Intimate backyard weddings at a family home are rising in popularity, but you can rent a bigger backyard and throw a full-scale event instead of using a traditional venue.
Choosing the right scenic location for a wedding is an essential first step in planning, but budget affects everything. Is a backyard wedding cheaper?
A small backyard wedding is often cheaper than renting a venue, and you can find some incredible deals when you only need to host a couple of dozen people. However, a venue rental is almost always the more cost-effective option for larger weddings. Renting a couple of tents is very different from putting on an acre-spanning event for over a hundred people.
Cost Of Backyard Wedding vs Venue
One of the biggest money savers for a backyard wedding is the venue, but only if you own the yard. The cost of a backyard wedding versus venue depends on many factors.
On the one hand, you don’t have to pay for your own yard, but you may need a lot more equipment.
On the other hand, a traditional venue may have restrictions like which caterers they’ll work with, but they often include many large items you need like a stage and podium, and chairs.
Average Cost Of A Backyard Wedding
A typical outdoor wedding can cost upwards of $29,000, but hosting in your backyard can help cut the price down.
Many smaller home weddings cost about a third of that price at just $10,000. If you’re a thrifty and savvy shopper, you can get married at home for even less.
However, much of the savings come from reducing your guest list to a minimum group of immediate family and a few friends.
There are lots of unique fees involved in any outdoor wedding.
For example, thirty people can share one or two home bathrooms, but the story is a little different for a venue-equivalent wedding with 100+ guests.
You’d need to rent port-a-potties or a restroom trailer to accommodate the higher volume.
While the port-a-potty rents by the week and is far less expensive, it doesn’t accommodate wedding dresses very well, and there’s the smell to consider.
Meanwhile, a restroom trailer works (and smells) more like a clean public bathroom with multiple stalls and more space.
According to Fixr, “The national average cost to rent a portable toilet for a week is between $150 and $300. Most homeowners pay around $220.” However, “The average cost for renting a restroom trailer is approximately $900 to $3,000 per weekend. These restroom trailers are full-sized trailers that house multiple bathroom stalls.”
Average Cost Of A Venue
The average cost of a wedding venue in 2021 was $10,700, but that is just the venue fees. Including the venue, the total cost of getting married is about $29,000.
As you can see, this is about the same as getting married in your own yard, and a venue is guaranteed to have bathrooms for guest use.
Wedding venues often have an approved list of vendors and caterers they work with.
You’ll be limited to selecting from one of these options, and they are unlikely to be the cheapest in town.
Unfortunately, this can raise the costs of a venue wedding. You or your friends and family could cook wedding meals at home for a fraction of that cost.
Typical catering costs run $75-250 per guest. The national average for these services is $1800 to $4000 for a wedding.
Notably, that doesn’t change if you host at your own home, but a venue’s approved list can push that budget toward the high end, which means you’re paying the same amount for pre-approved pro catering as you would for spare high-quality restrooms.
It’s not hard to see how wedding costs start to balance out.
Is It Cheaper To Do A Backyard Wedding
Ultimately, it is not cheaper to do a backyard wedding in most cases.
At the extreme ends of the spectrum, a tiny backyard wedding is more affordable, but the bigger your event, the more likely you will save money using a big venue.
There are a lot of tradeoffs, like the bathrooms and catering examples above.
Another excellent example of a cost exchange is the roof and climate control.
A large indoor wedding venue has a roof you won’t pay extra for to keep the sun off and ensure you’re covered in case of rain, snow, or other weather issues. Likewise, it will typically have heating and cooling.
An outdoor, backyard wedding needs tent rentals to ensure there’s a place you can escape the heat or cold.
Tents keep birds and insects out of your ceremony and later out of your food. Heating or cooling tents means portable climate control and sometimes noisy generators.
The yard may be free, but you have to pay to set it up as a wedding venue.
How To Have A Cheap Backyard Wedding
Although most backyard weddings are not cheaper than venue weddings, it is possible to have a cheap backyard wedding.
However, you need to know where to cut costs to save money. Some fees are non-negotiable, like the marriage license, while others, like the decorations, are much more freeform.
Backyard Wedding For 30 Guests
To have an inexpensive backyard wedding for 30 guests, consider smart ways to cut costs.
Smaller weddings are much less expensive, and it’s easier to find ways to reduce out-of-pocket costs.
It’s an informal setting, so you could do a barbecue and potluck where you provide the main dish and drinks and have guests bring a side dish of their choosing.
Likewise, you can bake your cake or pick up three or four lovely non-wedding cakes from your local grocer.
At this size, you don’t need to worry much about bathrooms. Chair rentals are only around $2 each, and you don’t have to put sashes and fancy cushions on them.
In fact, it might even be within the budget to buy a large backyard tent and some long foldout plastic tables for your feast.
Get nice tablecloths, and ask your wedding party to pitch in when it’s time to remove ceremony chairs and set up the meal.
Backyard Wedding Under $5,000
Having a backyard wedding under $5,000 is possible, but it will require more work from the wedding party.
DIY decorations, fewer flower arrangements, and making your gifts for everyone will help minimize the strain on your wallet.
You can order food from a favorite local restaurant in advance, set up a buffet, or have a barbecue instead of going to a professional caterer who uses a more extensive staff and paying for servers and tips.
There are numerous other ways to cut costs at a backyard wedding. For example, some modern brides forgo the cake and put up a wall of donuts for people to have for dessert.
Premade donuts are much less expensive than a full-scale professional wedding cake, regardless of how many people you plan to feed.
Another way to minimize your budget is to plan for the event when you know there’s little chance of bad weather.
If you have trees, you can stretch shade cloth between them for a covered area instead of renting tents.
Using your home or the home of a friend or family member who doesn’t mind sharing their indoor space will also provide heated or cooled seating for some guests.
Some costs are unavoidable, such as chairs and tables. You’ll still have to pay your officiant to conduct the ceremony.
Calculate the exact prices for the things you have no wiggle room on, and then apply the remainder of your $5000 budget to DIY projects like the decorations.
Helpful Tips To Know If A Backyard Wedding Is Cheaper
Backyard weddings aren’t usually cheaper than venue weddings. However, you have a lot more control over all the details, and you don’t need to book so far in advance to get the date you want.
Here are some helpful tips to know if a backyard wedding is cheaper.
- Many DIY brides end up buying more than they need or having a lot of wedding ceremony trappings left over when they’re done getting married. You can hunt deal websites like eBay and purchase gently used wedding items like podiums and more. When your big day is over, you can turn it around and make a little money back by reselling things you don’t need to keep.
- If your yard isn’t big enough for the wedding you want to throw, consider renting a house for the event. Check Airbnb and contact the owners to see if they’ll work with your event. Pro Tip- Search for homes with BBQ grills or pools since Airbnb has no ‘yard’ filter.
- One of the ways some brides save on venue weddings is to provide their own alcohol. However, the venues may add a ‘corkage’ fee to compensate for the difference, which means charging to open and pour from outside bottles. You don’t have bar fees in a backyard setting unless you hire someone else to pour the drinks.
Backyard weddings are only cheaper if you have a tiny event or put in a lot of free labor on your own behalf.
Usually, the difference in price between indoor and outdoor weddings is negligible because you have to pay to turn the yard into a suitable wedding venue.
However, if you know where to cut corners and have a few friends or family members who are willing to pitch in, you can save on a small to moderate backyard wedding.
Alternately, if you want a huge ceremony and reception, the bigger it gets, the more likely you can save by using an existing venue.
The costs for setting up outdoor space get proportionally higher. The one thing backyard weddings have that no venue can provide is complete freedom to design your dream wedding from the ground up.