A Humanist Wedding, fully DIY, in our backyard!

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 back yard 🙂 Here are some of the highlights on our choices, the costs and how we did it!

Humanist Wedding on a budget DIY in our backyard @GrandmasHousDIY

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.

Humanist Wedding on a budget DIY in our backyard @GrandmasHousDIY

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!

Humanist Wedding on a budget DIY in our backyard @GrandmasHousDIY

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!

Humanist Wedding on a budget DIY in our backyard @GrandmasHousDIY

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!”

Humanist Wedding on a budget DIY in our backyard @GrandmasHousDIY

Here is the lovely ceremony that we ended up with. Someone timed it at 3 minutes and 44 seconds flat lol. It was not our intention of making it so short! However, it was perfectly wonderful for us, regardless. (My joke was that it needed to be that short because that was about the amount time it would take for Joe and I to dirty our nice clothes!) I hope this might help you guys too, take it, change it, make it yours and, if you do, tell me all about your wonderful day!

“Before you now Joe and Tarah are openly and sincerely declaring their commitment to each other and, in doing so, are being joined in the affirmation that love is the foundation of the earth. They want to let you know how thankful they are and glad that you came to share this moment with them. You are their closest friends and family as well as their witnesses for the commitment they make today.
The circle is a symbol of the sun and the earth. A symbol of wholeness and of peace. Joe and Tarah’s rings already publicly show that love is a choice and when two make such a choice the circle is completed.
“The future belongs to hearts even more than it does to minds. Love, that is the only thing that can occupy and fill eternity. In the infinite, the inexhaustible is requisite. Love participates of the soul itself. It is of the same nature. Like it, it is the divine spark; like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable. It is a point of fire that exists within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can confine, and which nothing can extinguish.”
Hand fastening is a powerful declaration of intent, stating that they are marrying of their own free will. To be hand fastened to another person is to wash away all that has come to pass and stand before each other just as they are.
(wrap hands)
Do you still seek to enter this union? (“I do” – said together)
Will you honor and respect one another? (“I will” – said together)
Will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it? (“I will” – said together)
Will you share the burdens of each other so that your spirits may grow in this union? (“I wil” – said together)
Will you stand beside the other no matter the risk? (“I will” – said together)
From this day forward, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live? (“I do” – said together)
With the sun above you and the earth beneath you, this is more then a joining instead this is the final completing circle of the relationship between you, where there is room for nothing, and no one, else. Where if harm comes to one of you, the other feels it. If joy comes to one of you, the other shares it. The gift of your wedding rings is now the outward demonstration of the vows you took today and the circle between you completed.
I now pronounce you husband and wife!
You may kiss!”

Humanist Wedding on a budget DIY in our backyard @GrandmasHousDIYA DIY Humanist wedding in our backyard, cheap, frugal, inexpensive, do it yourself, a beautiful ceremony for all of our friends and family with food for only $2,000!

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  1. Jerry Mevissen
    September 21, 2015 at 3:34 pm


  2. Shannon
    October 17, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    This is absolutely amazing! Its so beautiful in every way, not just on the surface, but within the two of you! I could only dream to find such true, raw love and happiness. I wish the two of you the very best and have a blast with your “new” wonderful home! Thank you for sharing your story, it brought me too (happy) tears.

    • October 19, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      Oh Shannon thank you so much! We’re so blessed to be here in the home my mom grew up in, I barely even want to leave at all now that I’m here and with him!

  3. Susan D
    November 21, 2015 at 5:27 am

    I am so happy for you both! I’ve been waiting to see your wedding and like Shannon above, reading your story and seeing your pictures brought me to happy tears!
    I hope you have many wonderful years together <3

    • November 23, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      Susan thank you so much! I know everyone can relate to how worried and stressed you get before a wedding, the weather was my big heart ache, I started watching the weather on my phone two weeks before the wedding just asking for it to NOT rain during the ceremony. But everything went so good and it was so much fun and such a lovely day!

  4. Candy Walsh
    August 28, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Beautiful 💕

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