During my wedding planning process, I searched the internet high & low for all things non-traditional that I could incorporate into my day. For those of you who don’t know, I got married on October 16, 2021, to my best friend. We had a gorgeous backyard wedding on his parents' property in Howevalley, KY. I really loved the idea of doing things outside of the box & truly unique to Dillon & I. I believe that a wedding day should be completely authentic to a couple. If you don’t want a bridal party, then don’t have one! If you hate the way that you look in white, wear whatever color suits you best! The point is that you should not be afraid to step outside of societal norms to do what feels best for you on one of the most important days of your life. In this blog post I am going to do a deep dive into all of the non-traditional aspects of my day & rating them! Several of these I did find on the internet, but many of them I came up with myself. Some of them were a bust, but some of them ended up being some of the best parts of my day. I am so excited to share all of the non-traditional wedding details I included and hopefully to help current/future brides plan for getting the most out of their wedding day! Let’s jump right into it! 

All wedding images are from my wedding day and are courtesy of Erica Fawn Photography 2021

1 - backyard wedding

Dillon & I chose to do a backyard wedding for several reasons, but mostly we thought it would help us to save money. All of the local venue options we had would have cost us thousands of dollars to get married in a barn that we cared nothing about. I knew that I wanted to get married outdoors, so I thought, why pay someone else to use their outside space when we can use his parents for free? What we did not take into account, however, was the amount of physical labor that it would put on us and our close friends/family. Our first issue was the tent rental company we had reserved went out of business without contacting us. Thankfully, after I unfortunately found out through a mutual friend, we got our deposit back and were able to find a new tent just in time for the wedding. 

Pros: We had the ultimate control over any decisions for our day. We left all of the decorations in his parents' basement until the day before the wedding, so it was really convenient not having to transport it all. It is a place that was and will always be special to us. 

Cons: Between the cost of the tent, tables, chairs, porta potties, and decorations it was not any cheaper than paying for a venue. We could not see it all come together until the day of the ceremony. There were issues that we did not know about until it was too late, like the tent size was too small for our reception, and the lights inside of the tent were hardly bright enough. The weather imposed a lot of problems for us with torrential downpours the day before, and insane winds the day of, seriously prohibiting us being able to set things up in advance. It truly took a village to have this wedding and the amount of work that we all put in was insane. We spent several days before and the entire day after taking everything down.

Rating: 5/10 Would Not Do Again

2 - not having a dj

Instead of having a DJ, we chose to rent a sound system from the Doo Wop Shop in Louisville, KY. This honestly worked pretty well, but mostly because Dillon’s uncle is great with technology. Had we not had him to set it up for us it probably would not have worked. I created a playlist for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception on my iPad & let Dillon’s cousins run with it. They did an amazing job and I loved having control over the music. 

Pros: We had ultimate control over the music. I made our entire playlist, so it only played songs Dillon and I wanted to listen to. The cost was wayyyyy cheaper than hiring a DJ. Our group was so fun that we genuinely did not need any help getting the party going. 

Cons: We had to transport the equipment to and from Louisville and being responsible for that was kind of stressful. Setting the equipment up was not easy but luckily, we had excellent help, and the rental company does provide setup and take down we just chose not to pay for it. 

Rating: 8/10 Would Do Again 

3 - first look/non-traditional vows

Dillon and I chose to do a first look so that we would have plenty of time after the ceremony to mingle with our guests. We also chose to read “vows” or more so just letters that we had written to each other during this time. I had no interest in spilling my guts to him in front of 200 guests, because lord knows I was already enough of a hot mess during the ceremony. So, we had some sweet words to each other during this time with just our photographer and videographer, and then recited the traditional vows during the ceremony. 

Pros: This was my most valued moment during the day, and one of the few that we actually had to be alone. I loved that we were able to have these sweet words with each other without an audience. 

Cons: Our friends and family probably wish they could have gotten to witness this interaction between us. 

Rating: 10/10 Would Absolutely Do Again

4 - private first dinner

This is a non-traditional wedding idea that I did find off of the internet, but it was not very popular. After the ceremony we did family photos, and then Dillon and I went inside to have our first dinner alone while the rest of the guests ate in the tent. Our plan was good in theory but because his grandmother couldn’t maneuver around the guests in the tent really well, we were not really alone inside of the house. However, this allowed us to spend some quality time with his grandparents and out of state cousins, otherwise we would have been so busy on our wedding day we may not have gotten to have a moment with them. Because we did not do a receiving line as well, we also missed out on some quality time with guests. But I think that is kind of a given with any wedding that has 250+ people. 

Pros: It allowed us to have a special moment and get through our dinner quickly so that we could do sunset photos and get on with the reception before guests started leaving. 

Cons: Because we also chose not to do a receiving line, we did not get to say hi to any of the guests that left early. 

Rating: 6/10 Would Probably Do Again.

5 - unity succulent

I wanted a unity ceremony that was special to both of us and also, of course, non-traditional. The only thing I found close to this was a tree planting. Which we theoretically could have done but I was afraid we wouldn't be able to keep the tree alive… So, we went with a unity succulent. I had jars of dirt from both of our childhood homes that we poured into the pot and then we both watered it. Meanwhile, I had my officiant read something that symbolized our actions as putting work into our marriage and watching it grow. 

Pros: I thought it was unique, and as someone who loves plants it is something I will always love and cherish. 

Cons: I was soooo afraid of getting dirt on my dress! I had my grandmother put some wet wipes and towels on the table just in case. 

Rating: 8/10 Would Do Again. 

6 - mismatched bridesmaids dresses

This has definitely become a trend lately, but I wanted to explain the way that I went about it. I made vision boards upon vision boards of various color swatches from several dress companies (Azazie, Birdy Grey, David’s Bridal, Kennedy Blue, JJ’s House, & Lulus were the ones I ended up going with). Once I knew the colors I wanted, I just sent them out to my bridesmaids and let them choose which color they wanted to go with. Then I had them order their dresses in whatever style they wanted. I did ask to approve them first, so we didn’t end up with two of the same style. 

Pros: My bridesmaids were able to buy a dress within their own budget, and everyone got a style/color they wanted. 

Cons: I didn’t get to see all of the dresses together until the day of, but they all still went together really well!

Rating: 9/10 Would Do Again

7 - getting ready outfits

If you haven’t picked up on a trend here, I was really trying to save money with my big day, which meant that buying cute pajama sets for 8 bridesmaids, 2 flower girls, 2 moms, and myself was really not affordable. Instead, I decided to do mismatched flannels that kind of went with our dresses. My idea was that we could wear our flannels at the reception over our dresses since it was outside in Mid-October, I knew it was going to be chilly. Several of the flannels I thrifted or caught on sale. I averaged about $10 per person, which was so much more affordable than robes or pajamas & I personally loved the way they all went together!

Pros: Saved money, they were all something that we would wear again, & several of us wore them at the reception which I thought was so cute!

Rating: 10/10 Would Do Again

8 - flower girl details

I wanted to incorporate as many boho details into my day as I could, even down to the flower girls' accessories! Instead of some rustic baskets, I had them carry woven boho purses down the aisle that I picked up at a local thrift store for about $5 each. They didn’t match but I kind of loved that about them. Also, I didn’t want to use fake petals that we would have to pick up, and I didn’t want to have the stress of using real petals either. So, I ordered a set of dried flowers off of Amazon that I had them toss down the aisle and I thought it was so pretty! 

Pros: This was a unique touch to my day that really made it authentic to my aesthetic. I also like to think it saved me some money since I spent about $20 total on the purses and dried flowers combined!

Rating: 10/10 Would Do Again

9 - bridal details

There were several things about my look that were unique to me! I will just describe them going from head to toe - First, I knew that I didn’t want a veil. But I was also afraid that a true flower crown would be a little too much since my dress had so many details. So, I had my florist design a piece that just sat on top of my bun and I loved it! Enough color poked out on the sides of my face to give me a little razzle dazzle, but it wasn’t overpowering. I wanted my jewelry to be simple as well since my dress literally had so much going on, so for my ‘something borrowed’ I had my mother put her necklace on me that she wears everyday. It was a special moment between the two of us and I loved being able to incorporate her into my look. I also had a horrible Apple watch tan line that no amount of self-tanner would cover up. So, I found this gold bangle off of Amazon to hide it with. I do think it slightly clashed with the silver bling on my dress & ring, but I was thankful that it hid the tan line. Lastly, I wanted my shoes to be very “me.” I found these nude waterproof chelsea boots from Sorel that I knew could double as my honeymoon shoes since we spent a week in Colorado. Several women in my family tried to talk me out of it but I loved them. I had all of my bridesmaids dress in fall booties as well and I think it all looked cute together! 

Pros: There were so many details about my look that were authentic to me, and I loved every one of them. 

Cons: The gold bangle clashing with my dress is really the only thing I can think of, but I am sure that no one noticed but me. 

Rating: 10/10 Would Do Again

10 - walking down the aisle with both of my parents

When it came to walking down the aisle, I just couldn’t imagine doing it without my mom. She was a single mom until I was 4 years old and had me at a young age. In a way we kind of grew up together and she has always been my bestest friend. My stepdad has been a part of my life since I was 4 and has always loved and cared for me. After losing my biological dad at 15 I have always been a little sensitive to the amount of time we get with our loved ones. I just couldn’t leave either of my remaining parents out. & Honestly your wedding day is about you. Who you choose to walk you down the aisle shouldn’t matter to anyone but you. You can have both parents, one parent, a sibling, a grandparent, or even yourself. Ultimately, your wedding day should just be authentically about you and your partner. I really don’t have any pros or cons for this one, just know that it’s okay to veer from societal norms and walk down the aisle with whoever feels right. 

Rating: 1000/10 Would Do Again

11 - diy decor

Again, because I was saving money and I have always been on the crafty side, I chose to make the majority of my decorations. & Whatever I didn’t make I thrifted. I had several signs that I had made, one of my favorites being an upcycled window that came out of my great grandparents' house. My clear signs were actually picture frames that came from the Dollar Tree. I had several boho baskets and vases that I had gotten at our local Peddlers Mall. Some things I found super cheap and just threw a coat of spray paint on. I spent literal months weaving together a macrame chandelier made out of rope and a hula hoop because I was not about to pay hundreds of dollars for one off of the internet. All of my table decor I made before hand with flowers from the clearance rack at Hobby Lobby. My vases were wine and whiskey bottles that me and my sweet mother-in-law spent months taking the labels off of. My table numbers were mini terracotta pots that I painted on. My guest book was an old globe that I painted. I am sure that I am missing a few, but all of these items were special to me & I still use them in my house today. 

Pros: Saved a lot of money, and now I have a lot of sentimental items from our wedding day that I use to decorate my house. 

Cons: The amount of time and effort it took…. Thankfully I had over a year to get it all together. I would absolutely do my own decorations again, but I would keep it much more simplistic. 

Rating: 8/10