how to plan an outdoor wedding on a budget

How to Plan an Outdoor Wedding on a Budget?

Embarking on the journey to say "I do" under the open sky, surrounded by the whispering winds and the gentle embrace of nature, is a dream many couples share. However, the enchantment of outdoor weddings often comes with the misconception that they are invariably expensive. This notion, though common, couldn't be further from the truth. 

In this blog, we're not just discussing cutting corners or settling for less. Instead, we're about unveiling the secrets to smart planning, creative solutions, and the art of leveraging the natural beauty around us to curate an unforgettable celebration of love. From the majestic backdrop of a sunset beach ceremony to the rustic charm of a countryside gathering under the stars, your vision for a perfect day need not be shadowed by the clouds of excessive expenditure.

Here, you'll discover how to blend romance, elegance, and personal touch into your wedding day, all while keeping a keen eye on the budget. Whether you dream of a minimalist chic celebration or a vibrant, bohemian affair, this guide is your companion through the exciting journey of planning your outdoor wedding without the stress of overspending. Let's embark on this adventure together, turning dreams into reality with each budget-friendly choice we make.

Table of Contents

Setting A Realistic Budget

budget considerations

Establishing an outdoor wedding budget early is crucial for several reasons. It guides every decision you make, from the venue to the vendors, ensuring that your special day aligns with your financial comfort zone without leading to debt. 

Start with a Clear Vision: Discuss with your partner what you both envision for your wedding day. Whether you dream of a grand celebration or a more intimate affair, understanding your shared vision is the first step toward determining your budget.

Know Your Financial Limits: Assess your savings, monthly income, and any contributions from family members. Establishing what you can realistically afford without relying on credit cards is essential, which can lead to stressful debt.

Set Priorities: Identify the elements of your wedding most important to you and your partner. Allocate more of your budget to these areas and find ways to save on or eliminate less critical aspects.

Guest List Size: The number of guests significantly impacts your budget, especially for outdoor weddings where space and catering costs vary widely. Consider a smaller, more intimate wedding to keep costs manageable.

Research and Compare: Prices for venues, catering, and other services can vary greatly by location and provider. Spend time researching and comparing options to find the best fit for your budget and preferences.

Plan for Hidden Costs: Remember to account for often-overlooked expenses such as gratuities, taxes, and last-minute add-ons. Setting aside a buffer within your budget for these unexpected costs is wise.

Continuous Communication: Regularly discuss budgeting with your partner and any family members contributing financially. Keeping everyone informed helps manage expectations and prevents overspending.

Track Your Spending: Use a detailed spreadsheet or budgeting tool to track all wedding-related expenses. This will help you stay on top of your finances and adjust as needed.

Choosing The Right Venue

Prioritise Needs Over Wants

Identify what's necessary for your venue and what you can compromise on. Essentials like location, capacity, and basic amenities should be your top priority. Being flexible with your date or decor can unlock significant savings.

The Charm Of Marquee Wedding Venues

Marquee venues exemplify how adaptability can lead to affordability. They offer a customisable experience, allowing you to choose your location and control decoration costs. The DIY aspect of marquees invites personal touches that can save money while adding a unique charm to your celebration.

Making Your Venue Elegant On A Budget

Transforming a budget-friendly venue into an elegant space involves focusing on key decor elements and leveraging natural surroundings. DIY projects can add a personal and sophisticated touch without the high costs. Be vigilant about hidden fees and inquire about additional costs that could surprise you later.

Simplifying Decorations

Embrace The Natural Beauty

Outdoor settings naturally offer stunning backdrops that can significantly reduce the need for additional decorations. Whether it's a serene park, a majestic mountain range, or a backyard, the natural scenery can serve as your decor. Utilise the existing landscape to your advantage, and consider the time of year to align your wedding theme with the blooming flora.

DIY Decorations

The DIY approach is budget-friendly and adds a personal touch to your wedding. The possibilities are endless, from handcrafted signs directing guests to various venue sections to homemade centrepieces and floral arrangements. Use materials like mason jars, string lights, and recycled wood to create unique decorations that reflect your style.

Utilise Multipurpose Items

Think of decorations that can serve multiple purposes throughout the wedding day. For example, a beautifully decorated arch can be the focal point for the ceremony and later transform into a photo booth backdrop. Similarly, aisle decorations can be repurposed as table centrepieces for the reception.


Proper lighting can transform any space into a romantic setting. String lights hung from trees or across the venue can create a warm and inviting atmosphere as the evening progresses. Lanterns with candles placed along pathways or around seating areas provide illumination and add to the decor.

Budget-Friendly Floral Choices

Flowers can be one of the most expensive aspects of wedding decor. Opt for seasonal and local flowers as they tend to be more affordable. Consider larger blooms that take up more space, reducing the number needed. Another option is to mix real flowers with high-quality faux flowers for beautiful and cost-effective arrangements.

Creative Seating Arrangements

Instead of renting expensive chairs, consider alternative seating options like hay bales covered with blankets for a rustic theme or mix-and-match chairs borrowed from friends and family for a more eclectic look. This can significantly reduce rental costs and add character to your wedding.

Personalised Touches

Include details that represent where you are now as a pair. Display photos of your relationship milestones or write personal notes to each guest. These small, inexpensive touches can make your wedding feel incredibly special and intimate.

Catering And Menu Planning

catering and menu planning

Embrace DIY Catering

Consider catering the wedding yourself, especially if you or your family are passionate about cooking. This approach can significantly reduce expenses but requires careful planning regarding food costs, preparation time, and equipment needs. For a personal touch, incorporate family recipes for the main course or bake your wedding cake.

Opt For A Vegetarian Or Vegan Menu

Meat dishes can drive up catering costs. Offering a vegetarian or vegan menu can be more cost-effective and cater to guests with dietary restrictions. Ensure the menu is hearty and filling to satisfy everyone throughout the celebration.

Explore Local Restaurant Catering

Your favourite local restaurants may offer catering services at a fraction of the cost of traditional wedding caterers. This option allows you to serve beloved dishes from places with special meaning to you and your partner. Plus, some restaurants may offer buffet-style service for a reasonable price, adding a unique and personal element to your wedding.

Simplify With Appetisers And Finger Foods

Transforming appetisers into a complete meal can be both budget-friendly and satisfying for your guests. Bulk purchases finger foods from wholesale stores and presents them buffet-style to avoid the costs associated with a wait staff. This approach also ensures guests can enjoy their meals during dinner.

Consider A Brunch Wedding

Breakfast and brunch menus are less expensive due to the ingredients involved. Hosting a daytime wedding with a brunch menu can offer a memorable experience with dishes like quiche, French toast, scrambled eggs, and pastries, all while keeping costs down.

Get Creative With Food Stations

DIY food stations have gained popularity and can be affordable and fun. Stations like "build your tacos" or a s'mores bar encourage guest interaction and can be cost-effective if you purchase ingredients in bulk and set up the stations yourself or with the help of friends and family.

Incorporate A Potluck Element

Embrace the tradition of potluck weddings by inviting guests to contribute a dish. This approach fosters a sense of community and can significantly reduce food costs. To ensure a diverse and sufficient menu, coordinate with guests beforehand about what they'll bring.

Hire A Food Truck

Food trucks offer a trendy and often more affordable alternative to traditional catering. They provide unique menu options and the flexibility to cook on-site. To manage costs, work with the food truck to select a limited menu that can serve your guests efficiently.

Utilise Pre-Made Or Frozen Appetisers

For those comfortable in the kitchen, consider preparing meals ahead of time and freezing them. This strategy allows for easy reheating on the wedding day and can be a practical solution for those wanting to add a homemade touch to their wedding menu.

Attire And Beauty

Planning a budget-friendly outdoor wedding doesn't mean you have to compromise on the elegance and beauty of your special day. From attire to beauty, numerous ways exist to achieve your dream wedding look without overspending. Here are some tips on how you can plan attire and beauty for your outdoor wedding venue on a budget.

Attire On A Budget

Consider Pre-loved or Rental Dresses: One of the most significant ways to save on wedding attire is by opting for a pre-loved wedding dress or renting one. Many bridal shops offer rental options or second-hand dresses that are just as stunning as buying new ones but at a fraction of the cost.

Custom Tailoring: Purchasing a simpler, less expensive dress that is custom-tailored to fit you perfectly can often be more budget-friendly than buying a high-end designer gown. Tailoring can transform an affordable dress into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

Bridesmaid Dresses: Give your bridesmaids a colour palette and let them choose their dresses. This approach saves money and ensures that your bridesmaids are wearing something they feel comfortable and beautiful in. Many retailers offer beautiful options at reasonable prices that can be worn again for different occasions.

Beauty On A Budget

DIY Hair and Makeup: Consider doing your hair and makeup or having a talented friend help you. Countless tutorials online can guide you through creating a beautiful wedding day look. Practice your desired hairstyle and makeup look several times before the big day to ensure you're confident in your skills.

Beauty Schools: Look into local beauty schools for professional hair and makeup on a budget. Students are often looking for real-life experience and may offer wedding day services at a significantly reduced rate under the supervision of their instructors.

Simplify Your Beauty Routine: A natural and minimalist approach to your wedding day makeup can save money and highlight your natural beauty. Focus on key elements like a flawless foundation, a simple eye look, and a classic lipstick to create a timeless appearance.

Photography And Entertainment

Photography On A Budget

  • Hire a Photography Student: Talented photography students are often eager to build their portfolios and can offer their services at a fraction of the cost of professional photographers. This approach supports emerging talent and provides you with unique and creative photos of your special day.
  • Utilise Natural Lighting: Outdoor weddings offer the advantage of natural lighting, which is perfect for stunning photographs. Plan your ceremony around the golden hour—the first hour after sunrise or the last hour before sunset—for beautifully lit photos without expensive lighting equipment.
  • Encourage Guest Participation: Set up a hashtag for your wedding and ask guests to share their photos on social media. This way, you'll have access to a wide range of candid shots from different perspectives, capturing moments you might otherwise miss.

Entertainment On A Budget

  • DIY Photo Booth: Create a fun and interactive photo booth with a simple backdrop and a collection of props. Guests can use their smartphones to take memorable snapshots. For an added touch, provide instant cameras for that vintage feel and instant keepsakes.
  • Lawn Games: For outdoor weddings, lawn games such as cornhole, bocce ball, or giant Jenga are perfect for keeping guests entertained. All ages of guests can enjoy these games, and they are simple to set up.
  • Create Your Playlist: Instead of hiring a DJ, curate a playlist of your favourite songs that can be played over a sound system. This personal touch enhances the event's intimacy and lets you control the music selection.


It's not true that outdoor weddings cost a lot of money, as this guide on "How to Plan an Outdoor Wedding on a Budget" shows. Instead, it focuses on smart planning, coming up with unique solutions, and using nature's beauty to make a party that everyone will remember. When planning a wedding, this guide shows couples how to keep their costs low while still adding beauty, style, and a personal touch.

Setting a reasonable price early on is important for helping you make decisions about everything, from the setting to the vendors. Start with a clear idea of what you want, know how much money you have, set goals, think about how many people will be coming, do research and compare prices, be ready for secret costs, stay in touch, and keep track of your spending.

It's important to pick the right place, with location, capacity, and basic facilities being the most important factors. Marquee wedding places are flexible, so couples can pick where to have their ceremony and how much to spend on decorations. Do-it-yourself marquees can save you money and give your party a unique look. Don't worry about spending too much on your outdoor wedding if you follow these tips.

Focus on key design elements and making the most of your venue's natural settings to make it look classy without spending a lot of money. With low prices, do-it-yourself projects can add a personal and classy touch. You can make unique decorations that don't cost a lot of money by using outdoor settings as backgrounds and making your own decorations. To make a beautiful atmosphere, use things that can be used for more than one thing, like arch decorations, aisle decorations, and string lights. Choose flowers that are in season and from your area to save money on arrangements.

Use hay bales wrapped with blankets or chairs from friends and family that you can mix and match to make creative sitting arrangements. Personalise your wedding by including things that remind you of important moments in your relationship or by writing each guest a note.

You could do your own catering, give a veggie or vegan meal, or look into catering services offered by nearby restaurants. Buy items in bulk and serve appetisers and finger foods buffet-style to make things easier. To save money, you could have a breakfast wedding with quiche, French toast, scrambled eggs, and sweets.

DIY food stands, like "build your own tacos" or a s'mores bar, are a fun and inexpensive way to get people to interact with each other. Ask guests to bring dishes for a picnic, hire a food truck for a unique menu, and use ready-made or frozen appetisers that are easy to reheat on the wedding day. Watch out for secret fees and ask about any other costs that might come up later and surprise you.

Content Summary

  • Outdoor weddings are often perceived as costly, but strategic planning can debunk this myth.
  • This guide offers insights into organising a memorable outdoor wedding without breaking the bank.
  • Emphasising the importance of budgeting, it's crucial to set financial boundaries early in the planning process.
  • A shared vision between partners helps tailor a budget that reflects both desires and fiscal realities.
  • Prioritising essential elements over optional ones can lead to significant savings.
  • Guest list size directly influences overall costs, with smaller weddings generally being more budget-friendly.
  • Research and compare various vendors to ensure you're getting the best value for your money.
  • Unexpected costs can arise, so it's wise to allocate a buffer within your budget.
  • Keeping open communication about finances can prevent misunderstandings and overspending.
  • A detailed tracking system for expenses can help maintain financial control throughout the planning process.
  • Choosing the right venue involves balancing needs and wants to find a cost-effective option.
  • Marquee venues offer flexibility and can be a budget-friendly choice, allowing personalisation at a lower cost.
  • Decorations should complement the natural beauty of the outdoor setting, reducing the need for expensive embellishments.
  • DIY decorations not only save money but also add a personal touch to the wedding.
  • Multipurpose decor items can serve different functions throughout the event, offering savings.
  • Proper lighting, such as string lights or candles, can enhance the atmosphere without a hefty price tag.
  • Seasonal and local flowers are a cost-effective choice for floral arrangements.
  • Alternative seating options can reduce rental costs and add unique elements to the wedding.
  • Personalised touches like photos or handwritten notes make the event special without significant expenses.
  • DIY catering or family-prepared meals can drastically cut down food costs.
  • A vegetarian or vegan menu can be more economical than traditional meat dishes.
  • Local restaurants may offer catering services at a lower cost than specialized wedding caterers.
  • Opting for appetisers and finger foods instead of a full meal can be both satisfying and budget-friendly.
  • A brunch wedding can reduce food and beverage costs while offering a unique experience.
  • DIY food stations encourage guest interaction and can be more affordable.
  • Incorporating a potluck element invites community involvement and helps with food expenses.
  • Food trucks present a trendy and often cheaper alternative to traditional catering.
  • Pre-made or frozen appetisers can be a practical and budget-conscious choice.
  • Renting or buying a pre-loved wedding dress can lead to substantial savings.
  • Custom tailoring a simpler dress can transform it into something unique and less costly.
  • Allowing bridesmaids to choose their dresses within a colour scheme can be budget-friendly and ensures they are comfortable.
  • DIY hair and makeup or utilizing beauty schools can significantly reduce beauty expenses.
  • Simplifying the beauty routine can save money while highlighting natural beauty.
  • Hiring a photography student can capture the day at a fraction of the cost of a professional.
  • Utilising natural lighting benefits outdoor photography, reducing the need for expensive equipment.
  • Encouraging guests to share photos via a wedding hashtag can capture candid moments.
  • DIY photo booths and lawn games are cost-effective entertainment options that engage guests.
  • Curating a personal playlist instead of hiring a DJ can personalise the event and save money.
  • Budgeting and planning are key to organising a beautiful outdoor wedding without excessive spending.
  • Flexibility in planning and openness to non-traditional options can unlock potential savings.
  • Focusing on what truly matters to the couple ensures a memorable celebration that reflects their unique love story.
  • Leveraging the natural setting can reduce decoration costs and highlight the beauty of the outdoors.
  • Creative solutions like DIY projects or unconventional catering can add personal touches while keeping costs down.
  • Effective budget management involves prioritising, tracking expenses, and preparing for unexpected costs.
  • The choice of venue plays a significant role in the overall budget, with flexibility often leading to savings.
  • Decorations that align with the natural environment or serve multiple purposes offer elegance and cost-effectiveness.
  • Food and beverage costs can be managed through creative catering solutions or embracing DIY options.
  • Attire and beauty expenses can be reduced through smart shopping, DIY options, or leveraging community resources.
  • Photography and entertainment don't have to be extravagant to capture the essence and joy of the day.
  • Planning an outdoor wedding on a budget is achievable through careful consideration, creativity, and a focus on what truly matters.

Frequently Asked Questions

Finding an affordable outdoor venue starts with thinking outside the traditional venue box. Consider public spaces like beaches, parks, or community gardens, which often have lower rental fees than private estates. Take advantage of the possibility of hosting the event in a friend or family member's backyard. Always inquire about off-peak dates and times, which can significantly reduce costs.

To keep catering costs down, consider alternative dining styles such as buffet or family-style service, which require fewer staff than plated meals. Food trucks, BBQs, and potluck-style meals are excellent options for a more casual, intimate setting. Another tip is to focus on seasonal and local ingredients to minimise costs.

Absolutely! The beauty of an outdoor wedding is leveraging the natural surroundings to minimise the need for additional decorations. Focus on simple, elegant touches that enhance the venue's charm. DIY projects, borrowing items, and utilising items like fairy lights, candles, and seasonal flowers can create a magical ambience without a hefty price tag.

Always have a Plan B for inclement weather. Depending on the season, this could mean renting a tent to shield guests from rain or sun. Look for venues with indoor options or consider affordable marquee rentals. Include this contingency in your budget to avoid last-minute financial stress.

Yes, there are several ways to save on wedding attire. Consider buying off-the-rack or second-hand wedding dresses, which can be significantly less expensive than custom-made gowns. For grooms, renting a suit or tuxedo instead of buying it can also cut costs. Additionally, off-season shopping and online deals can lead to substantial savings on bridal and groom attire.

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