How to have a non-traditional wedding


I’m getting married in December. I’m getting married but there will be no white dress, no bridal party, no first dance, no giving away and no cutting of cake. Does that all sound a bit negative? If it does, it’s not supposed to.

I always wanted to be married and when I fell in love with R, I knew it for sure. But as we moved in together, bought houses and planned our future, a wedding seemed less and less important. By the time we decided to get married, I was trying to work out how we could take a Friday off work, pop to a registry office then celebrate with pizza and beers without telling our loved ones.

But we couldn’t. My family would kill me – as would some of my friends. Plus, I have absolutely loved watching each of my friends get married in the last few years – welling up during vows, laughing during speeches and rocking the dance floor in to the early hours. Every single wedding I’ve been to has been incredible, so it seemed a bit mean to take that enjoyment away from our nearest and dearest.

But still the question remained: How could we get married and have a wedding without it being a “Wedding”?

We started as we meant to go on. There was no proposal – I warned him many years ago I couldn’t cope with the cringe if he got down on one knee – so we decided to get married one Friday evening, whilst eating a takeaway curry and drinking wine and talking about life. I couldn’t have asked for anything more ‘us’.

We then spent the next few weeks planning everything. We chose a date, booked venues, tested and ordered food, we booked a photographer, I bought a dress online, tried it on in at home and asked for his opinion, and we made invitations together. At no point did we tell anyone.

We kept it a secret as long as we could. There was no Facebook announcement, there was no ‘engagement’ story, there was just us planning away in secret and it was more fun than I could have imagined. In the end we decided to tell people by sending out invitations and letting the postman/woman break the news. It was so brilliant receiving messages and calls from overexcited friends who had no idea until they saw the invite, and they all reacted in the best way possible. It reminded me that this was the excitement I wanted to share.

Since then, we’ve confidently ruled out every tradition going except for speeches and readings (because I adore speeches and we both love readings) and it was all going pretty well – until recently when I had a small freak-out that our non-traditional wedding will be no fun for anyone. I worried about our informal food, my lack of bouquet throwing and my non-white dress, fearing that people would wonder what we were playing at. It was all feeling a bit scary until we went back to basics and reminded ourselves that actually, whilst we hope everyone enjoys it, this is about us getting married. It’s not about spending £12k we don’t have on chair covers we don’t like and vol-au-vents we don’t want.

Stylist has published a couple of interesting articles on modern marriage recently, this one on a new generation redefining marriage and this one by Me & Orla blogger on an un-wedding for the unconventional bride. Although I’d love to call all of this unconventional, I’m pretty sure it’s actually fairly run-of-the-mill. For me, a wedding should reflect the happy couple and whether that involves a big white dress and cathedral veil or a pair of jeans and a trilby is entirely up to them. I can’t be alone in that thought.

For us, we just want it to be simple and fun and a true reflection of the things we love. It doesn’t need to be the ‘best day ever’. In fact, I’ve never quite understood why we would put that much pressure on ourselves. I just want three things from it: I want us to be married, I want to be well, and I want us to enjoy spending time with people who love us. If all that happens, I’ll call it a success.

Images in the post are from London Bride (www.london-bride.com)