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Unusual and Unique Wedding Ideas: When a Traditional Wedding is Not Your Thing

Updated on March 27, 2015

What's Your Dream Wedding?

your wedding should reflect your tastes, your personality and the atmosphere you would like to get married in.
your wedding should reflect your tastes, your personality and the atmosphere you would like to get married in. | Source

Picture in your mind, your wedding: the stained-glass window church with burning candles and brimming with white orchids houses your guests, dressed in their finest clothes and fancy hat. The groom stands at the altar in a formal tux. A procession of groomsmen in similar tuxes and bride’s maids in taffeta gowns makes its way down the aisle. Finally, the organ segues into the wedding march, and the bride strolls in wearing a white gown, six foot train and full face veil… does this sound like your dream wedding?

If the answer is no, then this article is for you.

Tradition may be nice—but it’s not for everyone. The world is a different place than when these traditions started. Many of us just don’t feel at ease with all the pomp and circumstance. We want to be able to move freely around the room, eat, dance—basically we want to feel like we’re wearing our clothes, not like our clothes are wearing us. And if we’re going to plunk $25,000 on anything, we’d rather it be a house than a single day’s party with 20 of our closest friends and family, and 200 other people we barely see that we ‘had’ to invite.

You should not feel pressured into having a big, traditional wedding. It’s your day, and if you want something else, you should go for it. Here are some spectacular alternatives—exciting, modern, fun—wedding ideas that may be more suited to your tastes.

Sound off: Wedding Poll

Do you wish you could have/did have a non-traditional wedding?

See results
Get crazy with costume weddings for a truly unique event!
Get crazy with costume weddings for a truly unique event! | Source

Costume Theme

A costume theme wedding need not be extravagant—but it can be very bright, bold, beautiful and lots of fun. Imagine an Alice in Wonderland theme wedding in which Alice (the bride) marries the Mad Hatter (the groom). The wedding party can dress like key players: the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts, the March Hair. Invite guests to dress in costumes, or to dress in red and white, or red and black (as the Queen of Heart’s court). Instead of a massive reception—have an extravagant tea party buffet.

Alternatively, give yourself a Lord of the Rings wedding and ask guests to dress in Renaissance Faire garb, a futuristic Star Wars wedding or have a zombie wedding.

Sound odd? Maybe… but if this kind of sense of humor is up your alley, it’s a potential blast, and will make for some amazing memories for both you and your guests.

The Beach: Ultra Casual, yet Glamorous

Think of all the money you'll save on decorations-- nothing will make a beach view any more spectacular.
Think of all the money you'll save on decorations-- nothing will make a beach view any more spectacular. | Source

Luau Wedding

Have you ever thought about having your wedding outdoors? Why not find the beach – by the sea or a scenic lake—and have a luau. If you don’t have a beach to go to, a pool will do. Instead of a dress, the bride can wear a white bathing suit and sarong with a wreath of flowers. The groom can dress down as well. Invite guests to come dressed casually and with bathing gear. Pass out leis for everyone as they arrive.

Start the ceremony just before sunset, then light some tiki torches and put out luau food: roast pig, mango salad, a big tropical fruit and veggie platter and the catch of the day.

Schedule a hula dancer or even a fire dancer for some entertainment. Throw on some blue Hawaii tunes and dance the night away.

A luau not your style? What about a gran fiesta, Mexican-style? Or a New Orleans style Mardi Gras wedding? Choose a theme and get into it-- make it a night to remember.

Sound off: Wedding Guest Poll

Have you ever been to a non-traditional wedding?

See results

Take Center Stage On Your Big Day

With a theater wedding, you can take top billing.
With a theater wedding, you can take top billing. | Source

Make it a Grand Show

Who says you have to have a church or a wedding hall? One of the greatest ways to make your wedding unusual is to have it in an unusual venue—like a small theater. Many small theaters—especially those that are historic landmarks, or new and chic artsy hide-away—can be beautiful wedding venues.

You’ve got ample seating, and you can set the stage for an amazing show of a wedding. Decorate the set any way you like—make it a candy land fairytale wedding with lollypop trees and a chocolate fountain, or get married in an Egyptian tomb. Have singers and/or dancers perform during the ceremony, as well as after. Your friends might even put on a little comedy skit.

Most theaters also have a refreshment area where you may set out a casual but sumptuous buffet.

Theaters not your thing? What about a museum? A library? Or even an old school house? When choosing a venue, think outside the box, then build your whole production around it.

Low Key May Be the Way to Go

What a great way to celebrate-- under a clear blue sky having summer fun with friends.
What a great way to celebrate-- under a clear blue sky having summer fun with friends. | Source

Summer Fun Wedding

If you’re looking to get married in the summer, you can have a wonderful public park or back yard barbecue reception. Have a simple ceremony at the church or justice of the peace office, then go get changed into your play clothes and get out there!

Provide your guests with water guns. Have some games, such as relay races and ring toss games. Blast your favorite tunes on the radio. Put some chicken and ribs on the grill and pass out cold beers and wine coolers. If your crowd is the kind of people who appreciate laid-back afternoons in the outdoors, they will much prefer this type of wedding to walking around in the hot, sticky summer with full make up, hair and formal wear.

Fall Splendor

Imagine the gorgeous color palette
Imagine the gorgeous color palette | Source

Autumn Harvest Festival

If you’re looking toward and Autumn wedding, don’t look past the beautiful, bountiful offerings of the autumn season. Just think about it—bushels of fresh fruit and veggies, sunflowers and marigolds, checkered tablecloths, harvest colors and decorations. Could you possibly find anything more gorgeous to surround yourself with on your special day than autumn splendor?

If you’re having your wedding around Halloween, you might take advantage of the holiday and go with a masked ball, a “Witches ball”, or your favorite horror movie theme.

Winter Wonderland Charm

How could a place so cold look so warm?
How could a place so cold look so warm? | Source

Winter Wonderland

If you’re going to be getting married in the winter, get warm & cozy. Rent a rustic cabin and invite a few close friends and family members (as well as an officiant) to come spend the night. You won’t need much decoration, but some plain white string lights, candles, evergreen boughs and roaring fire in the fireplace can really create a charming atmosphere.

Weather-permitting, find a scenic spot for the ceremony and head out there with your guests for a quick and quiet exchanging of vows. Keep the wedding dress simple—perhaps a winter white sweater dress and white cloak/cape with fur muff?

Bring everyone back for some hot buttered rum, spicy cider, and a heart-warming, rib-sticking soup and breadstick buffet.

Shabby Chic is a State of Mind

For a great shabby chic look, just paint old things white. What a great, easy way to decorate.
For a great shabby chic look, just paint old things white. What a great, easy way to decorate. | Source


If you still want an air of elegance, but you don’t want your budget to reflect it, why not have the best of both worlds and go shabby chic? Rent some industrial-looking party hall or hold the wedding on a roof top at night. Drape white linens on the tables, but mix and match plates and silverware (borrow from friends, or go to a thrift shop). Same with chairs—mix and match. Make budget but beautiful table settings, such as using old mason jars as candle holders, or putting bare branches painted white into an old vase and hanging inexpensive quartz crystal ornaments from them.

Dress up the entire wedding party in vintage, used clothes. Don’t worry about it matching—just be eclectic.

Even the food can be shabby chic—make up hors d’oeuvres with things like crackers and cream cheese, but make it a bit fancier by blending the cream cheese with fresh chopped herbs and topping it with a paper-thin truffle slice. A simple food with a small but extravagant detail like that makes for an exciting menu.

Nothing hast to be perfect with the shabby chic style; in fact, it’s fine to take advantage of thrift shops and used items. With a few fancy touches, it all works together to become the perfect setting.

What's Really Important for your Wedding

Your wedding is supposed to celebrate the first day of the rest of your lives-- together. You don't have to keep up with the Joneses. You don't have to worry about pleasing Aunt Agnes who you see once a year, or impressing your friends and family. You don't need to go into debt or drive yourself crazy with details.

Think about the kind of celebration that would make you happy. If your style is not geared towards formality, tradition or extravagance, nix it all and do what you like. Get creative, get inventive-- and get planning what would actually be your dream day. Those who really love you will see your personality in your choices, and appreciate the event for how it reflects you.


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    • shai77 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thanks SaffronBlossom. I have to admit after many years of very beautiful but very similar weddings, I always get excited when invited to something non-traditional. I agree, they do blur. Thanks for your comment!

    • SaffronBlossom profile image


      5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Love this hub! After you've been to a few traditional weddings they all start to blur together, so any of these ideas would be a great way to make a wedding stand out. I had a non-traditional wedding in that I eloped. :)


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