woodsy essential oil blend since you’re having an outdoor wedding.
  • Bath Confetti: Who doesn’t love a relaxing bath? Your guests will love your thoughtfulness if you give them some DIY bath confetti. They’re easy and inexpensive to make, plus you can use your favorite scents and personalize the color according to your motif. Just package them nicely and they’ll be good to go!
  • Homemade Sweet Treats: Everybody wants to take home a sweet treat! Show off your kitchen skills by baking matcha brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and other delicious five-ingredient dessert recipes. Place them in a box, tie a nice ribbon around it, and you’ll have an unforgettable wedding favor.

Photography

Instead of a professional photographer, consider hiring a talented photography student to capture your big day. Or, for a more personal touch, purchase some disposable cameras for your guests to enjoy in the moment.

Another fun yet affordable option to capture the best moments of your big day is by renting a photobooth. A photobooth is typically a small booth or an open-air setup where guests can pose for pictures. It often comes with fun props and accessories, and the photos are printed instantly. You can even personalize the layout according to your theme, so that guests can take home a unique keepsake.

Additionally, you can create a unique hashtag for your wedding day. You can ask your guests to add the hashtag every time they post photos of your big day on their social media accounts. Later, all you have to do is type in your hashtag on the search bar of Facebook or Instagram, and you’ll see a collection of wedding photos posted by your guests!

Closing Thoughts

An outdoor wedding, from its natural decor to its casual setting, is the perfect way to throw a budget-friendly bash. But with a million and one details to plan, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. When you look back on your big day, will you regret not spending thousands of dollars on custom floral centerpieces? No — you’ll remember celebrating with your friends and family without any worries. And most of all, you’ll remember that a beautiful wedding doesn’t have to break the bank.

Portions of this article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

Kath Wilson

Tuesday 4th of June 2024

I love these creative wedding ideas! Who knew that a those on a budget wedding could still be dreamy? I'm sending this to my friends who are about to tie the knot!

Easy Homemade Life

Friday 7th of June 2024

Thank you, Kath! I hope they will love them as well. Sending best wishes to your friends.

Mastodon