The Ultimate Guide to Planning and Designing a Country Wedding (on a Budget)
When planning your country wedding, you’ll want to keep your deeper theme in mind. Are you going for country chic? Old Southern? Knowing what your theme is will help you with decor and venue decisions. This guide has been put together with general country wedding themes in mind. If you choose to have a more specific theme, use this guide as a starting point. Have fun and happy wedding planning!
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Invitations can get expensive, but no bride wants some plain-jane paper to announce her once-in-a-lifetime day. Never fear! Even on a budget you can send out totally classy, totally country wedding invitations.
The first piece of advice is to skip the Save the Dates. I know these seem to be all the rage right now, but printing all of that paper (especially high quality paper with color ink) and paying for stamps to mail them out can get costly pretty quickly.
If you’re concerned about giving your out-of-town guests enough time to make arrangements, shoot them an email, give them a phone call, or make a Facebook event. All of these options are FREE.
Before you place an order for wedding invitations, shop around. You could drop hundreds of dollars on the design and printing of your invitations, which would cut a deep hole in your budget.
Use resources like Wedding Chicks’ free invitation templates to create professional-looking invitations for cheap. When your design is finished you can either print your invitations at home (you’ll need to buy quality paper like cardstock) or utilize your local print shop! Most print shops will give you a deal for massive print jobs.
If you feel like you just don’t have the time to design and print your invitations, you can use websites like Rustic Country Wedding Invitations where some designs are as inexpensive as .60 per card AND you get special discounts if you make a large order.
Unfortunately, if you use either of the above options, you will have to purchase envelopes separately. The most budget-friendly place to buy envelopes, especially in a customized size, is through your local print shop. Most print shops have a variety of envelope sizes on hand, and you won’t have to pay for shipping costs!
These are a couple of ideas for saving money on your invitations, but the BEST way to save money is to shorten your guest list. The fewer guests you have, the fewer invitations (and stamps!) you’ll need. Small weddings are also very intimate because you have more time to spend with each guest, and only the people who you are closest to will be there.
Hint: Small guest lists help you save on the rest of your wedding too! Check out Ten Reasons to Have a Small Wedding.
Having a small wedding opens up your options for a venue (and can save you tons of money).
Having a country wedding opens up your budget-friendly options because backyard weddings are totally the thing! If you know someone who has a space big enough to host both your ceremony and reception take advantage of it! Check out Ideas for Budget-Friendly Backyard Wedding for more tips on planning a sweet, inexpensive backyard wedding.
Although summer is wedding season, and therefore the most expensive season to get married in, if you want an outdoor wedding, it’s safest to plan your wedding during a fair weather, non-rainy season (mid-summer). When planning, be aware of the rainfall seasons in your area; you don’t want to get rained out of your own wedding!
The downside of having a backyard wedding is that you will have to rent (or buy) all of your chairs and tables, which can add up quickly if you have a large guest list.
One way to combat these costs is to ask your guests to bring their own wood chairs! Obviously not everyone is going to have a wood chair to bring, so you can also surf free sites like Craigslist or local thrift stores for great deals on wood chairs. Mixing and matching with some wood benches would also work really well! Remember country style is homey; it doesn’t need to match!
If you have some hay bales laying around, or you know someone who does, put them to use as wedding seating! This is a super simple way to countrify your wedding! Just set the hay bales out in rows for your ceremony, toss a blanket over each hay bale, and you’re done! Note: Hay bales can be expensive to buy, so if you don’t have any laying around for free, do some price checking to see if they’re worth the purchase.
Although wood picnic tables, or something similar, would best fit your country theme, you can use any kind of table if you plan on covering it with a tablecloth or runner.
Most wedding venues, whether indoor or outdoor, cost $1000+ for a set amount of time, BUT they often include tables and chairs, so it’s best to shop around and consider your options before making a final decision. Before you start visiting venues, arm yourself with questions so you get the full scoop on each venue. For question ideas, check out our Guide to Choosing Your Budget-Friendly Wedding Venue.
Hiring a DJ or live band to play at your wedding is super expensive (think thousands of dollars). You can save big bucks by making a
playlist of your favorite songs and setting them on shuffle during your reception. You’ll need a speaker(s) powerful enough for all your guests to hear. Ask around to see if any of your friends have speakers that will work before you rent one. Have one of your wedding guests, a close friend, queue the music for the ceremony.
Want to know how it’s done? Check out how one couple used a $5 app to arrange their wedding music.
Another way to structure your entertainment is to have a musically talented friend play guitar and sing! You can compensate them if you’d like, but most people would be happy to perform in a friend’s wedding as a gift to the newlyweds. Hint: Acoustic guitar players really fit into the country theme!
You can expect to allocate 8-10% of your total wedding budget to entertainment. So once you figure out how much you can spend on your wedding, you will know how much you can spend on entertainment. You may find that you have more to spend on entertainment than you thought.
If your budget is big enough you may consider pricing DJs, they are usually cheaper than live bands.
Wedding entertainment does not have to be limited to music! Some other inexpensive ideas for entertainment are
games! Whether you have an awesome lawn game or you just want to play musical chairs, setting up a couple of games to keep your guests entertained during the reception is one fabulous, inexpensive entertainment idea. Hint: Purchase inexpensive prizes for the winners of your game. (Limit to one gift per game.)
The MOST important part of planning your entertainment is to not feel obligated to spend more than you have. If you want to use the 8% on something else (like decorations or food) go for it! There is no rule that says you HAVE to spend 8% on entertainment.
Feeding your guests is another large wedding expense that can be shaved down easily. It is estimated that around 50% of a total wedding budget goes towards the reception, which includes decorations, but largely goes to catering.
For country-themed weddings try a potluck! This works well especially for backyard weddings. Include a dish request inside your wedding invitations so each guest knows what to bring. Not everyone will be able to bring something and that’s okay! Nothing says country better than homemade soul food.
Another inexpensive catering idea is to ask a friend(s) to cater your wedding. The best way to do this is to purchase all the food yourself first and, depending on what kind of food you choose, ask a friend or friends to help prepare and serve the food. Just like having a friend DJ, most friends will be happy to offer their services for free, but you can always offer to compensate them for their time (and you’ll still spend less than you would on a caterer). If you go this route, choose simple finger foods, like shish kabobs, that are easy to prepare, serve, and eat!
For more ideas on how to save money on your reception food, check out Bridal Guide’s 50 Ways to Cut Wedding Catering Costs.
Drinks are another spendy aspect of catering. The most inexpensive drinks will be non-alcoholic, but if you really want to have alcohol, consider only serving beer and wine. Have one of your “caterers” be in charge of the drink station. You can get really fancy with non-alcoholic drinks, or you can stay simple. Sweet tea and lemonade are always excellent choices for country weddings, and they can be made in large batches for low prices. If you have a small wedding, you will save big in this department as well.
For more ideas on how to make your budget and your catering work, see how Faith Durand, of The Kitchn, catered
her brother’s wedding with 120 guests for under $1000.
You may want to factor the cost of dinnerware into your catering costs as well. If you have a small guest list (50 or less), you may be able to rent nice dinnerware for relatively cheap. But if you plan on serving more than 50 people, the most inexpensive decision is to provide plastic dinnerware – plates, silverware, cups, etc. These can be purchased at a dollar store or party supply store for a low cost. If you don’t mind spending just a little bit more, you can buy fancy plastic dinnerware with a pattern that fits your theme.
The average cost of a wedding cake is around $500, and can be over $1000 in large cities like New York City. But the good news is there are plenty of ways to save and still have a beautiful, unique wedding cake/dessert.
One way to save is to order a birthday cake with two to three tiers instead of a wedding cake. Bakers tend to charge more for a wedding cake because it has extra layers in each tier. These layers won’t really matter in the long run. If you buy your cake through Costco or a similar store you will pay less than using a professional baker. Most birthday style cakes cost less than $100 and serve 100 or more guests. If you’re not set on a particular baker, ask various bakeries for quotes and samples before making a final decision. For an idea of what you should ask bakers check out Bride Box’s article.
Another idea is to make your own cupcakes, buy a plastic cupcake tower and arrange your cupcakes in a pleasing way. If you don’t feel comfortable making the cupcakes, find a friend or family member to do it for you (make sure they know what they’re doing before you enlist their help). You can have a mini cake made for the top of the tower; if you want the mini cake to have embellishments, take it to an experienced baker.
I really like the idea of a pie table in place of a cake. Homemade fruit pie just gives off that down-to-earth country vibe. This idea can help you save big, especially if you know someone who makes excellent pies (put those skills to work grandma!).
Including family members and friends in your wedding plans will make them feel special and will help you save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on your wedding day.
For more alternative cake ideas, check out Glamour’s 10 Alternatives to Wedding Cake, some of these ideas are DIY, one of the best ways to save money.
If you decide to have an outdoor wedding, take advantage of the natural setting. Plant wildflower seeds ahead of time so they will be ready for your big day. A simple country wedding theme does not require any elaborate decorating, so you needn’t worry about spending too much on decorations.
Your ceremony decorations can be very simple. If your venue has a wood gazebo or arbor, plan on using that as center stage for the ceremony. Decorate the gazebo with wildflowers and twine. Also consider using tulle, a very inexpensive fabric best known for weddings. Using tulle will add contrast to your wood and twine decorations.
If you don’t have a wood gazebo, consider exchanging vows under a tree or near a significant flower arrangement. This will cut down on your decorating costs.
Decorate the ends of each aisle of chairs with a bundle of wildflowers tied with twine or hang painted mason jars with a simple flower arrangement.
The most important part of ceremony decorations is to have a focal point at the end of the aisle. Don’t keep your guests guessing.
Some essential decorating items for a country-themed wedding are mason jars, wood slices, burlap, and wildflowers.
Mason jars can be picked up at second hand stores or yard sales for a low price. They can be used as vases, cups, candleholders, and a number of other things. For more ideas see 15 Ways to Use Mason Jars at Your Wedding.
Another great thing about mason jars is that they can be decorated in endless ways. For a simple touch, wrap twine around the top of your mason jars and use them as centerpieces – fill them with water and wildflowers, or buy small floating candles at the dollar store, fill your mason jars with water, and set your candles inside. Buy wood slices from Etsy to set underneath your mason jar centerpieces.
Decorate your chairs by tying a small bundle of wildflowers and long grass to the side of the chair using twine. You can use some of the wildflowers you grew or find a public area where you can pick the flowers and grass yourself.
Use your handy burlap to make table runners! These will go over your tablecloth or just straight on the table if you don’t use tablecloths. Another great use of burlap is napkin rings. Whether you have cloth or paper napkins, you can dress them up with a simple ring of burlap. For more fun and creative ways to incorporate burlap into your wedding, look at Emmaline Bride’s Burlap Wedding Items.
Experts estimate that couples will spend about 8-10% of their budget on wedding party attire. The best way to save in this area is to have a
small wedding party. Consider choosing one bridesmaid and one groomsman. If you want to have a ring bearer and flower girl, you can definitely make it work with your budget, but these two aren’t really necessary. Your groomsman and bridesmaid can double as ring bearer and flower girl. Have your groomsman carry your rings and let your bridesmaid strew flowers down the aisle as she walks up, this will work even if the groomsman and bridesmaid walk down the aisle together. Hint: You can skip the flower petals altogether!
As for attire, have your wedding party buy their own outfits. Tell them what you have in mind and set them free!
Have the entire wedding party wear cowboy boots (these can get expensive so check out thrift stores and discount shoe stores before making a big purchase). Try to buy cowboy boots that are similar in color and shade – dark brown is classic.The bridesmaid should wear a knee length casual dress. Neutral colors fit best with the country theme, but floral patterns also go well. It all depends on your wedding colors. Check out 7 Tips for Dressing Your Bridesmaids for additional help.
Both the groom and the groomsman can skip the tuxes!
Tuxes are expensive to rent and are generally too formal for a country wedding. If you want to continue with the casual country theme, have both guys wear dark colored jeans and long sleeve button up shirts with a tan or brown vest over. To distinguish between the two, have the groom wear a white button-up shirt and the groomsman wear a shirt that matches the bridesmaid’s dress or have the groom wear a vest with a slightly different pattern or shade. You’ll probably want your groom to wear a boutonniere, which generally cost between $10 and $15. You can also make a personalized boutonniere with your own materials.
The bride’s dress is the fun part, and usually the most expensive. Choose a casual white dress, or off-white dress to save on costs and get a totally unique look. Hit up second hand stores and discount wedding stores to compare prices and styles. Shop around to find the style you like, always keeping your budget in mind.
Bouquets can get pretty costly, running up to $100 just for a bridesmaid’s bouquet. Your best bet for staying in budget and keeping with your country theme is to make your own bouquets. Use a combination of flowers and wild grasses, wrap them with burlap and twine (or tulle), and you have a bouquet. Voila! If you need inspiration or want additional ideas, check out The Knot’s wedding bouquet gallery.
Finally, let’s talk hair, makeup, and accessories! Having a professional do your hair and makeup can get spendy, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Average prices for brides range between $150-$200, while bridesmaids are usually around $75 (for both hair and makeup). While that may not seem like much, you can spend a fraction of that cost by buying your own makeup and hair products and having a talented friend do it for you. Most women know how to do hair and makeup, so it should be relatively easy to find someone to help. Check out hairstyles on Pinterest and see if any of your girlfriends can make the hairstyle you like.
The average cost of a wedding veil is $100-$150, and it’s not a necessary accessory. Skip the veil and keep it simple, casual country.
Don’t forget to factor in your nails and jewelry. You can get your nails professionally done the day before the wedding for around $20 a person. It’s worth it to pay for both you and your bridesmaid to get your nails done. professionally. As for jewelry, just wear some simple pieces that you already own or borrow from someone you know. Check out The Knot’s Wedding Accessory Tips for more ideas.