Did you see yesterday’s post about the inspiration behind our wedding? If you didn’t, go back, take a look and then come back to this post. I think we were able to get the look and feel we wanted without breaking the bank. So today, I’m going to break it all down for you. If I miss something that you are dying to know, just ask me!

When you delve into the world of weddings, it’s so easy to get caught up not only in all the beautiful things out there, but also the “You have to’s…”. You know, “you have to invite so and so” or “You have to serve dinner”. It can go on and on. We were on a budget (isn’t everyone!). Some budgets are big and some are small and I would say ours was right in between. Knowing other priorties we had in our life, we needed to keep our spending down as low as possible.

This wedding is DIY all the way. Since the reception was in my backyard it gave us a chance to fix things up slowly. But, word of warning, having a reception at your own house is A LOT of work! Sean and the boys moved their stuff in the week of the wedding, so having the whole house clean and put away and having 140 guests coming over meant that the last week was busy!

backyard wedding on a budget
*invitations designed by me and printed through an online retailer.

When Sean and I got engaged, we knew a few things. A. Between the two of us, we had four kids, all of whom would be going to college in the next few years. B. We also wanted to celebrate our new family by taking everyone on a Hawaiian vacation that same summer. C. We wanted a summer wedding when the kids were out of school which meant our engagement ended up being a little over four months. D. We had both been married before and we wanted this wedding to be completely different than the first time around.

And, the most important fact. Our marriage was first and foremost our most important goal and journey. The day of the wedding was not as important, but we still wanted a fun celebration.

The Attire

David's Bridal Wedding Dress
*Dress embellished with chiffon flower belt with grosgrain ribbon made by me.

When I first started looking at dresses I immediately started thinking that finding an affordable, beautiful wedding dress was not an option. I kind of thought I was going to have to go the non-traditional route and find an evening dress or summer dress instead. I initially set my budget at $200 for a dress. I know, crazy, right? After scouring online stores, even ordering some dresses and returning them, I was in despair. I only had a couple months to find a dress which didn’t leave much time for ordering and alterations. I finally decided to go into David’s Bridal with some of my girlfriends. It was there that I found this dress. THE dress. I loved it so much when I put it on, but it was $800. SO OVER MY BUDGET! I went home trying to figure out how to maneuver some other things to see if I could fit it in.

Once I got home, I started doing some online research. Maybe someone had the same dress for sale on Craigslist. I ended up back on the David’s Bridal site and saw that they had dresses that were considered samples. These are dresses that were either used on the floor, or returned, could possibly have holes or tears and they couldn’t sell it in store. My dress was listed for only $199, plus I had a 10% off coupon. I had to go for it and hope it worked out. With a 14 day return policy I figured I didn’t have anything to loose. It came in perfect with no imperfections what-so-ever. AND, it fit so perfectly, I didn’t even need alterations! I did end up adding some tiny spagetti straps and a hand ribbon to lift the train which came to $40, but other than that. I stayed really close to my initial budget. My Lucky Brand shoes were also so comfortable and perfect for the outdoor venue’s. The belt was made by me. I’ll have to put a DIY up on the blog for the belt and hairpins I made for just a few dollars each.

blended family wedding

Sean kept it simple and wore a suit he already owned. We ordered the boys, blush ties to match Sean’s, they wore white converse shoes and gray suits. Analiese wore a blush dress I found at Macy’s in the perfect shade for only $40.

The Ceremony

backyard wedding on a budget

We wanted to have a family friendly, outdoor wedding that was more like a fun party than a more formal affair. The venue I really wanted was booked up through the summer, and most of the other outdoor venue’s I looked at (vineyards, vintage homes and public gardens were too expensive or already booked. And if you don’t think I looked at every option I possibly could, then you are wrong. When it comes to a wedding, typically, you have to have time on your side, money in your pocket or you have to get inventive. We chose the last option. We decided to have the reception in the backyard of the house I had been living in, which Sean and the boys would be moving into once we were married. The ceremony was held at a local nature park, Oak Canyon Nature Center. Just like the name implies there was a canopy of oak trees around us. This helped us keep the decor to a minimum since the venue itself was so beautiful.

budget wedding real

For the ceremony I realized a couple things. One, if you choose a natural location, decor can stay to a minimum since the outdoors speak for themselves. Second, friends are willing to help if you ask. We were able to borrow all of the ceremony decor from a friend who owns a wedding facility. The shepherds hooks with mercury vases, chiffon scarf for the stage, vintage table for the guest book and aisle runner were all borrowed from her. The vases were filled with baby’s breath which is ultra inexpensive. The rest of the stage decor was found decor. Lanterns that were from my backyard and tree trunks and tree cuttings from a friends.

To make the ceremony even more special, we had only the kids as our attendants. Sean’s boys stood by him and mine, stood by me. Analiese also sang and played the guitar while  Grant walked me down the aisle. Let’s just say, this was probably the most special part of the day for me. Having us all together there on stage.

backyard wedding on a budget

The Reception

We are so lucky that our house has a large backyard. We were able to fit 140 people back there comfortably along with the band, dance floor, two food vendors and plenty of space to mingle. To make the layout not so perfect I rented an equal amount of rectangle tables and round tables. Having a more mismatched look kept with the casual setup I wanted.

wedding head table

One of my favorite decor pieces were these word cutouts. I designed the words and had them cut on a CNC machine by a local vendor and then spray painted them gold.

wedding bar

Like I mentioned in yesterdays post, choosing the food was probably the most stressful party of the decision making. We didn’t want to spend a ton of money and we didn’t want something traditional. Going with two different food trucks ended up being the most fun option that gave us the casual vibe that we desired. It also allowed our guests to interact and roam around. Crepes Bonaparte set up their table on our lawn. And the TK Burger Food Truck setup on our driveway behind the hedge. Wine, Beer and non-alcoholic drinks were bought at Costco and served out of big galvanized rented bins.

Crepes Bonaparte

Table decor was wood slices bought for $3 each topped with mercury glass vases that I had collected over the course of the engagement and filled with babies breath and a single pink rose. Gray burlap fabric cut into runners over white linen with gray linen napkins were at the table with the rented glassware. Buying all our linens were far cheaper than renting and I was actually able to sell them afterwards for more than I bought them for! Bamboo plates finished off the rustic look and were recyclable at the end of the night.

Rustic Wedding Centerpiece

By far, one of the BEST parts of the reception was the live band we hired. Crowd Theory was such a great band and brought so much fun and life to the dance floor. Hiring a band over a DJ or an iPod was such a luxury for us, but I was so excited to do it after attending my brothers wedding where they hired a band. I would hire them again in a heartbeat and their price was so reasonable as well. $5 Ikea curtain panels hung on either side of the patio to frame them out and soften all that wood.

Crowd Theory Band

When we got engaged, the first thing Analiese said was “I’m making the cake”. Was it stressful that I had my 15 year old making our wedding cake? Well, a little. But, since we really wanted the kids involved I was ok with it and it turned out beautiful. We ended up having the whole top of the cake left over after the wedding and we sliced into it while we were opening our gifts with the kids. We also had a table (actually our dining table brought outside) filled with sweet treats made by our family. wedding cake

wedding dessert table

Sparklers ended our night. It was July 1st after all so we couldn’t let that opportunity pass!

Sparkler wedding send off

Whew! It was SO much fun reliving that night by writing this post. That day was the beginning of our blended family. Becoming a family of six that day was an adventure, and the first year has been so good. I’m so happy that we were able to start it off with a bang.

Our Budget

Below is the wedding budget breakdown for our SoCal wedding with 140 guests:

ceremony venue (Oak Canyon Nature Center): $790
reception venue (Our backyard):$0
TOTAL: $790

rental of tables, chairs, pipe & drape, dance floor, wine & water glasses, set up, take down, and delivery (On Call Rentals): $912
purchased disposable bamboo plates, bamboo forks & knives, guest towels, hot cups (Webstaurant Store) : $259
purchased linens – tableclothes & linen napkins  (Tablecloth Factory): $226

TOTAL: $1397

invitations + postage (custom design, CatPrint): $180
envelopes (Paper Source): $80

TOTAL: $260

TK Burger Food Truck: $1392
Crepes Bonaparte: $1024
non-alcoholic, wine & beer beverages (Costco): $300
appetizers: gifted
desserts: wedding cake made by my daughter, other mini desserts gifted by family

bar servers: $80
TOTAL: $2796

flowers: $350
gray burlap for table runners (Online Fabric Store): $90
vases (collected from numerous stores, similiar): $80
mason jars, collected: $0
globe lights, fairy curtain lights: $220

tealights & candles (Ikea): $40
frames for table numbers (some borrowed, the rest TJ Maxx): $25
ceremony decorations: borrowed
large words, photo backdrop: $0

TOTAL: $2305

dress + alterations: $220
shoes: $50
jewelry from Target: $32
makeup: $60
hair & makeup by me: $0
TOTAL: $362

Photographer (Heather Anderson Photography): $1400
Videographer (Ed Navarro): gifted
Band – 1 hour during Cocktail hour, 2 hours for dancing (Crowd Theory): $1500
Servers & Day of  Wedding Coordinator: $220
TOTAL: $1620

*All decor was sold after the event and we were able to recoup approximately $600!
That brought our grand total to under $9000.

All  photos take by Heather Anderson Photography.

Related: Wedding Planning Inspiration – Blush and Gray Backyard Wedding

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