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A couple kissing at a backyard wedding

35 Outdoor Wedding Ideas To Save You Money

Last year, couples spent an average of $30,000 on their weddings, and the worst part is that the prices are projected to continue to grow.

Not ready to spend that much on the celebration, but still want the day to be full of special moments? We have got you covered! 

Key Takeaways

  • Planning a simple outdoor wedding on a budget allows couples to celebrate their special day cost-effectively, with considerations like off-peak dates and morning weddings helping to minimize expenses.
  • Cost-conscious choices like digital invitations, small guest lists, and locally sourced flowers can significantly reduce wedding costs without compromising on the beauty of the event.
  • When decorating for an affordable outdoor wedding, DIY decorations, minimalist decor, and renting or borrowing items can create a stylish and budget-friendly atmosphere for the celebration.

The Best Outdoor Wedding Ideas On a Budget

Planning an outdoor wedding on a budget can be a beautiful and cost-effective way to celebrate your special day. From choosing the right location, such as a picturesque park or a friend's backyard, to opting for seasonal flowers and decor, there are numerous creative ways to create a memorable outdoor wedding without breaking the bank.

Embrace the natural surroundings as your backdrop, minimize extravagant decorations, and consider casual catering options like food trucks or potluck-style dining. By focusing on simplicity, resourcefulness, and the love you and your partner share, you can craft the best outdoor wedding that reflects your unique personalities and makes the most of your budget.

How To Save on Date and Location Choices

Top 5 Outdoor Wedding Ideas on a Budget

The location is always the first step in planning a wedding. Here are some great ideas to keep your investment to a minimum.

1. Choose an Off-Peak Date

In the United States, off-season wedding months can vary by region. But, in general, you’ll have a better chance of finding lower prices in January, March, April, and November.

During this time, it would typically be cheaper to book a venue and other vendors, and you might end up saving around 20-30%.

However, if you’re planning an outdoor wedding, having one in January, for example, might simply not make sense. So, don’t forget to consider the practical aspect as well.

2. Have a Morning Wedding

A morning wedding is an amazing way to save money due to the following reasons:

  • The venues will be cheaper
  • The vendors might agree to cut costs
  • Breakfast catering will cost a lot less than dinner
  • You can get away with having a dry wedding and serving coffee and tea

If you’d prefer an evening wedding, then having it on a weekday could save you up to 50% on the venue reservation.

3. Host the Wedding at a State or National Park

In the majority of cases, you would have to apply for a special permit to get married in a national park. You can search for the rates on the National Park Service page, but, overall, such permits are quite affordable.

Acadia National Park, for example, looks like a real-life winter wonderland during January, and a special permit for a group of more than 10 people would cost you only $75.

Do bear in mind, however, that you would still have to pay the entry fee and find knowledgeable vendors. But the good news is that you might save a small fortune on decorations and entertainment as the actual park can easily provide both.

4. Have a Backyard Wedding at Home

Your or your family member’s/friend’s backyard can become a charming backdrop for the big day, but such an option would be cost-effective only if your guest list has about a dozen people in it.

Otherwise, you might have to splurge on landscaping, a tent and flooring, kitchen equipment for the caterers, lighting, portable bathrooms, and so on.

A medium or large backyard wedding can easily become even more expensive than a wedding at the venue, so make sure to do all the calculations beforehand.

5. Pick a Golf Course Venue

Though having a wedding at a golf course might sound like a luxurious experience, it can actually end up being a lot cheaper than a ‘traditional’ wedding.

The rental prices start at around $1,500, and the best part is that you’ll be able to take advantage of all the facilities for this price.

You will most likely have the same venue for both your ceremony and reception, so you won’t have to worry about paying for two and handling transportation. Furthermore, you’ll have access to such additional perks as on-site catering and bar services.

Save Money on Invitations

Obviously, you have to tell people to save the date, but let's look at some ways to do it cost-effectively.

6. Keep the Guest List Small

Each guest can cost anywhere between $100 and $1,000. That's why:

  • Be firm about plus ones
  • Adopt a “no kids” rule
  • Skip the people whom you haven’t talked to for more than a few months
  • Don’t invite your colleagues simply because you see them every day

7. Go for Digital Invitations

Most couples would spend around $400-$650 on their wedding invitations. You can easily save this amount for something more important by opting for digital invitations (that generally cost no more than $100).

Check out the designs that Greenvelope, Evite, and Paperless Post have to offer, or come up with your own.

8. Set Up an Online RSVP System

It can take only about 5 minutes to set up an online RSVP form and just $25 in total. You wouldn’t have to worry about postage and response card costs, and allowing your loved ones to submit their responses online is simply a lot less time-consuming and more convenient.

9. Encourage a Casual Dress Code

Ask your guests to wear whatever they already have in their wardrobe, like skirts, pants, nice blouses, button-down shirts, or polos. If the invitation says ‘black-tie’ or ‘formal attire’, it automatically raises the guests’ expectations about the whole wedding.

A casual dress code, in turn, means that your loved ones should not hope for anything extra fancy.

Affordable Outdoor Wedding Decor Ideas

Decorations are important for setting the mood. Here are some ways to do it on a budget.

10. Get Creative with DIY Decorations

DIY decorations will add a personal touch to your special day and can help you save a few hundred (or a couple of thousand) bucks along the way.

The possibilities are pretty much endless. You can:

  • Outline the aisle with candles, ribbons, or flower petals
  • Decorate the end of each row with ribbons or tulle
  • Add accent pieces to the altar area, like garlands, rustic logs, or potted plants
  • Hang paper lanterns or string lights

Just make sure to do the necessary calculations to verify that you’re saving money. And don’t forget to set aside some extra time to assemble your DIY projects.

11. Opt for Minimalist Décor

Minimalistic décor can look stylish and elegant and help make sure that you don’t blow your wedding budget.

In a nutshell, you’re only going to need:

  • Something to frame the couple during the ceremony
  • A bar station for the cocktail hour that has been jazzed up with signage or florals
  • Tabletop décor for the reception
  • Some hanging installations, like string lights or paper lanterns

12. Use Locally Sourced Flowers

Using local flowers would help avoid shipping costs. Moreover, such blooms would be a lot fresher.

So, instead of thinking about the type of flower that you would want to see on your wedding day, choose a general vibe and a color scheme, and see what your local flower supplier can offer.

13. Choose In-Season Flowers

Seasonal flowers are more readily available which means that they tend to cost a lot less.

Of course, the variety of in-season flowers would depend on your region. Still, there are a few options that are available year-round throughout the country, like freesias, roses, gardenias, and carnations, for example.

14. Rent Your Decorations

Rent everything that you would never use again. This can include tables, chairs, linens, glassware, lighting, the dance floor, etc.

By the way, you would be able to save even more, if you find a venue that already has all of these items.

15. Consider Borrowing Decor Items

Your friends and family might have quite a few cool décor pieces lying around that you may be able to take advantage of.

Don’t worry if the items are not the same – mismatched tables, chairs, and china can look extra charming and unique if you’re going for a rustic, vintage, or bohemian-style outdoor wedding. 

16. Look for Vintage Décor Items

Some of the best places to find cheap vintage decorations include:

  • Yard sales
  • Thrift stores
  • Estate sales on the last day
  • Flea markets
  • Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, and eBay

17. Use the Same Décor for the Ceremony and Reception

Here are a few ideas:

  • Use the ceremony arch as the background for your cake table or a photo op
  • Reuse the flower arrangements and bridal party bouquets for table decorations
  • Turn your welcome sign into the table plan (it has to be a two-sided design)

18. Borrow Some Wedding Accessories

You don’t have to spend a hefty sum on your wedding accessories. Ask your family member or happily married friend to lend you their veil, headpiece, jewelry, or whatever it is that you need to complete your big day’s look.

19. Buy a Pre-Owned Wedding Dress

Buying a pre-owned dress can sometimes be even cheaper than renting one. If you start the search way in advance, you might be able to find a gem for as little as $50.

Another huge advantage is that you wouldn’t have to worry about paying any damage fees if you accidentally rip the dress. Plus, the previous bride might decide to gift you some wedding accessories to go with the dress.

Food and Drinks Ideas To Save Money

Your guests have to eat, but there are creative ways to feed the masses and not break the bank.

20. Have a Potluck-Style Reception Dinner

A potluck wedding can help you save on catering (which otherwise would cost between $30 and $150 per person).

Such a reception can be hosted in a backyard, a park, or a banquet hall. The bride and groom are typically expected to provide the main portion of the meal, while the guests are asked to bring appetizers, side dishes, and snacks. However, do bear in mind that the dish would usually count as a gift.

21. Hire Food Trucks

A food truck rental can cost about $10-$20 per person which is cheaper than traditional catering. Just remember that you would have to plan the serving and cleaning up as the people working in the food truck will most likely not do anything outside of the truck.

22. Have a Family-Cooked Meal

Ask a few family members and closest friends to prepare and serve homemade dishes at the reception.

So that everyone gets to have some fun at the party, try to make sure that each loved one is responsible for just one dish. In such a way, no one will end up spending the whole night in the kitchen.

23. DIY Your Wedding Cake

The average wedding cake can cost $300-$800. A DIY cake, on the other hand, can cost as little as $50 to make.

If you have a friend with incredible baking skills, don’t be afraid to ask him or her to prepare a wedding cake or cupcakes for the big day instead of buying you a gift.

24. Organize a BYOB Bar

If organized correctly, a bring-your-own-bottle bar can be even more fun than a traditional one (and definitely a lot cheaper).

Ideally, you would want to make it clear what types of alcohol are preferred. Also, don’t forget to take care of the glassware and find a person who will be pouring the drinks.

If you don’t want to serve individual drinks, you can opt for punch. Just make sure that your venue allows BYOB.

25. Choose Affordable Sparkling Wines

Cava and prosecco are almost always more affordable than champagne which makes them a great option for a budget-friendly wedding.

Entertainment

Dance the night away, just not for a pretty penny.

26. Use Your Own Sound System

The average DJ cost in the US is $1,000-$1,500. But you’ll be able to save pretty much the whole sum if you or one of your friends has a high-quality sound system that can be transported to the venue.

You would also have to put together a playlist which should include around 15 songs per hour, as well as the first dance, bridal entrance song, etc. If you’re willing to spend the extra time and you have a friend who can press ‘play’ at the right moment, then definitely go for it.

27. Hire Local Musicians

You can easily find musicians near you on GigSalad or you might want to try and invite a street musician to perform at your simple outdoor wedding. 

You would be able to save even more if one of the guests had a band that would agree to gift you a performance on your big day.

28. Entertain the Guests with Lawn Games

To keep your guests entertained during the cocktail hour, you can rent out or DIY a giant Jenga, a cornhole board, and a ring toss game.

29. Build a Bonfire

A perfect budget-friendly outdoor wedding simply has to end with a bonfire under the stars. Your guests will have the time of their lives preparing S’mores and listening to the crackle of the fire. Just make sure that the venue allows such forms of entertainment.

30. Opt for a Polaroid Guest Book

Photo booth rental costs $400-$1,000 on average. However, your guests can get instant photo memories for a lot cheaper.

Simply rent out a few Polaroids and leave them throughout the venue or have the guests glue their photos and write their wishes in the wedding guest book.  

Additional Wedding Ideas 

A few more miscellaneous ideas we had left over.

31. Ask a Friend to Be an Officiant

Professional officiants can charge $400-$800 per ceremony. But your best friend can become ‘ordained’ online for anywhere between $0 and $150. And the chances are high that he or she would manage to hold a much more personal and unique wedding ceremony.

32. Hire a Local Photography Student

Find a local college that offers photography courses and contact the head of the department to see if they can recommend a talented student. In a lot of cases, students would be happy to receive a tip for their work as you would be allowing them to build a portfolio.

But make sure to weigh all the pros and cons as there is a possibility that an inexperienced photographer would miss a lot of precious moments.

Also, bear in mind that if the photographer does not have insurance, some venues might not let him or her in.

33. Skip the Limo

A small modest limousine will cost over $75 per hour, but in a lot of cases, it’s simply not worth it. Instead, you might want to use your vehicle and arrange carpools for guests.

If you don’t want to worry about transportation at all, have your ceremony and reception at one venue.

34. Create DIY Wedding Favors

Couples typically spend around $2-$3 per guest on wedding favors. But you can end up spending as little as $0.20-$0.50 if you’re not against DIY projects.

Here are a few cute ideas:

35. Have a Weather Backup Plan

If you’re planning on having an outdoor wedding, it would be worth including a reserved tent in your budget. The last thing you want to do is run around trying to find an available tent on your big day. Plus, if you don’t book the"backup" beforehand, you will have to spend a lot more on the actual day.

Your dream outdoor wedding on a budget is not only possible but can be a beautiful and memorable experience. By carefully selecting your location, being resourceful with decor, and making thoughtful choices about guest lists and catering, you can create a special day that keeps costs in check.

Remember, the love you and your partner share is at the heart of this celebration, and it's the moments you create together that truly matter. So, go ahead, embrace the great outdoors, and craft the best outdoor wedding that perfectly fits your budget. 

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