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Kat + Ben’s Backyard Wedding in Brisbane

The best part of being a wedding photographer is attending so many fabulous weddings! I’ve been to hundreds of weddings; from a backyard wedding in Brisbane to a beach wedding in the Whitsundays. And every wedding is amazing.

However, couples all have different budgets and different priorities. I recently photographed Katrina and Ben’s backyard wedding in Brisbane. Kat and Ben met in high school, but were in different grades. Ben was actually one of Kat’s sister’s friends! However it wasn’t until years later, in 2010, when they bumped into each other in a club in Brisbane. And, as they say, the rest is history!

It’s Gonna Be Fun!

After chatting at our pre-wedding appointment, I knew they were good people. Especially when they mentioned their fur-baby was in the wedding! And they wanted lots of candid photos, “just a few nice photos” of themselves and lots with friends. Their priority was fun. Lots of fun. And I am totally down with that!  And when they told me they were planning a casual backyard wedding, I knew I was right 🙂

So I asked them how they pulled off their backyard wedding on a budget, and what was most important to them. And here’s what they said…

How Did You Plan Your Backyard Wedding?

“We always knew we wanted something fun and affordable. And with all our cricket mates who are big drinkers, we knew we wanted to have a full open bar. Also, my worst nightmare was to have a wedding where everyone went home early and no one danced or had fun.

I initially started by messaging heaps of venues I had always dreamed of having our wedding at, but they came back at about $7000 or more just for venue hire, excluding food and drinks.  Given our budget all up was $10,000 I knew we had to do it differently. There’s no way we could have achieved all of that at a venue.

We then put our heads together to think of all our mates who had a good back yard, or property. And then it dawned on us that my sister had a huge empty shed, and with a bit of TLC would come up beautifully.”

Cost Saving Tips

“We made everything ourselves and sold it all at the end, however that comes at the price of TIME and EFFORT. Only do this if you are committed, arty, and have the patience to sell it all in the end. We made all our money back on the items we bought and things we made, which was amazing.

Food, cake, photography and the celebrant were our biggest costs which consumed 3/4 of the budget.  We could have easily halved the cost of all these things which I will explain below.

Food – we chose a grazing table and cocktail style canapes which cost $1900 all up. We could have shaved heaps off the price if we chose a roast dinner or pizzas over canapés, but we wanted something modern, and something light enough so people weren’t in food comas.

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Celebrant – cost $750 (the average cost between $400-$1000). We chose to go with a reputable person that we felt comfortable with, and had seen at other weddings. You could probably spend $400 but I’m not sure on the quality.

Book Professionals

Photography – about $2000. We also could have just gone with a random photographer for half the cost, but I didn’t want to be in tears weeks later because we had no good photos. My best friend paid half of that for her photographer and she ended up having to do a re-shoot with another photographer, after the event.

backyard wedding brisbane

Cake – We chose a super fancy detailed 2 tier fondant cake that featured a hand-cut world map which suited our theme, our love for travel and had fresh flowers.

We could have easily cut the cake cost in half if we stuck with our original design of a simple plain cake with donuts. But don’t be fooled though, Cake is expensive because it’s an art and takes HOURS. Don’t expect a huge glamorous cake for cheap. Even plain ones with donuts will set you back up to $250. Shop around too as prices can vary, although my cake lady is INCREDIBLE and affordable, so you won’t be disappointed.

backyard wedding brisbane

Dress – I knew I wanted something beautiful but comfortable and that didn’t break the bank. I was patient, googled a lot of dresses under $600 and finally found one. Prior to that, I had bought 2 dresses off ASOS and they were really good quality. So have Patience!

Alcohol – we chose to have an open bar. We spent $2500 at Dan Murphy’s but had $1000 worth of alcohol left over. We had beer, wine, Prosecco, all the spirits and soft drinks.

Flowers – We collected all different kinds from cheapy stores. Used a mix of fresh leaves and fake flowers to make the bouquet and table decorations.”

You can read my recent blog about wedding day budgets by clicking here.

Any Problems Planning Your Backyard Wedding?

“Because we had it in a shed, we needed to organize absolutely everything ourselves, so it was very time intensive. We also planned our wedding in about 4 months so time was tight.

If we did it all again and had a bigger budget we would have just paid for someone to bring everything in and take it all away. We also went over budget by a little bit. Although nothing really went terribly wrong.

The Engagement

I surprised Ben with a trip to Bali for his birthday in April 2019. On the 3rd night in Ubud he had sneakily organised a surprise dinner on the rice terrace deck, dinner table surrounded by flower petals and candles. Then he got down on one knee.”

The Big Wedding Day

And just check out Kat and Ben’s fabulous backyard wedding Brisbane photos! These guys are proof that with some determination, bargain shopping, superior organisational skills and a groom who is handy with a hammer (Ben made their gorgeous arbour and some of the outdoor games for the guests), a backyard wedding can be the wedding of your dreams! And you don’t need an exotic location to have beautiful photos either! Kat and Ben told me they wanted fast wedding photos; they didn’t want to be away from their guests or miss much of their wedding party. So, we jumped in my car, drove to the end of the street and found a nice, secluded little spot on the beach with some amazing sunlight. And then, we headed a little further to a park for a touch of greenery in the photos. We were done within the hour and Kat and Ben were back with their guests in no time at all!

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Wedding Day Vendors

Photographer: Alison Cooke Photography

Makeup – Sasha Hicks 

Cake – Cake by Susanne (North Lakes, Brisbane) highly recommended!

Suit – Politix

Dress – J’adore (from the Bridal Company, Gold Coast) under $500

Rings bride – Michael Hill

Ring groom – Angus and Coote

Food – Mint Food Catering

Grazing table – a friend

Cookies – made them myself

Flowers – artificial from cheap shops


Needless to say, it was one of the most relaxed and fun backyard wedding days I’ve photographed in Brisbane!

Much love, laughter and happily ever after to you both.

Alison xx

About Alison – Backyard Wedding Photography Brisbane

Alison Cooke Photography is a Brisbane wedding, portrait and newborn photographer and an award-winning member of the AIPP with over 20 years experience in the wedding, family and newborn portrait industry. Alison is also a communications specialist, writer and freelance public relations specialist. You can view more communications work here.

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