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Six Popular Alternatives to Traditional Weddings in 2023

Wedding traditions like white dresses, matching bridesmaids, and lavish receptions don't resonate with every couple. Many are seeking ways to celebrate their love in ways that reflect their personalities, beliefs, and values beyond the confines of traditional formats. In this article, we will delve into the world of alternative weddings, discovering creative and exciting options that can make your special day more personal and, let's be honest, a whole lot more FUN!

Photo by @chelseageephotography

First, why are so many couples considering alternatives to traditional weddings in 2023?

The appeal of alternative weddings lies in breaking free from the mold and embracing your uniqueness as a couple. Traditional weddings can often feel standardized and may not capture the true essence of who you are. By exploring unconventional wedding formats, you can infuse every aspect of your special day with your distinct personalities and values.

Exploring Creative Options and Saving Money

In addition to celebrating your individuality, alternative weddings offer the opportunity to explore creative options and save money. Traditional weddings can be costly, with the average cost in the United States reaching $28,000 in 2020 (and similar figures in Europe and the UK). Alternative weddings are often more budget-friendly, allowing you to allocate resources to what truly matters to you.

Photo by @chelseageephotography

Here are six alternative wedding formats and ideas to help you break from tradition and plan your dream day.

1. Elopement

Elopements are a classic alternative to traditional weddings, combining romance and practicality. Whether spontaneous or planned in advance, elopements involve getting married in an intimate setting with only a few witnesses or even just the two of you. From mountaintops to city halls, the options for elopement venues are limitless.

Photo by @chelseageephotography

2. Intimate Weddings

Increasingly popular, intimate weddings offer a personalized celebration focused on what truly matters: celebrating your love with those closest to you. Typically hosting no more than 50 guests, intimate weddings can take place in beautiful locations like gardens, beaches, or mountains. Following a small ceremony, enjoy a dinner or cocktail party with your loved ones. Intimate weddings are often less stressful, more memorable, and kinder to your budget. With fewer details to stretch your budget, you are able to focus on curating a beautiful, rich experience you will cherish for a lifetime.

Photo by @chelseageephotography

3. Micro-Weddings

A blend of elopements and traditional weddings, micro-weddings feature a smaller guest list and a highly curated, couple-centric atmosphere. With fewer than 20 guests, micro-weddings retain some traditional elements, such as a ceremony, reception, and cake cutting, while offering a more intimate and affordable experience tailored to your preferences.

Photo by @chelseageephotography

4. Destination Weddings

Destination weddings are an excellent way to combine a wedding and a vacation in a beautiful location. Destination weddings can take place anywhere from a tropical beach to a European castle, and they can be as elaborate or as simple as you want. Destination weddings require more planning and budgeting than elopements or micro-weddings, but they are an opportunity to create unforgettable memories for you and your guests. This format is a great way to combine your wedding and honeymoon into one. Destination weddings in Europe are a great option, allowing you to wed in one country and honeymoon conveniently and affordably in another with a different culture and landscape.

Photo by @chelseageephotography

5. Themed Weddings

Themed weddings are a creative and playful way to express your personalities and interests. From subtle nods to your favorite movie or book to fully immersive aesthetics like boho-chic, themed weddings can be whimsical or serious, depending on your preferences. Get your guests involved in the celebration and let your imagination run wild.

Photo by @chelseageephotography

6. Pop-Up Weddings

For couples seeking spontaneity and simplicity, pop-up weddings are an adventurous, trendy option. Arrive at a predetermined location with a small group of guests or just the two of you, and get married on the spot. Think of the classic Las Vegas chapel weddings, for example. Pop-up weddings are perfect for those who prefer keeping things uncomplicated and spur-of-the-moment.

Photo by @chelseageephotography


With countless ways to celebrate love outside the bounds of tradition, you have the freedom to select the perfect alternative wedding format that resonates with you and your partner. Consider your unique circumstances, follow your hearts, and embark on this exciting journey together.

Don't forget to browse our untraditional weddings blog for a wealth of planning resources, inspiration, and support to help you create your perfect alternative wedding.

I'm wishing you a beautiful and personalized wedding experience.

With love,



All photos featured in this article are by Chelsea Gee Photography. Chelsea specializes in wedding and editorial photography with an emphasis on art and romance. She is located in Northern California and serves clients worldwide.

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