45 Refreshing Ideas for the Unconventional Bride
Nontraditional ideas for your big day.
Updated Oct 17, 2018 4:30 PM
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 dyercara 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.
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.
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.
Globally-Inspired Aisle Runners
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.
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:
Mini Champagne Favors
Send guests off with mini bottles of bubbly strapped with personalized straws.
Skip the lavish centerpieces and opt for these statement chandeliers instead.
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.
This breathtaking bunch of fresh lavender and wildflowers make for a quintessentially effortless cluster.
Bare cakes are having a moment, and we can see why. This stunning arrangement proves that sometimes, a little less is certainly more.
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.
Floral Garland Balloons
This clever and equally stunning DIY makes for a unique backdrop and even better venue decor.
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.
Vintage Postcard Invites
These inspired invites channel the spirit of the West with a motley of details ranging from cool tones to stunning illustrations.
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.
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.
The Flowerless Bouquet
Skip the florals in lieu of a vibrant cluster of fresh greens and kumquats.
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!
Double Duty Menus
Top each table with brown paper bags (that double as menus!) filled with popcorn, for guests to munch on before dinner.
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.
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.
Guests won’t be able to resist these dainty keepsakes. Get them here.
For the cocktail hour in need of a little woodsy charm, we’re all for this clever setup of rustic pieces.
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.
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.
This refreshingly simple take on a classic concept lends a light-hearted touch that’s sure to please.
The Color Tease
Skip the bouquet or statement making florals and opt for a dress with a subtle pop of color instead.
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.
For the morning reception (and even dinner, who are we to judge?) there’s hardly any other logical alternative.
An eclectic mix of vibrant florals are best when grouped with complementary shades and subtly textured accents.
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.
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.
What’s better than wedding cake? An entire bar filled with an assortment of decadent pies, of course! Perfect for an autumn affair.
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.
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.
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.
Wire Cake Topper
This wedding cake staple, fashioned of a sleek metallic finish, instills a refined accent for the modern cake.
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.
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