When it comes to weddings, there’s no need to follow the traditional route. Breaking the rules and having a nontraditional wedding is becoming increasingly popular – especially with elopements! From intimate weddings to unique, non-traditional ideas, it is possible to have the wedding of your dreams without succumbing to tradition. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to plan the perfect elopement and nontraditional wedding. Take it from an elopement photographer, non-traditional weddings are the way to go.

hawaii non traditional wedding

Why have a Non-Traditional Wedding?

Weddings have long been steeped in tradition, from the white dress to the bouquet toss. But in recent years, more and more couples are choosing to break free from these customs and opt for a non traditional wedding. Why? Because it allows them to create a unique and personalized experience that truly reflects their love and individuality, creating their own traditions.

One of the biggest reasons couples choose to have a non traditional wedding is the desire to step outside the box and do something different. Traditional weddings can often feel generic and cookie-cutter, with the same old rituals and expectations. But a nontraditional wedding allow the couples to have a super personalized wedding day that is all about their priorities. Whether it’s exchanging vows in nature, having a themed wedding, or including unique cultural elements.

Why Couples Opt for Non Traditional Weddings

Elopements, in particular, have become a popular choice for couples seeking a non traditional wedding experience. By eloping, couples can focus on the most important aspect of their wedding day: their love for each other. It’s an intimate and romantic way to tie the knot, without the stress and expense of a large wedding. From eloping on a secluded beach to saying “I do” atop a mountain, there are countless elopement ideas that can make your special day even more memorable.

Another reason couples opt for a non traditional wedding is to have a small, intimate affair. Traditional weddings often come with a long guest list, which can lead to a lack of connection and intimacy. But with a smaller wedding, couples can truly focus on their loved ones and create a more meaningful and personal experience for everyone involved. From backyard ceremonies to destination weddings with only close friends and family, small weddings are just as beautiful and special as larger ones. Possibly more so, in my humble opinion.

oregon non traditional wedding

Intimate Weddings

Intimate weddings are all about creating a truly special and meaningful experience for you and your loved ones. Unlike traditional weddings with long guest lists and elaborate venues, intimate weddings focus on the quality of connections rather than the quantity of guests. With a non traditional small wedding, you have the opportunity to spend more quality time with your loved ones, creating a warm and personal atmosphere that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Fewer Guests

With fewer guests to cater to, you can also focus on providing a more luxurious and indulgent experience for your loved ones. You can treat them to a gourmet dinner with a customized menu, ensuring that every dish is a culinary masterpiece. Additionally, you can offer personalized gifts or favors that truly reflect your appreciation for their presence on your special day.

Another advantage of an intimate wedding is that you can allocate more of your budget towards creating unforgettable experiences. Instead of spending a large portion of your budget on accommodating a vast number of guests, you can invest in creating memories that will last a lifetime. This could include hiring a live band or a DJ to get everyone on their feet, arranging a surprise firework display, or even planning a unique activity for your guests to enjoy, such as a wine tasting or a boat cruise.


Elopements have become increasingly popular as a nontraditional way to say “I do.” This intimate and romantic option allows couples to focus on the most important aspect of their wedding day: their love for each other. Gone are the stress and expense of a large wedding; instead, eloping offers a more personal and meaningful experience.

Imagine eloping to a secluded beach, with the waves crashing in the background and the warm sun on your skin. Or picture saying your vows atop a breathtaking mountain, with the panoramic views serving as the backdrop for your special moment. Elopements offer the opportunity to create a wedding that is truly unique and tailored to your preferences.

One of the advantages of choosing an elopement is the freedom to have a small wedding. Instead of worrying about seating charts and accommodating a long guest list, elopements allow you to focus solely on yourselves as a couple. You can invite a select few loved ones or choose to have a private ceremony for just the two of you. It’s a chance to create an intimate atmosphere that celebrates your love in its purest form. You also get the most gorgeous and authentic photos on elopement days!

Advantages to Eloping

Another advantage of eloping is the opportunity to have a more flexible and adventurous wedding day. Since you won’t have the pressures of a traditional wedding, you can choose to elope in a destination that holds special meaning to you. Whether it’s a foreign country, a national park, or even your favorite local spot, eloping gives you the freedom to get married wherever your heart desires. This is my favorite version of a non traditional wedding day!

Elopements also allow for a more relaxed and stress-free wedding experience. Without the need to coordinate and manage a large guest list, you can focus on simply enjoying each other’s company and savoring the moment. It’s a chance to prioritize your love and commitment, without any distractions or obligations.

non traditional wedding ideas

Unique Ideas for a Nontraditional Wedding

So, you’ve decided to have a non traditional wedding and break free from the norms of a traditional ceremony. Congrats on making the exciting choice! Now comes the fun part: coming up with unique and creative ideas that will make your special day truly unforgettable. Here are some ideas to inspire you and help you plan a nontraditional wedding that is completely unique to you and your partner.

  • Outdoor Adventure Wedding
  • City elopement
  • Destination elopement
  • Having your wedding at a gorgeous Airbnb
  • National Park elopement
  • Chalet Elopement in the Mountains
  • Beach Elopement including a private boat ride
  • Camping wedding with cabins and glamping

Non Traditional Ceremony Ideas

  • Have a friend or family member officiate
  • Have your officiant tell the story of how you met
  • Walk down the aisle together
  • Private vows
  • Take a helicopter to your ceremony location
  • Read letters from friends and family during ceremony
  • Full moon ceremony
  • Ceremony around a bonfire

Non-Traditional Wedding Activity Ideas

  • Going on a hike
  • Exploring a National or State Park
  • Having a bonfire
  • Having a picnic
  • Star-gazing or astrophotography
  • Swimming
  • Cliff jumping
  • Visiting waterfalls
  • Bar hopping in town
  • Hiring a private chef
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Helicopter tour (landing on glaciers, mountains, etc)
  • Board games
  • Lawn games
  • Dancing
  • Desert
  • Private boat ride with champagne and dinner
  • Pool party
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Sightseeing
  • Scenic driving with time to stop for pictures
  • Visiting hot springs
  • Exchanging gifts
  • Exploring glacier caves
  • Seeing wildlife
  • Safari ride

Non-Traditional Reception Ideas

  • Dancing under the stars
  • Having a potluck
  • Having a cookout
  • Having a private chef make an intimate multiple course meal
  • Having a pool party reception at an Airbnb
  • Having a charcuterie picnic reception
  • Going to a state park with guests
  • Reception at an A-frame cabin in the woods
  • Big bonfire on the beach

Planning Your Nontraditional Wedding

When you choose to have a smaller, non-traditional wedding, it leaves you with a lot of options. That being said, it can feel overwhelming at first to start planning. As an elopement photographer that helps couples plan, I have it down to science. Check out my thorough guide on how to plan an elopement here.

If you’re looking to get ideas for a timeline, you can read more about that here! The biggest planning steps are figuring out where you want to have your non-traditional wedding, and then what you want the day of timeline to look like!

nontraditional wedding

Nontraditional Wedding Photography

Thinking about having your own non-traditional wedding? I’m an elopement photographer who helps couples with all of the planning! My process includes getting to know you, your backstory, your needs for the day, and helping you create it. From location guides, to curated timelines, and even helping you obtain your permits. I’m here from start to finish to make sure you have the day you actually deserve, as well as capture it. Interested in talking more about your nontraditional wedding? Let’s chat!

Don't forget your free elopement planning checklist


You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

I'm Emilee

I'm an elopement photographer who specializes in planning, crafting, and documenting untraditional weddings. I believe a wedding day should be filled with traditions that resonate with you. I'm here from start to finish to make that happen. Want to chat about your plans? Click below to set up a free consultation! 

You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

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