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Want even more fresh ideas and unconventional twists? Visit eleGALA.com’s wedding blog, Unveiled!

Take Back your Wedding: Cliche-Free Ideas

There is nothing wrong with the traditional white wedding, but sometimes it is nice to make yours stand out from the rest…

Today’s weddings are all about options that reflect your personalities and style. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite non-traditional or unexpected wedding ideas to incorporate into every aspect of your big day.

Wedding Ceremony Ideas

  • Wedding Ceremony Location: If you don’t host your ceremony in a house of worship or in the same location as your reception, you can get creative with your ceremony location and exchange vows at sunrise on the beach or at sunset from the rooftop of the tallest building in your metropolitan area. Get more ideas for unique ceremony sites.
  • Wedding Ceremony Refreshments: Use the season or your location as an opportunity to greet guests with a refreshing drink.  Lemonade and sweet tea will quench your guests’ thirst while gathering in the blazing sun, or serve hot apple cider to warm your guests during chiller months.
  • Bride’s Grand Entrance: Make your entrance especially grand by being escorted by your pet dog or by arriving on a white horse.
  • Vows and Readings: Not a new concept, but speaking from the heart by writing your own wedding vows or incorporating personalized poems and popular wedding readings or even humorous wedding ceremony readings into your ceremony will surely grab the attention of your guests.

Unique Wedding Reception Ideas

  • Location: You shouldn’t feel bound by the need to have your celebration in your hometown or the town in which you currently reside. Don’t be afraid to consider something unexpected. Bring your event to your favorite vacation spot or another location that has special meaning to you and your hubby. Everyone can appreciate some time away.
  • Venue Type: Think outside the banquet hall and bring your celebration to a naturally beautiful venue like a garden or museum. Your guests will enjoy strolling around picturesque grounds or appreciating timeless works of art.
  • Seating Arrangements: Add some visual interest to your setting by interspersing different shaped tables throughout the room or seating your guests at long tables for a family-style affair.

Unique Wedding Catering Ideas

  • Bars: Who doesn’t like something with the word “bar” attached to it? Your guests will delight in all things bar, from a mashed potato bar or dessert bar to an espresso or martini bar.
  • Ethnic Cuisine: If you have a strong heritage, have visited a favorite world destination together, or even just have an affinity for a particular variety of cuisine, revolve your menu around that ethnic specialty.
  • Family Style: Offer delectable comfort foods with a twist, served up family-style – a great icebreaker for your guests.
  • Seasonal: Take inspiration from the season and serve a menu that offers a theme of seasonal favorites.
  • Courses: Break out of the conventional chicken-or-fish mold and base your entire meal around cocktails and appetizers or coffee and desserts.
  • Fondues: Fondues are making a comeback, and whether you prefer sweet chocolates or savory cheeses, your guests will relish in the rich offering.

Unique Wedding Décor Ideas

  • Wedding Color Scheme: Try pairing a few uncommon colors together or featuring varying shades of the same color throughout your space.
  • The Food Pyramid: Fill cylindrical glass vases with fruits and vegetables reflecting your colors. Oranges, lemons, and limes have been done so try a unique, more contemporary look with mangos or coconuts or tie it to the season with texture-rich earthy vegetables like husked corn, acorn squash, or artichokes.
  • Au Natural:  Consult Mother Nature for inspiration, and bring the outdoors in. Natural objects like stones, leaves, pinecones, even twigs can add an organic aesthetic to your reception décor. Place in rustic containers or scatter amongst pillar candles for added ambiance. 
  • Lighten Up: Floating candles in a shallow bowl adds lighting and elegance to your tabletops. Or arrange multi-level candles on a mosaic of mirrors or tiles and surround them with seashells or flower petals. Placing coffee beans or red hot candies at the bottom of a vase or bowl to hold the candles steady also adds an aromatic effect. 
  • Consult your Inner-Child: For the kid at heart, fill decorative bowls with your favorite candies – such as jellybeans and M&M’s – in your wedding colors. 

Find even more inspiring ideas for unique wedding decorations in our complete guide to wedding flowers and decor!

Unique Wedding Entertainment Ideas

  • Ceremony Music: If “Here Comes the Bride” doesn’t suit your style or personality, choose a song that does. There is no written rule that states you can’t make your grand entrance to a rendition of your favorite Beastie Boys’ song.
  • Non-traditional Instruments: If you desire live music over a deejay, consider tying your musician selection to the theme or location of your event. A beachside bash naturally lends itself to the sound of steel drums, while a trumpet quartet will sound impressive in an elaborate cathedral.
  • Themed Music: Take it one step further and zone in on the music that is indigenous to your wedding location. Guests attending a Mardi Gras–themed event in New Orleans will bask in a cocktail hour of Dixieland jazz.
  • Deejay and a Band: Can’t decide which you would rather have? Have both to ensure that all types of music are represented throughout your day to please both your 85-year-old grandmother and your 21-year-old cousin.

Unique Photography Ideas

  • Photojournalism: More and more brides are leaning toward hiring a photographer who specialized in a photojournalistic style. These photographers shy away from posed shots and aim to capture all of the candid moments that you’ll always want to remember or may have never seen.
  • Creative Shots: Hire your photographer to follow you throughout your entire day (leading up to the “Do Not Disturb” sign, of course). While it may make you feel anxious to have someone photograph you as you get ready, these shots will help you to remember the joy and anticipation of every part of your big day. 

Want more photography tips? Check out eleGALA.com’s 5 Ideas to Inspire Great Photos.

Unique Wedding Cake Ideas

  • Minimal Adornments: Some brides believe in the “less is more” adage. A simple cake minimally ornamented can make a bold statement.
  • Square Tiers: Looking for a subtle way to break away from the ordinary? Square tiers make a modern presentation. Whoever said “it’s hip to be square” must have been in the cake business.
  • Cake-free: If cake isn’t your favorite dessert, then don’t feel the need to serve it to your guests. Apple crisp, peach cobbler, pumpkin pie, cupcakes, or even glazed doughnuts are a hit at the dessert table.
  • Sugar-free: The end-of-meal offering doesn’t have to be made of flour and frosting. Think savory instead, and visit your local cheese shop to have them construct wheels of cheese in tiers and stacked to look like traditional wedding cake.

Our complete wedding cakes guide has even more advice and a list of creative and unusual wedding cakes ideas.  You can also browse hundreds of pictures of wedding cakes in our photo gallery.

Unique Wedding Attire Ideas

  • Wardrobe Change: Today’s brides are opting to wear not one dress, but two! Wear an elegant gown while you exchange vows, then slip into something a little more comfortable to round out the evening.
  • Anything but White: A white wedding dress symbolizes innocence and purity, but if that’s not your style, feel free to bring out your colorful personality by adding a splash of color to your attire. You can be as subtle as a colored sash and jewels or as bold as a fuchsia-colored dress.
  • Something Borrowed: Anything retro screams chic these days. So why not consider donning your mother’s vintage gown as a tribute to a family legacy. A few alterations can make it your own.

See many of the latest gowns from the hottest designers in our bridal attire photo gallery.

Unique Wedding Stationery Ideas

  • Ethnicity: If your heritage is important for you to represent on your big day, do some research and find a stationer who offers multi-cultural invitations and announcements.
  • Creative Touch: For more intimate, casual gatherings, request the honor of your guests’ presence in an innovative and entertaining way. Here’s an idea: Have your invite printed on a balloon so guests have to blow them up to receive the message.
  • Programs: Do something a little different with your wedding programs by including personal photos or by printing them on something that serves a dual purpose, like a fan.
  • Storybook: Get the most bang for your program buck by including stories of how the two of you met, who introduced you, and your relationship to everyone in the bridal party. Think of all the time you’ll save by not having to explain all of this to your husband’s childhood neighbor during the reception! 

Unique Wedding Transportation Ideas

  • Grand Entrance: If the size of your bridal party doesn’t warrant a stretch limousine, consider arriving on horseback, on the back of your husband’s motorcycle, or in the passenger’s seat of your dad’s antique car.
  • Making Your Getaway: Climb aboard a tandem bicycle or a Vespa scooter that matches the wedding colors and ride off into the sunset with your honey.

Creative Wedding Favors

  • Double Duty Décor Elements: Use photo frames as place cards or potted plants as centerpieces, and let your guests take them home at the end of the night.
  • Something Useful: Give your guests something they can enjoy for years to come. A small bag of seeds to plant will remind them of your big day every time they smell the flowers.
  • Something Edible: As if a five-course meal wasn’t enough, send your guests home at the end of the night with an extra treat of your favorite candies or special hometown delicacies.
  • Donations: With a high emphasis on karma these days, give something back and make a donation to your favorite cause in lieu of knickknacks. Your guests will appreciate the altruistic gesture.

Creative Wedding Gifts

  • Attendants: After seemingly endless Friday nights spent planning showers and licking envelopes, your bridesmaids are going to need a little pampering of their own. A spa gift certificate is the perfect way to thank them for their hard work.
  • Gift Baskets: Make out-of-town guests feel welcome by greeting them with a basket of goodies in their hotel room. Include some essentials that will make their stay more comfortable, and incorporate some items that are reflective of your wedding location. Nothing like some bottled water and Vermont maple syrup to get them through the weekend! 

Unique Wedding Registry Ideas

  • The Gift of Travel: If time away is more important to you than a waffle iron, consider setting up a honeymoon registry. Many travel agents offer services to collect, record, and apply contributions from your guests toward your honeymoon travel expenditures. Some even allow guests to contribute to specific activities at your destination location, such as scuba diving lessons or boat rides.
  • The Gift of Life: If your house is already stocked with all of the essentials, give something back instead. Many eco-friendly organizations such as the World Wildlife Federation offer donation registries.