Looking for outdoor wedding ideas on a budget? This is your chance to get crafty, especially if you’re on a low budget. Small backyard weddings are proof positive that it doesn’t cost much to create something charming from scratch. And since wedding venues often take up nearly half of the budget, having a backyard wedding can free you up to spend more on wedding decor.
Backyard Wedding Ideas: Use What You Have on Hand
Outdoor wedding themes should take inspiration from the landscape. If you’re having your wedding in your own backyard or the backyard of a family member, use what’s already there to inspire your outdoor wedding.
- Leave up the clothesline and decorate it with strings of polaroid photos, or anything colorful that would make a good background for photos.
- Outdoor wedding venues might have a trellis to use as the backdrop for your exchange of vows. Otherwise, you might want to rent or purchase a simple wedding arch that you can decorate with flowers, bunting, or balloons.
- If you’re lucky enough to have an old tree in your backyard, show it off. Decorate the lower branches with glass balls, paper lanterns, or ribbons.
- Use potted trees to make a “wishing tree” — put paper, markers, and clothespins nearby so that your family and friends can write down their well-wishes and clip them to the tree.
- Propped-up wheelbarrows make a great place to park drinks and guest books.
Weather-Proof The Wedding Day
Let’s talk about the wet elephant in the room: Rain is a possibility. Even if it only rains the day before, your backyard wedding could get muddy. You’ll want to make sure guests have a solid footing for the ceremony and reception.
- Rent a Tent. If you host a backyard wedding, you’ll want to plan for at least some of the reception to take place under a tent. If you’re having your reception on-site, make sure you can move your ceremony set-up undercover if need be. Tent vendors can also advise what they provide in case of rain.
- Don’t have enough outdoor furniture? You may be able to rent more affordably than stocking up on new pieces.
Chic Patio Lounges
Make the most of your existing patio furniture and maybe throw in a few extras.
- Any colored glass will pop in a backyard setting, and antique bottles and vases are usually easy to find at your local thrift stores — even better if you can find some that match your wedding colors.
- Find affordable fabric in your wedding colors and use it to decorate your patio furniture and your outdoor table settings.
- Now is the chance to let lawn ornaments shine. Wooden crates can get re-purposed to hold flowers and prop up photos of the bride and groom. With enough wedding decor, you can make anything look like it’s supposed to be there.
- Make bespoke signs to point your guests in the right direction. Signs for where to park and find the bathroom will make sure everyone is on the same page. You could have signage made out of wooden crates or repurposed antiques — use your imagination (and Pinterest).
Embrace a Rustic Vibe
This is your chance to take a laid-back approach. Emphasize beautiful landscaping to create effortless, boho-chic wedding decor.
- Mason jars reign supreme in backyard wedding table settings. They make adorable mini-vases for wildflowers or candleholders. That said, any jam jar would work — the more antique-looking the better.
- Make an entrance. Set up your entrance with rows of decorative bottles, bouquets, or lanterns.
- String lights always bring fairy-tale-level romance. Coil them in mason jars for a fairy-light centerpiece, or hang them from your tent poles to create a warm glow inside the tent.
- Dessert First: Make your multi-tiered wedding cake, or a serve-yourself ice cream bar, or a doughnut wall the star of the show. We eat with our eyes first, and nothing looks better than a pile of sugar.
- Buffet: Buffets rule the day for budget-friendly backyard weddings. Think barbecues, serve-your-self taco stands, and picnic classics.
- Potluck: There’s no rule against having a potluck for your reception. Of course, this option only works if your friends and family live near your backyard venue.
- Catered, Sit-Down Dinner: You can work with a caterer to serve a formal, sit-down dinner at your backyard reception. Talk to your caterer about what they need for an outdoor event. Can they access a kitchen or do they need their own oven and prep tent?
Backyard weddings let couples save quite a bit on bartending.
- If you don’t want to hire a bartender, you could get kegs alongside a few icy chests of beer and wine.
- Pre-mixed cocktails in pretty glass drink dispensers make it easy for guests to serve themselves.
- If you want to stay on budget but still want to hire a bartender, skip the liquor.
- Backyard weddings offer tons of ready-made entertainment for your guests. Croquet, corn hole, and bocce ball are great ways to give your cocktail hour some character.
- Provided you have a big enough backyard and the neighborhoods won’t complain, budget for a live band. A bluegrass or a folk band could pull it all together if you’re going for a rustic vibe.
Homemade Wedding Favors
Flowers, dessert, handmade decor — use your favorite aspect of your wedding to inspire your wedding favors.
- If you featured a lot of wildflowers, you could make your guests mini grow kits, complete with seeds and instructions on how to plant.
- Home-made baked goods might take a lot of time, but they’ll also save you a lot of money.
- Does a local artisan make beautiful soap or candles? Package them up in a cute burlap sack.
Can’t Buy Love
Low-budget, small backyard weddings are all about putting thoughtfulness and creativity above expensive extras. If you host a backyard wedding, the zeal you bring to the planning and prep is what matters, and not your budget.