In April, I planned my own backyard wedding to the man of my dreams and it truly could not have been a more special day! Where this was a second marriage for both of us and my husband, Markus, is Austrian (with different traditions anyway) we wanted to make this our day without things that we felt we had to do versus wanted to do. Budget was also important to us, below you will find a few ways we cut spending without sacrificing much.
A few crucial elements to create the whimsical romantic affair I envisioned:
- Beautiful Backyard - it took a little work but after many work weekends - we got there!
- Lighting - we planned the ceremony for 7pm, with drinks/dinner after so I knew we would start out sunny and need the right lights over the tables and around the pool area after dark.
- Ceremony involving the WHOLE family - even the dog.
- Decadent Food - the key here was to stay within budget but have it catered.
- Music - live musicians really add a lot of class and not a lot to the budget.
- Personal gifts for the guests - we wanted our wedding favors to be a little part of our day for our guests to take home.
- Backyard Clean Up- here are the basic items we found that needed some work prior to the big day:
- Remove trampoline and re-sod areas
- Build a pool equipment cover
- Clean out all flower beds/trim trees and shrubs
- Plant areas that were bare, then mulch
- Replace outdoor furniture cushions
- Scheduled wind/screen cleaning
- Assess where guests will enter your home/yard - if entering through the house, you will need to potentially spiff up the area.
- We had to do the following:
- Clean carpets
- Recover kitchen chairs
- New throw pillows for living room sofa
- Added bench to entry room
- Make front door “pop” – bursting with color
- floating lanterns in the pool
- solar lights in the flower beds
- hanging sphere lanterns in the trees above the main dining tables
- large white strands of Christmas lights on the patio
- Lanterns with battery operated tealights on the tables
Incorporating both of my daughters, one of which was on crutches, the dog and seating for guests (which was separate from the dining area) into my backyard was challenging. Things we had to consider:
- Finding a minister - we were recommended to ours by a friend, and he was great. He had solid advice on involving the kids without making them feel awkward, it turned out very sweet.
- Our sweet dog Beau was chosen to be the ring bearer and he did a fabulous job. Complete with a bow tie and all!
- We set up some of the chairs from the tables near the arch where the ceremony would take place and let the guests decide if they wanted to sit or stand. Then the guys put the chairs back at the dining tables once the I do's were over. Don't rent too many chairs, some people like to stand and you don't want so many chairs that no one can walk around.
We checked out several caterer’s in our area, some that did mostly weddings and more formal events, and some that were more casual and did mostly business luncheon’s and such. But we found that the traditional wedding caterers were a little pricey and we were not overly thrilled with the food.
Then we stumbled upon a local Italian restaurant that has great food and the cost was substantially lower than a traditional caterer – it turned out fantastic! They served salad, garlic bread, steak, chicken, lasagna, pasta bar, and green beans – it was a feast. I believe we still have a few pans of frozen leftovers.
For the cake, we went totally non-traditional with a Nothing Bundt Cakes two tier cake and then arranged small bundt cakes around it with flowers and lanterns. I added mini cream colored roses to the very top. These cakes are out of sight delicious, we ordered enough for 60 and only had 40 guests, there was hardly anything left.
We deciding on a local harpist, for several hours that began when guests arrived, through the ceremony, and then dinner. It added a very sweet romantic feel. I chose my particular harpist because she played a wide variety of classical and contemporary - even some Cold Play and Norah Jones - it was the best $350 I spent!
If a harp is not available, the options are endless for live musicians that will perform at a reasonable price.
We searched for something special, up until a few weeks before the wedding. I am a huge fan of Magnolia Market in Waco (Fixit Upper-Chip & JoAnn Gains HGTV), and I had recently visited their store and purchased this hanging wall vase. I hung it in my kitchen and always have it filled with fresh rosemary from my garden.
We made our own version for all the guests, even the kids took home smaller versions filled with flowers. We displayed them in a wagon parked in the backyard by the back gate so everyone would take one on their way out.