How To Plan A Garden Wedding On A Budget (5 Simple Steps)


Are you ready to plan your dream garden wedding without breaking the bank?  There are endless possibilities for making your day beautiful, elegant and unique to your personality – all while staying true to your budget.

Whether you’re getting married in a park, a botanical garden, or your own backyard, you can get started on planning a gorgeous garden wedding by following this step by step guide.

How To Plan A Garden Wedding On A Budget In 5 Simple Steps

The five steps to plan your garden wedding are:

  • Decide on and honor your budget
  • Consider all major planning categories
  • Hire vendors for the big stuff
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff
  • Make it your own

First thing’s first – the budget.

Decide On & Honor Your Budget

The most critical step to coordinating budget-friendly garden nuptials is figuring out what your financial parameters are…and then staying true to them.

During this step, it’s critical to research typical costs for any major categories of your garden wedding that you deem important.  This will set you up for success in setting realistic goals and avoiding arbitrary, unattainable ones.

If you feel like you’re forgetting the major categories of your garden wedding, fret not.  We’ll go over some of that shortly.  For now, though, let’s focus on the how-to of budget-setting.

It’s best to set maximum cost parameters for each category of your garden wedding, rather than just setting a grand total for the event itself. So, be specific.

This provides direction and confidence so you can rest assured that your spending stays line with your financial goals.

Also, you’ll want to make sure you’re well-acquainted with Excel.  If spending within your means is important to you (and I know it is…because you’re here), then your “Wedding Finances” spreadsheet is about to become your new best friend.

It’s best to sit down with your bride-or-groom-to-be and discuss your visions for your special day.  Seek common ground and win-win compromises to determine your non-negotiables.

Be prepared to make budget tweaks in necessary categories.

You might agree to allocate extra funds toward a breathtaking ambience.  For you, this may mean splurging on a grand greenhouse garden venue in the city.

greenhouse wedding
An attractive ceremony aisle in a greenhouse venue.

Of course, when you commit to spending more on one thing, you’ll want to set a lower budget for other categories that aren’t quite as important to you.

For instance, if you’re not too concerned about whether or not you have a fancy quartet or DJ, a homemade playlist hooked up to a rock speaker might be a perfect option for you.

If professional videography is at the bottom of your priority list, it’s most practical to ask a friend to snap a few ceremony videos.  You may even choose to skip the video altogether.

If having a large guest list feels like an overwhelming expense and not what you truly want, an intimate ceremony is likely to better fit your needs (and certainly your budget). It’s OK to stick with your best friends and immediate family – or even to elope! 

You can always throw a bigger party later to celebrate with the whole gang! 

Feel free to break tradition and make your own rules.  It’s your day!

Consider All Major Planning Categories

It doesn’t matter if you’re “green” to garden wedding planning or already in the thick of it. The major categories are crucial to think about. The major categories for planning a garden wedding include the following:

  • The venue
  • Food and drink
  • Décor
  • Entertainment
  • Photography and videography
  • Attire and appearance

The Venue

If you’re not looking to spend a lot on a venue, talk with your fiancé about the option of exchanging vows near your home garden.  If you pick this option, you’ll save a significant amount of cash on would-be venue costs.

Whether you decide on a tent reception in an apple orchard, a cocktail style affair in a butterfly garden, or a boho-style picnic under your parents’ peach tree, it’s important to put yourself in your guests’ shoes. 

From time of year and weather considerations to bathrooms and handicap accessibility, If you’re not able to keep each of your loved ones comfortable at the venue your considering, be prepared to make changes to your guest list, to rent some extra equipment (like generators or climate control), or to choose another venue.

Perhaps your hearts are set on a patio wedding with 100 guests.  If this is the case, you’ll need a larger reception space than the 50 square foot patio in your backyard.

Conversely, if you’re planning a spring wedding in the park with 10 guests, you can plan a beautiful ceremony and reception without shutting down Central Park.

It’s great to hope for the best, but also important to plan for the worst (just in case).  Make sure you have a plan B and a covered space in mind in case it downpours.

Your rain plan doesn’t have to be tremendously sophisticated if that’s not your style. If you and your SO would be happy moving your backyard reception into the house and you have enough space to do so, that can work quite well.  Just make sure to set up for your alternative plan (just in case).

If keeping the fun outdoors is nonnegotiable and you opt for a tent, greenhouse, or covered pergola, be sure to consider the time of year, time of day of your event, and the potential necessity to rent outdoor heaters or fans.

By the way, if you want to build your own greenhouse, you can find pricing for lots of modular greenhouses on NW Greenhouses.

If you really want to make your guests feel at home, you can provide blankets, eco-friendly sunscreen, natural insect repellant, alternative footwear (i.e., flip flops) or even fan-style programs!.

If your backyard wedding space is lacking sufficient restrooms but you don’t want to trim down your guest list, you can rent bathrooms and have them delivered directly to your backyard.  You can even choose luxury bathroom trailers with fireplaces!

There are limitless ways to make the wedding of your dreams a reality.  Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Food & Drink

When making decisions about food and beverage, you and your soon-to-be spouse will want to continue thinking about the guest list as well as your budget.

If an upscale catering company and open bar isn’t wallet friendly enough for your needs, there are plenty of other viable (and equally delicious) options!

Food trucks are a fantastic food option and are growing in popularity for garden weddings.  You can find food on wheels with mouthwatering menus in and around most major cities.

No need to hit the streets to enjoy decadent street food. Food trucks (and food carts) can be parked right in your front or back yard.

You can hire a single food truck or several depending on your needs and preferences.

If you’re passionate about staying, “green”, you can opt for a solar and wind powered truck or concession stand!

Whether you’re looking for pizza, tacos, tapas, Asian cuisine, vegan eats, ice cream, or even a wine or craft beer bar – you can find affordable catering options without sacrificing flavor.  Just kick off your shoes be open to letting your event be less uptight and more casual!

If you’re looking for an even more laid back vibe, don’t be afraid to fire up an outdoor pizza oven!  I don’t know about you, but a candle-lit flower garden ceremony at dusk followed by gourmet flatbread pizzas sounds like utopia.

The best part about making homemade garden-fresh pizza is that you can grow most of the toppings right in your yard!  If you time your wedding date just right, you can use your own fresh tomatoes, arugula, basil, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and more!

A little aged balsamic drizzled over the top, and VOILA!

*Chef’s kiss*

Depending on how upscale or low key you want your vibe to be, you might consider a number of other food and beverage options.

You can hire a personal chef to prepare a colorful buffet spread or to light up the grill.

You can serve heavy passed hors d’oeuvres in lieu of the traditional sit-down dinner.

You can arrange to use fresh vegetables from your garden.

You can even use edible flowers like pansies or nasturtiums to elevate dishes and dress up your table settings!

table setting pumpkin
DIY table setting with edible nasturtiums.

If you’re not fans of wine or hard liquor, you could fill coolers with cold waters and beers and call it a day.

Be reasonable about letting your guests know what to expect and then make your day as unique as you’d like it to be!

Décor

When planning your décor, think about the general aesthetic and ambience you’re looking to achieve and make lists of both what you’ll want to purchase and what you already have.

Remember to think about décor for both the ceremony and reception spots (if different).  If you’re having a cocktail hour in an additional spot, you’ll probably want to enhance the ambience over there, too.

The ceremony area is arguably the most sacred (and therefore, most important) spot of all.  If you hire a professional photographer, it’s likely that your favorite pictures will be captured during your ceremony.  So make sure you’re happy with how the area looks.

Garden gates and arbors can be decorated with cascading chiffon linens, garlands of greenery and eucalyptus leaves, or even some colorful hydrangea flowers.

If you’ve been thinking about enhancing your garden with a new arbor, it’s a great idea to choose one prior to your wedding day so that you can get even more bang for your buck.

If you’d like to learn more about the different types of garden arbors, check out this article on arbor styles and materials.

If you and your soulmate are looking for subtle beauty and understated elegance, you might want to let the beauty of your garden speak for itself.  Less truly can be more sometimes.

When decorating for your reception (and/or cocktail hour), you’ll want to take your personalities, preferences, and overall vision into account. 

There are tons of cool ways to decorate for your big celebration.  Think shabby-chic furniture and vintage suitcases.  Or maybe you like the idea of Edison bulbs and crystal chains dangling from your pergola. All you have to do is decide what you want, make a list, and make it happen!

Don’t forget, you can always use what you already have.  Think retro artifacts, conversation-starting trinkets, and framed family photos.

Get creative!

This is an exciting time to work on DIY projects!

Don’t overlook the beauty of those rusty brass chandeliers sitting in your Grandpa’s attic.  You can hang them from your fruit trees to add an eye-catching, rustic touch.

If your chandeliers or candelabras are looking dull, a splash of metallic paint from the garage can bring them right back to life!  If you’re feeling extra bold, try using copper metallic paint to achieve a classy rose-gold hue!

Oh, and if the bulbs are busted or you need an alternative to using real flames, try wrapping battery-powered fairy lights around the arms of your light fixtures!

Garden wedding heaven!

Another thrifty way to decorate your space is to add balloons with lights or greenery inside.

And we mustn’t forget the flowers.

If tightly bound, intricate bouquets and garlands are a must for you, you’ll probably want to hire a florist.  On the other hand, if you’re hoping for a softer and more dainty look, you can save hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars by opting for DIY flowers.

A growing wedding flower trend is to pick mismatched bunches of wildflowers for table settings and bouquets.  No need to bind them tightly with wire and floral tape – a strand of jute or a pastel-colored ribbon will do!

If you wish, you can skip the expensive centerpieces, too!  Some sunflowers or daisies in a tin can or mason jar will suffice.

Tin can hack: You can upcycle your soup and bean cans by washing them, removing the labels, and putting a fresh coat of metallic paint on them.  Just be sure to use a can opener that leaves a smooth edge!

Entertainment

This is the easy part!

Most people opt for a DJ/MC or a cover band.  Either option makes for a tremendous time.

Just know that you don’t have to take the traditional route if you have other ideas in mind.

Close your eyes and imagine your ideal wedding reception or after-party.

Now, think about what you picture yourselves and your favorite people doing.  Are you playing lawn games? Swimming in a pool? Singing karaoke?

Now, consider what you and your special person always have a great time doing. Is it roasting marshmallows over a fire?  Dancing the night away?  Relaxing at your favorite restaurant?

Having trouble deciding?  Try grabbing a notebook and ranking each entertainment option by order of favorability.  (Alternatively, you can rate each option on a 0-10 scale).

Awesome!  Now, you have a solid idea of what you want for entertainment and you’re ready to plan out the fun stuff!

Photography & Videography

We touched on this a bit earlier, but it’s worth delving into a little further.

When it comes to both photography and videography, there are generally 3 types of people:

  • Those who will spend almost anything to make sure they get the highest quality photos possible and/or exceptional video footage
  • Those who want good photos and/or video but are satisfied with decent quality if it means staying within a modest budget
  • Those who don’t want to spend much money (if any) on photos and/or videos and are OK with a few simple pictures and clips from their friends’ cell phones.

Which of those attitudes best describe you and your SO?  Do you feel the same way about both photo and video?

Many people opt for a professional photographer and skip the blockbuster film-style video production.

What’s more, if you’d rather avoid pricey vendors on both accounts, there are fabulous substitutions out there!

You can rent a photo booth. Better yet, you can make one yourself! 

There are lots of DIY tutorials on YouTube showing how to make your own photobooth frame. For little-to-no cost, you can build an oversized, polaroid-style photo frame with just a few pieces of wood, some white paint, and a sharpie! (Some people even make their frames with cardboard or white posterboard from the dollar store!)

If you don’t have quirky signs and dress-up props for a DIY photo booth (or if that’s just not your thing), find another way to match it to your style!

You can set up a table with a generous spring, summer, or autumn harvest and tell guests to take a photo with their favorite vegetables. (This can be particularly comical if you grow funny looking “characters”, like eggplants that have noses!

eggplant nose
This eggplant is more than meets the eye – it’s got a nose too!

If you don’t want to pay for Polaroid film, your guest can use anything from digital camera to their own cell phones!  Some people even buy disposable cameras for their guests to express themselves with!

Another nonconventional (but extremely cool) way to save is to DIY your videography.  One of the funniest and most pure wedding videos I’ve ever seen was a 14 minute long clip of dance floor shenanigans shot with a GoPro!

So don’t be shy about dusting off your old camcorder!

Attire & Appearance

For this one, there are really no rules anymore.  Age-old tradition would have it that women would buy extravagant ball gowns and men would rent tuxedos.

While this practice is still perfectly common and acceptable, there are other ways (and cheaper ways, to boot).

Yes, it’s true. You can dress for less – a lot less!

If a lace and chiffon wedding dress with white buttons down the back feels like a must, consider renting rather than buying. Unless the dress is profoundly sentimental to you, it probably won’t make sense to spend thousands on something you only wear once.

Garden weddings make it even more suitable for women to make alternative dress choices.

A long maxi dress or short knee-length might be the best choice.  You can avoid wedding price gouging by skipping the dress shop and seeking a stylish dress, romper, blazer, or even pantsuit that happens to be white, ivory, or champagne.

For men’s attire, it’s becoming common practice to pass on the tuxes and opt for stylish suits instead.  More and more men are even skipping the jacket and sticking to slacks and a dress shirt.

Suspenders and a bowtie are always in style, but so is loosening up the top buttons for a more relaxed fit.

There are no laws about dress pants, either. If freshly ironed khaki shorts are more up your alley – go for it!

To save on shoes, consider some simple sandals or flats.

To save on headpieces, you can substitute the veil with a DIY flower crown.

flower crown wedding
You can make a DIY flower crown for the bride.

You can even tuck a few sprigs of baby’s breath into your hair.

If you (or someone close to you) are good with hair and makeup, you can save a lot by skipping the stylists.

If you’d like to celebrate your natural curls or your bare (beautiful) face, that’s a lovely option as well!

Just make sure you’re well rested and that your homegrown cucumbers have been put to good use (they do wonders for your skin, particularly around the eyes)!

Don’t worry. Regardless of what you wear, you’ll be radiating beauty from within on your big day, so just drink your water, eat your (homegrown) vegetables, and enjoy this wonderful time!

Hire Vendors For The Big Stuff

Though I feel this step is absolutely critical, I know we’ve addressed it quite a bit already, so I’ll keep this one short and sweet.

Take another look at the main categories we went over earlier:

  • The venue
  • Food and drink
  • Décor
  • Entertainment
  • Photography and videography
  • Attire and appearance

Prioritize with your SO and determine which of these categories qualify as “big stuff” for you.  It could be all of them or it could be most of them.

Then, hire professional vendors as needed.

If you’re feeling energized and raring to go in regards to planning, I’d say you’re ready to get started!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, you may want to talk to your partner about the prospect of hiring a wedding planner or day-of coordinator.

Alternatively, if you’re fortunate enough to have a wedding-planning-loving best friend, give that friend a call and ask if you can enlist a little help!  Besides, we get by with a little help from our friends!

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

I can hardly emphasize this one enough.

It may be tough to swallow, but it’s extremely unlikely that anyone is going to notice a custom engraving on your ring box or champagne glass.

Your guests won’t care about whether you used an expensive custom stamp or professional calligrapher for your invitation stationary.

They won’t notice whether or not your earrings are real diamonds (and if they do, it won’t make any sort of earth-shattering difference).

What I’m telling you is simple and straightforward…

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

You can purchase a $20 cake from the grocery store.  Your best friend will be happy to bake cupcakes for you. 

Oh, and remember the ugly-vegetable photobooth we mentioned earlier?  That same spread of freshly harvested fruits and veggies can later double as the party favor table.  Nobody is going to cry about the delicious heirloom tomatoes they’re going home with.

Most people won’t even notice if you opt for no wedding favors at all. (I did this. True story!)

Weddings are never “perfect”.  Something always goes a little more candidly than expected, but that’s what makes the day so special.

“You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather…”

       – Outkast

rain wedding flowers
Have a backup plan for a garden wedding in case of rain!

In a (homegrown) nutshell, remember to stop and smell the roses and avoid getting lost in the details.

Make It Your Own

Think about creative and innovative ways to incorporate your personality into your day.

If you’re dog lovers, you might decide to let your fur babies run free.

If you’re fruit tree connoisseurs, a tree-planting ceremony can add a meaningful enhancement to your garden wedding!  Just be sure to let the person officiating your ceremony know what you’d like them to say.

They might start by discussing how the act of planting the tree with your partner symbolizes a firmly rooted marriage.  They might also explain that the act of watering the tree is a metaphor for nurturing your unity so it can continue to grow.  How romantic!

pawpaw tree planting ceremony wedding
A pawpaw tree planting ceremony will fit into a garden wedding at home.

Don’t forget your watering can!

If you’re bookworms, consider scattering some rose petals from your garden over a few stacked or opened books.

If you love to travel, consider using postcards from around the world instead of a traditional guestbook. You can even attach a pen to a long-stem flower. It only takes a couple of minutes and it costs nothing! (Just make sure the flower is thorn-free!)

If you and your late grandmother loved to birdwatch, you can situate a photo of her next to your garden’s bird bath.

The list of options is truly infinite when it comes to adding your own personal touch.  If it feels special to you – I say, go for it!

Conclusion

Congrats! Now you’re well on your way to planning the garden wedding you’ve always dreamed of.

I wish you and yours a lifetime of love and bountiful harvests!

Happy planning!

You might also be interested in reading this article about 6 commonly asked garden wedding questions or this article on common concerns about backyard garden weddings.

If you’re looking to rent garden space for a wedding, you can learn about how to rent garden space here.

If you like the idea of a greenhouse for your home garden wedding, check out pricing for modular greenhouses on NW Greenhouses.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

If you want to read some of GreenUpSide’s popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed this guest post by LMadGz!

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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