One of the most overwhelming aspects of making wedding decisions is the judgment that comes from others. A common line of reasoning is “do it this way because that’s the way it’s done.”
Well, times change and different types of weddings flourish in this age of individuality. Plus, you are unique and should have a wedding that reflects who you are and what you care about!
For those reasons, you do not have to follow tradition unless you want to. Here are 25 non-traditional wedding ideas to help you plan a wedding that reflects you.
Contrast the Unconventional to the Traditional Wedding Ceremony
To decide what is unconventional, let’s first talk about tradition. What, exactly, does a traditional wedding ceremony look like in the U.S.? Let’s imagine together …
Excited guests twist around to peer to the head of the church aisle as organ music begins. It’s the cue the procession is about to begin!
The mother of the bride leads the way, then sits in the front pew on the left, the bride’s side. Meanwhile, the groom has materialized at the altar.
Bridesmaids and groomsmen appear in pairs, one man one woman each. They are solemn, arm in arm, walking down the aisle.
Each pair splits at the altar, lining up on the side assigned to their gender.
Woman = Bride = Left
Man = Groom = Right
Then cuteness. A little flower girl fumbling rose petals from a basket. A small boy child holding a ring bearer pillow.
The organ music rises to a crescendo. Here comes the bride!!! She appears. Demure in a white, flowing gown. The long veil covers her face.
It is time for the father of the bride to give her to another man!!! He escorts her down the aisle and hands her off to the groom.
The religious leader of the church conducts the ceremony. Vows, rings, blusher folded back, kiss.
The new couple, a man with his wife, walks back up the aisle. Guests congratulate them at the door as they leave. The couple leaves the church, peppered with thrown rice.
Non-Traditional Wedding Ceremony Ideas
Chances are since you are reading this, some of those details above are not your thing. The good news is you can quite change any piece of it you wish as long as you stay within your state’s law.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Have a family wedding–instead of the couple only–by including your children in the vows, with hugs and kisses all around.
2. Have each set of parents give away their son or daughter to the bride(s) or groom(s).
3. Instead of “giving away” the bride, have each set of parents “take in” the future spouse. (Not literally, of course. They don’t want you living with them! LOL.)
4. Carry ferns instead of flowers. Or make the bouquets from buttons, brooches, or paper.
Or carry something else that reflects who you are. A local couple here once carried flowers made from pizza. Not my thing, but hey, if your life is pizza, why not?
5. Play music and have everyone dance as you come out of the church instead of guests throwing rice or bird seeds.
6. Go bareheaded instead of wearing a veil or hat.
7. Hold the ceremony someplace besides a church. (See 76 Unexpected Wedding Reception Venues for ideas. The ceremony can be held at all of these as well.)
8. Have groomspeople and bridespeople instead of -maids and -men, mixing genders according to friendships or relationships.
9. If there are no obvious choices for a flower girl and/or ring bearer, omit them from the ceremony.
10. Have the wedding party face the guests during the ceremony.
Non-Traditional Wedding Wear
The wedding attire is another way to make your wedding stand out. Tradition dictates a white gown for the bride. Bridesmaids in the wedding color, with matching dresses. Groomsmen in neutral-colored tuxes.
Here are some alternative ideas for wedding party wear …
11. Wear bridal pants or other wedding dress alternative instead of a gown. (See the bridal jumpsuits shopping section for inspiration.)
12. Buy a wedding gown in your favorite color and put the bridesmaids in white.
13. Let your bridesmaids wear cocktail dresses with a color or style theme rather than those made specifically as bridesmaid dresses (some of the pins on the Bridesmaids Ideas pinboard can give you inspiration).
14. Let the guys wear suits, or shirts and suspenders with no jacket, instead of renting tuxes.
Alternative Wedding Reception Ideas
Next up is the wedding reception, with its set of expectations. Here are some quirky twists to throw into the mix …
15. Toast with a signature drink instead of champagne.
16. Skip the traditional guest book and opt for a creative way to remember your guests–a thumbprint wishing tree or wishing rocks, for example (more ideas are in the Guest Book Alternatives section).
17. Set up a self-serve drink station instead of a full-service bar.
18. Instead of best man and maid of honor speeches, have those in the wedding party share their best stories.
19. See each other and spend quality time together before the wedding.
20. Toss something fun, like bride and groom bears or candy, instead of the bouquet and garter.
21. Feed each other something besides cake–another dessert or favorite entree, for example.
22. Skip the tiered wedding cake altogether and have an ornate cake table with several single layer versions or other desserts.
23. Provide an empty, food-friendly favor box and let guests choose their own treats from a candy or food buffet.
24. Make your centerpieces mini dessert stations and forego separate desserts and favors.
25. Have son-mother-in-law and daughter-father-in-law dances.
Or come up with your own ideas to create a ceremony and reception that reflect who you truly are as a couple. Any aspect of the wedding is optional or open to your own interpretation.