A Humanist Wedding Fully DIY in Our Backyard!

Difficulty Cost Time Age Person Event
$1 to $25
Long Term

There never was a day in my life, not even as a little girl, where I dreamed of the big, frilly, white wedding. A girly dress? Yuck! Spend a fortune on one day!? I wouldn’t be able to respect myself after such foolishness! After all the time, effort and money we already spent on the house (where I was as frugal as humanly possible) I just could not, in good conscious, spend a fortune on our wedding day as well and, besides, that just would never have been our style. Also, Joe and I are very spiritual but not at all religious so, after much searching online, we put together our own ceremony and our own Humanist Wedding in our own backyard 🙂 Here are some of the highlights on our choices, the costs and how we did it!


Inspired From:

You Will Need...

  • The biggest purchase was our renting a tent on the off chance that it might rain, it did not rain but we still used the tent all day regardless and when it did storm that night, we remained under it enjoying it cooling the day down. We had a porta potty brought in for $100 as we didn’t have inside doors on the house yet and its an old septic system so we thought better safe then sorry! We also rented twelve tables and 98 chairs. It took two trucks to get everything in one trip and it took about two hours to get it all set up. From there a friend of ours let us borrow 30 bales of straw for more seating. I got the idea of a backyard “picnic” humanist wedding on pinterest so over the course of a couple of weeks we bought our local thrift store out of quilts and afghans, each one was only $2 or $3 a piece so, all in, we spent less then $50 covering the straw bales with gorgeous blankets. We did have a center piece on each table outside (Sorry no pics of them!) which was one huge hydrangea bloom in a mason jar. The flowers came from a bush at my mom’s office and the mason jars (of course) were my grandma’s. We did buy three bouquets from walmart the day before which we put together in a big bouquet for the gift table inside in a big cookie jar that a wonderful friend bought me for my bridle shower.

Step by Step Instructions

  • Step 1

    The table cloths were from walmart and were less then $2 a piece. The can koozies we bought as wedding favors cost us less $100 and I bought them here: DiscountMugs and designed them myself with the same graphic I used on our invitations which I also designed myself and bought here: VistaPrint for also less then $100. Our guestbook I also designed myself and it was just a basic spiral bound notebook that I customized and I also bought on VistaPrint for less then $20. When it came to the music for our humanist wedding I was pretty stumped for awhile, I didn’t want music on during the ceremony however I wanted music on the entire time afterward. My savior came in the form of a fabulous lady I work with whose son had a couple of big speakers they regularly used for bonfires in their back yard. I hooked them up to my laptop and downloaded and installed Spotify. And then I spent months before the wedding just adding to my wedding song list then, right before the wedding, I upgraded to the premium version of Spotify so the music would play uninterrupted for the whole humanist wedding and then I just canceled it before my first payment was due so: Free! And, if we had had internet at the house using Spotify we could have literally played anything we could think of but, because we don’t have our internet up and running yet, I had to use Spotify‘s offline feature (absolutely amazing) and be happy with whatever songs we had already chosen and we were really happy with the whole setup! As an alternative, speakers are not expensive to rent nor are microphones. My writers’ group (The Jackpine Writers’ Bloc) let us borrow their microphone for the ceremony!

  • Step 2

    The food and the alcohol was the costliest thing of the entire shindig (as you might imagine). Joe’s folks purchased all of the soft drinks and bottled water and let us borrow their two enormous coolers for the entire wedding. They also bought glasses, paper plates and utensils etc. My mom purchased 40 pounds of pulled pork, made her fabulous chocolate chip cookies and a cole slaw salad. Other friends made beans and a few other salads. My mom also purchased several bottles of alcohol so we could have a bit of a bar. My dad purchased six boxes of wine (30 liters) and eleven cases of beer plus a few more bottles of alcohol. My aunt brought the desert. I said NO to an expensive wedding cake as I know it never gets eaten and I’m not even real fond of cake. My aunt brought over a package of little mini brownies covered in cream cheese and asked, what about these? It was a resounding yes!! They were amazing, so she bought about 150 of them for the wedding! We were so blessed to have everyone give so much and to help out so much! All in our entire humanist wedding came in well under $2,000!

  • Step 3

    My aunt (love you Sharon!) took over as photographer with terror in her eyes. I gave her my good camera a couple of months before the wedding and she practiced the whole time. We had another friend who came to the wedding and backed her up with his camera so we didn’t have to pay a photographer. Not to mention, with everyone owning smart phones these days we encouraged everyone to take lots of pictures! I had no time for spending a silly amount of money for a wedding dress. We had no wedding party so it was just the outfits for Joe and I that we needed to figure out. Mom and I started looking for a dress several months before our humanist wedding and then boom, right there, for only $40 was my dream wedding dress. It did need a pretty major change because the slip on the inside stopped at the knees and you could see it and I hated that. The wonderful friend who also helped with my hair (love you Tammy!) went on the search for a matching fabric and extended the slip down to the length of the dress for me! I got a pair of sandals to wear with it at walmart for $13 🙂 Joe’s outfit he and I picked out together, decided on short sleeves because the heat was just shockingly tropic (shocking because this is northern Minnesota and it was nearly 90 with a dew point of 73%!), got him some nice gray pants, a tie and a pair of shoes and belt to go with it. My aunt, my mom and Tammy came upstairs to help do my hair once I was all dressed. We bought some little clear ties and a pile of fake flowers and, between the three of us (with my aunt taking pictures) we got it done and I loved it! I told them, “Make it look like I braided my hair then ran through a field of wild flowers!”


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