10 Non-traditional Second Wedding Ideas

Looking for some non-traditional second wedding ideas? You’ve come to the right place.

By Janina Villanueva

Second Wedding Ideas
Photo by Nikk Nguyen Photo

Planning a second wedding can be tricky. There isn't any widely spoken of etiquette as to how you should plan and execute one, let alone any sort of solidified wedding planning guideline.

That being said, more often that not, when getting married for the second time, many couples can agree that they'd rather forego the traditional aspects of the big day. Doing so can make the wedding feel more unique and/or appropriate for their situation. Especially when this may be an opportunity to host a wedding that aligns with your desires and who you both are now.

If this sounds like you, but you're not sure where to start, we've got you covered. Below we've gathered some of our favorite uncommon and less traditional wedding ideas. From venues, to outfits, to the finer details of your ceremony and wedding reception. Consider implementing one—or two, or more—into your own special day for a unique and memorable wedding celebration.

1. Choose a Non-traditional Wedding Venue

Perhaps your first wedding took place in a traditional setting—e.g. a place of worship, courthouse, hotel ballroom, garden, or park. Although these are staple options and likely very available to you, don't feel pressured to go with one of them. Feel free to think up a different venue, theme, and experience for both you and your guests.

A destination wedding can be a great option if you’d like to keep your guest list small. Plus, it’ll save you money if you’re planning to host your special day in the same area or location of your honeymoon. Locally, depending on how adventurous you feel, you may want to consider going for the following types of venues:

  • Baseball park or stadium
  • Art spaces and historical museums
  • Zoo or aquarium
  • Old historic buildings and hotels
  • In the middle of a desert
  • Inside a running train
  • In a park near or under a bridge

You don't need to look too far to find unique and available venues. If you're unsure if something's too out of the box or not doable, don't hesitate to call your ideal spot (say, a museum or specific building) and see what's possible. More often than not, places open to the public such as these will be able to work with you on your dream wedding.

5 Non-traditional Second Wedding Ideas Photo Credit // Shutterstock

2. Go for Bolder Outfits

You did the classic white wedding dress or black tux before. Or, perhaps you didn't. In either case, a second wedding is a second chance to truly express yourself and celebrate all of the special aspects of your relationship. This extends into what you choose to wear. If the traditional white dress isn't your thing, consider wearing a jumpsuit, tea-length dress, suit or tuxedo, or otherwise. As for accessories, consider wearing a hat or statement headpiece in place of a veil.

Not into the idea of wearing a suit or tux throughout the ceremony and celebration? Opt instead for something a bit more casual that will allow you to move more freely throughout the day (or night). Or, look to more out-of-the-box looks, like old-school vintage suits in tweed fabric or jewel-toned suits made with velvet. This idea can also extend to bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen attire.

3. Have Pre-Wedding Ceremony Activities

While finding your seat, chatting, and sitting in giddy anticipation can be fun, why not provide your wedding guests with a fun activity leading up to your nuptials? For example, if you're getting married in a unique location such as a museum, zoo, observatory, and the like, see if the venue can provide guided behind-the-scenes tours beforehand.

If you're getting married outdoors, you can easily set up or DIY some outdoor games such as corn hole, croquet, a giant word search, and giant Jenga. Including a fun activity prior to your ceremony lends a relaxed feel to your entire wedding day. Plus, it gives guests the opportunity to mingle beforehand.

4. Be Creative With Your Ceremony Layout

Traditionally, wedding ceremonies will have the couple and their wedding party at the alter at the front of the space, with guests seated in rows and columns. However, there's no hard and fast rule that states this need be the case. If you have the space, consider placing the guests' seats in a circle, with yourselves and the alter in the middle. This works especially well for outdoor spaces—such as gardens, beaches, parks, and backyard weddings—and small weddings. However, with a little bit of work, it can be done for most weddings.

5. Have an Unorthodox Wedding Ceremony

There's a lot of opportunity for one-of-a-kind and special ideas, as far as your ceremony is concerned. If you'd prefer to forego the standard way of things (wedding party procession, exchanging of vows, etc.), consider the following:

  • Go non-traditional with your walk down the aisle. Skip the processional and standard order of things and walk down the aisle together for a truly special and unifying moment. Or, decide to both walk around opposite sides of your ceremony site and meet in the middle at the front.
  • Skip ceremony readings from religious prose or traditional wedding vows and instead go for your favorite song lyrics, passages from your favorite books or sonnets, or even excerpts from your favorite films and television shows. Words that are special to you two as a couple are special, no matter where they originate from.
  • Involve your children (or pets!) throughout the ceremony. This may be having them walk down the aisle with you or having them stand by your sides throughout. It could even mean saying vows to each-other's kids or involving them in the exchanging of rings. Each of these ideas creates the feel of a "family wedding," in which you're not just uniting two people, but two families.

6. Ask a Loved One to Officiate

Rather than going the traditional route, ask one of your nearest and dearest best friends or family members to officiate your wedding ceremony. Choose someone who knows you and your love story well, since they'll be able to craft a more intimate and personal ceremony with stories, fond memories, and anecdotes. The legal aspect of having someone close to you be your officiant is also quite simple, as it's easy to get ordained online.

7. Perform an Untraditional Activity

Your wedding ceremony can literally consist of whatever you and your significant other like. Look through a few unorthodox options below and see if any of these feel like and appeal to you.

  • Plant a tree together in your yard—or, in a transportable pot.
  • Pour different colored sand into a glass bottle or vase; bonus points if the sand comes from places you each consider special, like your hometowns.
  • Participate in handfasting, which is similar to performing God's Knot, but without any religious connotations.
  • Compose and perform a special song together in place of your spoken vows.
  • Release a (biodegradable) lantern or balloon together.
  • Have a gift exchange on top of or in place of a ring exchange.
5 Non-traditional Second Wedding Ideas Photo Credit // Shutterstock

8. Serve Food that Guests Won’t Ever Forget

You know your guests better than anybody (including vendors and those with unsolicited advice to give). If you know that your loved ones would rather not sit through a four course meal, plan an alternative style dinner with your caterer.

Consider a buffet, family-style meal (in which all of the food is placed on one large table, between everyone), food trucks, and server stations your guests can choose from. Also think about the type of food you and your guests really want to eat. For example, if you're honestly more into the idea of basic sliders, you can work with your catering company to elevate that by using Kobe beer or balsamic chicken. Go with what you really want, then work together to make the meal unforgettable.

Similarly, wedding cakes don’t always need to be cakes. Opt for a tower of doughnuts, brownies, cookies, or other sweets. If you prefer savory, cheese wheels may be perfect for you and your partner to cut. Likewise, you can go for a champagne tower moment in place of cake-cutting.

9. Involve Out-of-the-Box Vendors

You know yourselves and your crowd the best. If popular reception vendor options like a photobooth aren't quite your style, opt instead for something that better fits your relationship and venue. Some lovely options include a live artist (such as a painter), live poet, professional dancers, comedians, or a special animal encounter (be it your own pets or—if your reception's at a zoo or similar—guided animals).

10. A Different Reception Program

Do things in reverse—instead of having the best man and maid of honor give a toast to honor you as newlyweds, you and your partner can provide a toast to honor everyone who attended your celebration, as well as those who helped make it successful.

Instead of having an anniversary dance where the deejay calls out those who have been married five years, ten years, 20 years, and so on, to have the longest-married couple alone on the dance floor, do it in reverse. Have your first dance as a newly married couple, and then call those who are married five years, ten years, 20 years, and so on, so you end up having the dance floor filled with married couples in love.

There are many other ways to deviate from a traditional wedding ceremony, and because you have gone through it before, you’ll be armed with knowledge on what can go wrong, what you’d like to prioritize, and what works best for you and your partner. This will help you create a festive and gracious wedding day that loved ones and guests will enjoy.

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