Alternative Wedding Ideas for Non-Traditional Couples

Christine Steuber
May 2, 2022
Are you looking for alternative wedding ideas that would wow your guests and leave a long-lasting impression? Check out my article.

With the age of individuality, couples no longer want to conform to the wedding traditions and many expectations that usually come from their elders. Apart from a black tux, white dress, and “till death do us part”, so much more can happen at your wedding if you step out of your comfort zone.

It’s nice to shake things up, which is why I will be sharing alternative wedding ideas for all future brides who desire something unique on their special day. 

So let’s get started!

5 Common Wedding Traditions

Before organizing a unique wedding ceremony, let’s talk about the basic wedding traditions couples often include in their special day.

1) White dress

White wedding dress Unsplash
Credit: Benigno Hoyuela via Unsplash

White wedding dresses originated from the Victorian era and are still a heavy norm in America and Europe. Many brides still choose white color only for their wedding since it symbolizes purity and a fresh start.

2) Bridal shower

In the old days, bridal showers weren’t about giving gifts to the bride-to-be. In fact, it was held to help raise the money for the dowry in the 1500s. The event was organized for the bride and her family. But today, as you can see in the picture above, the bridal shower and bachelorette party are meant to spoil the bride, and that’s absolutely okay!

3) Wedding cake

Wedding Cake by Fab Mood
Credit: Fab Mood

The wedding cake used to represent fertility in ancient times. Pieces of cake used to be held over the bride’s head as a blessing, and guests used to take home the pieces for good fortune. Today, the cake is just a dessert, and couples enjoy cutting it together at their wedding.

4) Honeymoon

Honeymoon photo by Tatiana Gonzales via Unsplash
Credit: Tatiana Gonzales via Unsplash

For newlyweds, the honeymoon is the best part of the wedding, and it serves as a hideaway for the married couple. But it wasn’t so perfect in the past. In the 19th century, couples usually had a trip to visit family members and friends who couldn’t come to the wedding. Not so romantic, right?

And today, we just can’t imagine a wedding without a honeymoon. Laying on the beach, enjoying the sun and delicious cocktails with your loved one – is there anything else to wish for a perfect honeymoon?

5) The Threshold Carry

Legend says that, in Medieval Europe, the bride didn’t want to leave her parents’ home after the wedding. So, the husband had to carry her over the threshold. But today, husbands do it for fun to make their wives feel like a real princess who deserves to be loved and protected in their new home.

10 Non-Traditional Wedding Ceremony Ideas

Now that we have gone through the common components of a wedding day, it’s time for the main part of this article – non-traditional wedding ceremony ideas. 

Of course, there are many more alternative wedding ideas than the ones I’ve covered in this section. It’s all about your individuality, so you can use my ideas as the foundation and add a personal touch to them.

1) Elopement 

Elopement New York Times
Credit: The NY Times

If you and your partner don’t like to be the center of attention, you can marry without a wedding. This ceremony is called elopement or a private wedding. Excluding the guests, it will just be the two of you, and you can party later. 

Aside from privacy, couples who decide on elopement prioritize their mental health too. If one of them suffers from anxiety, it’s best to avoid attention and crowds. And don’t worry, eloping isn’t a secret. You can tell your plan to your loved ones beforehand and celebrate with everyone afterwards.

2) Double wedding

Next on our list of alternative wedding ideas, a double wedding is a special event in which two couples tie knots at a single ceremony. I know a few people who had a double wedding, and it turned out to be beautiful.

However, there’s a hidden benefit of this concept, too – a single wedding and single reception require half the budget that one couple generally spends on the entire ceremony.

3) Mountainside wedding

Wedding halls have very similar decor and lighting, which is not for everyone. If you want to break away from the city hall walls, go for a non-traditional location, such as a mountainside. Get innovative with your mountain venue. You can hike up there, drive, or even fly on a helicopter. 

To make things more exciting, go to a mountainside in a different country. Another great thing about having a wedding in the mountains of a different country is an opportunity to add the local culture of that region to your ceremony.

4) At-home or backyard ceremony

Having a wedding at home or in the backyard is something so adorable, in my opinion. Just take a look at the cute venue in the picture above, and you’ll understand what I am talking about.

Aside from being less costly, home venue creates a sense of warmth and intimacy that wedding ceremonies at other places simply can’t achieve.

5) Costume party wedding

If white dresses and black tuxes don’t appeal to you, you don’t have to conform to this tradition.

So, how about a costume wedding? For instance, if both of you like the creepy Halloween vibe, why not throw a themed ceremony? The couple above nailed this idea, by the way. If you and your partner also love to have a blast, this is the best way to make your day memorable. You can encourage your guests to be creative and wear exciting costumes, too.

6) City hall ceremony

City hall wedding example
Credit: Minted

On the other hand, if you don’t like loud and pompous wedding ceremonies, a city hall is among the best alternative wedding ideas. If you choose it, the guest list and decor will be minimal. You can have a meal with everyone later on, or even a party. But simple venues such as city halls work best for those who dislike long ceremonies and big celebrations.

7) Adventure wedding

If you and your partner share a wild, adventurous side, why not cross a glacier together, or do anything where your lives are in each other’s hands? Combine your wedding with a private adventure to experience a new country. This is ideal for couples who yearn for wildlife and exhilarating outdoors.

An adventure wedding can be done with your guests, or only with the two of you. In the latter case, it will be an adventurous elopement. Whatever makes you happy!

3) Virtual wedding

Virtual wedding idea
Credit: TheKnot

I guess it might sound boring or even lonely to some people, but virtual weddings can be equally romantic as in-person ceremonies. In this case, the couple and guests host the ceremony on a video call.

But doing everything in an online mode doesn’t mean that there can’t be extras, such as decor, an appealing venue, a live musician, and flowers! You can even hire wedding planners to host a virtual ceremony – they can spice things up a notch.

9) Gender-blind wedding party

Gender-blind outfit idea
Credit: Pinterest

Some modern couples don’t like to follow gender binaries these days. If you strongly feel the gender fluidity movement, a gender-blind wedding will work in your favor. 

This unconventional wedding ceremony idea boldly breaks the strict rules – you don’t have to wear the dress. It’s okay if you wear a suit or even if your future husband wears a skirt. It’s up to you to decide on all the tiny details. So, discuss with your partner how you would like to incorporate femininity and masculinity in the decor, attire, invitations, and everything else.

10) Festival-like wedding celebration

Festival-like wedding ceremony idea
Credit: Hitched

The hyped-up trend of festival-like weddings is increasing in popularity. For a couple that wants to impress the guests, incorporating festival fun and the outdoors is a great idea. It’s also an opportunity to unleash your bohemian spirit.

County homes, tents, tepees, castles, fields, or country barns are some perfect ideas. You can also choose appropriate decor to pump up the vibe of these places.

Non-Traditional Wedding Clothes

If you’re not in the mood for a mainstream white gown, look for something unexpected. I’ve selected some stunning unconventional clothes for the bride and groom to wear. 

Let’s start with this sparkly stunner. It’s a transparent, rose gold sequined dress that will put everyone under a spell. If you are planning a beach wedding, this is the perfect piece for you.

Transparent gold sequined dress wedding dress alternative
Credit: Etsy

Also, you can shift from the white and choose pink for your special day. Made of satin, this blush matte dress shows ruffle sleeves and a cutout back for a stunning look. 

You can also opt for stunning blue ombre wedding dresses if you are a fan of the extravagant style. Take a look at this unusual but spectacular gown with lots of blue, white, and black tulle. Absolutely WOW!

Sleevless blue ombre wedding dress with tulle skirt
Credit: Mywony

And if you are not a fan of dresses at all, don’t worry, I have something for you. Check out this fantastic outfit that includes a white blazer, wide-leg elegant pants, and a super-cute white hat. Girl, I love this!

Let’s now move to the groom’s unique attire ideas. No black, no white, let’s go with a green one! This outfit will make your man look snazzy in emerald green velvet, which is also ideal for keeping him warm in winter. Besides, if you’re planning to hold your wedding ceremony in a forest, the surroundings will merge with this daring look.

Also, why not play around with the ties? Try a heavily patterned one or a monochromatic blush tie to add a dose of uniqueness. Check this fantastic piece below:

And if you are looking for a cool alternative to the traditional suit jacket, consider a U-shaped light-colored vest.

Groom's suit with a vest
Credit: GentWith

This tasteful garment creates a flawless casual look without going too far from the classic. Add some colorful bow or tie like in the pic above, and you’re ready to go.

Modern Alternatives to Wedding Rings

My unconventional wedding ideas don’t limit to attire only. Here’s how you can switch things up with rings as well.

Let me first ask you something – do you know what’s more ‘forever’ than a diamond? Matching tattoos. This is also a great choice if you’re not into bridal jewelry. You can get your partner’s initials, an anchor, or any other symbol representing your love for each other.

Wedding tattoos wedding ring alternative
Credit: DIYS

The next alternative is an infinity necklace, the timeless symbol of commitment that showcases lifelong dedication.

Infinity necklace wedding ring alternative
Credit: Anitolia

You can also go with couple bracelets. There are cute options with a magnet, so your bracelets can literally connect with each other. Take a look:

Bracelets with a magnet wedding ring alternative
Credit: Amazon

And in case you want wedding rings but classic gold or silver ones, go with organic wooden rings.

I recommend going for a walnut or rosewood band. In addition to feeling lighter than classic metal rings, wooden rings are also hypoallergenic.

Finally, if you decide on a wedding ring but are afraid to ruin such a meaningful thing, feel free to read my guide about cleaning wedding rings at home.

Alternatives to Wedding Cakes

White wedding cakes with a bit of golden sparkle are the most common options for a wedding. But why not have a breakfast classic? If you love cinnamon rolls like me, just stack them up into a tower with lots of cream cheese to wow your guests. Take a look at this yummy dessert:

Cinammon bun wedding cake alternative
Credit: Caudesucre

Speaking about alternative wedding ideas, you can also go with popsicles! They are becoming a trend due to their easy portability and a versatile range of colors. Besides, this option is good if you won’t have a lot of guests.

And, finally, who doesn’t like churros? It’s also perfect for non-traditional wedding celebrations. Don’t be afraid to go with it – its taste will definitely delight everyone!

Churros alternative wedding cake idea
 Credit: Pop Sugar

I’d love to get high on sugar with some good ol’ brownies, too. This is a simple and delicious dessert that reminds everyone of their childhood.

Another one on our list of alternative wedding ideas is a yummy French dessert that will stand proudly and make everyone dream of choux puff pastry brimming with crème pâtissière.

And here’s one more recommendation for a small wedding. Mini ladyfingers can be filled with pastry cream or mousse, then topped with a range of fruits for a fresh touch.

Ladyfinger desserts wedding cake alternative
Credit: Fab Weddings

One extra plus – these mini desserts can be coordinated with the wedding theme or color scheme.

Wedding Reception Ideas

Up next, let’s discuss alternative wedding ideas for the reception part.

Instead of a wedding sit-down dinner, how about hosting a brunch reception? You can invite your guests for a scheduled meal between 11 am and 2 pm. Omelets, mimosas, and French toast are perfect for the brunch menu.

Brunch wedding reception alternative
Credit: Pinterest

And if you and your spouse-to-be are dessert enthusiasts, why not include your favorite sweets in the reception party? However, make sure to mention that there won’t be any food in the invitations.

Sweets wedding reception alternative
Credit: Trazy

You can also fill the reception night with appetizers and drinks instead of a heavy meal. I’m sure your guests will wholeheartedly appreciate a cocktail night out.

Cocktail party wedding reception alternative
Credit: Greenvelope

If you choose this option, I advise you to hire the food service so that guests can order and eat whenever they want. And if you have some doubts about the whole receiving line process, I covered that topic earlier, so you can read it on my blog.

10 Ways to Save Money on a Wedding Day

To organize a wedding, you need to be dead sure about your priorities. But if you’re a lost cause at drafting a wedding budget, I’ve got you covered. Here’s how you can plan a wedding so that it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

1) Host a ceremony on weekdays

Instead of the weekend, choose some other day during the week for your ceremony. This can save you thousands of dollars on the venue.

2) Hunt for the dress beforehand

Order your dream dress 8 to 9 months before to prevent rush fees and late alterations. This way, you’ll have enough time to find an affordable and adorable gown.

3) Seek new photographers/freelancers

You can save some funds by looking for new talent, particularly on social media.

4) Bulk up on flowers

Florists usually offer discounts if you order more bouquets. Also, placing an order several months earlier and going for seasonal flowers can save you tons of money.

5) Borrow the sparkle

Rent your jewelry from an upscale website. You can wear a lucrative set for only $300.

6) Skip the boutonnieres

Exclude the boutonnieres from your attire to save some money. Encourage your guests to wear pocket squares instead.

7) Repurpose your chairs

Consider reusing your ceremony chairs. The chairs on which the guests sat during the wedding ceremony you can later place at the table where the meal will be served. Even though you will have to pay a moving fee, it’s still cheaper than ordering.

8) Forget the escort cards 

You can ask your stationer to design one primary seating chart poster rather than personal escort cards. 

9) Unique doesn’t mean lucrative

Choose budget-friendly, unusual details, like fennel flowers, spider mums, or hosta flowers. 

10) Take an organic turn

Put fresh fruits into your centerpieces. You can even add a glam touch by painting some fruit in gold.

Over to You

If you have decided to go against the wedding norms to follow your personality, the alternative wedding ideas I’ve described above will definitely work magic for you. To sum up: 

  • You can elope or have a costume wedding party, go on an adventure, gather in your home, or do everything virtually.
  • Instead of a cake, go with towers or stacks of brownies, donuts, pancakes, mini desserts, cinnamon rolls, churros, or cake pops. A croquembouche is an excellent choice, too.
  • For the wedding reception, a brunch, cocktail, or dessert parties work equally amazing.
  • Lastly, infinity necklaces, wooden bands, matching tattoos, and bracelets can be considered instead of traditional wedding rings.

I hope that I’ve steered you in the right direction to planning a one-of-a-kind wedding. For more wedding inspo, check out my previous articles and enjoy reading! 

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