Does a traditional wedding feel too standard for you? Or perhaps, you want to buck the tradition of spending massive amounts of money starting your partnership broke or in debt. First, what does a “standard wedding” look like.

A standard wedding in America is where you have both the bride and groom’s extended family (whom you may or may not like), family friends, and friends to a wedding ceremony and a reception dinner afterwards. It may be at a hotel, a country wedding, or other wedding venue. There are flowers, cakes, photographers, dj’s, and more. The guest list is usually quite expansive, bordering on everyone you know.

But you are interested in unique wedding ideas. Awesome.

1. Get Married In Space

Quite possibly the worst money saving idea and the ultimate destination wedding is to get married in space. With Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin both offering space tourism tickets, it is now that much closer to being possible to get married in space.

Sure, there would be logistical issues to work out. Like what to do about the ring bearer.

2. Elopement

There is a fading stigma against eloping. This is probably because traditionally it was done to get married when it was against the parents wishes. Nowadays elopement is more common among couples who do not want to deal with all the hassle and trappings of a traditional wedding ceremony.

Traditionally couples have gone to Vegas for a last minute wedding, but it is now becoming popular to have destination elopements in lots of other locations. When getting married out of state, logistically you do need to make sure you have the proper marriage license, officiant, and make sure you have waited for any waiting period from getting your license before the ceremony. Remember, different states have different laws regarding this.

3. Backyard Wedding

Rather than renting an expensive wedding venue, getting married in your backyard can be a more comfortable setting. If you do not have a backyard, or yours is too small to fit the wedding perhaps you can borrow a family member or friends backyard. Just keep in mind it is a pretty big ask to take over someone’s backyard for your special day.

Benefits of a backyard wedding are that you already own the space. You can spend a few days getting ready and staging your decorations. You have a bedroom there so you don’t have to worry about transportation after the party. You could even have guests crash there either in your house or in tents out back. If you want, that is.

Just like any other wedding venue, you can make it as fancy as you like. You can tie the knot with fancy catering, elaborate bouquets of flowers, etc.

4. Backcountry Wedding

Country weddings may be overdone, but backcountry weddings are more unique for sure. You can hike out to your favorite destination or try somewhere new. If you are new to backpacking, or the area you plan to visit, remember to consult with trusted friends with more experience.

One great aspect of a backcountry wedding, is when you are out in the middle of the wilderness, any creature comforts seem much fancier. It doesn’t take nearly as much to make it feel like you are eating like kings and queens. Backcountry permits are usually very affordable and are sometimes free.

5. Wear What You Want

Not excited about the traditional white wedding dress and tux? Well, good news. You can change it up. If you want, you can ditch the veil. Wear your favorite color instead of white, wear a completely different outfit than a dress. Wear matching outfits, wear wedding pants rather than a dress. You get to pick.

6. Skip The Champagne

Toasts of Champagne seems too stuffy? Try your favorite drink or have a signature cocktail for the toast. If you are keeping your wedding day dry, that works too. You could have an assortment of teas for the guests for toast. It is your day, you get to decide what will make it special.

7. Courthouse Ceremony

This is probably the most economical and quickest option. You will need two witnesses but can get married at the courthouse. This low frill option can still be made special. Afterward you can go out to eat with your friends and family at your favorite restaurant.

8. Have a Surprise Wedding

If you love surprise birthday parties, then consider throwing a surprise wedding. You get to avoid others fretting over the details and plan the wedding in secret. Since wedding planning is one of the most stressful aspects of a wedding, this can help with the process. Possibly looping in the Maid of Honor to help with the process.

Then you get to come up with an excuse for a party to have everyone over, and surprise! You are at a wedding!

9. Have a Wedding Weekend

Rather than focus on a big reception dinner, you could plan an entire wedding weekend. You could do a scavenger hunt, recreate some of the activities from your first dates, or plan a theme wedding.

10. Have A Unique Photo Booth

A photobooth has become a wedding staple. It is a great way to document the night, and doubles as impromptu wedding favors. It can be fun to incorporate your wedding theme. Here are some great DIY Photo Booth ideas.

11. Have a Wedding Brunch

Since brunch is the best meal of the day, why not celebrate over brunch instead of dinner. This can be a way to save some money while still creating a fun memorable experience. After all, waffles are cheaper than prime rib. Even with a Leslie Knope quantity of whipped cream

12. Taco Tuesday

Who says you have to get married on a Saturday? Having a wedding on a weekday has many benefits. You can get better rates and availability on vendors, have a more intimate gathering, and have a nice nontraditional wedding by having it on a weeknight.

How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding?

I think we can all agree that wedding’s are expensive. Usually at the early stages of the couple’s career, going into debt or spending all of your reserves is not the best financial decision. It could set you up for financial distress as newlyweds.

If you save 20% of your income to put towards the wedding, that should make for a good budget. It is a bit of a financial stretch, but at least it is not extending out before the engagement or putting you into debt after the wedding.

You should not feel pressured to keep up with other people’s weddings. They are not you, so what does it matter anyways.


Hopefully this gives you some ideas for planning your perfect alternative wedding. So get those wedding invitations out, or if you decided to throw a surprise wedding, those retirement invitations for Steve.

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