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5 Alternatives to a Traditional Wedding Ceremony

Published Friday, Dec. 2nd, 2022

A groom and bride pose in a funny way in front of a green wall to celebrate their marriage day

You deserve a wedding that's uniquely YOU - Try these sweet alternatives



Listen now: 

AMM Audio Articles · 5 Alternatives to a Traditional Wedding Ceremony




Don’t get stuck in the same old wedding rut! You deserve a wedding that’s uniquely YOU and that fits your budget and lifestyle perfectly. 


You don’t need a big wedding to make your marriage legal. All you’ll need a marriage license, a wedding officiant, and maybe a witness or two… the rest of the details are up to you. 


Related: Witness Requirements on Marriage License


Get creative, decide what elements you want to include in your ceremony and how much you want to spend, and consider one of the five great nontraditional wedding options below. 


Next, ask a friend to get ordained online to officiate! 


Ordination with American Marriage Ministries is quick, easy, and free. 





5 Alternatives to a Traditional Wedding Ceremony 


1. Elope


Plan a ‘just us’ elopement ceremony for two! Classic elopements are romantic, intimate, easy to plan, and your budget goes farther when you keep the guest list this small. Ask a close friend to officiate your ceremony to make your tiny celebration even more special. 


+ How to Elope: The Complete Elopement Checklist




Two young brides celebrating their marriage, looking excitedly at the camera. One bride is wearing a suit, and holding the other, who is wearing a white dress, in her arms.

You're getting married! Congratulations!


2. Microwedding or Minimony


If you like the sweetness of eloping but don’t want to celebrate without your closest friends and family, a ‘micro wedding’ or ‘mini-mony’ might be a perfect choice. These small ceremonies come with less stress than a traditional wedding by leaving extended family, plus-ones, and those cousins you only see once a year at reunions off the guest list. 


+ 10 Micro Wedding Ideas to Inspire An Intimate Ceremony




Two newlyweds hold out their arms and smile toward the camera after a sunny outdoor micro wedding ceremony, surrounded by friends

Micro-weddings are small weddings with BIG energy and lasting memories



3. ‘Make it Legal’ Sign and Go Ceremony  


Marriage license signing ceremonies are a popular alternative to traditional weddings because they’re affordable, zero-hassle (aside from applying for your license and choosing an officiant), and you host one almost anywhere. Also called ‘sign & go ceremonies,’ all you need to do is meet with your officiant to take your vows and sign the license. Short and sweet! 


+ How to Officiate a Sign & Go Marriage Ceremony




A bride with short pink hair signs a marriage license during a small sign and go signing ceremony, while the groom and wedding officiant watch

Sign & Go marriage license signings are short and sweet, 

so you can make it legal and keep on loving



4. Marry Now, Party Later


Make your marriage legal now, and party with the people you love later! This approach combines the ease of a ‘sign & go ceremony’ with the fun of a big wedding blowout, by having your ceremony and a delayed reception or afterparty on different days. This is a perfect option if you need to save up for a bigger party but don’t want to wait to be married. Some couples even hold a second wedding with guests later (called a sequel wedding or vow renewal ceremony). It’s up to you!


+ Must-Watch Video For Anyone Planning a Sequel Wedding Ceremony




A close up photo of friends holding up their wine glasses to make a toast in celebration of a wedding

Second weddings, sequel weddings, vow renewals, delayed receptions, and afterparties:

Celebrate your marriage again and again! 




5. Vacation and Vows


Why choose between a dream wedding and a dream honeymoon? Combine the two with a dreamy destination vacation wedding! This is a great choice for any couple who loves to travel, or parents who want to bring the kids along for a fun family getaway. Vacation weddings are sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime! 


+ A Wedding Officiant's Guide to Performing Destination and Cruise Ship Weddings



A bride and groom sit on a blanket in the sand next to the ocean

Take your ceremony on the road for a vacation with vows






Our Favorite Ways to Get Married 
Without a Wedding Ceremony



5 sweet ways to get married without a wedding ceremony: Exchange vows over brunch, say ‘I do’ on a day hike, sign the license and go, and more!


See the full article here. 



Young newlyweds kiss outdoors in the sunset

You don't need a traditional wedding ceremony to get married


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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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