One of the things I see couples struggle with the most is ensuring that their wedding day feels totally unique to them. I get many questions like, "What's the normal thing to do here?" or "What do most people choose to do for that?" My answer is always, "Your love is one of a kind, and your wedding should also be one of a kind. What do you want to do?"
Planning a unique wedding that reflects your personal identity as a couple can be done! First, figure out the things that are non-negotiable for the wedding day of your dreams. What are the things that both of you want to see in your wedding without question? Once those things are decided, begin to make a list of non-traditional things that you cannot live without. Many people have dreamed of how their wedding will look or be since they were little, and if you are one of those people, draw on that! Make a list of those creative ideas as the foundation & then build from there. Some areas where creativity is easy to achieve are in the bridal party, the decorations, the music, the attire, the food, the exit or entrance, & of course, the guest list. However, there are many options that you may not have even heard of!
It's because of this that I decided to compile a list of everything I can possibly think of to make sure you know exactly what your options are:
I know, I know! This one is the one that everyone thinks of when they think "unique wedding", but hear me out! If you have strained relationships with family, no family at all, if planning a large party for 200 sounds too expensive, you're too busy to plan a wedding, or even if getting up in front of people for public speaking (your vows) just doesn't sound like your thing, then this may be a fantastic option for you. Especially considering how the wedding day should truly be all about your love, eloping is really a great opportunity for you to make it so and do everything you really want to with your partner.
Have a destination wedding
Having a destination wedding can be a great opportunity to have the small event that your dreams are made of, all the while surrounded by your most important loved ones. When you plan for an intimate event in an unbelievably beautiful setting, you're setting yourself up to be able to spend more money on each individual guest and also save money for some of the more important things that you want at your wedding.
Make a signature drink that fits you as a couple
Ensure they serve it at the bar for your guests! This will be one that your friends and family won't forget and can be a fun conversation piece at future holiday events when you make it for everyone.
Get ready with your spouse instead of your friends
I've been a part of a few weddings before where the couple chose to have this special time together. It was very can't-miss moment for them, and they said they would definitely do it over again given the chance. You don't need a reason to make the day your own in this way, but a few good reasons for choosing this option are if you truly are each other's best friend, you just can't stand to be apart for even a few hours, and if you don't care about the tradition of not seeing each other before the ceremony.
Have your guests wear all one color
I have a vision of this and it seems so wildly satisfying for photographs. If you really want it to play out, make sure you communicate the importance of it to each and every guest!
Wear a different color than white
Is white not your color? Did you opt for a hot wing appetizer at your cocktail hour? Are you afraid of looking washed out in photos? Then pick a different color! It's overplayed anyways, and the only reason brides really wear white is because of tradition. Don't be afraid to make this part of the day all your own too.
Ask your guests to wear clothing from a certain era, given that your wedding style matches that era
This Summer I did a 1920's themed wedding and it was unbeatable! You seriously can't go wrong with this choice because it'll make you all feel transported back in time and will totally add to the lovely feelings of the day.
A mixed gender bridal party
If you are a girl, you should never feel like you cannot have your guy best friend on your side of the bridal party. If you are a guy, same for having your sister join in on your groomsmen party. Feel free to make this group of special people look exactly like you want it to.
No bridal party
If you truly want to focus on just you and your partner, or if you're having a very quick wedding, this is a great way to spend more time together on the big day!
Family as a bridal party
If your immediate family is very close with you, or if you have children that you want to be a part of your big day, this is a great way to include them.
Hike to your ceremony or hike early in the morning beforehand
If you're into communing with nature like I am, choosing to make it a part of this important day is a must. There is truly no venue like the great outdoors. If you choose to take pictures while in nature, make sure you are timing it well in order to have good lighting.
Have your ceremony painted
While this can be a pricy extra, it's a forever must-have. I've been to a lot of weddings where they chose to have a painter join them on the day, and it was a lovely addition. Couples rave about it!
Don't do cake
If sweets aren't your thing, or if you're really just tired of the same ol' same ol' wedding cake that everyone has, opt for a more interesting choice like donuts, cookies, or a snack bar filled with your favorite types of potato chips!
Choose silk flowers instead of real flowers
As long as you select a silk florist who knows what they are doing, silk can sometimes look even more beautiful than real ones. This will also give you the opportunity to keep your flowers forever. Not to mention, they can sometimes save you a buck.
For any men involved in the wedding party, have them wear really interesting colors and textures instead of just black, navy, or grey
Guys love to have interesting style too, and giving them options can really pan out when it comes to aesthetics. Emerald, burgundy, burnt orange, yellow, basically any color can be stunning on guys. Throw in a unique texture of fabric as well and you're set!
If you're doing parent dances, dance with both your parents, not just one!
It's likely that both your parents raised you and love you, so why not love on them both through this traditional moment? It's always struck me as strange that it's only the father and bride / mother and groom that dance, and if it feels that way to you too, go for this!
Bring your pet along
Nothing says family affair like bringing along your most precious members! Bring your furry or flighted friends along if the setting allows and incorporate them into the day whenever possible.
Opt for a moment alone at some point
If you're having a regular wedding, after all the planning and stress of the day, the busy week you've had, constantly surrounded by other people, you deserve a moment alone. Don't miss out on this special time together on the big day.
Breakfast for dinner
Remember: this is your day. If you want an omelette, have an omelette. If you want tacos or hot wings or sno cones or french toast or philly cheesesteaks, absolutely GO WILD! Don't forget to keep the food allergies of guests in mind though. Additionally, you will need to make sure your venue allows outside food options before booking with them.
Honor Indigenous cultures by sharing information about what tribes originally inhabited the land you are getting married on / have a moment of silence
I've witnessed this practice at weddings and other events and it's a really moving moment to take part in. It's all about respecting those who came before you and transporting yourself out of the current moment in order to remember what brought the world to its current state. Don't skip this one if you are in the United States or Canada for your big day.
Skip the bouquet toss and garter toss and play some fun games instead!
You can't go wrong with the shoe game or bingo! Check out this blog post from The Knot for more ideas.
Do an "entrance" instead of an "exit"
There are a multitude of reasons to do a grand entrance instead of an exit at the end of the night. 1: You may have hired your photographers for less time than needed in order for them to be able to stay from start to finish. 2: Entrance / exit photos are much prettier when there is still daylight left. (Yes, even with sparklers) 3: You will be surprised at just how many guests leave before the reception is actually over. 4: drunk people + sparklers / open flame = no good. You will want as many people as possible to stay for your entrance / exit photos! Also, consider all the various times throughout the day that you could actually do this instead of at the end of the night: 1. while you leave the ceremony; 2. walking into the cocktail hour; 3. walking into the reception; 4. during the middle of the reception; 5. while you are entering the ceremony.
Finally, check out this blog post for all the types of entrance / exit props you can use!
Wear a unique item of clothing
Hats, jackets, gloves, sneakers, chunky jewelry, or really anything unique on a bride can really bring your personality into your outfit. Don't be afraid to go for it!
Celebrate familial traditions
If you are from a family background that has a lot of cultural traditions like those from Judaism or other religions, Indigenous heritage, etc. ask your older relatives if they have any suggestions on ways that you might could incorporate a celebration of your heritage into your big day. (*See note below)
Leave your wedding in style
Planes, trains, automobiles...helicopters, horses, boats, RV's, camels, ATV's, cross country skis? Nothing says DIFFERENT like leaving your event in a wild way! Make this a moment that you and your guests will never forget.
Host an after-party
Every wedding I've been at where the couple chose to have an after-party was certainly the most fun. There are so many cool ways to end the night! You could walk to a 24/7 diner with your best friends, pick up Zombie donuts, or take a midnight stroll through a park with hot chocolates. The night doesn't have to end yet! It's all up to you!
Two final, important notes that come to mind:
If you incorporate any type of tradition into your wedding day such as "something old, something blue, something borrowed, and something new.", a unity ritual, or certain types of vows, make sure that you read all about the tradition to know its origin. You may find that it makes it more exciting for you to take part in, or that you no longer want to do it because it does not fit your personalities.
If you are doing any type of new ritual, make sure that you are not culturally appropriating from a culture that isn't yours.
*all images in this post are licensed through Adobe stock