Our $15K Beachside Romance, Meets Carport Dance Party Wedding

With glitter and kilts!

Mirella, School Support Officer & Alan, Accounts Officer

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Casual beachside backyard romance meets a carport dance party (with glitter)!

Planned Budget: AUD $20,000 (approx. USD $15,000)
Actual Budget: AUD $25,000 (approx. USD $18,750)
Number of Guests: 80

Where we allocated the most funds:

We had an open bar and decided to go a bit crazy on drinks including our favorite beers and wines from the local area, plus a couple of hours of made-to-order cocktails. This certainly helped to get the party started! In the months leading up to the wedding we had great fun visiting local wineries together, tasting and choosing which wines we wanted to offer—leftover bottles definitely aren’t going to waste.

Photography and videography were our next biggest expense and worth every cent.

Where we allocated the least funds:

We avoided any venue hire fees by using our family property. We used Paperless Post (online evites) for both the save the dates and invitations. Uplighting was gifted to us from friends last minute and made the venue glow. Our clothing was a minimal expense: my dress cost £95, purchased online from a UK department store, and Alan already owned his kilt outfit.

What was totally worth it:

Having the courage to believe in the potential of our wedding venue. The property was certainly not designed to host a large event, but we were confident we could comfortably fit all our guests and make it a celebration of not only our marriage but also the area that we are so lucky to live in.

And the flowers. They were an extravagance but provided months of joy whenever I thought about them and our beautiful, talented florist.

What was totally not worth it:

Booking a complimentary taxi for midnight. The party was still going strong and only a few guests used the service. In hindsight we could have put that money toward some midnight snacks to replace all the calories burnt on the dance floor!

A few things that helped us along the way:

Help from family and friends. SO MUCH HELP. We knew a DIY backyard wedding would take a lot of work but didn’t quite realize how much time, effort, and energy it would take. The lead up to the wedding was months of work from family getting the property looking its best. We did most of the wedding set up on a scorching 40°C (104°F) day—Alan’s Scottish family are certainly not used to that kind of heat—but everyone went above and beyond, again and again.

The day of the wedding is a blur of activity and more help—putting out decorations and the flowers, setting up lights, a friends’ father running the bar like a boss. I don’t even know how and when things got done—but they did. It was wedding magic created by the best people we know.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Have a plan for communicating with people. Not everyone will look at the wedding website that has all the information. They will ask you questions that you have already answered. They will have more questions and will need clarification. They will also have ideas and well-meaning suggestions, so come up with a good clear, reasonable response. I did not do this, and it caused a few tears and more stress than it needed to. People want to know because they care but also because they can’t read your mind.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

The ridiculous sunset that appeared out of nowhere just as we were coming back from our portrait photos. Running up and taking selfies with our guests with this crazy pink sky and the ocean in the background was a moment we could never have planned. Pure happiness.

Throwing a pizza party for all your biggest fans really is the best way to celebrate finding love.


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