Alternative Wedding Ceremony Ideas

Nov 29, 2022 | Weddings

Alternative, personal and fun wedding ceremony ideas to inspire to create a ceremony less about reciting standard vows in a town hall and more about you.

“This place in which we are now met, has been duly sanctioned, according to law, for the celebration of marriages, and we are here today to witness the joining in matrimony of this couple and to share in their happiness. Before you are joined in matrimony, it is my duty to remind you of the solemn and binding character of the vows that you are about to make. Marriage in this country means the union of two people, voluntarily entered into for life, to the exclusion of all others.”

Are you still with me? I wouldn’t be mad if you fell asleep or skipped ahead.

You can of course do your own vows and readings, which most of our couples do (we live for personal vows!!) but to make your ceremony more exciting and personal, you’ll have to have a celebrant-run ceremony after your legal ceremony.

At the moment, all legal marriages in England have to go through the above script (in a town hall or approved venue), or take place in a church. But once the legal part is done, you can have a second ceremony that represents you.

So let’s look at fun ceremony ideas that you can steal to have a wedding ceremony that’s more you.

These wedding ceremony ideas will help you create a ceremony that’s unique, meaningful to you, and tells your story as a couple.

Of course use these ideas as a jumping off point to inspire ideas that will work for you as a couple – use them to come up with something that will make a personal and unique ceremony for you. 

The best way to have a personal ceremony is to hire a professional wedding celebrant (I can recommend some fab ones!). They put together the ceremony for you, based on a questionnaire or interview with you.

Ceremony ideas I’ve seen at weddings:

Include your fave hobby

Liza and Katy are part of a Rainbow Choir so they invited the choir to sing during their ceremony.

If you don’t have a choir, get your mates to write a cute song about you and sing it during the ceremony.

reading during ceremony in a field at outdoor farm wedding

Ring warming

The couple’s rings are passed around their loved ones (all or some) who hold the rings (usually in a bag or box) and thinks loving thoughts to ‘infuse’ the rings with love.

Wooden ring warming, and tying the knot (a string of wooden rings hanging from a tree)

Like rung warming, but with the added fun of tying them to a tree, which the couple then use as a handfasting ritual later.

Have all your guests in a circle around you

Such a great way of making everyone feel part of it, and you can involve everyone too.

Recreate a music video (such as November rain)

Groom Niki loves GnR, so the the bride Lauren got the best man to recreate the music video as a surprise – where the best man “pretends” to have forgotten/lost the rings!

Have a woodland ceremony if you’re outdoorsy

If you’re into nature, get married in the woods! We love Wilderness Wood in Sussex and Hawthbush Farm.

Consider an unusual location

This wedding was in a ruin in Tuscany – but there are ruins throughout the UK, as well as cinemas if you’re film buffs, or the desert (probably less likely in the UK) or simply on a beach or lake.

Have a mate officiate

Your friends know you better than anyone! Find one who’s not afraid to stand up in front of everyone and speak, and one who will take the role seriously.

ring exchange during back garden wedding ceremony

Love a cuppa? Have a tea ceremony like Becca and Reece did (not a Chinese one but one with doughnuts and served by a “Tea-rex”!!)

Yup, this happened!

Turn the ceremony into a computer game

Into gaming? Turn your ceremony into a game like Kirsty and James did – they had a Super Mario ceremony.

Doughnuts as rings

Why have expensive jewellery when you can have yummy doughnuts?!

Muppets of the couple held by the couple

This is a fun way to get creative with your fave characters! It also takes the emphasis off you if you’re not comfortable getting up in front of everyone.

Drag queen celebrant

Whether it’s a mate or someone you’ve hired, it can be good fun! This is great for Brighton weddings where drag is a huge part of the night scene.


Get friends and family to tie a rope around your hands in a certain way, then when you pull the ropes it forms a knot! It’s a fab way to bring everyone into the ceremony.

Walk/dance down the aisle together

You don’t have to walk in separately – and you don’t have to walk at all! If you’re excited to get married you can boogie down the aisle!

corfu greek island wedding on the beach

Write your own vows

This just has to come from the heart. Make it romantic or silly – whatever suits you as a couple. There are no rules!

High five the groom/bride as the wedding party arrive at the top of the aisle

It doesn’t matter if it fails… a high five is a high five – it’s the attempt that counts!

Do something silly instead of first kiss

Martin and Amy did a “duck face” kiss – just because it’s what they do!

Have your friends sing

Ok, this made me cry, I’m not gonna lie. What a fab alternative to a reading. These women wrote a song especially for the couple, and it was hilarious and beautiful.

reading during ceremony in a field at outdoor farm wedding

Enter via an arch created by friends with their hands up

A fun way to enter the ceremony together.

Give each other symbolic gifts

Groom Luc wanted to show his feminist values to bride Liz, so he gave her a bra! This went down very well with a great speech.

apple orchard wedding ceremony with hay bales

Lighting a unity candle

This can be religious or just a special uniting moment for you.

As well as digging into the archives of weddings I’ve shot, I asked my fave wedding celebrants for cool wedding ceremony ideas they’ve been part of, or just ideas they’d love to do:

Ideas from London Celebrant Nat Reybould:

  • I’ve Rickrolled guests!
  • I’ve recreated a proposal with the Love Actually cards
  • Had a bride and groom decide whose surname they would both take via the flip of a coin IN THE ACTUAL CEREMONY
  • A groom did a surprise proposal to his bride coz they never actually did do a formal proposal and he really wants to do one.
  • How about leaving readings as a surprise until the day – ie choosing the reader(s) but letting them choose the reading? They often write their own poem or piece or even song. Which is a lovely gift for the couple. 
  • Children as ring bearers or mums as ring bearers is amazing.
  • If you get two people to do it associated with the couple, then it becomes another “welcome to the family” gesture. ie say groom’s mum gives the bride the groom’s ring to put on his finger. It elevates the moment to real significance. Plus adds mums into the mix, who usually traditionally get bupkiss.
  • Hand/paw print certificate signing.

Ideas from Katherine – KPS celebrant:

Some of the lovely creative things that my couples have chosen to include in their ceremonies that really reflect them as a couple are:

  • Playing tag to decide who makes their vows first – (This couple play tag on every holiday and are super competitive!)
  • Celebrating the pinnacle of their ceremony by toasting each other with unity shots (This couple met doing shots)
  • Having their guests sit around the couple in a circle instead of formal rows – much more friendly! (This was a bit of a nod to one of the couple’s heritage too)
  • Had guests make cool promises to support the couple by shouting ‘hell yeah’ (ie Me: “Will you support N & R to help them achieve global domination…or at least have some good stories to tell?” Guests: Hell yeah! – (This couple wanted their ceremony to feel like the start of a rock gig/festival)
  • Both made entrances to their favourite ‘warm up’ song! (Top choice so far…bit of Dr Dre…)
  • I’d LOVE to work with a couple for whom a nerdy quiz reference would be a true reflection of them… I’d love a play on Only Connect’s Missing Vow(els) round! (geddit – Vows/Vowels)

Ideas from Justine at Holdfast ceremonies:

  • Handfasting with love letters – I had a couple who had 15 friends bring up their own cords during a ceremony, on to which they had each attached a handwritten message of love and support.
  • The cake and ale ritual – the couple feed each other a bite and then pour each other a drink. The food and drink can be anything that has meaning: welsh cakes and lassi for a welsh/hindu wedding for example!
  • Oathing stone ritual.
  • Another ancient Celtic ritual. The couple hold a stone as they say their vows, thereby ‘writing their vows in to stone’. I had a couple who were always getting lost on the top of mountains and found a stone from atop one of their climbs and used that as their oathing stone.
  • Sand blending. Loads of different coloured sands, blended by the couple or them and loved ones to make a funky colourful pattern in a large glass vessel.
  • Cocktail mixing! You can make anything the couple wants and has meaning. Ingredients chosen to represent each of the couple and they pour their cocktail together, then each take a sip to seal the deal! You could even pre-mix the cocktail and have tiny bottles of it under each guest’s chair for them to take home.
  • Shots for everyone! One couple had shots of their favourite cocktail that each guest picked up as they arrived, then at the right time in the ceremony I asked everyone to down their shots and we all toasted the happy couple!
  • Or a type of condiment! If the couple are cooks, or love some type of food (that’s prepared quickly and without cooking) they can create a salsa or spice mix. Each ingredient symbolises something about one of them – spicy, sweet, fiery, etc) and it’s then eaten later with the food. With the salsa or spice mix these can also be made in small bottles beforehand as a gift for each guest.
  • Tree/rose bush planting. The couple plant a tree, in the ground or in a pot, together. Have shovels, gloves, wet wipes handy.
  • Making a first anniversary box. Couple place a bunch of stuff in a box, bottle of wine, love letters, tissues, whatever is meaningful to them, to be opened on a specific day in the future.
This is Justine herself, holding a ceremony for our fab couple Bree and Frankie.

Kate and Kate Celebrants have a fab idea for a winter wedding ceremony:

We love a winter wedding! Snuggly venues, log fires, furry blankets, Christmas tree with baubles, fairy lights and candles everywhere, mulled wine on arrival to warm everyone up!

Warmth is a must; think velvet, feathers and pashmina, plus a spare pair of outdoor shoes and warm coat for the photos. Flowergirls and pageboys can have the look of magical little elves, and bridesmaids can look stunning in mossy green, burgundy or scarlett.

As for the ceremony itself, pop a cracker on every seat to start things off with a bang and, of course, that means a paper hat on every head for full-on-festive fun! A Christmas carol or well-known Christmas sing-along really gets the ceremony going and includes everyone in the fun and frolics, Walking in a Winter Wonderland is one of our favourites.

Stick your vows inside a giant Christmas card – and for the kiss, always have mistletoe at the ready. On exit, forget confetti, it’s party poppers all the way! You’re going out with a crackle and a bang!  

This is one of the Kates holding Liza and Katy’s colourful ceremony in a fabulous dress.

I hope these ideas inspired you for your own wedding ceremony! If you need a kick-ass photographer to capture the moments, hit us up!


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