20 Fun Non-Traditional Ways to Personalize Your Wedding Ceremony

non-traditional wedding ceremonies

How to include meaningful touches in your ceremony to make it unique, personal and memorable!

Here on Poptastic Bride, we focus on weddings that aren’t cookie cutter, not for the sake of being irreverent or different but for the purpose of making it truly your own. Here are examples of how couples I featured in 2013 made their weddings truly theirs.

colorful diy backyard wedding

1. Design your own ceremony

This creative couple invented their ceremony completely from scratch! The seats were set up so that guests would be sitting around them in concentric spirals. There were long ribbons that ran along the spirals. The rings were threaded through the ribbons from the outer edge, allowing each guest to touch and pass on the rings through the ribbon and help them make their way to the couple in the center. It was their own take on “ring warming” and it symbolized how each guest played a role in the couple’s union. After getting the rings off the ribbons, the ends of the ribbons were then tied together.

From Amelia & Mike’s Colorful Spirals-and-Ribbons-filled DIY Backyard Wedding, photos by OhKarina Photography

handfasting ceremony

2. Incorporate elements from your heritage

This couple included a hand fasting ceremony based from the groom’s Celtic heritage.

From Heather & Steve’s Epic Eco-Friendly DIY Wedding (with a Bowling Party!), photos by Kristen Schueler Photography

handfasting ceremony

3. Get your family involved

The couple’s immediate family were involved in each of their vows. The bride’s sister performed a song on her ocarina as a symbol of the couple’s love for music; the groom’s mom read a poem that the bride’s late grandfather had written; the bride’s father presented an artwork that depicted the couple’s adventures; the groom’s brother led the hand-fasting with cords he knotted himself; the bride’s mom led their unity ceremony wherein they planted flowers; and the groom’s father led the ring warming. A patchwork scarf itself was made by the groom’s sister, meant to drape over the couple to symbolize their promise to keep each other warm and safe.

From Dagny & Andrew’s Cute, Colorful and Cozy DIY Eco-Friendly Wedding, photos by OhKarina Photography

circus wedding

4. Decorate the space with unique handmade elements

The bride’s father built the altar piece and they hung glass spherical vases and put candles inside them. The couple also included their daughter in their ceremony — they gave her a necklace to symbolize their strong family bond.

From Melissa & Jeremey’s Colorful and Creative Vintage Circus-themed Wedding, photos by BellowBlue

double knot wedding

5. Make your own wedding ceremony ritual 

Because this couple had already “tied the knot”, they thought of “double-knotting” their marriage. Instead of a unity candle, they joined two ropes using a fisherman’s knot. As the bride put it, “With tension, the knot only grows tighter; the separate ropes will snap before the knot comes undone.  With marriage, we will face different hardships, but the pressure will only serve to strengthen our bond.”

From Veronica & Chad’s “Purple, Turquoise, and Peacock Feathers” Zoo Wedding, photos by Tekoa Rose Photography

wedding with rose ceremony

6. Involve your loved ones through a special ceremony

This couple didn’t want a traditional unity ceremony so they did a rose ceremony . Each member of their family put a red rose in a vase for the couple. Their mothers gave them two white roses, which they exchanged and put in the vase.

From Melissa & Steve’s DIY Travel-themed Wedding with a Rose Ceremony and Personal Craft Beer, photos by Rachael Foster Photography

DUMBO wedding

7. Hold your wedding in the place where you had your first date however unexpected that venue may be

This couple had their first date on the steps of Brooklyn Bridge Park so that’s where they had their ceremony!

From Erika & Hayward’s Artistic and Eclectic Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO Loft Wedding, photos by De Nueva Photography

architecture themed wedding

8. Hold your wedding in a venue that represents you and your interests

This architect couple had their ceremony at a church that was known for its unique structure. As a bonus, they ended up with stunning wedding portraits!

From April & Manny’s Modern, Chic and Artistic Architecture-themed Wedding, photos by Joel H. Garcia Photography

nyc bookstore wedding

9. Love books? Hold your wedding in a bookstore (or a library).

Wall to wall books provide an interesting backdrop. From the bride: “While Tom was searching for a special place to get married, he stumbled upon the Housing Works Bookstore in a blog with amazing photos that captured the warmth and spirit of the celebration we wanted. He proposed the idea to me and I agreed that the bookstore was the perfect place for us and we knew we didn’t need to look anywhere else.”

From Chrissy & Tom’s Chic and Cozy New York Bookstore Wedding, photos by Sarah Tew Photography

dia de los muertos wedding aboard a ship

10. Love traveling? Hold your wedding aboard a ship.

This couple had their wedding aboard the Queen Mary which made it a unique and memorable experience for them and their guests.

From Elsa & Alex’ Dia de los Muertos Wedding Aboard the Queen Mary, photos by Jason Burns Photography

NOLA wedding

11. Love music? Hold your wedding in a live music or concert hall.

This couple chose the House of Blues because it was one of the first places they met and they both love music. The hip, colorful vibe also reflected their funky nature.

From Megan & Stephen’s Offbeat and Funky House of Blues NOLA Wedding, photos by Catherine Guidry

theatre wedding

12. Too cool for tradition? Look for alternative venues… like a local independent theatre.

This couple wasn’t particularly religious and they wanted their wedding to reflect their offbeat selves so they found a local theater. They got married right on stage and before their ceremony, they played a homemade movie on the screen with lots of funny clips of the two of them.

From Alexandra & Roger’s Intimate Non-Traditional Wedding in a Theater, photos by Justine Johnson Photography

voodoo wedding

13. This is extreme but if you can hack it, why not? Get married over and over again all over the world.

Lisa & Alex are quite famous on the internets for getting married all over the world AND having different themes for each of them. (See 2 People 1 Life). I was lucky enough to have featured their Voodoo themed wedding which happened to be their 28th ceremony. As of this writing (Jan 21. 2014), the just had wedding #56 in Turkey!

From Lisa & Alex’s Voodoo Marriage in New Orleans (wedding No. 28 for this couple!), photos by Imagine Photography

toilet paper vows

14. Ease up the tension. Make your partner laugh by doing something fun and silly.

From the bride: “My personalized vows were written on toilet paper to look longer then it is, and to be used if I started getting teary eyed.”

From Elizabeth & Chris’ Beautifully Blinged-up Purple and Orange DIY Wedding, photos by Maria Angela Photography

mexican party wedding

15. If it suits your theme, set a festive tone early on in the ceremony.

This celebration’s theme was “A Mexican Wedding in Montana” . Barefooted flower girls danced and twirled like little whirling dervishes down the aisle, shaking their maracas in lieu of flower petals.

From Tana & Tom’s Festive and Colorful DIY Mexican Wedding in Montana, photos by Fran Ze Photography

story reading at a wedding ceremony

16. Include a special reading from a beloved storybook.

This couple’s ceremony included the reading of a children’s book, “A Lovely Love Story”, read by a bridesmaid. From the bride: “We felt the book depicted us and our relationship rather well, while also showing our love of books and all things quirky.”

From Laura & Orion’s Glamorous Vintage-Style City Wedding, photos by Candace Jeffery Photography

sing your wedding vows

17. Sing your vows or treat your bride (or groom) to a special surprise performance.

From the bride: “When our unity candles wouldn’t light (that we placed in lanterns so that wouldn’t happen lol) he took over and surprised me by singing & playing a song that he wrote for me for that day. :) Greatest moment I’ve ever had. He forgot the words a few times and made up silly lyrics on the spot which made me love the song all the more!”

From Anna & Beau’s Sweet Cheery Yellow and Grey Wedding with Rustic DIY Details, photos by Berg Photography

walking down the aisle

18. Walk down the aisle to music specially customized for you.

This couple had their friends rewrite and rearrange a song, “Cross My Heart” by George Straight. The original was way too “country-twangy”, according to the bride, so they rearranged it to a John Mayer/Jack Johnson version. “They sang it as I walked down the aisle. I cried the whole way down the aisle. It was beautiful and I was overcome with joy. What a special moment it was.”

From Melissa & Mark’s Rustic and Romantic Starry Summer Night Wedding, photos by Imagine Photography

church pews outdoor wedding

19. Bring the indoors outdoors!

Both sets of parents wanted a church venue but they did love the venue. To please and honor their wishes, the couple laid out church pews in the garden. They even had free standing doors to add to the church feel.

From Audrey & Brian’s Elegant and Rustic DIY Estatoah Falls Wedding, photos by Cariad Photography

80s wedding recessional

20. Celebrate your union and dance your way down the aisle.

I know that dancing processionals / recessionals are already quite popular all over but I wanted to include this couple on this list because of their awesome retro song choice: “What a Feeling (Flashdance)” by Irene Cara which started playing as soon as they kissed.

From Steph & Sanj’s Fun and Whimsical Hand-Crafted Wedding with an 80s Kick, photos by Devic Fotos

Did this roundup inspire you to personalize your own wedding ceremony too? Feel free to share this list with your fellow brides!

*  You might also want to check out these Alternative Wedding Readings From Indie Rock Love Songs
*  or these 20 Ideas for a Unique and Memorable Nontraditional Wedding 
* Here are other ways to personalize your wedding
*  For further inspiration, here are tons more funky wedding ideas

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