“When we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
If you’ve never been one to follow the crowd, why start on your wedding day? Going off the traditional path could seem scary at first. But there’s no better way to create truly special memories than by embracing the off-beat, inventive, and putting your unique stamp on the day.
At the same time, you don’t need to stray too far from the norm to create a unique wedding day. All you need to do is find a special idea or concept that speaks to you, then incorporate it into the happiest day of your life. To get inspiration, read on to find 29 creative alternative wedding ideas perfect for ceremonies of any size or theme.
What is an alternative wedding ceremony?
Put simply, an alternative wedding is one that embraces some type of non-traditional wedding element.
These non-traditional elements could be something major, like a unique theme or venue, or something more subtle, like a colorful bridal gown. An alternative wedding ceremony could also forego some of the more traditional activities and events in a wedding (like dinner and dancing) in favor of something wholly unexpected such as axe-throwing or ice skating. It’s no exaggeration to say that the possibilities are endless.
Photo by @emilyrosephotos
How can I host a non-traditional wedding day?
There isn’t a magic formula to determine what makes a wedding “alternative.” After all, most couples will end up with at least a few non-traditional wedding elements to suit their preferences. So, it’s simply about embracing the things that make you happy, regardless of whether or not you’d traditionally expect to see them at a wedding.
Remember: it’s your wedding day. You should choose to do what will make you happy, regardless of what other people think. And with that: Let’s move on to our alternative wedding ideas!
Choose a non-traditional ceremony
One of the easiest ways to make your wedding feel unique is to start with the ceremony itself. You can do that by dialing back the guest list or by hosting at a unique venue.
Not a fan of all the pomp and circumstance of a traditional wedding? Just ride off into the sunset and elope! An elopement typically consists of only you and your partner, your officiant, and a trusted witness or two. You may also choose to bring a photographer along, to capture the moment.
Photo by @sshyphotography
Elopements typically involve an element of secrecy: You may not even tell your closest family members and friends until after the fact. This makes them the ultimate spontaneous, intimate, wedding ceremony. While they typically forego a reception (remember, no guests,) you can easily make an elopement feel elevated with small details, like a matching bouquet and boutoniere.
Micro weddings are essentially the same as a traditional wedding ceremony, just with a smaller guest list. These smaller ceremonies initially gained popularity during the pandemic. But they endure as a wonderful way to create a more intimate wedding atmosphere or help you save money on your guest list.
A true micro wedding consists of about 50 people or less, although you can totally tweak that number to suit your needs. The elements involved in a micro wedding can be as traditional or alternative as you like – it’s totally up to you!
A minimony provides a kind of middle ground between an elopement and a microwedding. They typically consist of around 10 trusted guests in a small, cozy ceremony.
Like microweddings, minimonies began as a pandemic necessity. Many couples used them as a “placeholder” until they could host a more elaborate sequel wedding later on. Today, you can still partake in this trend if you need to tie the knot on a tight budget, postpone your initial wedding date, or simply want to enjoy a more tight-nit wedding day. And if you want, you can always follow-up with a more elaborate reception or “sequel wedding” later on!
Think of a destination wedding like a wedding day and a honeymoon rolled into one! You’ll travel somewhere unique – anywhere from a different state to a different country – and say “I do” surrounded by a handful of your closest friends and family. Since the guest list at a destination wedding is traditionally smaller, it may also double as a microwedding.
Afterward, you and your partner might choose to stay a few days by yourselves as an extended honeymoon, or spend more time with your loved ones as a family vacation. Whatever floats your love boat!
Use a unique venue
If you crave something a bit more unique than a barn or a chapel, try hosting at an out-of-the-box venue. Your options are really only limited by the venue’s capacity for guests and your budget. But here are a few ideas to spark inspiration.
Plus, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more attention grabbing views at other venues. It’s a sure-fire way to make your wedding look unique!
“What makes the desert beautiful is that it hides a well somewhere.”
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
The desert can provide a vast selection of unusual wedding backdrops. Just take this happy Ling’s couple for example: They exchanged vows beneath a towering cactus. Talk about a statement piece!
Are you and your fiance animal lovers? While a safari destination wedding may be out of your budget, you can always capture the same vibes by getting married at your local zoo.
Plenty of zoos feature built-in event venues for special occasions just like yours. You might even be able to exchange vows in front of your favorite exhibit. How many couples can say that they had giraffes or zebras on their guest list? It’ll definitely make a fun conversation starter when you hang those pics above your mantel.
Have you always envied princess Ariel’s underwater home? Consider indulging your inner mermaid by hosting your wedding day at an aquarium, just like Ling’s Couple Savannah and Caleb.
This happy couple said “I do” surrounded by schools of fish and dreamy blue water. The aquarium tanks acted as an ever-changing backdrop, helping all of their wedding photos feel unique from each-other. It’s like they found a hidden underwater cove made just for them!
“In a room full of art, I’d still look at you.”
If you and your fiance appreciate the finer things in life, consider hosting your wedding ceremony or reception at an art gallery. The beautiful art adorning the walls can provide an effortless backdrop for your wedding photos, and you can take inspiration from the aesthetics of the art for your color palette and decorations.
Embark on a boat
Tons of couples love to catch a cruise for their honeymoon. But if you’d enjoy taking to the water a little earlier, consider hosting your wedding ceremony on a boat!
Ling’s couple Dylan and Maria celebrated their wedding ceremony and reception on a dinner cruise filled with family, friends, and luxurious decorations. Plus, they were able to easily plan the whole day by themselves in only six months!
Photo by @imfg.photography
A pumpkin patch
Do you dream of a wedding day that smells like pumpkin spice and new beginnings? In that case, try venturing to a staple autumn destination: A pumpkin patch.
With fresh pumpkins and autumn leaves all around, this is the perfect atmosphere for a fall wedding day. It’ll be like an extended pumpkin patch date, only infinitely more Instagram-worthy. Plus, you can even transform pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns for adorable photo-ops! And how fun would it be to carve them at your reception with your partner and guests?
Style non-traditional wedding attire
Embrace different hues
If white has never been your color, you don’t need to make an exception for your wedding day. More and more brides choose to embrace gowns in a full spectrum of colors, allowing them to stand apart from the crowd and make unique statements with off-beat bridal fashion.
This also gives you a fun opportunity to play up the theming at your wedding day. For instance, donning a black gown could help you evoke mystery and wonder at a Halloween-themed ceremony.
Jump into your wedding style
Of course, who says you need to don a dress at all? Try celebrating a more avant-garde style by donning a bridal jumpsuit for your ceremony.
Not only can a jumpsuit or romper be a fashionable choice, it could even be a practical one. For instance, you don’t need to worry about your skirt getting caught in the wind, or tripping over a long train. That could come in especially handy at a more blustery wedding venue, or if you plan on doing a lot of walking, or even hiking, for photo-ops.
Dress your bridesmaids in white
It’s usually a faux-pas for anyone who isn’t the bride to wear white on a wedding day. But you can flip this tradition on its ear by having your bridesmaids wear white or cream gowns while you wear a colorful dress. Your bouquets could harmonize all your looks together, thanks to their unifying color palette.
Experiment with different bouquet styles
A bouquet is the quintessential finishing touch for your bridal look. So, if you want yours to truly stand apart, embrace an alternative design, like a hoop bouquet.
This festive bridal hoop bouquet reminds us of a Christmas ornament, with its rounded shape and glittering Champange and silver flowers. And beyond looking cool, the hoop also makes it easy to carry your bouquet throughout the day: You can loop it over your arm and keep both hands free!
Don a hat
Want a way to feature flowers in your bridal look without a traditional bouquet? Try adorning a white hat with blossoms!
This DIY bridal hat provides a fun, free-spirited alternative to flower crowns — and it’s super easy to make, too! All you need to do is wrap faux flowers and leaves around the hat’s banding. Ling’s Moment’s designer flowers feature flexible wire stems that are prefect for the task.
Alternative wedding ceremony decor ideas
This would also be an easy design to thrift yourself, or even to repurpose from equipment you already have at home. And how cute would this be at a backyard wedding day?
Choose a circular wedding arch
Circular arches provide a more extreme alternative to gently curved floral arches. Due to their lack of hard edges, circles tend to capture soothing, friendly feelings, which makes them ideal for occasions like weddings. Plus, you can create some breathtaking designs with the flowers and drapes.
It’s a subtle way to embrace non-traditional wedding elements to set yourself apart without straying too far from the norm.
Try a hoop centerpiece
If you’re still head-over-heels for hoops, you can also use them as a design element in your wedding reception centerpieces.
In these non-traditional wedding centerpieces, the unique hoop shape helps draw the eye, while adding in flowers from your wedding color palette ties the look together with your other floral decorations. It’s super easy to make hoop centerpieces with just a few DIY materials.
Use witchy accents
Want more surefire ways to infuse Halloween into your wedding day? Try adding spooky elements like plastic skulls and feathers to your tablescapes. Combined with deep purple and black florals, these macabre details can help create a more immersive atmosphere at a dark moody or Halloween wedding day.
Get festive with a tree centerpiece
On the other hand, if you’re feeling more jolly than witchy, then a mini Christmas tree could provide an adorable finishing touch for a winter wedding ceremony. These mini centerpieces are super easy to DIY too with a designer flower box from one of Ling’s Christmas wedding collections.
Alternative wedding reception ideas
Invite a food truck
How’d you like your caterer to literally roll up at your reception? If that sounds like a dream, all you need to make it a reality is a food truck.
Food trucks are a super-fun alternative to a traditional sit-down dinner. You and your guests can saunter up and order whatever you like — just like if you were at a fair or festival. Plus, the truck itself can make for some absolutely adorable wedding photo ops!
Forego the cake for other sweets
Not a cake person? Try breaking the mold by serving up an alternative dessert at your wedding reception!
While your options are only limited by your budget and taste buds, here are a few non-traditional wedding dessert ideas to get you started.
- Cupcakes or cakepops: Like regular cakes, only smaller and cuter. You can also arrange them into more elaborate displays that mimic the design of a traditional wedding cake.
- Cheesecake: Like regular cake, only richer, creamier, and basically better in every way.
- Donuts: Donuts are easy to stack and create fun designs with. Plus, you can have different flavors, so you don’t have to choose between your faves.
- Ice cream or gelato: Imagine how cute it would be to feed your new partner ice cream in front of an adorable cart.
Embrace a picnic vibe
Once you’ve got a plate full of food and your sweet of choice, you don’t necessarily need to sit at a traditional table to eat them.
For instance, Ling’s couple Megan and Gabe created a free-spirited atmosphere at their reception by choosing a sweetheart table that sits low to the ground. The blanket reminds us of an autumn picnic, while the pillows and Terracotta floral garlands elevate the display for your special first dinner.
Use a photo guest book
Asking your guests to sign their names in a wedding book can be a sweet gesture. But if you’d rather have a more visual memento, try using a photo guestbook instead!
Set out a polaroid camera and encourage your guests to leave a selfie in a nearby basket. Guests can sign the polaroid with well-wishes, and you can use the pics in your wedding scrapbook later on. It’s fun for guests to do in the moment, and fun for you to look back on!
Other ways to stand out on your wedding day
Use a flower bro
Who says flower girls get to have all the fun? Instead of asking a little sister, niece, or other young girl to scatter petals down the aisle, entrust the task to one of your closest guy friends instead.
At Emily & Alan’s beautiful barn wedding day, a “flower dude” scattered dusty rose petals down the aisle from his trusted fanny pack. He even dyed his hair pink for the occasion. Now that’s commitment!
Photo by @lastingmemoriesbyellen
Livestream your wedding
If you have friends or family who can’t make it from out of town, you don’t need to leave them out altogether. Instead, you could provide a way for them to watch from the comfort of their living rooms by livestreaming your wedding.
What was once a pandemic necessity is now a fun way to share your most special moments with loved ones all across the globe. You’ll feel like a celebrity or an influencer, and your footage can double as home movies for your personal collection. Win-win!
Choose a unique color palette
One of the most overall effortless ways to create an alternative wedding atmosphere is to embrace non-traditional wedding colors. For example, Burgundy and Black could help you create moody glam vibes, while Scarlet and orange can let you celebrate a fierce, free-spirited love. Ling’s Moment has over 20+ different unique wedding color collections to choose from, which can give you plenty of options to find a palette that suits your unparalleled love.
DIY Your wedding decor
When you make your wedding floral arrangements yourself, you’re free to make them as unique as your heart desires. Your bouquet will be even more special and meaningful when you make it yourself.
Plus, this also gives you a chance to host a non-traditional bridal shower: You can get together with your bridesmaids and assemble your bouquets together. It’s productive, but you’ll also be having fun and hanging out!
Alternative wedding ideas: Conclusion
As you can see, there are literally countless ways to host a non-traditional wedding day. We’ve only scratched the surface!
Just remember: Whether you choose to follow traditions faithfully or break the mold altogether, your wedding day should be a natural extension of the love you share. So long as you’re happy, feel free to embrace or reinvent as many wedding traditions as you want!
If you need help bringing your alternative wedding ideas to life, Ling’s Moment’s flowers and greenery are here to spark your creative spirit. We offer flowers and greenery in over 26 designer color palettes. With both time-saving premade designs and DIY flower boxes, you’re sure to find what you need for weddings of any style or theme.
If you host a non-traditional wedding day with our flowers and decorations, be sure to tag us @lingsmoment on Instagram, so we can share your one-of-a-kind style with the world.