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Backyard Wedding Budget: How Much Will It Cost?

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Are you thinking of a backyard wedding? Here is how much we spent on my sister's Big Day.

Are you thinking of a backyard wedding? Here is how much we spent on my sister's Big Day.

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Do you want to have a backyard wedding on a budget? The good news is that you'll probably save a lot of money; the bad news is that you'll still have to be careful to make sure that your wedding costs don't skyrocket.

The main thing to realize is that nothing comes for free. Paying less money almost always means increasing personal effort and sometimes stress. Saving money is awesome; just make sure you know what you're getting into before you decide to grow your own flowers or cook your own food!

A quick note on costs. Prices for everything from DJs to tent rentals to photographers vary widely depending if you're in an urban or rural area, how many competitors there are in your region, changing prices of goods, and more. To get more precise costs for your wedding, simply plug your own numbers into the formulas provided.

Also, don't forget that you get what you pay for. The lower-end prices quoted for services here are for people hired off of Craigslist or acquaintances who are just getting started in the business. Doing research will help you find out what you want to pay for specific items.

I hope these thoughts on backyard wedding budgets help you out!


Wedding Food: What Should You Budget?

Cost For Feeding Guests

Here's the breakdown of what we spent for the wedding reception appetizers and meal:

  • A pig for smoking: $150
  • Four two-pound sirloin steaks for grilling: $50
  • A turkey for smoking: $20
  • Chips, salsas, dips: $20
  • Cheese and crackers: $25
  • Ingredients for buffalo chicken salad: $15
  • Ingredients for homemade baked beans: $10
  • Ingredients for broccoli salad: $10
  • Cut fruit and vegetables: $10
  • Fifty rolls, pre-ordered and picked up that day: $40
  • Sauces and condiments: $15
  • Other: $40

We fed 30 people, but could have easily handled 50. At a total of $385, it cost us about $12 per head.

Want to have your backyard wedding catered? You can spend anywhere from $30 to $200 or more for catering. Look around, and don't forget to get references.


The Price of Drinks

How Do You Want To Provide Them?

  • Wine: My sister got a great case price on Rex Goliath wines. four cases x 12 bottles per case x $5 each = $240 (plus we had leftovers)
  • Beer: A combination of six-packs and twelve-packs equaling 96 bottles and cans of various types for a total of about $150
  • Non-Alcoholic Drinks: Soda, seltzer, and water, about 60 items total: $30
  • Champagne for the toast: $70
  • Ice (don't forget!): $10

Our drinks total came to about $500, or about $17 per head. If an open bar is included with your catering, you might pay less; if you're serving mixed drinks, you might pay more.

Shutterfly Is a Great Way to Preserve Wedding Memories

Low-Cost Prints, Photo Books, and More

My sister used Shutterfly to create a gorgeous guest book for her wedding and also used the low-cost offers to get great-looking prints of her wedding photos.

Don’t forget decorations, flowers, and table settings! They don’t have to cost a lot.

Don’t forget decorations, flowers, and table settings! They don’t have to cost a lot.

  • Flower seeds, soil, pots: $20
  • Crepe streamers at the dollar store: $4
  • Battery-powered lanterns: $8
  • Vases, ribbon, glass gems: $15
  • Tulle for draping: $50
  • Lace placemats: $50
  • Large and small melamine plates: $70
  • Candles and ribbons: $20
  • Napkins and other disposables: $15
  • Balloons: $6
  • Bridal bouquet and three boutonnieres: $145
  • Other Purchased flowers: $30
  • Miscellaneous: $30

Our total for all of these items came to $463. We did a lot of dollar-store shopping and had many items on hand. If you want to hire a decorator, expect to pay $1,000 to $5,000 or more. (This part of the backyard wedding budget is probably the most flexible and the part you'll need to do some research on to get the hard numbers.)


Budgeting Wedding Music and Entertainment

Keeping Your Guests In the Mood

Here are some of the items we used to create the music setup for my sister's backyard wedding.

  • Laptop
  • Speakers
  • Extension cord
  • Small table
  • Downloaded songs

Luckily, we already had most of these things on hand, so the added cost was negligible, except for purchasing a few new songs.

If you want to hire a DJ, your cost for four hours can be anywhere from $250 to $2,000 and up. Just make sure if you go this route, you don't sacrifice quality for cost because a bad DJ can be really bad! A band will probably cost a bit more, but prices can vary widely.

Total Costs: Ours and (Possibly) Yours

Here's what our wedding cost for 30 guests, along with some estimates of what you can expect to pay with different options.

I didn't include some items, such as invitations, cost of clothing (wedding dress, tuxedos), and a few miscellaneous items.

  • Equipment Rental: Us - $500; Larger/Fancier Rentals - $1,000
  • Officiant: Us - $200; Low - $100; High - $1,500
  • Food: Us - $385; Catered low - $30/head x 30 = $900; Catered high - $200/head x 30 = $6,000
  • Drinks: Us - $500; Included in catering - $0; Mixed drinks included - $700
  • Photography: Us - $0; Professional low - $300; Professional high - $2,000
  • Decorations, Flowers and Table Settings: Us - $463; Decorator low - $1,000; Decorator high - $5,000
  • Cake: Us - $30; Low - $200; High - $1,000
  • Music: Us - $0; DJ low - $250; DJ high - $2,000
  • Wedding Favors: Us - $0; Low - $30; High - $300
  • Total: Us - $2,078; Low with caterer and DJ - $3,780; High with caterer and DJ - $19,500

Thoughts on Wedding Budgets? - Share Them Here!

William on September 20, 2014:

Nicely done. Seems like a good idea.

weddingpinit on June 08, 2013:

May it be your guide to continue to be in love with each other for the rest of your lives.

emmaklarkins (author) on April 03, 2013:

Glad that everyone found the information useful!

anonymous on April 03, 2013:

Thanks for the lens. Our college kids aren't getting married yet, but this is a great resource.

vanessabeans on March 01, 2013:

Direct ot the point, and very helpful. Thanks for creating this lens.

Wedding Mom on December 11, 2012:

Thanks for sharing this useful lens. It really helps on planning a wedding with limited budget.

RiverJudeDesigns on October 17, 2012:

What a helpful lens! You can get affordable wedding invitations in backyard or country styles at my lens,

anonymous on August 25, 2012:

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anonymous on August 09, 2012:

Great place to make all your wedding/reception dreams come true on a budget:

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anonymous on June 15, 2012:

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emmaklarkins (author) on April 25, 2012:

@anonymous: Glad to help! Costs for weddings vary so much, but it's good to have a baseline to start from :)

anonymous on April 25, 2012:

Thank you I have been looking for this sort of information.

anonymous on October 17, 2011:

nice topic indeed, original, 'thumbs up' from me to you!

boutiqueshops on October 16, 2011:

Outstanding work on this page! Lots of detail; well explained & illustrated. GREAT job! Blessed by an Angel.

hotbrain from Tacoma, WA on October 15, 2011:

I'm sure this will be really helpful to those looking for DIY backyard weddings and wondering about cost.... Great lens idea!