10 Steps to Having a Budget-Friendly Picnic and/or Garden Wedding? And Should You Have a DIY Weddin
As a couple that didn't want to start our 'forever after' with a $15,000 to $30,000 bill for a wedding, we decided to ditch the normal running order of a wedding and to do something different yet still beautiful.
Let's talk about the 'format' that a traditional wedding has become over the years. You know the drill... bride walks down the aisle, rings, kiss-kiss, photos, reception, food, speeches, games, throwing of the bouquet and dancing. We are a sucker for a wedding but seriously this 'format' has been overdone and, let's face it, has become same-same! Someone must have made up this format of a wedding centuries ago and then others decided to jump on the bandwagon and to this day, same format! Just the bride alone had attended 26 weddings before planning her own, so as a couple we wanted to keep some elements of the traditional but essentially change the format of our wedding.
After perusing Pinterest for months and being swept away by pictures of picnic weddings such as the below image, we just knew that we wanted something outdoors and along these lines.
We just weren't sure if we could pull it off, especially seeing that we were organising our wedding from another country. But never the less, we thought 'why not?'. So this is how we managed to pull off a picnic wedding. Although we did end up providing tables and chairs for everyone as we were trying to imagine the ladies trying to sit on the ground eloquently in their pretty dresses.
Contact the outdoor venue. Start the planning process as soon as possible and ensuring that you have booked your venue is the first step. You may be surprised at the cost and the restrictions that the park or other outdoor venue imposes upon you. Also they may have only one approved supplier for food that you will be forced to use. This was the case for us, but luckily they allowed home cooked food. We ordered from my parent's friends who own a restaurant and asked friends to pick up the food (thumbs up!). You may also be required to use approved suppliers for tables and chairs and other supplies. So it is good to know upfront.
You may also be thinking that you can just go to a public park and set up without obtaining permission prior. The thought definitely did cross our minds too, to save some bucks. But we were imagining a park ranger approaching us on the day and telling us to leave the premises. So we decided against.
We locked in a date and times for our lunch-time wedding. We always wanted a lunch-time affair as photography in natural lighting is always much more beautiful.
Step 2: Start of have an idea about how you would like the guests to be seated for dining. Would you like them to have tables and chairs, or would you like them to be on picnic rugs? Also start to have a feeling of how you would like your ceremony to be set up. Would you like two aisles of chairs with an aisle to walk down in the middle? Will guests be asked to move the chairs from the ceremony to the dining area (if you are having chairs for dining) so that you don't need to quite have that many chairs? This way there won't be an empty ceremony area, that can look spooky, while guests are enjoying the meal.
Make a list of items that you think you will need and send a generic email to as many suppliers that you can, asking for a quote.
Example list of items: - 50 chairs
- trestle tables to seat 50 people
- table cloths for trestle tables
- 1 buffet table
- the most affordable arch that you have - wishing well - table for wishing well - tablecloth for wishing well - 4 picnic rugs - marquee (in the case of rain or high winds) - delivery, set up and pick up
Don't worry, you can always chop and change the list of items required later. You just need to get an idea of cost now and start finding your furniture supplier. Step 3: Start putting together your run sheet. This includes a detailed breakdown of time, items and responsibilities of the entire day. Suppliers will start asking you about details of timing, so it is best to be on top of it. Any additions or changes should be made right away so you don't forget. We used 'google docs' so that we had access to a live document at home, at work and on the road. We will provide an example of our run sheet in one of the near future posts.
Step 4: Work out what sort of table settings and decorations you would like and start procuring these items. Much of this can be done online or visit your local dollar stores.
This is what our table settings looked like on the day. Everyone loved their name on the mason jar, so much so, that we asked everyone to take theirs as a wedding favour! And it made it a hell of a lot easier to decipher which one belonged to who. The succulents in upcycled jars looked great as centrepieces, they also doubled as a second wedding favour.
Example list of table settings: - wooden eco knives, forks and spoons - serviettes - kraft paper plates for the main dish - kraft paper plates for dessert - mason jars to act as drinking glasses and place cards (we put a guest name on each mason jar) Example list of table decorations: - upcycled jars and tins (start asking family and friends to collect these) - succulent plants - hessian string - soil
Step 5: Find out of the venue has power and then ask if you can have access to it. Our venue wanted us to have an electrician tag all electrical equipment that we would be using. They also wanted to charge us to have a staff member onsite all day to ensure that we were using electrical equipment in the right manner (we're guessing that they were trying to avoid blaring music). We were close to telling them to F-Off! You can then start putting your feelers out there to find a sound supplier.
As we were not able to use electricity, we ended up using our local classifieds website and found a guy that had a speaker powered by a car battery. Perfect!!
You will need: - 1 to 2 speakers
- 1 to 2 microphones - AUX cable
Step 6: Start getting an idea of what sort of food you would like. We wanted hot, buffet food so we went to a local restaurant that the bride's parents are friendly with and had lunch. We ordered dishes that we wanted to have for the wedding, as a taste test. We then worked out how much each guest would eat and we worked out that each guest would have 1.25 servings of the restaurant food. We then worked out how many servings we wanted of each dish. As we were having 50 guests, if we multiply that by 1.25, we needed a total of 62.5 dishes. We rounded up to 63. We ordered a variety of dishes to make up the total of 63 dishes. You will find that this is much more cost effective than asking the restaurant to cater for 50 people.
You can still think about your food for a while. Ask the restaurant how much notice they need. Then when you are feeling ready, place your order.
One of our friends, who has a sister-in-law that does catering on the weekend, brought along her bain marie. On the day this was really challenging though as we were not sure if the venue was going to provide power (remembering you are outside). Luckily, the venue did provide us with power on the day and all was well. But imagine if they didn't? For one dish, we did decide to make it at home as it is the bride's absolute signature and most guests had never tried it before. Two days before the wedding, we happened across this insulated food container from Kmart. It worked so well to keep the dish warm. If we could turn back time, we would have bought four of these containers and left them with the restaurant so they could have put the freshly cooked, hot food straight in - ensuring the food was kept warm until time to eat!
Insulated food container from Kmart. Worth it's weight in gold. They may not be very pretty, but remember the lids come off during dining and never the less, they just function so well.
Start to get an idea of the drinks that you want to have. We factored in 2 litres per person that ended up being too much but it was only 24 degrees (which was perfect). If it was hotter, guests would have drunk more. Starting procuring these. Also, ask the furniture supplier if they can help you transport any drinks and other bulky items. Also, try to borrow a couple of large ice boxes (coolers) from friends and then ask them to purchase a couple of bags of ice per ice box on the way to the wedding. Good friends will be glad to help.
Step 8: Get an idea of any lawn games that you would like to play and start procuring these.
Step 9: Whilst organising the above items, in the meantime, you can start to organise the bride and groom's outfits, the flowers and make up. Step 10: Enjoy the fruits of your labour... your wedding day, as much as possible, as it goes by so quickly!
Our day came together beautifully and relatives that were skeptical at the start commented on how nice the day was and that they loved the lawn games. The couple could hear friends talking in the background, saying 'she's done well putting this together'. We were smiling inside!
There are some take aways that we would offer other brides and grooms putting together a picnic wedding:
- Remember to provide sunscreen (we were not expecting so much sun and lots of people got burnt under the Australian sun!) - Hire an event manager for the day via an online platform such as Airtasker in Australia (although we didn't, we would definitely do this if we could turn back time as the bride ended up doing a lot of on-the-day organising) Would we recommend having a picnic wedding to a close friend? Absolutely! We are still dreaming about our picnic wedding.