The Cost of Outdoor Weddings

The Cost of Outdoor Weddings

We’ll be having an outdoor wedding this summer so I’ve been doing A LOT of research on the expenses. My big question: How much does an outdoor wedding cost?

Outdoor weddings can cost the same as indoor weddings which are on average $29,200* but have the potential to be much cheaper if hosted on one’s own property or in a public park or beach. Lower end outdoor weddings can cost $500-$4,000; mid-range $4,000-$10,000; and higher end $10,000-$50,000.

*According to the 2019 WeddingWire Newlywed Report (Source)

What can you expect to get from a low price range versus a higher price range outdoor wedding? What are your options: a backyard, beach, barn?! I’m going to walk through some of the costs of options that I’ve personally explored.

I’ll also take a look at some of the additional costs you may not have anticipated when deciding on an outdoor wedding, how to get discounts, and perhaps most importantly: remembering to plan for the rain!

PLAN FOR WEATHER: Remember that no matter where your outdoor wedding is, you always need to have an ‘in case of rain’ plan. We don’t want to be in a panic with no rain plan the week before the wedding. Plan for the worst and hope for the best!


Cost Breakdown of Lower-Price Range Outdoor Weddings

Price range: $500-$4,000

An outdoor wedding can be done very simply and cheaply if you have the option of holding it on your own private property, or that of a friend or family member. A backyard ceremony and reception with inexpensive catering, or a potluck, are a cheap option. Think of a summer BBQ, but a bit dressier and with a beautiful reason to celebrate.

The same might be accomplished at a public park or beach. But be sure to check first with local parks and recreation offices to ask if it’s okay to gather there in large groups and to bring food and alcohol.

It’s a good idea to plan for rain, so think about what your backup plan might be. Is there a friend or family member’s home you can relocate to if you were planning to get married and celebrate on the beach? If you’re getting married on private property, and there’s not enough room in the house in case of rain, do you need to rent a tent?

A budget for a low-price range outdoor wedding might look something like this (based on the average number of wedding guests which is 126 people according to a recent report):

  • Tent rental: $700
  • Chair and table rentals: $339 (details for the cost of chair and table rentals are broken down in another of my posts)
  • Food: $0 (provide appetizers but ask guests to bring food for a potluck)
  • Ceremony and reception site: $0 (private property)*
  • Attire: $100 (to learn more, check out my post on how to save money on your wedding dress and on dresses that are affordable and eco-friendly)
  • Bar: $0 (based on having a cash bar – For more details on open bar costs, check out my post here)
  • Music: $250 for speaker rental equipment (couple makes their own playlist, no DJ or band)
  • Flowers and other decor: $0
  • Photography: $1,000 (basic package from a new photographer)
  • Miscellaneous: $300 (for items not listed and wiggle room if some items are more expensive than intended)

TOTAL: $2,689

*If the option of private property is not available, consider inquiring from your local parks and recreation department about hosting your event at a public park or beach.


Cost Breakdown of Mid-Price Range Outdoor Weddings

Price range: $4,000-$10,000

If you want to have something a bit fancier, you might still have a wedding in a backyard on private property, but rent tables and chairs for a sit-down reception. You might decide to hire a catering company that does hot food and maybe someone to serve.

There are many ways to go about it, and it depends which aspects of the wedding you absolutely want and which you’re willing to let fall away.

A budget for a mid-price range outdoor wedding might look something like this (based on the average number of wedding guests which is 126 people according to a recent report):

  • Tent rental: $700
  • Chair and table rentals: $510 (details for the cost of chair and table rentals are broken down in another of my posts)
  • Food: $2,520 ($20 per guest)
  • Ceremony and reception site: $0 (private property)*
  • Attire: $500 (to learn more, check out my post on how to save money on your wedding dress and on dresses that are affordable and eco-friendly)
  • Bar: $1,300 (based on having a limited open bar and buying the alcohol yourself wholesale – For more details on open bar costs, check out my post here)
  • Music: $250 for speaker rental equipment (couple makes their own playlist, no DJ or band)
  • Flowers and other decor: $300
  • Photography: $1,000 (basic package from a new photographer)
  • Miscellaneous: $300 (for items not listed and wiggle room if some items are more expensive than intended)

TOTAL: $7,380

*If the option of private property is not available, consider inquiring from your local parks and recreation department about hosting your event at a public park or beach.


Cost Breakdown of Higher-Price Range Outdoor Weddings

Price range: $10,000-$50,000

If you have a larger budget and just want to get married in the great outdoors for the fresh air and scenery, the sky’s the limit. And you’ll probably still end up saving more money than you would with an indoor wedding.

Venue rentals that you might be interested in include vineyards, wedding halls next to lakes and shorelines, and farms with spacious barns.

Costs will vary so much depending on what exactly you’re looking for. You may have to rent a tent or your venue may already have covered verandas or a barn.

A budget for a high-price range outdoor wedding might look something like this (based on the average number of wedding guests which is 126 people according to a recent report):

  • Tent rental: $700
  • Chair and table rentals: $1,170 (details for the cost of chair and table rentals are broken down in another of my posts)
  • Food: $3,780 ($30 per guest)
  • Ceremony and reception site: $5,000 (to rent a non-traditional outdoor venue)
  • Attire: $2,000 (to learn more, check out my post on how to save money on your wedding dress and on dresses that are affordable and eco-friendly)
  • Bar: $4,410 (based on having a full open bar – For more details on open bar costs, check out my post here)
  • Music: $250 for speaker rental equipment (couple makes their own playlist, no DJ or band)
  • Flowers and other decor: $800
  • Photography: $3,000
  • Miscellaneous: $1,000 (for items not listed and wiggle room if some items are more expensive than intended)

TOTAL: $22,110

This of course could change if you want a DJ, or don’t want a full open bar, etc. This is just a guideline to help you get an idea of what an outdoor wedding could cost you.


Additional Costs of Outdoor Weddings

There are some other costs to keep in mind when planning an outdoor wedding that can make your bill go up fast. I wouldn’t go into planning an outdoor wedding without being aware of them, just in case you’re not able to cover all these costs.

Some additional costs may include:

Renting portable outdoor bathrooms
It’s important to plan on having one bathroom per 50 guests at your wedding. If your outdoor location doesn’t already have bathrooms, or not enough bathrooms, you’re going to have to rent some.

Don’t worry. Portable bathrooms don’t have to be the construction site nightmare you may be imagining. There are many nice, even luxurious options for portable toilet rentals, but they may cost more than you expect. I wrote an article about the costs and options here.

Renting or building a dance floor
If you’re getting married on grass, are you planning on having dancing at your reception? Dancing on grass, especially if it’s been raining, can get a little messy.

Either let your guests know not to wear heels, or plan on renting or building your own dance floor. It can cost approximately $250 to $325, depending on the size of the floor.

Renting tables and chairs
I mentioned this before, but if your venue doesn’t provide tables and chairs or if you’re getting married on private property, you’ll have to rent them. Costs for diverse budgets are broken down here.

Renting glassware, dishware, and flatware
Then there’s also dishes and utensils and cups to think about! If you don’t already have enough of these, you’ll have to rent (or buy) them. I also discuss options and budgets for renting glassware, dishware, and flatware in another post.


Tips for Having a Cheaper Outdoor Wedding

If you’re looking for ways to cut costs at your outdoor wedding, here are a few tips for you as you budget and begin to plan:

  1. DIY Flowers
    Consider buying flowers wholesale or from the local grocer and making your own simple bouquets. If you’re not picky about colors and species, you can save hundreds of dollars.
  2. Rent or Buy Used Attire
    Get a wedding dress from a secondhand shop (online or in-person) or plan on selling back your dress after you wear it. If you’re smart, you might even be able to turn a profit!
  3. Skip the Paper Invitations
    Don’t send paper save-the-dates or invitations. Use email only and save yourself hundreds of dollars. People will not care and may even appreciate not having to keep track of those pieces of paper for the wedding information.
  4. Keep the decor simple
    You’re outside! Outside is naturally beautiful! And you don’t need to blow your budget on decorations. Couples are spending thousands on personalized details for their wedding decor, inspired by Pinterest. But the truth is, your guests will barely notice the cutesy signs you spent all that cash on. Spend your money instead on providing free alcohol, delicious food, and great music, if you have to choose.

Brittany

Brittany is a writer, teacher, and a graduate student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She started the website Wayfaring Weddings as a way to share her research on affordable, eco-friendly, and less stressful approaches to wedding planning.