Make Your Wedding Unique With These Alternative Tradition Ideas

Feeling a bit uneasy about the idea of a traditional wedding? You’re not alone! Plenty of couples these days contact me in much the same frame of mind. The idea of sticking to typical wedding traditions doesn’t always align with many people’s values these days. Fortunately though, you no longer have to do things the traditional way, even at a wedding.

As a wedding photographer who values capturing real, authentic moments, I get it. When I got married myself, I had to mix up and change my wedding a bit so it felt special to me, rather than a busman’s holiday. So let’s explore some new and modern takes on weddings and the wedding traditions that might not align with your vision!

Alternative Wedding Ideas

Get ready Together Before Your Wedding

More couples are opting to get ready together – and see each other – before the ceremony. Given so many modern couples already live together, it makes sense to want to spend time together before your wedding. Lots of couples are rejecting the old wedding traditions and opting to do something alternative. If you don’t have huge groups of people in your immediate wedding party about to descend on you for preps, then this might be for you. Is it bad luck? Depends on your view of superstition! There are plenty of cultures that don’t share this concept of “bad luck” either. This is a different wedding tradition that’s becoming popular with couples in Scotland who want to keep the day feeling laid back and chilled out.

First Look at a Wedding

A first look is when you and your soon-to-be spouse, see each other before the ceremony in your outfits. Aside from making for some cracking photos, it’s also a lovely way to spend some time together and just take in the experience of seeing each other before everyone else. It can be quite nerve-wracking the idea of walking up the aisle with everyone looking at you at the same time you’re seeing each other. When I got married, I had a first look with my husband. It felt right to us as we had lived together already for a few years already. We were able to spend a few minutes just being happy together before everyone else saw us.

It can be quite emotional, and it means you can have that moment privately together without everyone else around. It’s worth doing with your wedding photographer around as well, for some lovely moments to remember. This is becoming really popular with couples who don’t like being centre of attention. This could be a new and alternative tradition for your wedding! Want to see more about a first look? See this blog post from a wedding at Carrick Castle Estate.

Walking Down the Aisle with Alternative People

If you don’t want to walk down the aisle together, an alternative tradition you might consider include walking down the aisle with female members of your family, or with a best friend, or child. Alternatively, you may want to walk down the aisle with your pet dog if they’re included in your wedding ceremony.

Walking Down the Aisle Together

If you’re already living together, then an alternative is to walk down the aisle together. You’re both entering the marriage willingly, and the only permission that matters is you own. Gone are the days when you need to stick to wedding tradition here, and you may want to embrace this alternative.

Photo session before the ceremony

This was something I did to mix things up a bit with my wedding! Before our ceremony, my husband and I had our couple portraits before the wedding ceremony. It meant that we were able to maximise time during the drinks reception for time with our guests. We had a slightly later ceremony time, so we simply arranged to be ready a lot earlier than needed. Some people worry that doing this means that they won’t look their freshest at the time of the ceremony.

My advice is to book a brilliant hair stylist who can give you a hairstyle that will last all day and won’t drop. A trial is always a good investment in these situations.

Your timeline doesn’t need to follow the usual wedding traditions if there’s something different you want to try out.

Pre ceremony drinks reception

If you don’t fancy going out for your photos before the wedding ceremony, how about a pre-drinks reception? This is becoming popular with couples who don’t like being the centre of attention particularly while walking up the aisle and want to mingle and chat with guests.

Alternative cakes

Looking for something a little different to the typical traditional tiered wedding cake? Dessert tables are becoming increasingly popular. It’s a brilliant way to accommodate different dietary requirements too. If you prefer a more savoury option, a big cheese stack is a great alternative option. You’ll need to consider storage if your wedding happening on a warm day because nobody loves sweaty cheese, but cheese wheels are great if you don’t have a sweet tooth. This is a great alternative option to the usual wedding traditions!

Sing Your Favourite Songs

Don’t feel obliged to listen to specific tracks of music during your ceremony. Even if you are having a non-religious ceremony, you can still have people singing as well. One of my favourite weddings, all the guests sang It Must Be Love by Madness. Find a song that has meaning to you that your guests might already know.

Make Your Wedding Party Gender Neutral

More couples are opting for a gender-neutral approach to their immediate wedding party. Gone are the days of strictly segregated bridesmaids and groomsmen – it’s time to embrace the wonderful spectrum of people who bring joy and support to your journey.

This means that not all your bridesmaids need to be female – you could have bridespeople. Likewise, groomsmen don’t have to be male – lots of people opt to have groomspeople in their squad. There’s no rule book when it comes to gender stereotypes, just surround yourself with the people who have been with you through thick and thin.

Make it Eco Friendly

One of the things about weddings is how much waste can be created. A lot of couples are now looking for ways to keep their carbon footprint down. Some things are fairly straightforward – for example choose a menu that incorporates locally produced food and is in season. Likewise, opt for in-season local flowers. With a few tweaks to the typical traditions and you might find an alternative wedding option that suits your style better. There’s some fab tips on how to achieve this, over at https://www.77diamonds.com/sustainable-weddings

Old Wedding Traditions to break!

Receiving Line

What it is: Before the meal, the parents of each of the couple and the couple themselves form a line. Wedding guests line up to shake hands with each member, and it’s a chance to say hello, and thank guests for coming.

Why ditch it: It’s time-consuming- You need to be on the ball with your timings too throughout the day – if anything runs over, then this is going to add to your timekeeping problems. If you’re after a laidback vibe, this might not be your cup of tea.

Nobody Removing their Hat Before the Mother of the Bride

What it is: The mother of the bride is seen as being the most senior guest at a wedding. The idea is that female wedding guests can only remove their hat once the mother of the bride has done so.

Why ditch it: If comfort is a priority, then this is definitely not a tradition to insist on! Help your guests relax and feel comfortable and let them lose those hats without waiting for a seniority signal.

Father Giving Away the Bride

What it is: The father of the bride walks the bride down the aisle, and hands her to the person she is about to marry.

Why ditch it: This is an old-fashioned tradition, and more couples are looking to change this up. You can change this up by walking down the aisle with two parents, and make it a different wedding tradition.

Traditional Wedding Favours

What it is: A small gift given to all the guests at a wedding. Traditionally, this is in the form of sugared almonds in a small organza bag although many couples are making alternative options such as miniature bottles of alcohol.

Why ditch it: These are often left behind at weddings when guests don’t take them away after the meal. It’s an additional expense on your budget. It’s also not great if you feel strongly about having a sustainable eco-friendly wedding.

Traditional Photos

What it is: Those photos everyone and their granny had in their photo album after the wedding. Namely, posed shots such as cutting the cake or signing the register.

Why ditch it: A good photographer can usually take photos of cake cutting or register signing while it’s in action, and do this without the cheesy poses. A few casual group photos with your witnesses is cool; making it look like you’re signing an international peace treaty by posing with a fake pen? Not so much.

Looking For A Wedding Photographer?

If you loved any of these alternative wedding tradition ideas, and want to incorporate them into your wedding and ditch the formality – I say go for it! And if you’re planning a wedding in Scotland where you plan to put your own stamp on the day with a different take on wedding traditions, get in touch today and check my availability.


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