The Alt-Wedding

A movement is happening and it’s amazing. It’s efficient. It’s logical. It’s low-drama and high-reward. It’s the Alt-Wedding. You may have heard the terms Offbeat Wedding or Non-Traditional Wedding. No matter what you call it, it’s becoming more and more common, and as far as this photographer is concerned, it’s the best thing since sliced cake!

No, this isn’t a movement against marriage; marriage is the cat’s pajamas. Yay Love! This is a movement against the commercialism of weddings; tradition for the sake of tradition; putting on a show instead of a celebration; turning your wedding into a business opportunity, a competition, or a bad reality show.

When I asked married couples what they would do differently about their wedding, or what advice they’d give an engaged couple, the overall consensus was to tone it down. Fewer guests. Less décor. Lower pricetag. It seems weddings have a bad habit of taking on a mind of their own, and the newlyweds get to clean up the mess. Couples are starting off their marriage in debt. They are losing friends and family members to wedding drama. They are letting their weddings consume their lives, to the point of experiencing a bout of depression when it’s all over. Yes I’m serious – post-wedding depression is a real thing.

So I polled a variety of people – single, engaged, married – and asked them what they hate most about weddings, and what they would do differently. And I am IN LOVE with the answers. Check it out:


“We couldn’t afford the big fancy dinner and didn’t want to impose on our parents. So we just had an evening ceremony followed by cocktails and appetizers. It kept our wedding on-budget and made the day a lot less stressful.”

“My beautiful engagement ring needed custom bands, which would have cost a fortune and taken forever. But I really liked a lot of other bands right there in the store. I tried on the non-matching bands and was pleasantly surprised! They looked awesome together and made my ring look so unique.” (Editor’s note: You can see this trend on Pinterest too! Click that link! So gorgeous!)

“The decorations were the most expensive part of our wedding. Looking back, it seems like such a waste of money. Don’t get sucked in to elaborate decorations. Or just find a venue that doesn’t need decorations, like a restaurant or greenhouse.” (Editor’s Note: I recently shot a wedding at one of my favourite local restaurants, Lady of the Lake. See? So pretty!)



“As a repeat-bridesmaid I gotta admit, I hated sitting at the head table. Being on display at the front of the room, only able to talk to whoever was to my immediate left or right. I love the idea of the Sweetheart Table for the bride and groom, allowing the bridal party to sit with their spouses or friends. Or even sitting the whole bridal party at a normal table, like all the guests, would be an improvement.”

“The Bride’s family paying for everything is an outdated tradition and totally unrealistic. Same with open-bar, and elaborate decorations, and four-course meals. Don’t let old traditions and one-upmanship pressure you into a wedding you can’t afford.”

“My husband was the best man at an out-of-town wedding. I didn’t know any other guests so I had to spend the entire day alone. It would be great if they’d include spouses in some parts of the day, or at least let couples sit together during the reception.”

“We love the cheesecake from our local grocery store, so we just got a couple of those. They decorated them with pretty flowers and ribbons. It was THE BEST tasting cheesecake and saved us loads of money.”

“We didn’t want too many people at our wedding, but the guest list would have tripled if we invited aunts, uncles, and cousins. So we kept our guest list to close friends and immediate family only. It saved us a lot of money and stress. We don’t regret it one bit!”

“My husband and I hate being the center of attention. So after our very quick ceremony, we kissed and left and signed the marriage certificate in private.”

“Think about your budget, what you can realistically afford, and what takes priority. I know a few couples who had smaller weddings, so they could afford a phenomenal honeymoon.”

“Don’t let traditions stress you out. Most traditions are only done because your mother did it, and so did her mother, and grandmother, and great-grandmother! But a lot of traditions are totally unnecessary and some traditions are downright creepy!”  (Editor’s note: It’s true… Creepy AF. Do your research, folks! And remember, no tradition is mandatory. I’ve seen brides forgo the bouquet toss, skip the cake cutting, I’ve even been to a danceless wedding. THE HORROR!!!)

“People hate waiting around while the photographer does countless family photos. They’re boring and nobody ever uses them. Get these shots at a photo booth at the reception instead. Something fun and wild, or just elegant and casual.” (Editor’s Note: Cool! Never seen that done before! Check out the photos from the Vanity Fair photo booth at this year’s Oscar party! So glamorous!)

“I let social pressure run the show, and it just left us stressed-out and in debt. Try to be more logical. Do you really need to host an engagement party or mail out Save-the-Dates? Or a $5000 dress that you’ll never wear again? Is your house already over-flowing with stuff? Then maybe you don’t need that wedding shower. And who needs a social when you’re gonna party with all your closest friends and family at the quickly-approaching wedding? Just think before you make these decisions, that’s all I’m saying.”

“We didn’t want to wait a year to get married. We were ready to start our life together the day we got engaged. So we gave ourselves three months to plan the wedding, and we don’t regret it one bit. We were more flexible with our decision-making, and didn’t partake in a lot of traditions, and honestly, our wedding turned out beautifully. And now we get to spend a year traveling and renovating our house instead of stressing over party favours and seating charts.”

“I never remember what the centerpieces and table décor look like. I’d rather see an ice bucket full of drinks in the center of each table.”

“I’ve seen people spend thousands on all-day photography packages, and end up taking pictures with their phones all day anyway. And I’ve never seen a framed photo of the bride getting her hair done, or of the groom doing the chicken dance. That’s why we hired a photographer just for the ceremony and portraits only. The rest of the day was captured by our guests and the pictures were great!” (Editor’s note: This photographer might agree to some extent. Early Getting-Ready photos and late-night Reception photos rarely produce award-winning shots.)

“My daughter and her fiancée were always asking, ‘Do we have to do that?’ The Bridal Shower? The Wedding Social? The Dance? No, you don’t have to do anything.”

“Weddings are supposed to be about the bride and groom. A celebration of their love and commitment to each other. Not about who had the fanciest decorations or the most expensive food or the highest number of guests. We wanted it to be about us; a day to remember. So we got a JP and a photographer and went out into the woods and got married… Just us.”

“People spend too much on flowers. I know it’s traditional, to ward off spirits and whatnot, but why not give the ladies something else to hold, like a lantern, a purse, or a candle.” (Editor’s Note: A friend of mine had broach bouquets made! They are just as beautiful and last forever! To the Pinterest!!)

“I’ll be honest, I don’t like children at weddings. They’re always screaming, crying, running amok. But I couldn’t leave my nieces and nephews out of the celebration! So we found a venue with a large coat room and hired a babysitter for the night. Money well-spent.”

“Centerpieces were going to be so expensive, whether we bought big bouquets or rented something simple. So we just made them ourselves and it cost less than $100.”

“We didn’t want to waste money and paper on fancy invitations so we sent digital invitations from Anyone without an email address got a personal phone call. It was way cheaper, much faster, and a little more personal.” 

“The down-time between the ceremony and reception… it’s the worst! Especially for us out-of-towners. Start cocktails early, or set up a gaming area, or give your guests a local scavenger hunt. Anything!! Just don’t expect them to kill three hours while you get your photos taken.” 

“I was once in a wedding with 6 other bridesmaids. It was like watching a reality TV show. You don’t need your whole squad by your side. One or two friends will do.” 

“Our dresses came from the mall, online, and thrift shops… including the bride’s dress. Contrary to popular belief, bridesmaids don’t have to match, gowns don’t have to come from a wedding store, and you don’t have to spend a fortune on either of these things.” (Editor’s Note: I am a HUGE fan of vintage wedding dresses! Here’s just a few of the dresses I’ve photographed with The Vintage Costume Co. All of which are available for rental or purchase BTW!)


“For the love of God PLEASE stop the bouquet and garter toss! If I’m not the only single girl waiting to catch the bouquet, then I’m the girl who gets tackled to the ground in the process.” (Editor’s Note: Google this tradition… it’s one of the creepy ones.)

“We didn’t want a traditional reception with a buffet and a dance floor and expensive bar… We’re house-party kind of people. So we rented a chalet and hired a catering company to have all sorts of liquor and hors d’oeuvres ready when people arrived!”

“Your wedding should reflect who you are, as individuals and as a couple. If you’re not into the traditional glamorous wedding, don’t waste your time and energy planning one. And don’t plan a wedding based on what your family would want, or what your friends did. Your wedding is YOUR wedding!” (Editor’s Note: Preach!)


All excellent advice, am I right? The point is, there are hundreds of things to consider when putting on a wedding (venue, jewelry, décor, food, invitations, officiant, wedding party, clothes, hair, makeup, music, photos, marriage license, oh you thought I was kidding? Guests, favours, liquor, cake, seating, transportation, honeymoon, speeches, flowers, dances, I definitely wasn’t kidding.) So if you find weddings overwhelming, cliche, or just downright silly, consider a non-traditional wedding. Maybe you’ll even start a tradition of your own. 😉


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