10 Money-Saving Hacks for Your Outdoor Wedding

A woman plans her wedding budget, writing ideas on paper

Heather Featherston

May 28, 2024

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10 Outdoor Wedding Ideas on a Budget

Planning the wedding of your dreams is such an exciting time! You scour wedding magazines and websites and find many unique ideas. You might be envisioning a beautiful outdoor wedding with all of your friends and family, beautiful flowers, and extravagant catering.
Then the reality of the cost of all those unique ideas settles in. You want your day to be the perfect, magical day you have envisioned, but unless you have unlimited funds, you will need to work within a budget.
A happy newly-wedded couple who followed our outdoor wedding ideas on a budgetAs you start planning your wedding, you’ll find that you can spend money on things you never even knew you wanted. You may find that you could spend as much money as you have (and then some!) to achieve your dream wedding, but it may not be practical financially.
Starting your life together with debt can take a while to get out from under, so we’ve put together some money-saving hacks to help you have the day of your dreams without the nightmare of going into massive debt to pull it off.
With some excellent planning and creativity, your day can be exactly what you have dreamt of without breaking the bank. We have some great tips for outdoor wedding ideas on a budget. Keep reading to learn 10 money-saving hacks for your outdoor wedding!

1. Set a Realistic Budget

An engaged couple looks over their wedding budget at homeBegin by taking a look at how much money makes sense for you to spend on your wedding day. This needs to be your first step as it will impact all of your decisions. Starting your new life out in debt can add unneeded stress and is not ideal.
Instead, consider timing your engagement to give you more time to create savings that you feel will be sufficient for your special day. A wise financial suggestion is to spend no more than 10% of your newly combined household income. Once you have this number in hand, you can start your planning.

2. Prioritize

Now that you have a budget, you can decide how best to use your funds. The venue you choose and the number of guests you invite will significantly affect your spending.
Take the time to write down the most important things to you in order of importance, then get creative.

3. Create Your Guest List

Your guest list will have an impact on the venue you choose, the cost of catering, and many other choices you will need to make. Of course, the larger the guest list, the higher the cost.
When creating your wedding guest list, first consider those you feel you absolutely must invite, such as close family. Next, you probably have some best friends with whom you want to share this special day. You’ll need to carefully consider any additional guests as a factor of your budget.
Finally, you may want to consider a live stream that some guests could view online. Having a live stream available is perfect for friends and family who do not live in your area.

4. Choose Your Venue

Wedding photo taken at The Rough & Ready Vineyards by Athena Kalindi PhotographyAn outdoor wedding venue is great for a budget. The natural beauty of the surroundings will decrease the amount you need to spend on decorations and flowers. Combining your ceremony and reception at the same location is also a way to save money.
As you start to look around for venues to hold your wedding and reception, you will probably learn that rental fees for some can be much higher than you may have expected. However, don’t be put off by the cost until you fully understand what’s included in the price tag. If your venue includes items like tables, chairs, specialty tables, and wedding coordination, it may be worth every penny and save you money in rental fees. Be sure you understand all the terms of your contract and that there are no “hidden” fees before signing.
You can also generally have a less formal theme with an outdoor wedding, creating some money-saving situations. If the venue has an event manager is on staff, they can coordinate with you on the planning, and you won’t need to hire a wedding planner. Our wedding packages at the Rough & Ready Vineyards offer a wedding coordinator who will also be there on the day of your wedding to ensure all goes smoothly.
Quote graphic that says, You can often have a less formal theme with an outdoor wedding, creating some money-saving opportunities!
Many believe that having a backyard wedding is a good money saving hack. But remember, with a wedding at Aunt Jeannie’s house, you may end up spending more on the rental of all the things you need to be delivered than you would by having it at the right venue. You will also have to think about cleaning and setting up ahead of time, cleaning up afterward, and making sure you have enough bathroom facilities to accommodate your guests.
Photo of a bride and groom cutting into their wedding cake by Engstrom Photography

5. Save on Your Cake and Catering

Catering your wedding can get pretty pricey. However, you can still impress your guests while maintaining your budget with some creativity. If you can keep your menu simple, that will undoubtedly help the bill at the end of the night. Here are a couple of additional money-saving hacks that can help cut costs.
A sit-down dinner can be costly. However, you can find some less expensive options by the day and the time of day you choose to have your wedding. Consider a cocktail reception instead of providing an extensive, sit-down dinner. If you offered beer, wine, champagne for the toast, and one signature drink (which is not mandatory) and passed appetizers, you will save money in all kinds of ways.
If dinner is important to you, consider having your wedding on a day other than Saturday, which is the most popular day. Doing so may give you some opportunity to ask for a discount from your caterer.
You may also consider a buffet setup that can save on servers’ costs. Choosing to have a morning or early afternoon wedding can also decrease your cost. Think about serving brunch or some appetizers for an early afternoon wedding instead of a complete meal.
According to, the average couple spends $500 on a wedding cake. Consider some alternatives. Do you have a friend who is a great baker? Perhaps you could ask that they create your wedding cake as their wedding gift to you. You also might consider arranging cupcakes in tiers, which can be beautiful, fun for the guests, and a money saver for you.
Bridesmaid helping the bride get ready. Photo by Wild Love and Wanderlust

6. Say “Yes” to a Cheaper Dress

Your wedding is an extraordinary occasion, and your picture will be taken more than at just about any other time in your life. You’ll want to achieve just the right look and have just the right dress. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to spend thousands of dollars on a new dress.
The average wedding gown costs $1,600 to $2,000, according to The Knot. Your dress may be a large part of your budget, but you can consider some alternatives. You can find a dress worth thousands of dollars for a fraction of the price at thrift and consignment stores. Or, you can rent a gown for about 80% of the cost of purchasing.
Another money-saving hack is to choose a less traditional “wedding dress” and find an elegant dress that makes you feel like a bride without the bridal price tag. Boutiques are also a great place to find elegant dresses without spending too much!
A unique floral arrangement, photo by Rebekah Townley Photography

7. Decorations and Flowers

As with any special occasion, you will be able to find decorations that will turn your wedding into the beautiful day of your dreams. But be careful, because these costs can add up fast! Check with your venue and see if they have décor that you can rent for a reasonable fee.
There are also lots of great wedding DIY ideas that can save you big. For example, you don’t have to buy big expensive floral arrangements for your table settings. Instead, you can use items that are not flowers and add them to simpler flower arrangements and still achieve the elegant feeling you want.
Thrift stores are a great source of old books, old lanterns, and other rustic but elegant-looking items. Try stacking a few books together, wrapping lace ribbon around them, and tying with a bow on the top. That can be a lovely look as part of a centerpiece or even on its own. Save your wine bottles and add a little lace and a few flowers to create another elegant addition to your centerpieces. You can use the corks for table seating assignments as well. Get out there and see what you can find to repurpose!
Before ordering flowers, take stock of the beauty already surrounding you at your chosen outdoor venue. Then, you can decide what is actually needed to enhance your surroundings. You can save money on your flowers by choosing ones that are in season, and by ordering them wholesale from a business such as Fifty Flowers.
Ask friends and family to help assemble your corsages, bouquets, and centerpieces. You can even save additional money by using your bridesmaid bouquets as the decorative floral centerpieces on your tables.

8. Attend Wedding Fairs

Dessert TableWedding fairs are a great way to accomplish a few things at once, and you may have a good time doing it! Bring your best man, maid of honor, parents, grandparents, and siblings too! It can be a fun way to involve your family in your planning.
Many wedding fairs happen in January, with some in October. It depends on where you live, but it can be a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon for a few reasons. You will be able to find multiple services that you may want to use and save money by using show discounts. Most vendors will offer a special price to you for their services if you see them at the show, and those discounts can add up to hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
You can also enter to win dozens of prizes. It’s always recommended, too, that you show up super early. Often, they’ll have a giveaway for their first 50 or 100 or 200 guests. Sometimes they offer great prizes like matching wedding bands.
Most wedding shows have an entrance fee, but some are free. The entrance fees are usually pretty low, between $10 and $30. Be sure to check all of the details of the wedding show when you buy your tickets so that you don’t miss out on opportunities to save money!
Photographer Kayla Ashton Webb directs a bride and groom at the Rough and Ready Vineyards

9. Wedding Photography

It is tempting to have your photographer on site the entire day, snapping away from when you first wake up to the very end of the evening. But if you plan well, then you can save money on this service too.
Think about every part of your wedding that you want to capture. If you can have a family member or friend capture the more intimate moments, then your photographer can come a little later in the day. Provide a list of moments that you want to capture to help your photographer understand just what shots you’re looking to have them take.
Once your photographer has taken all the photos from your list, you can relieve them for the day. Sometimes the difference between a full-day photoshoot and half a day can make a substantial difference in your budget.
A personalized wedding hashtag is a quick and easy way to collect all the beautiful memories your guests capture. Plus, it’ll encourage your loved ones to share their snaps on social media, meaning you can collect even more precious behind-the-scenes keepsake photos—at no additional cost.
Or, you can place disposable cameras on each table or next to your guest book. Your guests will have fun clicking away, and you will get some great candid pictures! Then, simply collect the cameras at the end of your reception. A photo booth can also be a great option.
A novice baker puts the finishing touches on her friend's wedding cake

10. Utilize Your Friends and Family

Check with your newly-married friends, because they probably still have many previously used décor items, or maybe even a veil and wedding accessories. Most friends will be happy to lend you these items (or sell them to you at a low price.)
Then, take a look around at the skills your friends and family have. Of course, everyone loves to be acknowledged for their talents.
Do you have a family member who is a great speaker and could be your officiant? A friend who is a fantastic baker that could whip up a cake or fanciful cupcakes? How about a sister who arranges flowers like a master florist? You will find people who are happy to lend a hand and feel honored to help you create the wedding of your dreams.
Quote graphic that reads, 'Money Saving Wedding Tip: Take a look around at the skills your friends and family have.
It is possible to create your dream wedding with these ten outdoor wedding ideas on a budget! You will be amazed at all you can accomplish with some savvy planning, creativity, and the help of friends and family.

We’d love to help you plan your wedding day, your way, at Rough & Ready Vineyards!

Have you been looking for picturesque wedding venues in Northern California that are affordable and flexible with packages, vendors, and bar requirements? Maybe you want a relaxed and easy weekend, so you can enjoy every memorable moment with everything in one location. Learn more by choosing an option below:

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 12, 2021, and has since been updated. 

Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

Heather, an Event Manager for the Rough & Ready Vineyards, oversees the day-to-day operations. She takes satisfaction in seeing everyone happy and is always grateful for the opportunity to make this happen. Heather enjoys meeting with brides-to-be in order to gather the details needed to ensure their wedding day is perfect! “Every wedding and reception at the Rough & Ready Vineyards is so beautiful,” she says. “I love being able to see people enjoy the amazing venue we have created here!”

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