While planning a wedding, every bride has a vision of their big day being the most unique, show-stopping, memorable event that their guests have ever seen. That said, achieving this is usually easier said than done. Incorporating unique wedding details is a great way to ensure your wedding is the party to end all parties, one that your guests will remember for years to come. If you’re a non-traditional bride looking to make your big day stand out, this one’s for you.
So, what exactly makes a modern wedding feel unique? “Fewer details overall that allows guests to focus on each striking element,” explains Jeffra Trumpower, Senior Creative Director at WeddingWire. Every detail “tends to be contemporary and unconventional, allowing the modern couple’s unique vision to really shine,” Trumpower explains. In other words, a modern wedding should reflect who you and your partner are as a couple, not just check off the traditional ceremony stereotypes. That’s why adding in some unique wedding details is key.
These details can range from decor to a reimagining of traditional elements, like vows and seating arrangements. It can even be the way food is served at your cocktail hour or reception. Amy Shack Egan, founder & CEO of Modern Rebel, a wedding planning service for the modern bride, agrees: “The really beautiful thing about making sure your event reflects the real highlight—your relationship—is that you write the rules.”
Need some inspo? Read on for some of the best unique wedding ideas to include on your big day, and just see if you can’t wow your guests with the stand-out details below.
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For The Ceremony
Just because your mom walked down a traditional aisle, doesn’t mean you have to! “Come in via the sides, or get married in the round,” suggests Shack Egan. Rather than setting up regular wedding pews in straight rows, get creative with your seating. “Bring in lounge furniture and mix and match pieces,” suggests Egan for anyone wanting a more relaxed vibe. The best part of a more unique setup? In a round ceremony, everyone has a great view of you and your future spouse!
Another way to spice up your ceremony is through your vows. If reading intimate vows in front of your guests isn’t your thing, try community vows instead. “Ask various members of your family and friends to stand and read [vows] aloud, and ask the guests to take these vows, too,” Egan recommends. This is a wonderful way for your close friends and family to participate in the ceremony, especially if you’re not a fan of public speaking.
Lastly, never stress about gender norm pressures on your big day! Don’t feel like your bridesmaids or groomsmen have to be “maids” (i.e. women) or men. According to the 2019 WeddingWire Newlywed Report, 34% of couples have a mixed-gender wedding party, a number we’re sure to see increase as we head into the next decade. So send out a Will You Be My Bridesman card and let your besties be a part of your day!
At The Cocktail Hour
After the cocktail hour, replace traditional seating cards with a champagne wall, and put a tag or stirrer with each guest’s name and table number on the glasses. Guests will be able to enjoy a sip of bubbly and easily find their table! If you’re hoping to further toss tradition, do away with a seating chart entirely and see who makes a new BFF on your big day.
If you’d rather the champagne wall just be a fun décor element, do away with the name tags and let guests grab as many glasses as they please throughout the night. This works especially well at a non-seated dinner reception with activation stations and buffets, in lieu of a traditional four-course meal.
Speaking of! Skip the passed hors d’oeuvres and bar set up and opt for activation stations instead. Need some inspo? “Like a margarita truck and make-your-own taco bar,” suggests Trumpower, “or a cocktail artist to make custom craft cocktails with character.” Yes, please!
One station I loved at a recent wedding event included specialty cocktails which featured a printed photo of your choice in foam on top of your drink. Definitely a memorable and unique cocktail hour experience, especially if you make your engagement photos one of the options!
During The Reception
The key to nailing a modern, unique wedding visually? “Bright pops of color within an otherwise neutral color palette,” says Trumpower. “Lucite and acrylic clear details, block-letter fonts, and geometric lighting and accents—all of which truly bring the wow factor.” I mean, that’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it?
Neon signs add a super funky touch to an otherwise simple setup. Hang a “Mr. & Mrs.” sign behind your bandstand, a “Cheers!” sign over your bar area or at your dessert table to make your cake and sweet treats really pop.
Another way to give your reception some edge is to ditch dancing in favor of a more performative experience. Treat your guests to “an alternative entertainer, like a magician or musician to perform a show over dinner and cocktails,” suggests Trumpower. If you or your partner have some special talents, dedicate a song or dance to perform for one another!
Finally, If serving a wedding cake feels tired, why not mix things up with desserts that really show off your personality. If you and your partner are avid campers, bring in a s’mores bar. Ice cream lovers? Set up a sundae station. “Bottom line: pick elements that zero in on you + your partner’s personality,” says Shack Egan. “That will shine the most!” Personally, I’ve never said no to a good donut wall.