food table set up for backyard bbq wedding

16 Backyard BBQ Wedding Ideas on a Budget

Sep 15, 2022
By Wedding Spot

Backyard BBQ weddings are perfect for couples who want to eat great food and relax with their loved ones. Because that’s what weddings are really all about, right? Get inspired with our favorite backyard BBQ wedding ideas on a budget below.

“A backyard wedding can be both budget-friendly and beautiful at the same time, as long as you plan it well, and have a good design,” says Weddings & Brides Founder Kirsten McKinley. “There are all sorts of possibilities, and I highly recommend taking into account the design of your backyard, and its appearance, when choosing the secondary theme and appearance of your wedding.”

To help get your creative juices flowing, we’ve corralled the most charmingly elegant and wallet-friendly options you can use to host the perfect backyard BBQ wedding! Keep reading to find backyard BBQ wedding ideas on a budget for the menu, decor, and much more!

Discover 16 backyard BBQ wedding ideas on a budget

Budget-friendly backyard BBQ wedding ideas for the menu

One of the best parts about a backyard BBQ wedding? The food. There are plenty of ways to serve an elevated version of your picnic favorites, but the classics work too. Whether you’re a meat lover, a vegan, or anything in between, you’ll find lots of hit menu items on this list.

1. Feature signature sauces.

Your BBQ sauce options are the star of your backyard BBQ wedding menu. Serve a fun variety of homemade and chef-inspired versions for guests to taste test. Include at least one sweet, one spicy, and one smoky option. Then, add in one that’s a little out there — blackberry homemade BBQ sauce, anyone? — as a surprise.

2. Skewer everything.

Skewer the shrimp, the steak, and the veggies for an easy yet delicious wedding dinner! Test out some fancy seasonings ahead of time to find something extra special.

3. Serve family style.

You will delight and awe guests if you serve heaping platters of beef brisket and pulled BBQ chicken alongside a huge tray of cornbread, potato salad, and coleslaw. Place trays at individual tables for easy seconds and thirds, or create a buffet spread. The options here are endless.

4. Choose carnival classics.

Give your backyard BBQ a retro twist with elevated carnival classics. Think gourmet popcorn bars, boozy soda fountains, and Coney Island-style dogs served in retro striped serving boxes. This may not be what everyone thinks of when they think BBQ, but hey, it's your wedding, right? 

5. Do the Impossible.

Meat alternatives have taken the restaurant and grocery industries by storm, and it's important to offer plenty of options for your guests. You’ll want to at least consider stocking up on plant-based meat alternatives such as Impossible or any other brand of vegetarian burgers, kielbasa, and hot dogs.

Budget-friendly backyard BBQ wedding ideas for decor

There are tons of pretty, yet doable, DIYs you can make to create a wedding-worthy atmosphere at your backyard BBQ wedding. Thrifted items with handmade touches and household items (hello mason jars) all pair nicely with this theme. Here are a few of our favorite backyard BBQ wedding decor staples you can make or buy on a budget.

6. Grow organic flowers.

Okay, this one does take a bit of advanced planning, but the results are phenomenal. Ginger Berryman, Elopement & Micro Wedding Photographer from Tule Walks, told us “Depending on when the wedding is, and how long folks have to plan, this is a really fun and effective way to save money.”

As Berryman points out, “Seeds are very affordable, and it is a really beautiful way to connect more deeply with your wedding decor. You get to watch the plants grow, which also extends the wedding experience.”

Cut them for your wedding bouquet or centerpieces. Or leave them as is in your backyard venue’s garden or flower pots!

7. Build a floor.

“What I'd like to contribute is not so much an idea, (but) a warning, haha,” wrote Eloped wedding planner Jessica Pridham in an email to Wedding Spot. Pridham has helped with tons of backyard weddings and has seen why this is one of the most important budget items for outdoor events. 

“A lot of people forget that backyards are grassy and muddy — they aren't normal wedding venues. That means a lot of people show up in heels and improper footwear for the backyard wedding.”

So really, “unless you put down some kind of flooring, make sure you and your guests are aware of this! Recommend flats, sandals, or wedges. We've had a wedding where the bride forgot this and it was a bit of a mess.”

DIY your own backyard floor using these (or similar) affordable modular dance floors you can put together yourself. Bonus: You can sell them to get some money back or keep them after for future events!

8. Thrift your serveware.

We also chatted with Mallory and Marissa, founders of The Curly Spoon blog. Together they have written about and planned countless party menus and food table layout designs.

Their favorite affordable decor hack? Thrifted serveware.

“A great way to design a beautiful food spread on a budget for any special occasion is to check your local thrift stores for unique serving platters, dishes, and decor that fit your party theme,” they shared with us. “This allows you to create a one-of-a-kind aesthetic without breaking the bank.”

Not sure where to begin? Look for plates, cups, and cocktail glasses in varying shades of the same color to create a monochromatic theme. You likely won’t find multiple sets of the same thing, so lean into the charmingly mismatched yet cohesive aesthetic that is oh so perfect for backyard BBQ weddings.

9. Prioritize pillar candles.

“Just because a wedding is in a backyard doesn’t mean it still can’t feel elevated,” says wedding planner Karly Tarsia from Rosedae Events Co.

In an interview with Wedding Spot, Tarsia shared: “A key tip in ensuring a backyard BBQ wedding still has that bridal element is by incorporating pillar candles in glass hurricane holders of various sizes and widths throughout the backyard. Clustering these on tables and down the aisle adds a beautiful DIY touch to a backyard wedding without breaking the bank and ensuring fire safety!”

Don’t want to keep tabs on lit candles all night long? “If open flames are a concern, opt-out for the battery-operated candles, they work like a charm,” says Tarsia. “Bonus points if you can find hurricanes from wholesale or vintage shops to reuse and save, or ask around from family and friends!”

Pick some up when you’re thrifting your serveware and you’ll be all set!

10. Bring in lighting.

If you have access to your backyard wedding venue ahead of time, you’ll want to test out the lighting for your main table area, dance floor, and walkways leading to and from the backyard.

String lights are a great, budget-friendly way to add some twinkle. You can also incorporate real or battery-powered candles, discounted solar path lights, or even a two-in-one outdoor floor lamp/planter combo.

Budget-friendly backyard BBQ wedding cake ideas

You won’t want just any wedding cake at your backyard BBQ-themed wedding. Certain types of formal frosting styles or even cake flavors just aren’t ideal for a theme like this one. Here are some wedding cake ideas that are both on-theme and will complement your BBQ dishes.

11. Choose checkerboard frosting.

Checkerboard designs on wedding cakes add a whimsical feel to any backyard wedding bash. You might even want to checkerboard the inside of the cake with a vanilla and chocolate base for a fun surprise as you cut in.

12. Add real sunflowers.

We love the look of a simple white cake with giant real or faux sunflower blooms dotting the base and tiers. Tie a red checkered ribbon and some natural twine around the base to complete the look.

13. Select naked cake.

Naked cake is a style that allows the wedding cake layers to peek through the artfully thin frosting. The rawness of the look is perfect for laid-back weddings but still has plenty of elegance! These lemon blueberry and strawberry chamomile naked wedding cake examples are making us hungry already.

Beautiful backyard BBQ wedding venue options

If you’re planning to do a backyard BBQ wedding, you may already have a spot in mind. Even if you do, it’s worth comparing your current top choices to bookable venues just in case there’s an affordable option that stands out. We’ve rustled up this list of relaxed, outdoor wedding venues that offer perks you may not have otherwise. These perks include views, larger food prep space, staff to do all the setup and cleaning, and much more. Use Wedding Spot’s budget filter setting to get instant quotes and prices listed directly from the venues themselves to save you both time and money!

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14. Snow Hill Manor

Location: Laurel, Maryland

Starting at $3,695 for 50 guests, this affordable manor is a no-brainer addition to any list of backyard BBQ wedding ideas on a budget. Its historic grounds, sprawling green acres, and vintage kitchen are perfect for this theme.

15. Prince George’s Ballroom

Location: Landover, Maryland

Can you believe one of the largest ballrooms in the state has an elegant art deco style, sun porches, and gardens all starting at $3,096 for 50 guests? We can’t either!

16. Longmeadow Event Center

Location: Wiggins, Colorado

Longmeadow Event Center isn’t just a gorgeous wedding venue — it’s also an affordable one! They offer one, all-inclusive price that includes rental fees, plus your choice of meal and an open bar!

You’re ready to host the elegant and budget-friendly backyard BBQ wedding of your dreams!

Up next, you don't want to miss these amazing pond wedding ideas — many of which can apply to your backyard BBQ wedding as well.

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The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.