What Are The Alternative Wedding Ideas You Haven’t Thought Of Yet?

woman in white wedding dress standing beside man i

I'm now sharing some behind-the-scenes ideas you might want to consider about your wedding ceremony. Many of the items below related to the ceremony are things you might not have thought of. And, it makes sense; until you do it (hundreds of times, like me), you wouldn't know that these are important. Of course, you can have an awesome wedding without considering these ideas, but if you want a smoothly run, seemingly effortless, joy-filled ceremony, I strongly suggest using this list to get there!

White dress, black tux, 'til death do us part, and you know how it goes. But for some couples, the trappings of a traditional wedding feel too traditional to represent them truly. Thankfully, there's more than one way to celebrate a marriage—and now more than ever, couples are embracing a non-traditional approach.

You've come to the right place if you're thinking about venturing down the non-traditional path. From brunch weddings at home to adventure elopements on remote mountaintops, these alternative wedding ideas are guaranteed to make your event feel memorable, unique, and, most importantly, just like you.

  • Write your wedding vows.
  • Compose your wedding song.
  • Release a wish lantern.
  • Pass around your wedding rings and have the guests bless them (ring warming ceremony)
  • Create a wedding cocktail.
  • Have your pets be a part of the wedding.
  • Have a friend register as your wedding officiant.

I have to admit seeing traditions brought from other cultures is one of my favourite things as it makes the ceremony feel unique. So walk together down the aisle or mix up your processional.

Elopement refers to a marriage conducted in a sudden and secretive fashion, usually involving a hurried flight away from one's place of residence together with one's beloved to get married without parental approval.

If you want to know how to get married at the courthouse, a civil ceremony is the simplest way to get married. Marriage ceremonies conducted by the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of Civil Marriage are performed at several branch offices of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

A symbolic wedding ceremony, also called a humanist ceremony, is a meaningful, non-religious ceremony performed by a wedding celebrant. A symbolic wedding ceremony allows you to express your personality, tastes, and values.

 

Curve Chairs For A More Intimate Feel

grayscale photo of 2 girls wearing white floral dr

This one is so important, and I wrote an entire blog post! Taking the time to set the chairs up in a slight semi-circle can make a huge difference in the intimacy of the wedding ceremony. Trust me, I've seen it both ways, and although it's very subtle, it does make a difference.

Unnecessary To Reserve A Front Row

You had to reserve the front row for parents and important family members, but that's no longer the case. From my experience, guests are so careful not to take seats away from family members that they avoid the first two or three rows. So while reserving the front row isn't entirely necessary, you'll want to reserve the second or third rows if you have important people assigned to sit in them. Otherwise, don't worry about this tiny detail.   

Invite Guests To Fill Seats

Following up on the previous idea, because guests avoid sitting in the first couple of rows, it often means there are many empty seats up front. If you have a wedding planner or professional officiant, they'll usually invite guests to fill in those seats. However, if you don't have a wedding planner or professional officiant, you'll want to assign someone to welcome guests to sit up there. Otherwise, you'll have empty seats up front and guests in the back standing for the entire ceremony.

Make The Aisle Fit A Trio.

As I mentioned in my blog post about wedding ceremony trends, many couples choose to walk down the aisle with their parents. I happen to love this trend, by the way! If you're choosing to do this or even just having your wedding party paired up and you have a trio, you'll need to make sure your aisle is wide enough for three people to walk side-by-side down it comfortably. Also, if you have shepherd hooks with flowers, you'll need to consider those and make the aisle even wider. Talk to your wedding florist and wedding planner or venue coordinator about the width of the aisle.

Make Adjustments When No One's Looking.

It is a total PRO TIP! That moment during the ceremony processional where everyone stands up and turns to watch the bride walk down the aisle means there are 20-30 seconds where no one is looking at the wedding party. So your bridesmaids and groomsmen should use this moment to make any adjustments to their clothes, how they're standing, their bouquet height, etc. It is a great little trick that no one knows about!

Curve Attendants, So They Can Witness The Moment.

I always instruct the wedding party attendants to stand in a slight curve to ensure they can see their person (brides/grooms). Rather than standing in a straight line and staring at the back of the head of the person in front of them, this subtle shift allows them to be active witnesses to your marriage and energetically participate in the ceremony. PRO TIP: If you have a large wedding party, you'll need to ensure the first row of chairs is far enough back to allow for a slight curve.

No Cell Phones In Back Pockets

Please, please, please ask your groomsmen to put their cell phones either in their jacket pocket or, better yet, not have them on them during the ceremony. The big bulk of a cell phone in the back pocket of a groomsman doesn't look great in photos.

Slightly Face Guests For The First Part Of The Ceremony.

Even the most in-love couple cannot stare lovingly into each other's eyes for 20-30 solid minutes! It's impossible, and the pressure to do so can become excruciating. So my advice for the wedding couple is to turn every so slightly towards their guests for the first half of the ceremony. It gives them a chance to look around and out at their guests while periodically making eye contact with their love. Then, once we get to the vows, you can hold hands and face each other for the rest of the ceremony. But do yourself a favour and not force yourself to gaze into your partner's eyes the whole time. You'll thank me for this one!  

Hold Bouquet Until Vows.

Many wedding planners encourage brides to hand off their bouquet to the maid-of-honour as soon as they reach the "altar." However, I encourage my brides to hang onto their bouquets until the vows. The reasoning behind this is two-fold: 1) holding onto the bouquet gives your hands something to do (see above: you don't want to be holding hands and facing your sweetie from the moment you get up there); and 2) You paid good money for that gorgeous piece of floral artwork so let's have it in as many photos as possible!

Adjust Dress If Necessary

Most maids-of-honour know to adjust the bride's dress when she finishes walking down the aisle, but you may want to prompt her (or him for men-of-honour) to adjust the dress any time it's needed during the ceremony and right before the recessional. It's a lovely little gesture and keeps the dress looking fabulous throughout the ceremony.

Stop And Kiss

It is a fun one! There's an awesome photo opportunity as you're recessing back down the aisle after the ceremony. When you reach the last row of chairs, pause for a kiss. Your photographer will capture you kissing with your guests cheering in the background. It's such a sweet moment!

Guests Will Follow You.

Just like the title of this section says, your guests will follow you out of the ceremony. So, to avoid getting mobbed with love by every one of your guests, plan to recess to a spot just far enough away from your guests. You'll have plenty of time to give them all big hugs at the reception, but immediately after the ceremony, you may want to pause for some quiet time or get right to signing the marriage licence. Plus, if you're not doing a first look, you may have photos to take, and extricating yourself from your loving guests to take those photos is challenging. Once the hugging starts, it's hard to get it to stop. Lol!

Don't Break Positive Energy With Announcements.

Immediately following the ceremony, there is positive energy in the air! Therefore, it's best not to interrupt it with announcements from the officiant, wedding planner or DJ. It may seem like the most efficient way to alert everyone they need to get on a bus or make their way to the cocktail hour, but I've seen it shift the energy quickly and not good. Consider instead assigning someone, or better yet, a few people, to act as the guides for your guests. Maybe they have driving instructions or maps to pass out, or maybe they're just there, at the end of the row of chairs, warmly inviting your guests to do whatever they need to do to transition to the next part of your wedding celebration.  

I'm not going to say that your wedding will be a disaster if you don't do these things. On the contrary, it'll still be lovely! But, considering these items will ensure a well-run and enjoyable wedding ceremony celebration for all!

Exchange Vows In A Hot Air Balloon

As the classic ballad goes, love lifts us where we belong, so why not celebrate with a ride through the sky? Equal parts adventurous and romantic, a hot air balloon elopement is the perfect option for couples looking for a mix of both. 

Elope With Just Your Kids

If your marriage will give way to a blended family, show your children how important they are by making them your chief—and only—witnesses. Allowing them to dress up and participate in the ceremony will affirm how integral they are to your relationship. So will crafting separate vows to recite to them.  

Have A Double Wedding

If someone you're especially close to—like, say, a twin sibling or favourite cousin—is engaged around the same time, consider marrying with them by your side. A double wedding might seem overwhelming, but as long as two of the four have considerable overlap in guest count and the group is okay with allowing each member to make certain decisions about the celebration, you'll find it surprisingly easy to pull off. 

Bowl Out Your Unity Ceremony

There are plenty of wonderfully symbolic options for your unity ceremony, from sand rituals to candle lighting. But if you're marrying at a bowling alley—a surprisingly delightful option for retro-loving couples—we love the idea of bowling down some pins together instead. 

Hike Up A Mountain

An occasion as momentous as a wedding deserves an equally meaningful backdrop. And a relationship is a journey that takes effort, so why not extend the metaphor to real life with a hike to your elopement spot? The views will make the trek more than worth it. 

Celebrate With A Picnic

Follow up a morning wedding ceremony with a picnic meal. It can be as simple as a few blankets and takeout lunch or a full-blown, boho-inspired seating arrangement in an open field or park. But, again, the daytime event will keep things feeling more casual than a nighttime reception. 

Host A Multi-Day Festival Wedding

Think: Coachella, but with vows. This on-the-rise wedding trend involves more planning than your standard one-night ceremony and reception. Still, the payoff can be so worth it—especially for couples who value memorable experiences and don't frequently have the opportunity to bring all of their loved ones together. Often held in glamping sites, near national parks, and in other remote locations, festival weddings typically involve a few days of activities (yoga, hikes, etc.) and multiple nights of live music or DJ sets. Per Pinkerton, who specialises in this type of celebration, the relaxed pace of the weekend also takes the pressure off the couple to cram in all their quality time with each guest into one night. 

Get Married At Home

A backyard wedding is a lovely way to celebrate the coming together of two families—especially if your guest count is on the smaller side. Just be sure to prepare: Pinkerton says a restroom trailer can be crucial, as your home plumbing may not be able to handle a deluge of people, and you may need an additional power source to cover lighting and your DJ's sound equipment. 

Consider An Adventure Elopement

man and woman sitting on grass field during daytim

If setting off into the great wild yonder with just your fiancé(e) and an officiant sounds right up your alley, then an adventure elopement should be your next move. Many couples who go this route combine their honeymoon and elopement into one unforgettable trip.  

Host An Anniversary Reception

If you hosted a smaller wedding celebration, use your first anniversary as an excuse to bring together all the people you wish you could have added to your original guest list. In addition, anniversary receptions are a fun option for couples who perhaps eloped far away from home and are still yearning to share the joy with their loved ones. 

Don't Get Married.

Marriage isn't for everyone, and that is more than okay. So instead, celebrate your commitment to each other with a milestone anniversary party or a relationship celebration. The shindig can be low-key or a major production and doesn't need to include vows—but you should take a moment to thank the folks in attendance for being the support system that has allowed your love to flourish. 

Rustic Love

We love a rustic, country-inspired wedding with the reception decorated with wildflowers, mismatched fabrics, etc. But why keep it for just the wedding reception? Instead, decorate your ceremony venue to kickstart your rustic day.

Flowers And Flags

The confetti shot is a favourite for the wedding album. So why not add to the excitement by having little flags for guests to wave, too. A guaranteed hit with the kids at the wedding, these flags would also be a good idea if your venue doesn't allow you to throw confetti.

Conclusion

So, we've given you a few ideas to jump-start your thinking about alternative wedding ideas. But, if you're still stuck or want more inspiration, don't worry – we've got you covered. We have plenty of other articles on our website to help get your creative juices flowing. And, of course, our team is always happy to help brainstorm and plan your dream wedding – no matter how off the beaten path it may be.

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