I’ve managed to hit that point in my mid-twenties where it seems everyone around me is getting married. It started off with a distant cousin but now I’m lucky to get through the week without an engagement announcement on Facebook.
My bitterness comes from the fact that I typically hate weddings. They all tend to look and act the same – white dress walked down the aisle, religious overtones, an expensive venue, cheap wine, and an over-priced bar.
Most couples seem more obsessed with their Pinterest board than the actual wedding, and if my father insists on “giving me away”, I’m sitting him down for an hour-long lecture on feminism.
But I went to a wedding a few weekends ago that was honestly an absolute joy and not only because the speeches were only a few minutes each.
You may love hearing your best man rattle off in-jokes for 30 minutes, but your guests are likely bored and eyeing up the bar.
The most recent wedding was fun because it defied all traditions and conventions, yet it was undeniably a wedding. Between the two brides, they looked at traditions, how they applied to them, and what they wanted their wedding to represent.
Their wedding felt totally unique and heart-warming, even though their budget was minimal.
So, a few things you can do to make your wedding more unconventional and personal –
1. Consider your venue
The brides decided against a church because they weren’t religious.
This may seem obvious, but how many people do you know that have gotten married in a church because the photos will look nice?
This is your wedding day, a day to celebrate your love with the people you love. Are you so shallow you only care about the photos after?
2. The theme
Five of the last six weddings I attended, all seemed to have the exact same theme. It just screamed, “I have a shabby chic Pinterest board”. If this is what you want, that’s all well and good, but the sixth wedding went with a literary theme because both brides had initially bonded over their love of books.
Not only did each guest have a second-hand classic to take away (which beats a jar of honey any day!), but the wedding felt unbelievably unique.
It helped get across their passions and the passions shared by family and friends. That and the literary-themed food puns made me laugh!
Both brides share a similar taste in music, and this is something they share with their families. Music has always been important to them. And I mean “regulars at the local folk music festival” important.
They chose to walk down the aisle (or enter the registry office!) to Bastille. This is a band they love and was very different from the usual wedding march.
While not a traditional choice of song, it meant so much to both of them.
I doubt there were more than 30 guests for the entire day. Every guest came to the initial ceremony and stayed through to the party. As well as avoiding the issue of who’s invited to the ceremony and who are only invited to the party, this gave the whole day a really intimate feel.
There was a limited extended family present at the wedding. Instead, they invited the people who meant the most to them.
Coaches were offered to those who had traveled a long way, and the lower headcount kept the costs down.
5. Dress code
One bride wore a tweed jacket and black jeans. The other wore a green cocktail dress. The guests turned up in what they wanted, from a kilt to jeans and flannel.
This gave the whole day a comfortable, relaxed feel. No one was complaining about heels or tight clothes by midday.
We’ve all heard horror stories of a Bridezilla demanding the guests look like runway models, but why is this necessary? Is it for the photos? Is the outward appearance more important than the celebration and love you all share?
Of course, the guests could have turned up in a three-piece suit if they wanted. Both the bride’s mothers did dress up.
This wedding was about acceptance and understanding.
Plus, no one was wearing stupid heels which meant everyone was dancing late into the night.
I’ve been to weddings before where the catering has cost £50 a head, and I ended up with a spoonful of couscous. I tried reasoning this out. Probably, the high price for the catering was because the waiters were dressed up and the couscous was served with a linen napkin.
While tasty, I’m sure couscous isn’t that expensive.
At this wedding, I had an actual meal because the brides hired out a local food truck that they loved. Additionally, they served literary-themed burgers which fit into the theme of the wedding. Not only did this mean more to the brides, but it was affordable and really, really good.
They also had a dessert bar they’d put together themselves with trips to the local donut store and the nearest supermarket.
Despite this, it didn’t feel cheap. There was also a stampede when the gluten-free and vegan options were announced. FYI, I chose the “beef or not to beef” burger. Plus, I got all the leftover popcorn. Score.
7. It was a party
It is up to each couple to celebrate their wedding how they chose, so perhaps I am being a little judgemental. Except this wedding was an actual party. A celebration.
Between the themed cocktails, a carefully planned playlist, and multiple impromptu congas that stretched around the venue, it was an actual party.
My experience of weddings is a bunch of miserable people sitting and making small talk while the DJ tried to encourage people to dance with bad 2000s hits that no one actually likes.
Instead, the brides planned a meticulous playlist and the best man timed to the minute as his gift to them. The last song finished as the venue closed.
Despite being an untraditional wedding, we got a usual first dance and floods of tears. It was a genuine celebration overall.
Traditions mean different things to different people.
Some people dream of the typical white dress, walk down the aisle since they were little. To me, many traditions have sexist undertones. From “giving away” the bride, to the “virginal” white dress to “to serve” your new husband and taking his name.
This wedding had no walking down the aisle, they instead entered the room together. No fathers’ ‘gave’ the brides away, instead, they watched and tried not to tear up. One family was strongly atheist, so no phony religious undertones were present and any mentions of religion were taken out of the ceremony.
This felt more respectful to both families and to people who genuinely are religious. Traditions were twisted and changed to mean the most to both brides.
Keeping tradition for the sake of tradition can be absolutely toxic and make a wedding feel boring and standard.
£50 a head. £10 for a pint of beer. We’ve all been to weddings like that. I always wonder if the couple is actually happy with the £20k+ they spend on the venue.
This wedding kept the cost down, but never felt cheap. Between arranging a coach to transport guests, and friends offering up sofas, so no one had to splurge unwillingly for a hotel, the wedding felt comfortable and accessible. They supported their local charity shops by buying second-hand books to give away as wedding favors.
They rented out a local cabaret bar and kept the drink prices affordable. Everything felt accessible and supportive.
It’s all about love and respect for one another
Looking back, all the healthiest, happiest couples I know have had unconventional weddings. One couple got married in full fancy dress, while another randomly decided to pop into a registry office on the way to Botswana.
This wedding was exceptional, and not because it was LGBT. It managed to defy tradition while feeling traditional. It felt close, intimate, and deeply personal. This wasn’t a wedding only meant to exist in photos on social media. This was a legitimate celebration of the love between two people.
After all, it is all about love and respect you feel for one another. Remember! A wedding is a party. It’s a celebration of loving someone so much you’ll commit to them for life. If your photos and Pinterest board are more important to you, should you be getting married?
After all, you can make your own traditions.