Unique, unusual and alternative wedding ceremony ideas

Having a celebrant perform your vows really opens up your wedding ceremony options. Traditional wedding vows are often religious vows in front of God or another religious custom.

Many couples planning an alternative wedding ceremony opt for more personal vows that they write together.

This is a wonderful way to express the love you have for each other and create new memories to share and reminisce about in the future.

But a non-traditional wedding ceremony can be so much more!

There are many ways to celebrate your commitment and special traditions you can choose to include in your day.

Or why not start your own traditions!

Here are our favorite alternative wedding ceremony ideas:

gay wedding

1. Pagan Vows

The pagan ceremony would speak about the magic of life, nature and community. It would also include references to their ancestors watching over them, asking the ancestors to help them on their journey together in life.

Pagan vows can include promises to stay true, respect one another for who they are, keep the fire burning and embrace each other’s changes.

Head to our pagan wedding guide blog for the full details.


2. HAND-FASTING ritual – Tying the know

With hand-fasting, the couple is joined by a cord or ribbon. This cord is tied around the couple’s hands, traditionally by an elder who has walked this path before them. Handfasting represents the joining of two people as one.

Traditionally they make promises to each other and share their wishes for the future, eat from the same loaf of bread, sipping red wine over it. The ceremony would end with the breaking of the loaf and handing out pieces to everyone present.


Knotting the cords

Knotted cords have long been symbolic of life and eternity because they cannot be undone. The couple can opt to do their own knots however couples often times choose to mix their knots to represent themselves as a pair as well as individuals.

Knot tying can also contain additional symbolism such as promising never to break apart from each other only grow closer together over time as the knot gets tighter or it can mean you will grow into one another as your knot gets tighter.

Hand fasting can be done privately between the couple and their celebrant however it is also a beautiful alternative to have family or friends involved as well as the audience.

3. Tree planting Ceremony

Couples dig a hole together, each with a little dirt from where they grew up. They then plant a tree together symbolising how they will grow old together even as roots entangle and branches intertwine around them.

A Chinese alternative would be for the couple to plant one flowering bush representing their new life growing through all of their shared memories of love, laughter and tears.

The planting of trees has long been associated with fertility and rebirth so it’s no surprise that couples enjoy continuing this tradition in alternative weddings today!


4. Sand ceremony

A Sand Ceremony is a one-of-a-kind way to signify two people’s lives coming together in a wedding ceremony. This is also a fantastic option for including children or family in the wedding.

After exchanging vows the couple pours coloured sands into a vase symbolising their lives mixing together. It can be poured from one vessel to another or side by side into separate vessels.

Sand ceremonies are not limited to alternative weddings and can even be found in resorts and other locations where couples enjoy getting married!


5. Unity candle wedding ceremony

At a Unity candle ceremony, the couple will have their own separate candles lit. The candles symbolise their lives and who they are as individuals. Then one other candle is lit and this represents their lives becoming one as they light the third candle together.

The candle lighting ceremony is a fairly recent wedding tradition; it has grown in popularity over the last few decades. Lighting candles and joining them together is the physical representation of their commitment, and the blending of their two families, lifestyles and beliefs.

spain wedding ceremony

6. Rose ceremony

The rose wedding ceremony can be done in a few different ways. It can be the passing of the bud roses between the couple during the vows. The bus roses symbolise that as the rose grows and opens, so do the couple’s love as they grow together.


7. Wedding wine ceremony

This alternative wedding ceremony is the perfect option for couples who enjoy wine. The couple will have their own glasses of wine during the ceremony which are poured together into a third glass to symbolise becoming one in marriage.

As they pour it can be said that all loves are sweet but with sharing, the sweetness grows stronger.


8. Friend or family officiant

Have a friend or family member perform your ceremony. This is perfect for smaller intimate weddings. It really is the ultimate way to have a personal, meaningful wedding ceremony.

If you wish to include someone in your ceremony but it isn’t quite appropriate for them to conduct it.  They might consider reading a poem or saying some words during the service which is oftentimes even more emotional than standing upfront.


9. Ring kissing

A ring kissing ceremony is an alternative wedding ceremony that involves the couple kissing their ring before exchanging it as a symbol of love and fidelity.

gay wedding reading alternative ceremony vows to each other

10. Wedding band warming

The warming of wedding bands is a lovely symbolic gesture where the band are passed around the guest to hold and warm the cold metal of the rings. The rings are then passed back to the couple and placed briefly on their hands so they can feel the warmth left behind by the guests.


11. Elements ceremony 

A wedding elements ceremony is a beautiful alternative wedding ceremony where the couple exchange three elements: light, wind and water.

– The light symbolises a new beginning a new life together.

-The wind represents the challenges they may face together in their marriage.

-The water represents their tears of sadness and joy during this time in their lives.

At the end of the ceremony, all three are combined to represent unity in marriage; one body, one soul, one spirit.”   


12. Whisky ceremony – Quaich

Quaich is a Gaelic word for “two hands holding”.

This alternative wedding ceremony starts with the couple sharing some whisky, symbolising their love and life together.

The vessel is passed around all the guests so they can join in on this moment in celebration of the couple’s marriage.

The Quaich signifies many things but mostly represents friendship, well wishes and good luck to the newlyweds.”   

Drinking from a Quaich is an ancient Scottish ceremony, symbolic of trust, love and peace between two people.

whisky non traditional ceremony

13. Love letters ceremony

Writing a love letter to one another is a great non-traditional wedding ceremony. Let each other know why you love one another and what makes your relationship so special.

Letters can be read to the couple as part of the wedding ceremony or kept as a symbol of their treasured connection throughout life together.


14. Painted canvas ceremony

This is perfect for the artistic couple, where guests can watch as they paint their very first piece of art together symbolising how their lives are merging into one.


15. Sundial wedding ceremony

The sundial wedding ceremony is a Celtic tradition that is still used in certain parts of Ireland today. The couple’s fingertips touch through a sundial hole, which serves as a confirmation of their marriage as well as a powerful symbol. The sundial is a carved stone.

16. Lasso wedding ceremony

The wedding lasso tradition is a traditional ceremony that follows the exchange of vows and uses a lasso or rope to connect the couple. It is placed over the couple’s shoulders by either the officiant or godparents and symbolizes their forever lasting union and unity as one in the eyes of God.

17. Glass ceremony

A glass smashing ceremony is a Jewish wedding tradition where the bride and groom break glass with their feet, signifying that their love will be full of ups and downs but ultimately the couple will always find themselves back together.

The breaking of the glass symbolizes how no matter what happens, the couple has each other to lean on.

industrial new york wedding

18. Jumping the broom

This tradition was practised by the Romany culture, The Scottish, The Irish and even spread as far as Africa. The origins of the Broom are unknown, and it has different meanings in various cultures.

In pagan culture, the handle was said to represent the male principle and the brush the female. They were a symbol of fertility since they represented the ideal balance between masculine and feminine.


Scotland tradition 

In Scotland, the pair would need to leap over the broom that lay across their doorway in their new house. If they could walk across the threshold without disturbing the broom, this was an excellent sign for their future., if not they could expect rougher time ahead.

In more modern times jumping the broom has found new popularity with couples. Using decorative brooms and hanging them in their homes afterwards as keepsakes. It is done as part of the ceremony and can be jumped down the aisle.


19. Humanist ceremony

Humanist wedding ceremonies focus more on the celebration of love between two people and less on any formal religious vows.

The couple can write their own vows, or they can make a speech to each other as a way of celebrating their union before those who are closest to them.

Or couples can work with a celebrant who will write a full ceremony personalised to their relationship. This can include any traditions they wish or input from family and friends.


20. Stone ceremony – Oathing Stones

An Oathing Stone is a Scottish custom in which you touch a stone while sharing your marriage vows. It was considered the ideal method to make a binding agreement permanent in the physical world.

This ancient ceremony is rooted deeply in the Celtic tribal traditions. Having a connection to your ancestors and the land was, in fact, a key component to any major new life event, particularly marriage.

The Oathing stone serves as a foundation for your future by reconnecting you to the wisdom of the past at the start of your new life.


21. Commitment Rings Ceremony

So this one is the modern tradition but why not mix it up with special rings, ones designed by each other.

The ring ceremony is a symbolic gesture acknowledging the everlasting love and commitment that the couple share with each other and these rings will also serve as a symbol of that love and commitment for years to come.

The couple places the rings on each other’s fingers with care and respect, ensuring that no harm comes to them during this exchange. It is important at this time to not only focus on giving but also receiving, taking note of which hands you put your ring on before it continues onto its rightful owner!

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