Real Weddings: Sarah and Zac’s $7,000 Backyard Wedding

When high school sweethearts Sarah and Zac decided to have a small wedding, they had a challenge on their hands.

“We both come from big families and grew up in the same small town where every knows everyone else.  We sometimes joke that Zac is related to one half of our town and I am related to the other,” says Sarah.

The solution? Invite only close friends and family to the wedding, and invite everyone else to an informal celebration the following day.

Thanks so much to Inlux Photo for sending over this adorable DIY wedding.

backyard wedding

Sarah, 24 & Zac, 23

Garrettsville, Ohio

Wedding Date: August 12, 2011

Number of Guests: 27

Wedding Cost: $7,000

 Wedding Ceremony Location: In the backyard of Zac’s parents house

Wedding Reception Location: In the backyard of Zac’s parents house

real wedding

backyard wedding ceremony

real wedding

wedding tent

wedding tent

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We were high school sweethearts and both grew up in the same town.  I was never one to dream about my wedding day but I knew I did not want a completely traditional wedding with a church and a banquet hall. I wanted some a little more intimate (I don’t like being the center of attention), and I wanted it to be in a place that was special to Zac and I. I wanted the day to be more about Zac and I, then about a schedule of events with  tons of people sharing our intimate moment of marriage. We considered eloping, but we wanted our family and close friends to be there, and couldn’t imagine the day without them. We decided on a small wedding in Zac’s parents backyard. The bonus to having the wedding in his parents’ backyard is that every time we are back there it brings back memories of the day!

backyard wedding bride in meadow

  bride in meadow

wedding couple in field

What are some the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

If anything, I would say planning an intimate wedding is easier then planning a traditional wedding because typically there is a shorter guest list and less locations to travel between.  Having an intimate wedding allowed me to to personalize every aspect of the wedding. We designed all the tabletops, the layout of the tents and tables, the altar we got married under, and even the aisle I walked down. The biggest challenge however was deciding who to invite.

real wedding

real wedding

real wedding

real wedding

wedding candles

real wedding

real wedding


rustic wedding china

wedding lanterns

brooch bouquet

wedding gown

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

Like I said, figuring out who to invite was the biggest problem.  We both come from big families and grew up in the same small town where every knows everyone else.  We sometimes joke that Zac is related to one half of our town and I am related to the other. The only friends of ours we invited were the ones we had in our wedding party, and the family that was invited were our parents, siblings, and grandparents. We also allowed everyone to bring a guest.

real wedding

real backyard wedding


Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

I think at first some people where disappointed they could not be there but understood why we chose to have an intimate wedding. What we decided to do was have the intimate ceremony and reception on a Friday evening, and then the following day we had a large informal reception at a local golf course.  We choose to do it this way so we could have the more private ceremony and reception we wanted, and still be able to celebrate our wedding with our extended family and friends.

wedding hay bales

walking down aisle with father

backyard wedding ceremony

bridemaids at outdoor wedding

outdoor wedding ceremony forest

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

The highlights of the ceremony for me were walking down the aisle and seeing Zac standing there; having the string quartet play music from our favorite bands (Oasis and “Mmmbop” by Hanson for me!); messing up the vows and saying “I do” too early, and getting to marry my best friend!

  backyard wedding ceremony

backyard wedding ceremony

  backyard wedding ceremony

backyard wedding ceremony

What were the highlights of the reception?

There were so many! Looking back on the day I remember it feeling like everything was a dream. For being the middle of August the weather was perfect, not to hot, not too cool, and no rain. The food was great; we had steak & lobster, a vegetarian option (for me), and guests could also choose to eat chicken or pork. The wine at our wedding was made by Zac’s grandparents, the music and dancing were fun, almost everyone was dancing, and the DJ was a friend of Zac’s stepmother. He even sang a Frank Sinatra song while we were eating. I think everyone would agree that the whole night was a blast.

backyard wedding

white wedding cake

cutting wedding cake

outdoor wedding reception at night

real backyard wedding

real backyard wedding


What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

Having it be the special day for me and Zac like we wanted, and having our closest family and friends there. Also, being able to have the exact wedding I wanted and not having to make compromises due to the budget.

  real backyard wedding

real backyard wedding

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Just do what YOU want for YOUR wedding. In the end the loved ones who didn’t attend will understand.

wedding couple



Wedding Photographerr: Inlux Photo

Caterer: Totally Cooked Catering

Flowers: Sam’s Club


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8 Comments  |  Filed Under: At-Home Weddings, Budget Weddings ($10,000 or less), Outdoor Weddings, Real Weddings

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  1. Posted by Rachel on August 13th, 2012 at 12:12pm

    What a beautiful, laid-back wedding. The food displays are really cute, and Sarah and Zac look so happy!
  2. Posted by Bec on August 30th, 2012 at 11:31pm

    Such a super sweet intimate garden wedding. Loving the pops of blue amongst the vintage-esque styling and especially how the gown and cake designs are reminiscent of one another.
    The pops of color hint at New Wave Vintage and the textures and patterns Sarah chose 'grounded' the look in the handmade, family feel they had envisioned. Love this! Bec xx
  3. Posted by Kimberly on September 22nd, 2012 at 10:27am

    I think is a fantastic idea! Is there any way someone could please pass along my information to the bride and groom? I would love to get some details on how they did the second day with the larger informal party? My boyfriend and I have the same dilemma with having large families, but also wanting to have a very small and intimate day. Thanks so much!
  4. Posted by Lisa on November 3rd, 2012 at 11:24am

    I love your dress. Who makes this and what is the style?
  5. Posted by Linda Ludlow on June 12th, 2013 at 5:19pm

    Love the burlap strips for the ceiling. Do you mind telling me how wide they were? Beautiful pictures for what was obviously a beautiful day...perfect beginning for your lives together
  6. Posted by Serena on August 21st, 2013 at 9:34pm

    An absolutely BEAUTIFUL wedding!! I am so jealous of your location! Living in california, places like this are practically nonexistent! :( So very beautiful!
  7. Posted by Brittany on October 2nd, 2013 at 5:17pm

    I would love to know where her dress came from. It is absolutely beautiful!
  8. Posted by Remi Zagari on January 31st, 2015 at 7:59pm

    Really nice!!!
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