5 Top Tips for Planning a Non-Traditional Wedding

Bride with dirty Wedding dress at Suffolk Wedding

What is a Non Traditional Wedding?

Weddings are, in their very nature full of traditions and that’s no bad thing, it gives the day structure, helps the occasion flow and many people simply really love them.

Just because you are getting married however, doesn’t mean that you have to follow all or any of these traditions. Of course you will be legally obliged to having some type of ceremony to go through the legalities. Also, unless you are eloping as a couple, you will almost certainly have a number of guest who you will want to have a celebration with.

The important thing is that you choose to do what is a perfect fit for you as a couple, and your personalities, not to impress or to conform to somebody else’s view of how a wedding should be. It’s your big day and you should do it your way. 

So, whether you want to just replace one or two traditions that you’re not that into, or you want to be completely original, there are a few things to think about. In my experience of over 5 years as a wedding photographer I have been lucky enough to attend some amazing and original weddings with some fantastic original ideas. Here I pass on a little of what I have learned in how to plan a non traditional wedding.

Sunrise Wedding at The Roman Baths

1. Non Traditional Wedding Venues.

One of the best thing about my job as a UK wedding photographer is getting to visit and work at so many amazing locations. I now regularly shoot weddings in Non traditional wedding venues. A popular option at the moment, if you’re lucky enough to have the space, is to have a home wedding.

Whether for the whole wedding celebration or just for the reception, a home wedding is wonderfully personal. There are some amazing companies around that offer both marquees and Tipis for hire (personally I love a tipi) such as Magical Events and the Cambridge Tent Company. These come in all shapes and sizes and can accommodate ample room for seating, a bar and even a dance floor.

Another way to make your non traditional wedding really personal is by hiring a large house or farm venue all to yourself. Many Air B&B venues offer great choices of houses with enough accommodation to sleep many of your guests and allow for you to bring in outside caterers in, some even have space and allow for musicians or a DJ.

If you are prepared to do the legal side of things in advance you can then have a “mock” ceremony wherever you wish. I’ve shot non traditional wedding ceremonies in the woods, in back gardens, next to a swimming pool overlooking the Aegean Sea and even a wedding at sunrise at The Roman Baths.

Brides and their dog at Wedding Ceremony in Anstey Hall Wedding VeBrides and their dog at Wedding Ceremony in Anstey Hall Wedding Venue in Cambridgenue in Cambridge

2. Non Traditional Wedding Ceremonies.

The explosion of civil ceremonies and humanist ceremonies, has opened up a whole host of options for non traditional wedding ceremonies.

Something that has become very popular is to having the legal marriage service conducted privately in the local registry office, before having a full wedding celebration ceremony at a location of your choice with all of your friends and family at a later date shortly after.

Once legally married, the ceremony is just a ceremony without the restrictions of a civil or religious service, meaning you can play by your own rules. There are wedding professionals called “Celebrants” who specialise specifically in conducting these types of informal ceremonies such as Katie The Celebrant.

Some of the most amazing wedding ceremonies I have shot have been conducted the way.  A good celebrant will listen to your ideas, your back story, help you put together your vows to help create a personalised ceremony unique to you as a couple.

Another nice touch used by celebrants is the use of symbolism such as the tying of a knot,  performed either instead of, or alongside the more traditional exchanging of wedding rings.

If you want to keep things even more informal, I have attended weddings where the ceremony itself has been conducted by a close friend of the bride and groom with a short but heartfelt few words and simple vows. By removing the restrictions of a legal civil ceremony you open up ways to conduct a wedding ceremony that are only limited by your imagination.

3. Non Traditional Wedding Outfits.

Huge floaty white dresses not your thing?  Find top hats and tails a bit too formal and stuffy? Me too!

The whole vibe of a less, or non traditional wedding is usually (not always) to have a relaxed and more informal feel than weddings of old. This doesn’t mean that you can’t look more amazing than ever before however, it simply means not being restricted by traditions and wearing something that just isn’t “you”.

Dressing  appropriately for the environment and conditions while still looking beautiful, elegant, stylish and cool is the way to go. If you are too cold, or hot because of what you’re wearing on your wedding day, it will have a really negative impact on how you feel throughout the day.  

Hours to go until Wedding Day

4. Non Traditional Wedding Schedule. 

Ceremony at 1pm, Wedding Breakfast at 4pm, First Dance at 7.30pm. Who says so?

Ok, so there is a good reason why planners and venues set weddings out this way – because it works, it helps give the day structure and flow but you don’t necessarily have to do everything this way. If you simply want a small wedding and a lovely meal then why not get married late in the afternoon or early evening?

Conversely I have shot weddings at sunrise leaving the whole day ahead to plan as you please. The only thing that is really important about scheduling is ensuring that nothing in the day is rushed. Less is definitely more, don’t try and cram too much in and focus on the aspects of the day that are super important to you. It’s really important to remember the whole point is for everyone to enjoy themselves to the max.

Arrival of Bride & Groom at informal Barn Wedding in Cambridge

5. Non Traditional Wedding Photographer.

Ah, now this is the bit where I come in! Your choice of wedding photographer will be one of the most important wedding planning decisions you will make for your wedding day.

The person you choose to capture your memories will more than likely, be spending the whole day with you, so could play a huge part in how your day pans out. We all know of the traditional style wedding photographer who spends hours getting people to pose for the camera, quite often making both the couple and wedding guests feel uncomfortable.

Do you really want that for your wedding? My approach could not be more different – if you want to really get a feel for my approach to non traditional wedding photography please have a good look around my site starting here.

If you’re planning a non traditional wedding then my relaxed and unobtrusive approach will b a perfect fit.