In this post I’m breaking down how much our small backyard wedding cost, ways we saved money, and how we kept things simple. If you’re looking for budget-friendly wedding planning ideas, this post is for you!
Sean and I got married at the end of June (yay!) and I wanted to share some snippets of our beautiful small, backyard wedding and how we saved a ton of money in the process.
A big part of our wedding planning process was to keep costs low. While celebrating our marriage and having a beautiful, meaningful event was important to us, neither of us wanted to spend tens of thousands of dollars.
A survey by the The Knot in 2019 revealed the average cost of a wedding in was $28,000, which is about $35,000 Canadian. That’s a lot!
Both Sean and I are pretty frugal and minimal, so keeping things simple was important to us. And I won’t lie — I had a lot of fun finding ways to reduce costs throughout the whole process!
I’m going to go through all of the aspects of our wedding, everything from what we did to what we spent. I’ll also be sharing average wedding costs as well (that I’ve converted to CAD since most are in USD). But keep in mind that these are just averages. Exact costs depend on where you live and what services are being provided; so you may spend more or less!
If you’re planning a wedding or are interested in ways to save money, I hope you find this helpful.
Our Backyard Wedding: Cost Breakdown
Our Backyard Setup
Since both Sean and I wanted a small wedding, we loved the idea of getting married in his parents backyard, to which they agreed! It felt so special to be able to get married at the house where Sean grew up. It also made things a lot easier in terms of the pandemic, although regardless, we would’ve chosen to get married there.
For our setup we rented tables, chairs, linens, dish ware, and a large tent. We used Higgins Event Rentals and they were awesome! We went with classic white resin folding chairs for the ceremony and wooden crossback chairs for the lunch table, with white linens and plates. The total for these items was $3,600.
We also made the food ourselves in a potluck-style fashion. Family members helped out a ton here which was absolutely amazing. Sean and I spent about $350 on food although the total was probably closer to $600+ as some family members paid for ingredients that they used. Alcohol cost us $260.
We originally looked into hiring caterers and got a quote for about $4,000 (that was even after we tried to make reductions!) but ultimately we decided to do the food ourselves since we were having such a small wedding. And honestly, it was not only totally delicious, but gave our small wedding that extra homemade feel. We loved it!
The total cost for backyard setup including food, alcohol, tent, chairs, tables, linens, and dish ware was $4,200. Up against the average venue cost of $13,000, we saved about $8,800.
We got married at 12 noon and did cocktails and lunch afterwards, so we didn’t have a late night party with a DJ. I had my own wedding music playing from a playlist I created on Apple Music on my phone (both a pre-ceremony violin playlist and a reception playlist). We set it up with bluetooth to a speaker that my father-in-law had and asked one of our friends to be the person who pressed play. And that was that! It worked perfectly.
I walked down the aisle to Alan Silvestri’s Forrest Gump Theme Song. I’ve known for years that I wanted to walk down the aisle to this song. It’s so, so, so beautiful.
The average cost of a DJ $1500, so we definitely saved here.
I wasn’t too particular at all when it came to our flowers. While a professional florist will create gorgeous arrangements for you, it’s quite costly at an average of $2,500 (think centerpieces, chair decor, bouquets, and boutonnieres). We did a few different things here to save money. We got some long strands of fake flowers for $150 from Michael’s for the trellis above the backyard gate entrance and a few bunches of flowers from the grocery store for the tables. This cost $130. I did get my bouquet from local florist for $110, and it was truly delightful. I did a mixed white/blush pink mondial rose bouquet with babies breath.
My in-laws had also done a lot of gardening prior to the wedding so we had a variety of flowers and plants in the backyard, including white “blushing bride” hydrangeas in two terra cotta pots where we said our vows.
The total amount we spent on flowers was $390. So we saved about $2,110.
Photographers are usually a good chunk of a wedding budget with an average cost of $2,500. I do think it’s worth it to capture your day and have memories to look back on, but we were able to bring photography costs down by opting for an hourly rate (instead of full day package) since we were having a small afternoon event. We also opted out of doing an engagement shoot.
Sean’s parent’s neighbours let us use their backyard for photos since they had beautifully manicured gardens that were great for photos, including a canopy of tree branches when you enter! It was so pretty.
Our photography cost was $1,250. Adrionna did a wonderful job!
Not everyone hires a videographer, but I personally always knew I wanted our day captured on video! The average cost for videography is $2,200. We were able to bring costs down by searching around and finding a more affordable package (the quote from the original company I spoke to was over $3,000).
The videographer we hired had a COVID package so his prices were more affordable, and we were also able to customize it additionally. The total cost was $1000.
You can watch our wedding video here.
Overall, for photography/videography, ask if you can customize their packages! There are usually ways you can adjust their services to meet your needs, depending on the company.
I searched high and low for a wedding dress that I envisioned myself wearing that was also affordable. The average cost of a wedding dress is $2,000 but I just couldn’t justify spending that much money.
I looked on all kinds of websites including second-hand and rentals, and ultimately found my dress on Amazon for $150. It was my favourite out of everything I looked at. It was exactly what I wanted! I did need to get alterations that cost $300, so the total cost for my dress was $450.
My shoes were $70 from Aldo. I loved them. They were a closed pointed toe flat with an open back sandal in an ivory colour. I loved that they were comfortable and I could make us of them more than once! They were just fancy enough to be bridal yet can be dressed down with a pair of jeans.
I kept my jewellery simple with pearl earrings from my mom and a plain gold chain necklace.
Hair & Makeup
I wanted to do my own hair and makeup, not only to save money but because I wanted to be able to control my look. I feel much more comfortable styling my hair and doing my makeup in a way that I like, and I was fine with taking that on myself!
I experimented with my hair and makeup for a few months before our wedding, which I highly recommend doing if you plan on doing it yourself! After tons of trial and error (and complicated half-updos that involved a variety of clips and ties), I ended up just using a super basic hair clip that cost me $5 for a pack of 6.
The total cost of my makeup and hair styling items was a bit more than expected at a total of $150. This was because I trialled a bunch of things. I didn’t save a ton of money here (the average that people spend on a makeup/hair stylist is $260), but for me it was worth it!
I also did my nails myself with a coat of a sheer creamy white/pink and top coat that my mother-in-law let me use. So that didn’t cost me anything! I was really happy with how my nails looked.
Sean kept things pretty simple when it came to his attire. He used an existing navy blue suit that he already had, although he did buy a new pair of dress shoes for $140 and got his suit dry cleaned for $40. In total he spent $180, which may or may not have saved him much money. You can rent a suit for a couple hundred dollars, although a brand new suit or tux can be up to a thousand or more (prices vary widely!)
I absolutely adored our wedding cake! My wonderful sister-in-law made our cake for us and she did a fantastic job. I had a photo of a wedding cake saved on Pinterest for years that she replicated perfectly. We decided on doing strawberry shortcake and it was totally delicious.
The average cost of a wedding cake is $630 so we saved a ton here!
When I was doing research on average wedding costs, I learned that $750 is about what most people spend on stationary (like invitations, save the dates, menus, name tags, etc.) Holy crap!
We didn’t send out invitations, partly due to COVID and guest list uncertainty, although I had initially designed them on Canva. I did print out menus, table name tags and buffet food labels that cost me $31.23. I designed these myself on Canva and then printed them at Staples on heavy card stock.
We had a small enough wedding so everyone who was invited knew when our wedding was. It was literally just our immediate family and two close friends. So invitations/save the dates didn’t end up being all that necessary anyway.
Other Ways We Kept Things Simply & Saved Money
Now that I’ve gone over the bulk of what we spent on our wedding, I wanted to share some other ways that we kept things simple and saved money.
- We had a small guest list of 15 people. Of course, the bigger the guest list the more costly it can be since you’ll require more food, rentals, and event space.
- We didn’t have a wedding party. So there were no bridesmaids, groomsmen, maid of honour or best man. We wanted it to be just us at the altar and we loved it this way! It probably saved us money somehow but mostly it just simplified the whole experience. Sean’s sister and one of my brothers were our witnesses.
- We didn’t buy bride/groom gifts for each other for the morning of
- We didn’t have any party favours
- We didn’t hire a wedding planner
- We didn’t need any transportation (such as a limo). We stayed over at Sean’s parents house the night before and didn’t need to travel anywhere since our ceremony and reception was held in their backyard.
Other expenses we had…
Lastly, just to finish up this post so you know what other necessary expenses we had, our officiant cost $315 and our marriage license was $145.
How Much Our Backyard Wedding Cost
Drum roll please…!
The total cost for our small backyard wedding was $8,542.
With an average wedding cost of $35,000, we had savings of $26,458 which is pretty darn good!
We adored our wedding. It was a perfect day (with thankfully good weather, considering all the rain and thunderstorms that were on the forecast that week!) It went smoothly and according to plan and was everything we hoped it would be.
We also loved how small and intimate it was, allowing for us to really soak in the people who were there and really enjoy each other. While we probably would have had a few more people if we weren’t in a pandemic (we originally thought we would have somewhere between 25-40 guests) we both genuinely were thrilled with our small 15 person wedding. It was perfect!
I hope you found this post helpful if you’re in the middle of planning a wedding. If you’ve had a wedding before, feel free to let me know in the comments below what you spent and how your planning process was!