Wow, lots of downers. 🙁
While I didn’t have a backyard wedding, I did have a very inexpensive one. I don’t know the final amounts, but the goal was under $5,000 and I know we were at the very least close.
Venue: Our church was free to use, as I was a member, and we found another church nearby that could host the reception. I believe their cost was about $150, and gave us use of the sound system, the reception area, and the kitchens. We carted tables over from Church A to Church B and used B’s chairs.
Food: We self-catered. This can be trickier if you are having the reception at a church/business, as they want to make sure they’re covered insurance-wise and often have requirements for food (one required pre-packaged food only, another either caterers or everything prepared in their ‘white kitchen’ under supervision of their kitchen coordinator). Church B didn’t have any restrictions, though, so we spent the summer cooking and freezing chicken, then made chicken salad the day before and had friends assembling chicken salad sandwiches day-of. (These weren’t your average chicken salad sandwiches! This recipe was amazing. Bacon. Dried cranberries. Can never go back to the normal stuff.)
A friend made the display cake as a gift, and we bought sheet cakes from Festival Foods.
Friends who offered to help were asked to bring cut veggies or fruit. I know asking friends to help is taboo on these boards (*eyeroll*), but it’s completely acceptable in our circles. IF your circle is the type to help out, don’t hesitate to ask if they’d like to. Don’t require it, don’t get miffed if they say know, and don’t overwork them. But help is good!
We used higher quality paper plates. Since the tables weren’t set, it didn’t look weird. *shrug* I’ve never judged a couple or their wedding based on their tableware.
Decor: Church A probably cost $100 or less? We used fake flowers bought on sale from Hobby Lobby, lanterns were borrowed or found for cheap, tulle was bought with coupons. Church B was probably similar or less. Plastic tablecloths (can’t tell in pictures), lace runners, purchased and borrowed milk glass vases ($0.50-1.00 at thrift stores), cake plates to hold favors (diy with short candlesticks and vintage china plates $0.50-2.00 thrifted), branches with pictures and origami butterflies. Barn windows with fairy lights and pictures strung across them on the guest book table (Craigslist, $15).
This was all set up the day before by me and my family, and some friends and bridesmaids helped out also.
Essentially, find pictures you like, simplify them, then thrift/borrow as much as you can. Each table’s decor probably cost less than $5, not including the tablecloth.
We didn’t have dancing/DJ because of the time of day, expense, and hubby and I didn’t want to spend all evening at the wedding– we wanted to get going! 😀 That’s a huge cost-saver if it isn’t important to you.
Booze: we had a dry wedding. Between the time of day (afternoon), the expense, and just not being big drinkers ourselves, it just wasn’t that important. I know I’ll get flamed for that too, but it’s entirely the couple’s choice. That’s another way to save.
Dress: Look at bridesmaid dresses that come in white! That’s what mine was, and I LOVED it. It was around $300 which felt pricey for a dress but not compared to the average wedding dress. I bought shoes I liked off Amazon for $60.
Basically my novel is to say:
A wedding for 50 guests for under $10,000 is TOTALLY doable, you just have to have the right expectations. Come up with a simple plan and then simplify more. Thrift or borrow as much as you can. Consider a small venue like a church that would have tables and chairs you can use, or if you attend a church ask if you can use theirs for free/cheap. Accept any help that’s offered. Consider an afternoon wedding with a light supper vs. evening reception.