By Anna Kocharian and Lydia Geisel

Published on May 21, 2018

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Photography by meghan mcneer 

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.

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Photography by lauren spinelli

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.

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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.

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Courtesy of JACK AND JANE PHOTOGRAPHY via South bound bride

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.

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Photography by meghan mcneer

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. 

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Photography by cody guilfoyle

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.

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Courtesy of stone fox 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.

Get it here!

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Courtesy of DANIEL CRUZ PHOTOGRAPHER VIA 100 LAYER CAKE

 

Globally-Inspired Aisle Runners

 

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

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Courtesy of THE REASON VIA 100 LAYER CAKE

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.


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Courtesy of INTIMATE WEDDING

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

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Photography by  MADEMOISELLE FIONA

 

Mini Champagne Favors

 

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

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Courtesy of  PROJECT WEDDING

Floral Chandeliers

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

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Courtesy of ROYALLACEBRIDAL.COM

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. 

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Courtesy of  WWW.CALIEROSE.COM

Long-Stemmed Bouquets

This breathtaking bunch of fresh lavender and wildflowers make for a quintessentially effortless cluster. 

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Courtesy of  BENWEBBDESIGN.COM

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. 

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Photography by WEHEARTPHOTOGRAPHY

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.  

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Courtesy of APARTMENT 34

Floral Garland Balloons

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

Get the how-tos here!

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Courtesy of STONE FOX BRIDE

 

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!

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Photography by SEAN FLANIGAN VIA RUFFLED

 

Vintage Postcard Invites

 

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

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Courtesy of MR. AND MRS. WEDDING DUO VIA 100 LAYER CAKE

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. 

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Photography by LOGAN COLE

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.

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Courtesy of GREENWEDDINGSHOES.COM

The Flowerless Bouquet

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

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Courtesy of STONEFOXBRIDE.COM

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!

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Courtesy of OKRFOTO VIA SWOONED MAGAZINE

 

Double Duty Menus

 

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

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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!

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Courtesy of RUFFLEDBLOG.COM

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. 

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Courtesy of TEAANDBECKY

Must-Have Matchbox

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

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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. 

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Courtesy of  THE REASON VIA 100 LAYER CAKE

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.

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Courtesy of CITY LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY VIA 100 LAYER CAKE

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.

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Courtesy of WEDDINGBELLS.CA

Donut Layers

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

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Photography by MAX DWORKIN VIA 100 LAYER CAKE

The Color Tease

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

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Courtesy of PINAR / CURIOUSME DESIGNS

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.

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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. 

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Courtesy of BRIDALMUSINGS.COM

Overflowing Florals

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

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Courtesy of WEDDINGCHICKS.COM

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.

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Courtesy of FOUND ON THESTYLECO.COM.AU

The Geometric Alter

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

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Courtesy of THE BEAUTY BRIDAL

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.

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Courtesy of HEIDI OF OUR LABOR OF LOVE

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.

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Courtesy of BLOG.ETSY.COM

Piñata Cake

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

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Courtesy of GREEN WEDDING SHOES

The Desert Reception

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

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Courtesy of GREEN WEDDING SHOES

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. 

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Courtesy of  FOXONTHERUNBRIDE.TUMBLR.COM

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.

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Courtesy of INTIMATEWEDDINGS.COM

Wire Cake Topper

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

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Photography by SEAN FLANIGAN VIA RUFFLED

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?

Chic and Clever Bridesmaids Gifts You’ll Actually Want to Give
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Would You Host Your Wedding at an Airbnb?

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