Planning 101 16th October 2013

Alternative Weddings (because we're not all the same!)

Like a growing number of people, you may not want to have a traditional wedding for a variety of reasons. Whether it is a religious issue, or you simply wish to celebrate your marriage differently, there are basic requirements that need to be fulfilled to make your marriage legally recognised.

Legal Requirements

The minimum requirement is that the marriage be registered officially, that both parties declare that they “know not of any lawful impediment why I should not be joined in matrimony” and that the ceremony is under the presence of two witnesses. The majority of people that desire a less traditional ceremony complete this legal procedure at a register office in a low key manner in advance of the ceremony. No rings need to be exchanged, and the full vows do not need to be said, so many do not consider themselves to be fully married until they have been through the main ceremony of their choice!


Alternative WeddingsA themed wedding can support a religious aspect if you wish, but does require careful planning! The most obvious expression for this will be the choice of clothes for the bridal party, but many other aspects should be considered to ensure that the theme is consistent. Without this, the event could appear ill planned as some aspects could clash with each other. For example, a medieval style ceremony may suit the church perfectly, but what about the reception venue? Do you want the catering to reflect the chosen theme? Do you ask the guests to participate and attend in costume too? Will the choice of evening entertainment fit with the theme as well? A theme can be a really exciting option for your wedding, though!

Carrying the theme through the entirety of your plans, from venue to bonbonnieres can be very challenging, but it is guaranteed to make the day truly memorable for all of your guests and of course yourselves!

The ultimate alternatives

Perhaps you want to go even further and marry in a completely unconventional way! Some couples have married whilst underwater, bungee jumping or even strapped to the top of a light aircraft during a wing walk! Whichever appeals to you most, you do still have to satisfy the legal requirements for the marriage to be recognised. You may also have to break it gently to family members who have been dreaming of a traditional white wedding for you since your childhood! However, it is your day, so you should feel free to enjoy one of the biggest moments of your life, in whichever way you and your husband-to-be choose!

British Humanist Association

One option for those who do not wish to have any religious element to their wedding is a Humanist ceremony. These are just as serious and dignified as a church wedding but the emphasis is on the approach to moral values with words, poetry, readings and music of your own choice to reflect this. Humanist ceremonies can be themed too!

The British Humanist Association offers great support to couples who choose this option, providing advice and sources for potential material that can be used in the ceremony. They also have “accredited celebrants” who are specially trained to help you write and plan a Humanist ceremony. They will lead the ceremony on the day according to the final script. They do charge a fee depending on the distance travelled and the time involved, so this can vary. Make sure you discuss it with the celebrant at your first meeting!

Contact details: British Humanist Association,
39 Moreland Street,
Telephone: 020 7324 3060