Modern alternatives to wedding traditions

Black and white image of bride and groom leaning out of a window on a moving train
© Photographed by John Knight

When you are planning your wedding, it is easy to get caught up in the traditional aspects and what you think you ‘should’ have. This day is about you, and sometimes you might want something a bit different to make it more unique and personal to you. Here are some suggestions of modern alternatives to wedding traditions that you could incorporate into your day.

  • The most obvious one, is to have a celebrant instead of a registrar or religious ceremony; they can make the ceremony truly personal to you, with no limitations on what you can say or include.

  • If you’re not keen on having real flowers, or you suffer from severe hay-fever, you could choose to have artificial flowers, or perhaps even paper flowers for you and your bridesmaids’ bouquets. Alternatively, you could go for something other than a handheld floral display, by having your bridal party carry lanterns or candles (I’d recommend LED ones - much safer than real ones!).

  • An up-and-coming trend that I love, is for the bride to wear trousers, a trouser suit or a play-suit, instead of a dress; some of them are incredibly glamorous and have such a ‘wow’ factor that your guests’ jaws will hit the floor when they see you.

  • Or, if you did want to wear a dress but want to be different, how about wearing a colourful dress, and having your bridesmaids dressed in white? The photos would be a reverse of typical wedding photos and could look amazing.

  • Wedding rings; generally couples opt for a metal band (be it gold, palladium, platinum etc…) to wear everyday on their finger, but if you fancy having something more permanent, how about getting a ring tattooed on your finger? You could have whatever pattern you wanted, and it would be a great way to emphasise your love and the eternal sentiment behind getting married.

  • Another alternative that is becoming quite popular, but I love it, so I’m going to include it here, is to use bubbles instead of confetti. Not only is it more environmentally-friendly than traditional confetti, there is no mess to clean up afterwards, and bubbles can help to create some fantastic photo opportunities.

  • There is always the expectation of there being a top table at the wedding breakfast with your respective parents, best man/men and/or maid of honour sitting with you, but how about having just a cosy table for two? It would enable you to actually spend some time with and talk to your new spouse, and you could then sit your parents all together with the wedding party and their respective partners at another table close by.

  • If you don’t fancy having a formal sit-down meal, but a hog roast or BBQ isn’t what you want either, why not have a grazing table, or several grazing table stations set up, full of food, that your guests can help themselves to throughout the afternoon? It can create a much more relaxed atmosphere, as your guests mingle, chat and nibble at the same time.

  • The speeches are an important part of a wedding, as they enable the couple to thank everyone for coming and helping to make their day so special, but, let’s face it, they can be a bit boring if they go on too long (especially for children who may be present!), so why not make them more entertaining by making the speech rhyme; or turn it into a song, be it an original or maybe a compilation of popular songs? I appreciate there may be a level of skill required to do this (I can write blogs, but I’m not remotely lyrically-minded!) so maybe ask for help from family/close friends? Another twist to put on the speeches, is for the bride to deliver the speech instead of, or as well as, the groom.

  • Instead of a guest book for everyone to sign, you could have a wishing tree; guests write their good wishes for the couple on a tag and then tie the tag to the tree. It would make a great focal point for your wedding, and you can keep the tags, perhaps displaying them in a frame for you to look at and cherish afterwards.

  • How about mixing up the timeline for a day a bit? You could go straight from the ceremony into your first dance as a married couple; or skip the drinks reception and go straight to the meal; you don’t have to keep to the traditional timings.

  • Finally, one thing you could do, to really make your day different, is to have a surprise wedding; I worked on a surprise wedding last year and it was amazing. The guests were invited to a party (for the groom’s birthday) and halfway through the event, the couple disappeared to have a quick change of clothes, and the guests were shown through to the ceremony room. Everyone was so surprised as no-one has guessed what would happen, and it really added a special something to their day.

So, is there anything you think you might do to make your day a bit different? I’d love to hear from you afterwards; have a think about submitting your wedding to be featured on our ‘Real Weddings’ page.

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