Inside our late summer backyard wedding with a $10k budget

The wedding was an intimate affair in the verdant suburb of St James, Perth. On the 18th of March 2023, we celebrated our marriage with our closest friends and family with a wedding that was classic, simple and full of heart.

Photography by TheLoveStory.AU


It took over 12 months to plan the wedding after we set the date for March. I shopped around for vendors and the quotes ran the gamut from reasonable to astronomically high. Our budget was between $5000 and $15,000 – ideally, no more than $10,000 since we have a child and a mortgage. I understand this is a pittance in wedding world. Ultimately that meant a lot of DIY and compromise given that even flowers could eat into 60% or more of a $10k budget. Rather than have a florist, I purchased artificial flowers online and made the arrangements myself.

Like most brides to be, I used Pinterest. A lot. My wedding board dated earlier than our relationship so I started a new one.

The value of Pinterest when planning a DIY wedding:

  • Acts as a mood board to help you narrow down how you want the wedding to actually look
  • Inspiration for invitations, signage and menus
  • Helpful tips – DIY how-tos, ceremony templates, fun ideas, things to avoid
  • Wedding etiquette you may not be privy to, such as how to word your invitations appropriately


I was heavily inspired by classic, effortless weddings of the 90s and early noughties. Weddings I went to as a child and saw in rom-coms growing up. I wanted to emulate the ease and simple styling of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. All with some modern touches.

For us, the wedding needed to capture what was important to us: family, our closest friends, good food and great music. It needed to be cosy and inviting with the slightest of breezes on a balmy late-summer evening.

Setting Up

It took a year to plan, purchase and organise everything – including run sheets for the celebrant, MC and bartenders. I didn’t have a wedding planner or coordinator so I had to brainstorm every contingency to make sure the day would run smoothly. Our playlists were broken down into pre-ceremony, bridal precession, cocktail hour, dinner and post-first dance which were all time specific.

While I was working on logistics, my in-laws were devoting weekends to house maintenance, painting, gardening and stringing up lighting. They worked tirelessly and the wedding wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Our furniture hire was delivered two days before the wedding and it took three days to set up the entire wedding.

Getting Ready

I kept Oliver with me and got ready at the hotel while Jack went to the house in the morning to finish setting up. My bridesmaids joined me mid-morning and helped with my hair and makeup.

For hair, we did a sleek, twisted bun with pearl pins.

Photography by TheLoveStory.AU

I did my own makeup and didn’t tan; I wanted to feel like myself on the day and since I rarely wear makeup these days I didn’t want my makeup to feel heavy.

Base – Laura Mercier primer, Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter in 2.5, Make Up For Ever HD Skin palette in H1

Blush – Bobbi Brown pot rouge in pale pink

Setting – MAC Fix+ and MUFE Ultra-HD setting powder

Eyes – Too Faced Born This Way Natural Eyes palette (mostly mattes), ILIA clean gel liner, CT Rock ‘n’ Kohl in eye cheat on water line, Modelrock short individual lashes

Brows – Kevyn Aucoin Precision Brow Pencil in brunette

Lips – CT Pillow Talk liner and Matte Revolution lipstick in Wedding Belles

The Ceremony

Our pre-ceremony music while the guests arrived was a playlist of guitar and string covers of some of our favourite songs. My bridal walk song was a string cover of “Harvest Moon” – the first song Jack picked for our birthing playlist when I was pregnant with Ollie. Our recessional song was a cover of “It’s Because I Love You”. All of this was perfectly executed by our MC, Dan.

Jack’s sister Emma was our officiant and while I knew she would do an incredible job, she absolutely blew us away. Her speech was heartfelt and poignant. Having a family member marry us was so significant for setting the tone of the day – this was a private event, exclusive for those who we hold dearest.

Ollie walked me down the aisle and I fully anticipated that this was a big task for a two year old, but it didn’t take away from the moment too much when he got upset and wouldn’t walk – instead I picked him up and carried him for my walk and handed him over to my mum while we exchanged our vows.

If you are reading this blog post for ideas and inspiration for your own DIY wedding, absolutely have an unplugged or no phones sign. Every family member over the age of 50 had their phone out during the ceremony and had to be told to put their phones away. It not only helps your guests to be present, but having a bunch of phones in your face while pouring your heart out to your partner is really distracting.

Cocktail Hour

For obvious reasons, I don’t have any pictures of our cocktail hour as we were with our photographer, Anthea from The Love Story. Anthea specialises in small weddings and elopements; we only had her for an hour but she captured absolute magic. Her presence was so calming and she made that element of the wedding an absolute breeze.

For our cocktail hour we had platters from The Herdsman and a choice of two cocktails – Aperol Spritz or a spicy margarita.

This wasn’t the final result or location but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a photo of the champagne or food table, but the effect was similar to this.


Photography by TheLoveStory.AU
Photography by TheLoveStory.AU

After we took our family shots, Anthea convinced us to go out around the neighbourhood and to the nearby park with our bridal party to get our photos and the results are phenomenal.

She really put us at ease; I don’t typically like having my photo taken and was particularly apprehensive about this part of the day. I’ve never felt more beautiful, Jack looked so devastatingly handsome and our bridal party had a great time drinking in the park.

My bridesmaids were my two best friends; both nurses, amazing women and mothers. These women are my rocks. Their support on the day and help leading up to the wedding was so appreciated.

Photography by TheLoveStory.AU
Photography by TheLoveStory.AU
Photography by TheLoveStory.AU
Photography by TheLoveStory.AU
Photography by TheLoveStory.AU
Photography by TheLoveStory.AU
Photography by TheLoveStory.AU

The Reception

Photography by TheLoveStory.AU
Photography by TheLoveStory.AU

We returned to the venue and entered our wedding reception in the golden light of the late afternoon. That feeling to be announced as Mr and Mrs, and all your loved ones clap and cheer – it’s indescribable. A total rush.

Our first dance was “Into The Mystic” by Van Morrison and we had a parent-child dance to “Thank You” by Paul Kelly. Jack danced with his mum, I danced with my now father-in-law.

We had two short toasts in the evening – a complete tear jerker by my maid of honour Nicole and a funny, short and sweet one by Jack’s best man.

We cut our cake first to get photos before our photographer left. I had set up the cake table the day before in a corner near the dance floor and sadly didn’t take photos – it was then moved twice on the day and the vase/candle holders/cake stand were lost in transit. These are things that just happen on the day that you naturally let go of despite meticulous planning. I originally had a tall glass vase of white orchids and three long-stemmed votive candle holders either side of the acacia cake stand.

Our cake was a gorgeous creation by Sherbet Bakery in Maylands.

Photography by TheLoveStory.AU
Photography by TheLoveStory.AU
Photography by TheLoveStory.AU

The flowers for the reception were peonies – my favourite flower – and Juliet roses on the tables and carnations, orchids and hydrangeas. The napkins were hand tied and the place cards hand pressed on cotton paper. Anthea also captured some of the details from the reception beautifully:

We had a buffet dinner and desserts by Cherry’s Catering, a family owned business. The company were an absolute joy to deal with from start to finish and the catering on the day completely seamless. The food was absolutely fantastic and our guests were so well fed.

These are all my photos from the day before after we had set everything up. I’m so glad I took these photos because you can see the heart and effort I put into all the details that may escape the notice of guests but turned my dream into a reality.

Thank you to everyone who attended, who chipped in, who helped out and who ate, drank and danced the night away with us. We love you all.


Photography – Anthea @ The Love Story

Catering – Cherry’s Catering

Cake – Sherbet Bakery Maylands

Nibbles – The Herdsman

Furniture hire – not recommended


No. of guests – 65

Catering and cake – ~$4k

Photographer – $1.2k

Furniture, AV equipment and dance floor – $2.4K

Flowers – $800 (artificial)

Vases, tealight holders and candles – ~$200

Napkins – $60

Signs and menus – $300

Dress – $60 (ASOS) RRP $200+

Veil – $0 RRP $300+

Suit – $200


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