24 Alternative Wedding Ideas That Color Outside the Lines

Get inspired by these non-traditional, alternative wedding ideas for a completely unique wedding full of love.

By Charlotte Grainger

Couple in informal wedding attire toasting with slices of pizza.
Photo by Chermiti Mohamed from Unsplash

PSA: There are no strict rules when planning your wedding - this day is about you and your partner. That means that you get to create an event that is unashamedly a celebration of both of you and, of course, your relationship. If you want to make a real statement, step away from the age-old traditions and start new ones completely unique to you.

Including alternative wedding ideas in your planning can help you do just that. The truth is that there are many non-traditional wedding ideas that allow you and your SO to put your own stamp on your event. If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to infuse personality on your big day, here are the best alternative wedding ideas that beautifully break tradition.

1. Host an entire wedding weekend

Why stick to just one day and night when you can stretch it to a full weekend? If you want the fun and games to keep going, consider hosting your event over a couple of days. Of course, this alternative wedding idea lends itself best to smaller crowds. You’ll have to consider the right venue, accommodation for your guests, and activities to host. But with the proper wedding weekend timeline, you’ll quickly be on your way to success.

2. Choose a colorful wedding dress


Once you’re in the throes of planning your wedding, you’ll need to choose your wedding attire. Consider an alternative wedding dress, such as a colorful outfit. Straying from the traditional white look will give your event its own unique feel. Whether you choose pastel hues or something a little bolder — yes, a red wedding gown is appropriate — there are many ways to stand out for the right reasons.

3. Have a wedding day brunch

Are you both brunch lovers? If you spend your weekends catching up with friends over avocado on toast, why not include your favorite pastime in your wedding? Rather than having a traditional meal after the ceremony, host a brunch for your inner circle. Serving up coffee, waffles, pancakes, and topped toast is a surefire way to be creative.

4. Pick a weekday for your wedding

Looking for a way to lower the cost of your wedding? Try this alternative wedding idea. One of the simplest things you can do is opt for a weekday wedding. Since weekend events tend to be more expensive, this move may help you to keep within your overall wedding budget. Plus, you can secure typically booked up venues and wedding vendors more easily. Win-win!

5. Elope!

Don’t want to plan a massive bash? If you’re looking for an impulsive way to get married, why not simply elope? You and your partner can pick every element of this experience. Choose a place that is important to you and be as quirky as you feel. You might even decide to host your small wedding at a theme park, a beach, or at the top of a mountain.

6. Have an all-black dress code

Looking to add some drama to your wedding day? An all-black dress code may be the answer. When sending out your wedding invitations, specify that all the guests should wear black. As long as you word it the right way, you can even go as far as prohibiting any colorful accessories. This idea will create some truly alternative wedding photos.

7. Include your pets in the event

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If your pets are part of the family, including them in your wedding is an obvious move. For example, well-behaved dogs can make excellent ring bearers. Think of ways to have your beloved animal play a role in your wedding day—be creative here! Even if you have a fish or bird, there are ways to get them involved.

8. Get matching tattoos

Don’t want to exchange rings? No problem. Many couples now choose to forgo the rings for a more modern wedding alternative. For instance, you might choose to get matching tattoos on the day. These can be in place of your rings—on your ring fingers—or anywhere.

9. Hire a food truck

Choosing the right cuisine for your wedding takes a certain level of finesse. Not only do you have to cater to your own tastes, you need to consider that of your guests. Why not hire your favorite food truck to serve your guests late into the evening? This non-traditional wedding idea gives the event an element of whimsy and is certain to be a talking point, too.

10. Play arcade games

arcade games

Unleash your inner child with this next alternative wedding idea. If you and your partner love playing arcade games, include that side of you in the event. Rent retro game machines and have them at your wedding reception. Failing that, you may even want to host the event in a gaming bar or an arcade. Ready, player one?

11. Include lyrics in your vows

Let’s say you’re a self-proclaimed Swiftie or part of the Beyhive. There’s no reason that you can’t include lyrics from your favorite songs in your wedding vows. Pick a line or two that’s truly meaningful to you and encapsulates your relationship. While it may take you some time to choose the perfect lyrics, you will certainly have a ton of fun along the way.

Check out our article, Unique Wedding Vows, for more out-of-the-box ideas.

12. Serve a signature cocktail

Whatever your beverage of choice happens to be, a quick way to make your wedding extra special is to serve a signature cocktail. Have a bartender create a specialty drink and name it, then ask the waitstaff to serve it during your reception. Or if you’re a budding mixologist, come up with you own concoction. You don’t necessarily need a professional bar expert to whip up something everyone will love.

13. Have an alternative wedding cake

Wedding cakes are often the centerpiece of a reception. However, if you don’t want to go for the traditional tiered cake, there are plenty of other options. You may want to choose a literal “cheese” cake—i.e., a stand with all the different cheeses you love on it. Alternatively, you can have a dessert bar, pie stand, or even a candy floss machine at your wedding.

Find unique wedding cake bakers near you on our Vendor Marketplace.

Alternative wedding venues

Now that we have covered some of the best alternative wedding ideas let’s discuss venues. The place that you choose to host your wedding could be the key to throwing an offbeat wedding celebration. Here are some non-traditional wedding locations you may want to think about.

14. Rooftop wedding

rooftop wedding

Imagine you and your partner standing in front of a jaw-dropping, high-up vista as you get married. That’s the aesthetic you can achieve when you have a rooftop wedding. You can check out venues with rooftop spaces in your local area to see which ones suit you. Take the view into account while you’re scoping the place out. After all, the resulting photos should be amazing.

15. Farm wedding

Looking for something a little more rural? If you crave a wedding that is truly down to earth, consider hosting it on a farm. Look for a location that has space so you can have a special day like no other. Hint: Let your guests know if they need to bring some boots!

16. Library wedding

Calling all bookworms! Here’s an alternative wedding idea that you may not have thought about. If you want to get married close to your favorite novels, why not look into library wedding venues? These locations make for truly unique photos that will express your love of reading. There are plenty of stunning buildings that may be calling your name.

17. Wedding in the gardens

If you love the great outdoors, having your wedding in some botanical gardens is the way to go. This option obviously works best for summer weddings when the gardens are in full bloom. While there are many opportunities for pictures among the blooms, you will also find that these alternatives to weddings in a traditional setting can be charming.

18. Fairground wedding

Fairground wedding

The romance of the fairground is palpable. If you want to showcase your whimsical side, this alternative wedding idea will help you do just that. Imagine the photos of you and your partner on a Ferris wheel or sharing some candy floss in front of the rides. Look into whether you can hire an entire fairground for a few hours for your event.

Non-traditional wedding themes

Does your wedding have a theme? When you’re looking into alternative weddings, it would be a crime to overlook this option. Choosing to host an event that has a specific theme can make it a memorable and enthralling occasion. Here are some ideas you can use.

19. Festival theme

Festival-themed weddings can be a huge hit with the right crowd. To host one yourself, hire a live band, a large tent, and some food trucks. You can even ask your wedding guests to camp in the field around the venue. The vibe will be chilled out and whimsical—give it a go!

20. 1920s theme

Travel back in time a hundred years and host an alternative wedding set in the roaring 1920s. You can ask your guests to dress for the occasion and host your reception in a speakeasy-style bar. This offbeat wedding theme tends to work well for people of all ages.

21. Pool party

Planning a wedding for the height of summer? If that’s the case, you may want to host a pool party-style wedding. Rather than having your friends and loved ones gather in a large building, get everyone together around the poolside. There are plenty of ways to make this particular alternative wedding run smoothly. Hire a bar or waitstaff to make it more luxe.

22. Murder mystery wedding

Perhaps you and your partner love a good murder mystery. Work your hobby into your wedding planning. Hosting a murder mystery event as your special day is a simple way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Consider hiring an entertainment group to come along and play the different parts. Can you figure out “who dun it”?

23. Drive-thru wedding

drive thru wedding

Searching for the all-American alternative wedding? You might have just found it. A drive-thru wedding is exactly what it sounds like. These packages allow you to say your vows and get married in the comfort of your car. While these packages may be limited to just a few guests, they are truly unique wedding events. Perhaps the most famous drive-thru package out there takes place at the Little White Chapel in Las Vegas.

24. Surprise wedding

And finally, here’s an alternative wedding theme that will shock your friends and family. Invite them all to experience a “party like no other.” However, don’t give them any more details than that. Ask them to dress for a formal occasion and say there will be a surprise in store for them. When they get to the venue—and perhaps see the aisle—they will quickly guess that this is your wedding day. If you want to keep everyone talking, try this out-there idea.

The takeaway for planning your wedding with a twist

These alternative wedding ideas can ensure your wedding truly stands out from the crowd. Your special day should be as unique as you (both!) are. For that reason, it’s fun and smart to think of all the ways you can add your own personal touches to the event. Don’t be afraid to throw the rulebook out the window and do something that brings you joy. After all, this is a celebration of your relationship and story.

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