our DIY backyard wedding

About half way through our engagement I quit my job and became our full time wedding planner. In the beginning stages of planning, I felt very hopeless when it came to the financial side of our wedding. I had a good idea of what I wanted but no I idea of how we were going to pay for it. We had a $4000-$5000 budget and 6 months to plan and pay for everything.

 I had a venue picked out- $2600 for a SUNDAY in the OFF SEASON but one evening as I was sitting outback, I decided there was no reason why our backyard couldn't be our venue. Free! a FREE venue.
So, I called the local police department and city hall to make sure there were no laws or ordinances to comply with and started planning.

...& that's how it became a backyard wedding.

The 3 major CONS of a backyard wedding were:
  • I had to organize the flow (parking, seating, etc.)
  • We had to provide EVERYTHING- tables, chairs, plates, cups, utensils, sound, etc.
  • We were responsible for set up and clean up
The PROS were endless but here were the top 3:
  • The money we $aved!
  • There are no restrictions on vendors and things of the sort- basically since we had the wedding on our own property, we were free to do as we pleased with EVERYTHING. No restrictions on decor, food, flowers, alcohol, number of guest, etc.
  • I didn't have to leave the comfort of my own home on my wedding day- No travel for the bride and groom

We then spent the next 2 months planning and saving. I spent hours & hours & hours searching the internet, finding the best deals, discounts, savings, coupons & shipping rates.

My main sources were:

 (If you have a smart phone, when you check out at Hobby Lobby, search "Hobby Lobby coupon" on Google images. It will pull up a 40% off coupon- show your phone to the cashier and they'll apply your discount to the highest priced item in your buggy- this discount doesn't include sale items.)

When you're buying 120+ of something, a $.50 or $1 savings WILL add up in the long run.
When you're receiving 2-3 packages a week, saving $14 on shipping WILL add up in the long run
When available, buying in bulk WILL add up in the long run.

We recruited the talents of our FAMILY and FRIENDS for things such as:
  • Cake & Food
  • Photography
  • Beverages
  • Hair & makeup 
  • Music
  • Serving
  • Set up
  • Clean up 
My cake was red velvet with cream cheese icing
His was double chocolate with chocolate covered strawberries.

Friend/Family discounts will save you A TON- so recruit your friends and family when you can! One day you'll have the opportunity to return the favor =)

I made ALL of our flower arrangements (boutonnieres, bouquets, & table arrangements)  for $250 using silk flowers from Hobby Lobby that go on sale 50% off quite often. I'd never made a flower arrangement in my life but I learned how with a quick lesson from the nice lady in the Hobby Lobby flower dept.

Also, for even more savings on flowers, the BOUQUETS doubled as TABLE ARRANGEMENTS.
Including myself and by bridesmaids, we had 8 bouquets total. 
We had 9 tables to seat 120 people. 
So, I made one big arrangement for the head table and used our smaller bouquets on the guest tables =)
After the bridesmaids walked out of ceremony, they immediately put their flowers in a milk glass vase waiting on the tables. 

I made all of our PROGRAMS, TABLE NUMBERS, and PLACE CARDS using: 
(This is another thing I had never done) 
  • Our home printer
  • Black ink
  • Microsoft Word
  • Scissors
  • Small ribbon
  • A Ruler
  • Card stock- Office supply stores (I used Staples) have 100s of size and color options to chose from.

Also, once you chose your wedding and shower invites, check the back of the box for the company's web site- usually you can go online and download FREE editable templates from home instead of paying a printing company to do it for you.

(Eco-friendly biodegradable paper plates & plastic faux silver forks and knives)

I used paper lanterns tied with ribbon as a cheaper alternative to flowers in the isle & hung our programs from the back of the seats to add color in the seating.

We can't forget about that expense.
Well, Jamie's tux rental was FREE at Men's Warehouse because of all the tux rentals from our groomsmen =) Thanks guys!

My gown was another story. 
My budget was $500
The 1st dress shop I went to, I found my dress, made my deposit, and was out the door in 2 hours. 
In the long run I paid $580 for my gown & $250 for alterations :/
(be sure to keep ALTERATIONS in mind as an expense when you're shopping)
So I went way over budget... Good thing I had some leeway- due to all the other savings =)
I got a great price on the gown I wore because it had been discontinued.
 BUT if I had of waited and shopped around a little more I'm sure I could of found something cheaper. Come to find out $500 was actually very generous considering our overall budget.

By typing "Photo booth prop template'' in Google search I was able to make find a FREE template for these:
 Online I found them selling 4 for $16 but using:
  • A package of assorted foam paper colors from Wal Mart
  • Craft sticks from Wal Mart
  • Foam glue from Wal Mart
  • Scissors 

I was able to make 64 props for less than $10
We put them in small vases around the tables and yard for our guest. They were fun and added character to our pictures =)

When it was all said and done we were all able to celebrate, eat, drink, and be married =) for less than $5000

 After our wedding I became very passionate on educating people about planning a wedding on a budget. It's scary and being a bride can be very stressful. You'll hear it a lot, "It'll be over before you know it" and that is the truth. Enjoy your engagement and enjoy your wedding day/night because it's over in a flash. After our wedding and honeymoon were over I experienced a few weeks of ''post wedding depression''. I had no job to go to and no wedding to plan. After a kick in the rear from my husband I decided to get off my butt and do something with myself. That's when Simply Salvaged started and had been my outlet every since =)

Thanks for reading!


  1. So BEAUTIFUL Audra! Great job,everything looked lovely:)You were a Gorgeous Bride! Stop over and chat with me sometime,Deidre~ http://simplysimplisticated4.blogspot.com

    1. I am one of your newest followers!
      Thank you so much!

  2. Love it Audra! You did a great job! We did the same thing too! http://partiesforpennies.com/2011/08/the-biggest-party-of-my-life-part-1/ I LOVE the peacock feathers & the black & red colors...it looks so elegant. I'm sharing this with my facebook friends! It was great to share some floor seating space with you at Haven! :p <3 Heidi Rew from Parties for Pennies

    1. Heidi! Thank you for visiting :) I'm glad my wedding got an approval from the Parties for Pennies queen! It was great to meet you!!

  3. Just found your post... GREAT job on the wedding!!! It was beautiful and so clever; you did SO MUCH to make it a beautiful day for you and your husband!!! Everything coordinated so well together and your dress is so pretty = beautiful bride!

  4. Quick question, I'm assuming you had a personal friend do the pictures? How much did that cost?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. We paid a friend who does photography on the side $150 to show up, take pics, and give us the copyright- no edits. I bartered with another friend/client of mine for edits and prints, however, the photos on this post haven't been edited. Thank you!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. You have selected the best location for weddings.These pictures depicted your true personality. You are looking so gorgeous plus fun loving bride. Great pictures.Thanks for sharing.

  7. It a beautiful photo of wedding planning ,well beast collection and we can make change of your images in wedding planner iphone app free thanks

  8. this gave me hope..I decide on a backyard wedding and I have less than less than 4 months to plan the only thing is that my yard is somewhat small and awkwardly shaped and I only have one bathroom :S

  9. Nice article i get some new ideas for plan wedding in free wedding planner android app

  10. Very nicely done! The only thing is that in the beginning of the post you mention that you quit your job to become the full-time planner. If you calculate in the opportunity cost or lost wages then your weddings was probably wayyyyyy more than $5000.

  11. Get great advices!! Everything looks perfect and I like the way you organize each and everything. You have chosen beautiful wedding venueto plan this beautiful marriage event. Thanks for posting it.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Thank you so much for writing this! I was starting to lose hope that I can do my wedding by myself. It really makes me think that this is possible. I needed this and your wedding looked beautiful!thanks for the hope!:)

  14. I am planning a backyard wedding myself, and I hope it turns out beautiful like yours did.
    Wonderful job! :)

  15. How many people where on your guest list? How many showed? Finally what size yard do you have? TIA

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  17. Having a backyard wedding in April about 30 to 40 people on a really tight budget please help

  18. Great wedding it is really memorable time..great budget for wedding,
    wedding for 1000

  19. How much was your overall cost for tables and chairs? I am having a wedding with about 120 people as well. Also, for butane burners, where did you get those to keep the food heated?

  20. All these pictures have been clicked in a classic way. That’s why I liked these lots. I am getting married next month and I hired a popular chicago wedding venues. The event planner has suggested hiring professional wedding photography services. I really liked your services and I have decided that I will hire you only!!

  21. Thank you so much, I have less than 5 months and I was getting pretty nervous until I ran across your post, Yayyyyyy you gave me some excellent ideals!!!!!