It is fair to say that the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives in many ways, including how we plan our weddings. While it used to be the norm to have huge engagements in large venues with hundreds of people in attendance, things have changed, and due to safety considerations like social distancing, many weddings have been scaled down drastically.
While things may go back to normal as far as the pandemic is concerned, many couples have realized that there is value in having an intimate wedding, and many people are choosing to have it in their own backyard. If you are on a budget or limited on options, then a backyard wedding can be an amazing experience. Let’s talk about how you can make this dream a reality.
Create Your Budget
The first step is to determine the total dollar amount that you plan to spend on your backyard wedding. This is a dollar amount that you want to reach but not exceed, or you may find yourself in financial trouble down the line. Back in 2019, the average cost of a wedding was about $28,000, but that was before the pandemic hit. Now, with proper planning, you can realistically expect to spend half of that, including the cost of a venue, by having it in your backyard. Once you determine how much you plan to spend, you should then break down the costs into categories, such as food, decorations, flowers, seating, etc.
Now, you need to compare your wedding budget with your household budget. While your wedding is a special day, you do not want to take money away from essential costs, including food, mortgage, and utilities. If money is tight, then you may have to look at your total expenses and determine what you can cut out of your everyday life. For example, do you need to go out to eat for lunch every day or can you buy bread at the market and make sandwiches instead? You can also cut back on utilities by turning off lights and electronics when you leave the room, keeping the thermostat at a reasonable temperature, and using low-flow showerheads to save water.
Once you decide on the final budget for your wedding, you will want to start saving money for the event. Treat the cash that you save as a kind of emergency fund that is not to be touched unless it is needed for an unexpected and immediate expense. You can make a bit extra for your wedding by storing the funds in a high-interest savings account which will gain interest as the months pass. The interest earned won’t make you a millionaire, but it could be enough to pay for an extra chair or bouquet during your nuptials.
As the date grows closer, you will want to start thinking about your guest list. Since you are on a budget with a small backyard, you will need to be strategic about how many people you plan to have there in person. When it becomes necessary to form a small guest list, you have several options. One is to make it an adults-only wedding, or you could limit plus-ones so that only the primary attendees show up. There are certain people that you will definitely want to invite, including your immediate family and your closest friends. After they RSVP, then you can see how much space is left.
Once you have completed your guest list, you can save money on the decorations by buying your invites and booking your stationery as soon as possible, so you don’t have to order at the last minute and potentially spend more on express shipping. You could also save money on decorations and announcements by creating a website. While it may cost some money up-front, you can use your site to send out email invitations, post pictures, and even store a video of the wedding for those who cannot attend.
Remember that while you may not be able to see your guests in person, you can still allow them to witness your wedding in real-time by live-streaming the event. This is a good idea because by providing the option, you respect the wishes of some potential guests who may not have come in person anyway due to COVID-19 fears. To have the best live-stream possible, make sure that you test the camera before the event. You should also choose a streaming platform that everyone can access, such as Facebook or Google Hangouts. Then, you can either hire a videographer or ask a friend to control the camera so they can get different angles, zoom in when necessary, and create a quality show.
An area where many couples tend to overspend is on the decorations and extras during the wedding and reception, but the good news is that you can maintain a minimal budget in these areas with a backyard wedding. For starters, instead of going to the high-end wedding outlet, you can buy many colorful table toppers, candles, and flowery assortments at a nearby dollar store. There is also the option to look for tutorials online and make your own wedding decorations, and you can buy the components you need at the dollar store as well.
While many people decorate the interior of their wedding venue with excessive amounts of flowers, you can use the beauty of your backyard to provide this same look for half of the cost. If your wedding is months away, then take this time to perk up the landscaping in your yard by planting flowers, pruning hedges, and neatly trimming your tree branches, so they look picture-perfect on your wedding day. Keep up your landscaping efforts after the wedding, and you will have a beautiful yard all year round.
As far as the reception, if you have a deck or patio attached to your home, then you can save money by turning that into a dance floor. Buy some inexpensive white hanging lamps and place them over the reception area and the altar to create a very bright and gorgeous display. As far as the mini bar, you can turn an outdoor closet into a makeshift drinks station, or you can find an old bar cart at a thrift store and have a mobile bar. If you really want to save money, then supply some champagne but ask the guests to provide their own beer and spirits.
As you can see, a backyard wedding can be an amazing experience that you and your guests will remember forever. Consider the steps mentioned here, and you can have everything you always wanted without breaking the bank.
Lifestyle writer Sam Bowman authored this post.