We have a perfect DIY wedding for you today. Ashlea and Tony wanted a small, intimate and FUN affair and that’s exactly what they had. So many of their details were DIY and absolutely gorgeous. Enjoy this DIY Backyard Wedding in Syracuse! Xoxo, Jessica
Ashlea + Tony
September 29th, 2018
Syracuse, NY | Groom’s Parents’ House
What was your total wedding budget? Please provide a budget breakdown.
We budgeted roughly $5,000 because we had both been married before, so we wanted to pay for this ourselves and not burden our parents again.
We spent $2400 on food. It was catered by a local restaurant. They brought a food truck and had 4 servers that were doing table service with appetizers. We then had a sit-down family style dinner. They also provided all tableware (silverware, plates, napkins). This was SO worth the money. I could not have asked for better food and all the guests raved about it.
Cake- $150. Again, service was excellent. About 2 months before the wedding she came to our house with 4 sample cakes, for us to try. Two days prior she came over again to get the flowers and the topper. She delivered it on the day about 30 minutes before the ceremony. She was so knowledgeable and thoughtful!
The tent and chairs- $500. The hubs has a friend who rents these out and he gave us the “family discount”.
All other decor was around $1,000. I bought most of the reception decor myself and my mom bought things here and there. My mother in law purchased the arch we were married in front of and also most of the lights for the yard.
My dress- $80. Yep. I bought this from Lulus.com. It was so easy because they allow you to order as much as you need, and then there is free return shipping within 10 days.
Hair accessories & shoes- $70 for both. My hair accessories were bought from Etsy and my shoes were on sale at Charlotte Russe for $20.
Jewelry- $60 on Etsy. My engagement ring and wedding bands are rose gold so I wanted to match with my other jewelry. I got earrings, a necklace, and a bracelet.
Alcohol- $500. We bought the liquor, beer, and other beverages. The nice part about having a small wedding and knowing your guests well is that you know what they drink so you don’t pay for a bunch of liquor no one will drink. We had some soda and beer left over so since we bought it, we got to take it home. Win.
Favors-$70. I bought plastic cups with a cute wedding monogram on one side and a spot to write your name on the other. Not only did they get to keep them, but they also didn’t get their cups mixed up with someone else’s during the party.
How many guests did you have?
We had 55 guests- 50 adults and 5 children.
How did you meet?
We worked together for 3 years before we started dating.
What is your proposal story?
It was Tony’s birthday and I had given him all of his presents. I then heard him say “Oh man, I wish I would have gotten one more present”. I think, “Oh crap, what did I forget?!” Next thing I know, my 4-year-old stepdaughter asks me, “Daddy wants to know if you will spend the rest of your life with him?”. I look over and he is down on one knee. It was the greatest and most sentimental proposal I could have dreamed of!
Tell us about your wedding vision.
It was an outdoor DIY wedding so we wanted it to be simple and easy. Pinterest was the inspiration for most of it! I wanted greenery and candles because I love the romantic feel of that combination. We knew it was going to be in the fall and under a tent, so we wanted to make it feel as cozy as possible while still looking elegant.
Tell us about your attire choices.
Casual and functional. We have both been married before so we didn’t need the big fancy dress or the expensive tux. I bought about 6 dresses and tried them on, and ended up choosing my wedding dress that way. Tony asked me what he should wear, I gave him an idea and he went from there. He ended up wearing a vest, tie, and dress pants. We lucked out because the Sears near us was going out of business so we got really expensive dress clothes at a really good price.
What was most important to you two while planning? Was there anything you chose to splurge on or skip?
We wanted it to be small, intimate, and a damn good time. We kept it to our close family and friends so that we could spend time with each of them and celebrate. We splurged on the food. After all; food, drinks, and music are the things that truly make a wedding. I made 3 playlists; entrance music, dinner music, and dance music, and acted as DJ. I had my brother in law play the entrance music and then afterward the dinner and dance music took care of itself. I made sure to throw in a few slow songs for dancing but as soon as I hit play, I didn’t have to touch it again. We knew we weren’t going to have a DJ so we had a song request line on our RSVP’s where guests could request a song for the reception. Tony had a co-worker come and bartend for us and we bought the alcohol and other beverages.
Read This: 10 Tips for Backyard Weddings
What were your favorite parts of the day?
The first look. We chose to see each other before the wedding. We each wrote a note to one another and stood back to back reading them before we turned around to see each other for the first time. It was so heartfelt and touching.
Our first dance was also something I will never forget. The hubs and I were dancing and then my stepdaughter joined in. We used to dance to this song in front of the fireplace when we first started dating and talked about how we couldn’t wait for it to be our wedding song someday.
Our moms each gave a speech which we had not seen or heard before the wedding. They were both so sweet and I will never forget the smile on their faces talking about how happy they were for our families.
Tell us about your wedding flowers.
I bought the bouquets on Etsy and the reception decor on Amazon. I also bought lambs ear garland from Hobby Lobby. I clipped the flowers apart from the bouquets and laced them into the two strands of garland down the center of the tables. I also laid random picks all over the tables to add some character.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
AMAZING! Three tiers of pumpkin and red velvet layers with Italian buttercream; drool. We also had homemade Italian cookies from my brother in law’s mother.
What did you do for favors?
Customized cups for each guest to keep and write their names on at the bar.
Please describe any handmade, DIY, or personal items.
EVERYTHING! I hand-decorated the entire backyard with the help of my family. I made all the centerpieces, signs, and decor! I bought everything individually then pulled it all together the night before.
Did you include any family heirlooms or special traditions?
I wore my grandmother’s ring on my pinky finger. I also had a necklace from my husband’s great grandmother laced in my bridal bouquet.
Do you have any advice for couples planning their wedding now?
Don’t stress. The day is about YOU, not everyone else. Do what makes you happy and enjoy your special day! Everyone is different and people like different things so doing things to try to make all your guests happy will only drive you nuts and take away from the amazing day you are trying to plan.
Photography: Lauren Victoria Photography • Ceremony Venue: Grooms Parent’s Home • Reception Venue: Grooms Parent’s Home • Floral: Etsy • Catering: The Chef and the Cook • Wedding Cake: Cakes by Design • Rentals: Marzullo’s Landscaping and party rentals • Linens: Linen Tablecloth • Hair: Studio 11 Hair & Day Spa • Makeup: Makeup by Sasha • Wedding Dress: Lulus • Groom’s Attire: Sears • Bride’s Shoes: Charlotte Russe • Bridesmaid Dresses: Etsy • Headpiece: Etsy • Submitted via: Matchology
GET INSPIRED: See more Backyard Weddings on a Budget
Editor’s note: During this time of quarantine and social distancing, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Learn more here.