Photography by meghan mcneer  Courtesy of EA/Maxis

From edgy engagement rings to revolutionary party favors, the trendy, modern bride seems to want little to do with tradition, and everything to do with defying the ordinary. Unafraid of tossing out the rulebook, the rebellious bride is all for mixing things up on the day-of. Want to wow your guests with the unexpected? The alternative ideas ahead are sure to inspire the renegade within.

Photography by lauren spinelli Courtesy of EA/Maxis

A Laid-Back Backyard Reception

Though Connie Wang’s low-key backyard reception in Encinitas, California, featured hot cheetos, carnation centerpieces, and a taco stand, her relaxed celebration steered totally clear of barbeque vibes. Fun and custom touches—like having a pie instead of a fondant-laden cake and serving food on mismatched vintage place settings—kept the party from feeling like a casual, at-home gathering.

Photography by meghan mcneer

City Hall: The Cool-Girl Way

If fluffy dresses, flowers, and fancy food don’t speak your language, consider taking your vows down to City Hall. Following their 80-something-second ceremony, NYC-based writer Molly Young and her now-husband Teddy Blanks opted for photos at a nearby party store and feasted on burgers and fries at a local diner before hosting a next-day soiree at their home with friends.

Courtesy of JACK AND JANE PHOTOGRAPHY via South bound bride

Courtesy of Experimental Chalet

Hoop Bouquet

This wreath-like alternative is a simple way to make a unique statement as you make your way down the aisle. Whether bound in wispy wildflowers or clad in exotic greenery, a hoop bouquet makes for a refreshing and trendy floral display.

Photography by meghan mcneer Courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith

Dip-Dyed Wedding Dress

Eco-conscious and fashion-forward brides alike will appreciate this one-of-a-kind, dip-dyed look. For her colorful creations, natural dyer

cara marie piazza

uses unusual, all-natural ingredients—from onion skins to avocado pits—as the basis for the potent pigments she uses to transform wedding gowns and other textiles. 

Photography by cody guilfoyle Courtesy of

An Edgy Engagement Ring

Nothing sets the scene for an anything-but-basic engagement to come quite like the ring. Emerald stunners and unconventionally-cut diamonds are just two jewel trends we’re currently loving for the unconventional bride.

Courtesy of stone fox bride Photography by Laurel Gallucci

The Boho Robe Dress

This stunning layered, silk crepe dress has a not-so-subtle touch of character (those arms!) and plenty of style to steal the show.

Get it here!


Globally-Inspired Aisle Runners

Layers of

vintage rugs

lend an exotic touch to complement the boho chic setup of this outdoor fete.


The Boho Alter

This captivating alter alternative gives the traditional a run for its money. See the rest of this vintage, brunch-themed wedding here.

Courtesy of INTIMATE WEDDING Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

The Stand-Alone Bouquet
Find a flower that makes a statement and skip the fillers, for a truly unique and one-of-a-kind look. Our top picks for single-flower bouquets:

  • Sunflowers
  • Dahlias
  • Peonies
  • Magnolias
  • Roses
Photography by  MADEMOISELLE FIONA Courtesy of Justina Blakeney

Mini Champagne Favors

Send guests off with mini bottles of bubbly strapped with personalized straws. 


Floral Chandeliers

Skip the lavish centerpieces and opt for these statement chandeliers instead. 

Courtesy of ROYALLACEBRIDAL.COM Photography courtesy of Jonathan Adler

Crepe Cake

Thin layers of mouthwatering crepes filled with a delectable cream, topped with fresh berries, and a generous dusting of powdered sugar. Yep, it doesn’t get better than that. 

Courtesy of  WWW.CALIEROSE.COM Photography courtesy of Matteo Thun

Long-Stemmed Bouquets
This breathtaking bunch of fresh lavender and wildflowers make for a quintessentially effortless cluster. 

Courtesy of  BENWEBBDESIGN.COM Photography courtesy of Franz Viegener

Going Bare

Bare cakes are having a moment, and we can see why. This stunning arrangement proves that sometimes, a little less is certainly more. 

Photography by WEHEARTPHOTOGRAPHY Photography courtesy of Ryspot Design

Taco Truck
Pass on the chicken or the fish and instead spring for a food truck of your favorite grub! We love the idea of a taco truck for a summer wedding! Oh, and it probably comes with margaritas too.  

Courtesy of APARTMENT 34 Photography courtesy of Ryspot Design

Floral Garland Balloons

This clever and equally stunning DIY makes for a unique backdrop and even better venue decor.

Get the how-tos here!


The Ombre Dress

Take a note from the bridesmaids and opt for a dress that’s fearless in color and daring in design. This ombre, rose silk dress finds its color from a hibiscus tea dye and definitely makes quite the statement.

Get it here!

Photography by SEAN FLANIGAN VIA RUFFLED Photography by Anita Yokota

Vintage Postcard Invites

These inspired invites channel the spirit of the West with a motley of details ranging from cool tones to stunning illustrations. 

Courtesy of MR. AND MRS. WEDDING DUO VIA 100 LAYER CAKE Photography by Anita Yokota

Olive Bar

Skip the typical cocktail hour grub (we’re looking at you mini mozzarella and tomato skewers) in lieu of a loaded olive bar with fresh olive oil and plenty of baguettes.

See more of this Tuscan vineyard wedding here. 

Photography by LOGAN COLE Photography by Anita Yokota

Ceremony Seating Options

Opt for an eclectic mix of seating solutions for the ceremony, in lieu of the traditional side chair. Stick to an exclusive pattern of complementary shades to keep the look cohesive.

Courtesy of GREENWEDDINGSHOES.COM Photography by Anita Yokota

The Flowerless Bouquet

Skip the florals in lieu of a vibrant cluster of fresh greens and kumquats.  

Courtesy of STONEFOXBRIDE.COM Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Bridal Crown

This stunning golden halo, embroidered with a metallic thread with glass beads and crystals, makes for the ultimate topper for the bride. 
Get it here!

Courtesy of OKRFOTO VIA SWOONED MAGAZINE Courtesy of Poketo

Double Duty Menus

Top each table with brown paper bags (that double as menus!) filled with popcorn, for guests to munch on before dinner. 

Photography by STONE FOX BRIDE

Silk Flower Chain

We’ll admit it, there’s nothing quite like a delicate downpour of dainty florals woven in a soft braid, in lieu of the typical flower crown or veil. This silk flower garland of roses and lilies is a show-stopper to say the least.

Get it here!

Courtesy of RUFFLEDBLOG.COM Courtesy of Balarama Heller for Coming Soon

Stack of Cheese Wheels

A cheese cake (no, not that kind) topped with fresh seasonal fruit and bundles of herbs may be untraditional, but it certainly doesn’t compromise on taste. 

Courtesy of TEAANDBECKY Courtesy of CB2

Must-Have Matchbox

Guests won’t be able to resist these dainty keepsakes. Get them here.

Courtesy of FAB MOOD

Hay Hour

For the cocktail hour in need of a little woodsy charm, we’re all for this clever setup of rustic pieces. 

Courtesy of  THE REASON VIA 100 LAYER CAKE Courtesy of Yamazaki

Chicken and Waffle Sliders

Cocktail hour doesn’t get any better than this. Kick the night off with these mouthwatering, bite-sized treats that are sure to be a hit. Take a peek at this vintage brunch wedding.

Courtesy of CITY LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY VIA 100 LAYER CAKE Photography by Tyler Hogan

Field Florals

When it comes to decking the venue with flowers, whether it be for the ceremony or reception, take a slightly different approach. This overflowing bucket filled with an eclectic mix of bucolic greens is surely one way to embrace this rustic trend. See more of this charming Hamptons wedding here.

Courtesy of WEDDINGBELLS.CA Photography by Tyler Hogan

Donut Layers

This refreshingly simple take on a classic concept lends a light-hearted touch that’s sure to please.

Photography by MAX DWORKIN VIA 100 LAYER CAKE Photography by Tyler Hogan

The Color Tease

Skip the bouquet or statement making florals and opt for a dress with a subtle pop of color instead. 

Courtesy of PINAR / CURIOUSME DESIGNS Courtesy of West Elm

Hand-Drawn Invites

Wedding invites often come standard, despite the myriad options available for customization. Then there’s this charming hand-drawn invite (that doubles as a map!), which takes the cake for originality. Get the scoop here.

Photography by THE KITCHN

Waffle Cake

For the morning reception (and even dinner, who are we to judge?) there’s hardly any other logical alternative. 


Overflowing Florals
An eclectic mix of vibrant florals are best when grouped with complementary shades and subtly textured accents.


Desert Bar

If there’s anything better than wedding cake, we’d like to think it’s this. Let guests do the picking and opt for a dessert bar with a wide variety of sweets and treats.


The Geometric Alter

This honeycomb-inspired backdrop, interspersed with hanging bulbs and a stunning floral arrangement, is the ultimate backdrop for the urban wedding. 


A Jumpsuit

For the modern bride who’s not afraid to make a statement, we’re all for this chic jumpsuit with a textured off-the-shoulder lamb wrap, from Theia.


Pie Bar

What’s better than wedding cake? An entire bar filled with an assortment of decadent pies, of course! Perfect for an autumn affair.

Courtesy of BLOG.ETSY.COM

Piñata Cake

Not into pastries or baked goodies? Try out a cake-shaped piñata filled with your favorite sweets!


The Desert Reception

This charming setup invites guests to an intimate arrangement of cozy spots for an evening spent under the stars.  


Desert Favors

As far as wedding favors go, a little variety never hurt. An eclectic mix of southwestern-inspired pieces (think cacti and candles) will surely please. 

Courtesy of  FOXONTHERUNBRIDE.TUMBLR.COM Courtesy of Yamazaki

Art Deco Cake
Skip the traditional form of a delicately detailed cake in lieu of something with a bit more edge. These fiercely designed alternatives just might do the trick.

Courtesy of INTIMATEWEDDINGS.COM Courtesy of Ames

Wire Cake Topper

This wedding cake staple, fashioned of a sleek metallic finish, instills a refined accent for the modern cake.


Crystal Placeholders

Elevate plain place cards by topping each with a unique stone or crystal. See more of this charming wedding here.

​This story was originally published December 30, 2015. It has been updated with new information. 

Want more wedding ideas?

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