Claire McClean Photography

Alternative Wedding Traditions For Your Wedding Day

This week on the blog I have a right treat for you all! The wonderful humanist celebrant that is Rachael Bowers has written some really great tips for you how to incorporate some alternative wedding traditions into your day. Sick of the same old traditions that everyone does, or just want to add a little extra spice and create a new tradition for you and your further generations to come? Rachael has some great ideas to get you started.

As a documentary wedding photographer, I love seeing people incorporate new and old traditions and really make the day their own. It always makes for some great images, not only of the tradition itslef but your guest’s reaction too! I love working with celebrants as they can give so much value to your day, not jus the ceremony. They can help give you great ideas just like the ones below!

It’s worth remembering that all wedding traditions were new once! People invent, borrow and adapt customs to suit their needs. As a wedding celebrant I see lots of fun ways to make your wedding more unique and memorable…

Alternative wedding traditions

Make It Visual

Symbolic acts don’t just look good in photos, they communicate your love in a way that moves and involves your guests. Exchanging wedding rings is a classic example of this, but increasingly couples are also inviting their guests to participate in ring warmings and hand-fastings or demonstrating their unity through a shared drink.

Personalised Wedding Vows

a bride holds her wedding vows as she reads them to the groom

No, they’re not just for MAFS participants! Writing your own wedding vows injects a massive dose of personality and sincerity into your wedding ceremony, letting your partner know exactly what you love about them and what this promise means to you. You can do your vows ninja style – where you each share your vows on your wedding day as a surprise – or if you’re feeling shy, you can read them quietly to yourself.

Wine Box Ceremonies

bride and groom share a drink

If standing up and sharing your wedding vows fills you with dread, a wine box ceremony is a fun alternative. Each partner writes a letter to their beloved reflecting on their excitement for the wedding, and explaining why they love them. During the ceremony, these letters are popped in a box with a good bottle of red wine and ceremonially nailed shut – quite a dramatic moment! When you reach your fifth wedding anniversary, you can open the box, drink the wine, read the letters and be transported back to your wedding day.

Group Singing

guests sing a song during wedding ceremony

A mid-ceremony sing along is an incredible way to inject energy into your wedding ceremony and get your party started! Choose a song everybody knows to ensure maximum participation! It can really help bring up the energy of your ceremony and is a great way to get everyone involved.

Cake for Canapés!

bride feeds groom cake

I love cake. You love cake. Everyone loves cake. But the best time for wedding cake is not when you’ve just eaten a 3 course dinner and sloshed wine into every available space in your stomach. The new best time to serve cake is at your drinks reception, that post-ceremony lull when everyone needs sugar for energy and frankly, to line their stomachs. Prosecco and cake are a match made in heaven, and your lovely wedding cake won’t get overlooked! How’s that for an alternative wedding tradition?

Get Everyone Involved

a bride and a groom walk into the ceremony together

There’s lots of traditionally male-only roles that could be shared more equitably! Some dads have dreamt of walking their daughter down the aisle since the moment she was born. Some couples acknowledge the role their mother has also played in raising them, and walk down the aisle with both parents. Other couples come to the marriage as equals, and choose to reflect this by entering the ceremony together too. Alternatively, each partner can have their own entrance, with their bridal crew and their own music – a twist on the usual bridal entrance!

Speeches can also be re-worked to be more modern; if your dad hates the idea of making a speech, can another close relative speak instead? The rise of bridesmaids speeches is an alternative wedding tradition I love!

Make a Weekend Of It

wedding ceremony processional

Big weddings can be a whirlwind, where it’s impossible to properly spend time with all your guests. Some of my favourite weddings have been those where the couple hired a big house, had a relatively small guest list, and conducted the wedding ceremony in the garden or a large room. This allowed guests to mingle before and after the wedding, and gave the whole affair a gorgeous house party vibe.

Which Alternative Wedding Traditions Will You Integrate Into Your Day?

Rachael Bowers wedding celebrant

Rachael Bowers is a Humanist wedding celebrant based in the historic city of York, North Yorkshire. She loves drinking Earl Grey, talking about weddings and stand up paddle boarding (not all at once).

If your looking for a wedding photographer to capture your wedding day, feel free to get in touch here.