Your wedding is arguably the biggest day of your life. And you want it to be absolutely perfect. Whether you opt for a grand wedding at a country estate or a cosy and intimate affair in your own back garden, there are a lot of details to think about. And a lot of traditions and customs to uphold.
Or is there?
In this day and age, people are a lot more relaxed about how weddings look and feel. There is a recognition that a wedding should reflect the bride and groom’s wishes rather than any ideas society imposes on them, giving you much more freedom to create your dream wedding day.
With this in mind, we created a quick guide to 20 alternative wedding ideas that ensure your big day is all about you and represents your ideal event. Don’t get us wrong – we adore a traditional wedding! But we also love seeing people do their own thing and break the mould a little.
The most obvious way to shake up a traditional wedding is to forgo the church and look for a completely unique wedding venue. The restrictions on who can marry you in particular places vary from country to country. But you usually have plenty of choices. If you cannot marry in your preferred location, hold the official ceremony at an approved location and enjoy a second “unofficial” one at your chosen venue.
Always dreamed of getting married on top of a mountain? Fancy tying the knot in the bar where you first met your partner? Want to say your vows in the local park? The world is your oyster – go out, find your perfect venue, and create your perfect alternative wedding.
Tradition dictates that the groom selects male friends to be groomsmen, and the bride chooses female friends to be her bridesmaids. But for many people, that approach no longer reflects the reality of modern friendship groups. Why should you omit close friends from your wedding party because of their gender?
Instead, opt for grooms and brides-people and invite whoever you want to join you as you prepare for your big day.
It may be a logistical challenge but planning a surprise wedding is a fantastic alternative to the traditional wedding experience. Invite your chosen guests to a made-up event, and once everyone is present and ready to go, spring the surprise!
If your elderly relatives are attending, make sure it is not too much of a shock. You do not want to give your gran a heart attack on your wedding day!
This is another tradition that does not sit well with many people. Historically, the father-of-the-bride walked her down the aisle and “gave her away” to the husband. Never mind the connotations of giving someone away – what about poor old mum? Why is she not involved?
Rather than walking down the aisle with just your father, why not have both parents go with you? The symmetry of having a parent on each arm is much more visually appealing, too. You will all look fantastic as you make your way to the altar.
More and more brides are ditching the traditional wedding dress for something that is a little more… them. Not everyone feels comfortable in a long, flowy dress and many brides find all that white a little overwhelming. They would rather step out in something more colourful, comfortable or cool.
There are no rules on what you can and cannot wear during a wedding (although I’m sure some wedding venues will refuse to conduct the ceremony if you are “inappropriately” dressed), so go wild and wear what makes you feel good.
Being the centre of attention and standing at the front of the venue to exchange rings and say their vows is a truly nerve-wracking experience for many people. It can put a downer on the whole event.
One way to minimise that pressure and involve those you love and care for in the ceremony is to get your family up at the front for the service. Your parents and siblings can offer moral support and maybe even write vows that express their commitment to their new family member.
What is the first image that pops into your head when someone mentions weddings? A bride in a white dress? For most people, this is the classic wedding snapshot. So, if you are looking for a way to turn traditional weddings on their head, why not flip this custom and have everyone BUT the bride wear white?
Not only does it subvert the usual marriage traditions, but it also looks incredible. Just picture yourself turning around after completing your vows and seeing that sea of white. Beautiful.
Some people love them. And some people hate them. But one thing is certain, most speakers find the experience extremely stressful. There is a lot of pressure to get things right. And when they do not, it usually goes wrong in a big way.
Whether it is the groom’s, best man’s, bridesmaid’s or father of the bride’s speech, there is absolutely no pressure to include them in your alternative wedding running order if it is not what you want. Likewise, if you feel it is not best for the people who would have to give them (because they are a nervous or anxious person or have a fear of public speaking), just cut them out.
Alternatively, you can get everyone involved in the speech-making and ask your guests to share any stories they have about the married couple. This is an excellent way for attendees to express their love for the bride and groom and means only those who want to have to speak publicly.
Just make sure that you do this before everyone has too many drinks. Otherwise, you may find the stories get a bit out of hand!
A traditional wedding bouquet looks phenomenal. Checking out the floral designs is actually one of our favourite parts of any wedding. However, they can be very expensive. If you are looking for alternative wedding ideas and ways to reduce costs, switching out the wedding bouquet for something different works wonders.
While dried flowers are a similar but more cost-effective alternative, you can also consider fabric, paper or wire bouquets. The only thing holding you back is your imagination. And maybe your craft skills, too.
Most weddings feature a DJ, and some boast a live band. But have you ever been to a wedding with a silent disco? Though it is not your typical wedding music solution, a silent disco is cool and usually allows guests to switch between several music streams. That means Uncle Brian can bop to Bohemian Rhapsody while your little niece gets her fix of Taylor Swift. Everyone is happy.
Weddings are often big affairs – and that can be a whole lot of fun. But it is not for everyone. Some people want nothing more than to run away together and get married in private. If that sounds like a bit of you, do it!
Whether travelling to Gretna Green in time-honoured tradition or hopping on a plane to Las Vegas to be married by Elvis in a roadside chapel, your alternative wedding day is all about you. If eloping is what you want, do not let anyone stop you. Pack a bag and enjoy the trip of a lifetime.
Somewhere along the line, someone decided that the bride and groom should not spend their wedding eve together or see each other before the ceremony on the wedding morning.
We are not sure who spread the rumour that doing so was unlucky. But whoever it was, we would like to have a word because there is nothing wrong with spending time with your wife or husband-to-be on your wedding night and morning. In fact, it sounds rather lovely! What better way to settle any last-minute nerves than to look into the eyes of the love of your life?
You do not need a big sit-down three-course dinner to enjoy delicious wedding food. A growing number of people are choosing to do away with the fancy crockery and get their favourite food truck to cater for their wedding guests.
The great thing about food trucks is that they are cost-effective, and there is loads of choice. It does not matter whether you prefer tacos and burritos, Lebanese pitas or a spicy Indian curry – there is a food truck out there that will tickle your tastebuds.
When you are at an exceptional wedding, you never want it to end. So why not keep the party rolling for a few extra days by bringing the festival vibes and making it a three-day weekend extravaganza?
Extending your alternative wedding party to encompass two, three or four days will require a bit more planning, but it is worth the effort. With the ceremony out of the way on the first day, the bride and groom can kick back and relax with friends and family over the next couple of days, ensuring they enjoy the event, too.
We saw a significant spike in people holding wedding events in their homes in the latter part of the COVID pandemic when restrictions increased slightly. And brides and grooms seemed to have liked it because there is no sign of the trend reversing.
Holding your reception at home cuts out one of the biggest wedding costs – the venue. That means you can spend your money on other aspects of the wedding or save it for something special further down the line. Getting married in your own home is also a lovely feeling. Having all your family and friends gather in a place that means so much to you makes for a really emotional event.
Not every wedding needs a DJ. If you are not keen on bringing someone in to do the music, get your friends and family to collaborate on a wedding playlist and add all their favourite songs. You can give each guest a certain number of picks and add their request to the playlist yourself. Or you can make the playlist public and let everyone add what they want.
Unfortunately, not everyone can make it to your wedding. There will always be people overseas, otherwise engaged or who suddenly fall ill. If you want to ensure that these guests can still enjoy the wedding ceremony, you can stream the event on the internet and send the viewing details to anyone who wants them.
This is also a brilliant idea for couples who choose to marry on their own or in the company of a small group. You may not want or be able to invite lots of people, but that does not mean they cannot see you walk down the aisle.
We love waiting to see what vehicles the bride rocks up in, and the (just) married couple departs the church driving. But we cannot help but think that people are missing a trick by limiting themselves to cars.
Wouldn’t it be great if the happy couple arrived by bicycle? Even better if it was a tandem. Or on horseback? Skis? A beautifully decorated tractor? While an elegant wedding car is a cool and classy choice, there are plenty of options if you want to have fun and do something a little different.
Weddings pass by in such a flash that you need a way of capturing the day and recording the memories. The guestbook is a classic wedding idea that allows attendees to write down their thoughts, express their love and thank the bride and groom for a great time. But does the guestbook have to stick with pen and paper?
Why not create an audio version if you want a cool, alternative wedding guestbook? By putting audio recorders on tables around the venue, you can encourage guests to leave spoken messages that you gather and combine them into a heartwarming audio testament to your beautiful wedding day.
This is just a short list of alternative wedding ideas. And there are plenty of other ways to make your big day your own. However, one tradition we recommend you continue is protecting your wedding ring. Providing cost-effective insurance since 1887, TH March is the UK’s leading jewellery insurance business. Our hassle-free claims process and worldwide cover protect your new ring against loss, theft and damage, even when you jet off on your honeymoon.