I think a lot of people get so obsessed with the wedding and the expense of the wedding that they miss out on what the real purpose is. It's not about a production number, it's about a meaningful moment between two people that's witnessed by people that they actually really know and care about. - Jane Seymour
I am no stranger to weddings. I am in that prime age of life where often I find myself planning my weeks around bridal showers, bachelorette parties and weddings. And if there is one thing I’ve learned in the many weddings I’ve been in and been to, weddings can be stressful and expensive. But they don’t have to be! I recently attended a backyard wedding for a friend and it was by far the best I had been to in years. It was beautiful, personal and was truly a display of love rather than the dramatic production I am used to.
The bride and groom went through far less stress by choosing an alternative wedding and were able to save quite a bit of money. When I got a chance to pick their brains about it a few weeks later, as well as asking the smart people on the internet, I discovered many helpful tips couples can learn from and apply to their own backyard weddings.
Take Stock of Your Circle
When it comes to getting ready for your backyard wedding, the first place you should start is within your own circle. Your friends and inner circle are less likely to gouge you on prices and will often help you out at a discounted price. Talk to your friends and family and see who they know that is a florist, a baker, DJ’s etc. You’ll be surprised how the 6 degrees of separation can really benefit your wedding planning.
Avoid Per-Person Charges
Most wedding venues and reception venues price their services per person which puts a dollar figure on your loved ones. You stop seeing your high school best friend as an important person in your life and only see them as a cost. This mindset will keep you from sharing your special day with the people you really want there. Avoid these costs by opting for family style catering options and buffets, or even rent a food truck. In addition to this, stock your wedding bar yourself by finding a discount liquor store in your area. This way you can avoid the dollar sign over everyone’s head and the dreaded dry wedding chicken.
Avoid a Parking Nightmare
There is a very good chance you don’t have enough parking in front of your home for all of your family and friends. When planning a backyard wedding you have a couple options for parking. You can reach out to your neighbors and find out if they are okay with using the street or even their driveways. If that isn’t going to work for your home, consider reaching out to a nearby business or church and offer to pay for their parking lot for the event. Don’t forget to include this info in your wedding invite or on your wedding website updates so everyone knows where to park.
Know What to Invest In
There are costs associated with a backyard wedding that is ultimately unavoidable. Things that you aren’t going to want to skimp on are extremely important to the success of your wedding. A tent for shade and protection from bad weather is a must if you don’t have a big enough house to use as a backup plan. A dance floor to keep grass (and high heel) damage to a minimum. Portable bathrooms for your guests, and I don’t mean port-a-potties. There are amazing options when it comes to portable bathrooms that have all the amenities of any normal bathroom. In my opinion the one thing you aren’t going to want to skip is a quality photographer. This is a special day for you as a couple, don’t let your cousin’s girlfriend’s brother start their photography career on a day you are going to want to have photographic memory of forever.
Know What to Skip
Just as there are things you want for your wedding, there is plenty you can skip altogether. A DJ is great for a lot of weddings but with a couple of rented or borrowed speakers, an auxiliary cord and a premium spotify account, you can keep your wedding guests dancing. You can even get a microphone to connect if you want to have announcements. Another big expense you can skip is crappy wedding favors. If you want to have something for people to remember, go for something useful like playing cards, bottle openers, drink coasters or even renting a photobooth so that everyone gets to take home pictures.
Other Great Options
- Use an Instagram hashtag and get a printed book of your favorite photos from the big day
- Hang Christmas lights in trees to create a mood and light up the reception at night
- Consider lawn games to keep kids busy during the festivities
- Make your own invites to cut down on costs
- Invest in Polaroid film and a camera and have guests take a selfie and write a note in place of a guest book
- Check Craigslist and thrift stores for decor, centerpieces, platter trays and more
- Borrow from friends things that you might need but don’t need to buy
- Buy bridesmaids dresses from the rack or have bridesmaids pick dresses in a specific color of their choosing
A wedding is the ultimate expression of love and commitment and while I love big weddings, an intimate backyard wedding can be just as fun and special. If you are looking to enjoy your big day as a couple with your friends and family without breaking the bank, these tips can really help you plan the perfect day. And at the end of the day, remember that weddings aren’t supposed to be stressful, enjoy every step of the way. Plan your wedding with the intent in mind, to express love.