How to plan a beautiful backyard wedding for less than £1,000
The average cost of a wedding in the UK is roughly £15,000, but you don’t have to splash that much cash to have a wedding that’s special.
Anna Davison, CEO at the Tiny Wedding Company, says that, if you’re really looking to save, a garden wedding could be the way to go.
She says: ‘If you are looking to hire a tipi marquee in your garden with caterers and a bar, fully decorate the marquee and the garden, hire photographers and musicians you would be looking at up to £6k.
‘However, if you are open to being a little more savvy and creative by upcycling pieces from Facebook marketplace, using flowers from the garden, cooking the food yourself and borrowing tables and chairs, you will be able to create a stunning wedding day for under £1,000.’
If this has piqued your interest, Anna and Jess Martin, wedding decor expert at party decorations supplier Ginger Ray, have put together their tops tips for having a beautiful wedding for under a grand.
DIY the decorations
Decorations can make all the difference to a wedding, but if you play your cards right, you can expect to spend just up to £200 making your garden look right.
Jess says: ‘For a garden wedding, it’s totally doable to spend no more than £200 on decorations. If you’re making your own decorations with family and friends, create a “kitty” of cash for craft supplies, so everyone can buy paper, stencils confetti and anything else they need.
‘If you’re buying your own decorations – you can easily find low-cost chair decorations, bunting, and lighting.
‘Flowers can be one of the most expensive wedding costs, so to keep this down, opt for artificial or dried flowers such as pampas grass to really transform your garden without the high cost of a florist.
‘Create a statement backdrop using beautiful artificial garlands to really add that wow factor – you can get ready-made ones for around £10.
‘You could also try picking your own fresh flowers on the morning of the wedding – or inviting your guests to do the same and bring some bunches along with them.’
If you want to get really crafty, you could even make a fun event of it with your nearest and dearest.
‘Gather friends and family to get involved and create their own decorations for your special day,’ Jess recommends.
‘Whether it be painting signs, creating photo banners, or flower arranging, try hosting a fun pre-wedding evening with snacks and fizz.
‘If you have the time, start collecting glass bottles to make your own cute lanterns to place around the garden, by adding in LED lights and tying in raffia string.
‘Making your own decorations is not only eco-friendly, but is also a great way to cut down on costs, and add a personal touch to your wedding.’
Embrace the boho trend
When it comes to those decorations, opting for a boho style will help your budget choices look a lot more like style choices.
Jess says: ‘Relaxed, boho vibes are a huge trend for wedding decorations this year – and it’s so easy to create the look in your garden. Touches of pampas grass, flower garlands and macramé really add to the boho look and feel.
‘Adding foliage and flowers (even if they are artificial) in as many places as possible is another easy way to achieve a relaxed setting. If you’re adding in the traditional archway for the bride and groom, try wrapping foliage around the frame, or buying a ready-made one if you’re not the crafty type!’
‘Turn simple foldable tables into elegant tablescapes with draped pieces of neutral material, add foliage, flowers, candles and whatever colour palette you decide to go with,’ adds Anna.
Create seating ‘zones’
Making separate ‘zones’ in your garden, each with their own purpose, can help you make the most of the space and make the garden feel like a bona fide venue.
Anna says: ‘Your garden will always be your garden, but when it comes to celebrating your wedding day, you want it to be the place you celebrated your special day.
‘Get creative and plan the space, create zones and different areas for different aspects of your day. It’s a great way to make a setting feel comfortable.
‘Zone certain areas with sofas and comfortable chairs, rather than just randomly placing them around the garden. Create another zone with high stools and barrel style standing areas.
‘If you have the space, having a gazebo or small tipi marquee can act as another room or bar, it is also a great blank canvas to decorate.’
Jess recommends hiring seating if you want to stick to a particular theme, telling us: ‘Seating doesn’t actually have to cost anything, if you use your own tables and chairs.
‘However, if you’re keen to have your seating in keeping with the theme of your wedding (e.g. white benches) prices start from around £7-10 to hire an individual bench.’
Go low-key with music
Music is essential for setting the tone, and whether you want a band, your own PA system, or just a Spotify playlist, there’s a range of budget-friendly options you can choose.
Anna says: ‘Music is another key element to any wedding day. Having a band tends to take up a lot of space in smaller gardens, you might want to look for acoustic musicians that are still able to create a great atmosphere but require a lot less equipment and can comfortably set up anywhere in a garden.
‘PA sound systems are great because they also come with a microphone, perfect for speeches and any announcements throughout the day, you can hire this equipment from £35 or buy the equipment from £100.’
‘To add an extra personal touch,’ says Jess, ‘set up your own Spotify playlist and invite your guests to add to it before the big day. That way, nobody has an excuse not to get up onto the dance floor.’
Jess also points out that you can easily use some Bluetooth speakers, which plenty of people have lying around already, to get the job done.
Make your own bar or food station
Food and alcohol can be an intimidating expenditure, but batch cooking yourself and buying booze in bulk can help.
‘Creating DIY bars is a great way to encourage your guests to help themselves throughout the day. Buy beer barrels from local breweries who tend to offer the pump as a rental,’ Anna says.
‘Setting up “pimp your” gin and prosecco tables is a lovely added extra too. Firepits with s’mores and toasted marshmallows in the evening is also great fun once the sun goes down.’
‘Candy stations are also a brilliant alternative to a more formal cake, and add yet another element of fun to your garden wedding,’ says Jess.
‘There are tonnes of options out there, from donut and pretzel stands, pick ‘n’ mix, to ice-cream stations’.
She adds: ‘The best way to keep costs down on food is to cook your own, or you could even invite guests to bring their own dishes.
‘If you’re cooking your own food, don’t be afraid to cook batches of food that people can help themselves to.
‘Chillis and tasty curries are a great relaxed, low-cost option, but are still super tasty. Or, try laying out cheap, small bites on a stylish grazing board, an easy yet cost-effective way to impress your guests!
‘Depending on how many guests you have, cooking your own food shouldn’t cost more than around £100.’
And as for drinks, Jess recommends buying beer straight from a brewery
She tells us: ‘Alcohol can easily add up to be one of the most expensive elements to a wedding, especially when guests are expecting a free bar. Bulk buying is absolutely the way forward here.
‘You can order 5L kegs of beer directly from a brewery for around £30. You can also keep costs down by opting for prosecco rather than champagne when it comes to celebratory fizz – you can usually find bottles of prosecco for around £5 in supermarkets.
‘Another fun, low-cost idea is to create your own signature wedding punch or cocktail for people to help themselves to – there’s no need to spend a lot on expensive spirits and mixers!’
Use budget mood lighting
Getting the lighting right is the kind of thing that can help take your wedding from a 5 to a 10, and it doesn’t cost much at all.
Jess explains: ‘Dot tealights around your garden on as many surfaces as you can to really create that serene, warming feel – the more, the better.
‘Try incorporating LED lights by weaving them into foliage you’ve used to decorate your garden too. Festoon lights are also bang on trend this summer, and are a great option if you’re going for a festival look and feel.
‘Buy some sparklers and add them to a party bag for each of your guests and light them when it gets dark, spelling out letters with them also makes a gorgeous photo opportunity!’
Tealights are famously inexpensive – you can get a pack of 100 from Wilko for just £2.50 – and Amazon is selling packs of 40 sparklers for £5.97.
This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
MORE : Quiz: Should you have a wedding or buy a house first?
MORE : 15 outfits to wear to the next wedding in your calendar
MORE : Covid meant we couldn’t have the wedding we wanted – so we eloped