The wedding industrial complex seems to have a knack for telling us what to do. But this is Offbeat Wed, the side of the internet wedding-verse that's all about empowering you to celebrate your wedding in whatever way feels most authentic to you. If you need an example of that, check out our publisher's rave wedding in a forest where her family members passed out MDMA to wedding guests.
So the last thing you'd expect from a non-traditional wedding blog is for us to give you a prescriptive list of wedding do's and don'ts. But whether you're having a wildly non-traditional wedding or one with traditional elements, there are some definite do's that ring true with both:
- Set a budget and stick to it
- Use a wedding planning checklist to help you stay organized
- Find vendors who align with your wedding vision and values
Other than that, all the wedding do's and don'ts sorta blend together, like practicing walking in your wedding shoes, having a wedding emergency kit, etc. When it comes to non-traditional celebrations, there are some offbeat do's and don'ts that need to be factored into your wedding plans. With that, we present to you:
Non-traditional do's and don'ts of wedding planning
DO: Rehearse your ceremony
Before you roll your eyes at how obvious and echoed this is, let us rephrase. If you're having a non-traditional wedding ceremony with a lot of moving parts…like liturgical dancers coming down the aisle instead of flower kids, a bridesmuse has to do a quick change into a dinosaur costume, you're setting yourself and your partner on fire in your wedding outfits, then you need a rehearsal. Cool things don't just happen without practice.
Although your wedding day isn't about “performing” for anyone, a wedding ceremony with a lot of non-traditional moving parts is sort of like a choreographed dance performance! Take theatre and film professionals for example. They have to factor in time for working out kinks in the show so that on the day of the performance or filming, things look smooth, spontaneous, and effortless.
For instance, rehearsing a dinosaur costume quick change allows your bridesmaid / bridesboy / nonbinary bridesmuse to practice getting in an out of a complicated costume. That way on the day of the wedding, the bridesmaid / bridesboy / nonbinary bridesmuse won't get caught up trying to figure out how to get into the costume for the first time, which prevents that awkward downtime of wedding guests looking at each other like “What the heck is going on?”
DON'T: Include people who will make the wedding planning process stressful for you
This is a tip you might only see in a non-traditional do's and don'ts list. People won't change their behavior just because you're getting married. Got a family member who will inevitably comment on your body while trying on wedding outfits? Don't invite them to go shopping with you.
DO bring people who you know will hype you up like the superstar you are! Is your bestie not the best at making plans? Don't task them with big things like planning the bach party. DO defer that task to someone in your wedding party who LOVES planning events. Meeting people where they're at sets them up for success, which then sets you up for a more positive wedding planning experience
DO: Get off Pinterest!
You deserve to have that Pinterest phase. After all, that's part of the wedding planning fun. But once you've passed the board off to your wedding planner or any other vendors who might need to see it, YOU'RE DONE.
Nothing derails your wedding plans (or makes your vendor's lives harder) than when you fall down the wedding rabbit hole of endless pinning. Not to mention that sites like Pinterest are designed to serve you FOMO with a whopping side of unrealistic/out-of-budget wedding expectations.
DON'T: Convince yourself you can get married and coordinate your own wedding at the same time
Do you consider yourself an organized person? Is coordinating multiple moving parts your jam? Hats off to you! But trust us on this one. We strongly suggest that you aren't the wedding planner/coordinator of your wedding.
Now, CAN you be your own day-of wedding coordinator? Sure! But you deserve to spend your wedding day experiencing it, not problem-solving it. Leave that to the professionals. Worried about the financial cost of hiring a professional wedding planner or wedding coordinator? Here's how you might actually save money by hiring one.
DO: Take wedding planning breaks
Wedding planning can be fun, but it can also be mentally exhausting. Make sure you leave plenty of room for self-care! This can look like designating a week where you don't discuss anything wedding-related or assigning certain days to talk about wedding plans (like Wedding Wednesdays).
DON'T: Do anything abnormal during the week of the wedding
Maybe this tip is on other wedding publications but it's still worth mentioning. Stick to your usual routine the week of the wedding. This is not the week to try a new food or a new skincare product or decide you want to take up bouldering with no safety equipment for the first time. We're all about being adventurous and trying new things, but maybe save that for a time when you can risk having an allergic reaction or breaking a leg.
Now here's 4 non-traditional DO's for your wedding:
DO: Set a budget and be candid about it
We can blame the patriarchy for that icky stigma that comes with talking about money. But once you set a budget, it's important to be transparent about it with your vendors. This helps vendors help you keep your wedding plans within budget. Plus, talking openly about wedding budgets helps other nearlyweds see that they can set a budget that aligns with their values and still have a beautiful wedding!
DO: Find a vendor who aligns with your values
It's one of the universal do's we mentioned above, but it's worth mentioning again. You deserve a wedding vendor who doesn't blink when you tell them you want an eco-friendly goth wedding under a full moon. Hiring a vendor who celebrates your vision and your core values is the best investment you can make for your wedding.
We know it can be exhausting to sift through the interwebs trying to find someone who checks all the boxes. That's why we've curated the Offbeat Wed Vendor Guide, a wedding vendor directory filled with wedding professionals who align with our values of acceptance, diversity, and inclusivity. There's even a feature where you can see if each vendor identifies as the following: BIPOC, disabled, nonbinary, LGBTQ+, or neurodivergent. This makes it easier for non-traditional nearlyweds to connect with non-traditional wedding vendors who truly get them!
DO: Ask your community to help with wedding plans
You and your partner don't have to tackle wedding plans alone. Weddings are inherently a communal experience! The people who support your love want to see you happy. When things get overwhelming, don't be afraid to ask for help!
Keep in mind when you're asking a loved one for assistance, it should be in the scope of what they're capable of doing. Remember, they may not necessarily be professionals, but they are doing their best… and their best is more than enough!
DO: Invite folks who spark joy
Think of people who, if you saw them randomly for the first time in years, you'd feel excited. Those are the folks you should be inviting to your wedding day!
And finally, the most important “Do” of a non-traditional wedding:
Take moments throughout the day to fully breathe in the experience. Sorta like a mental snapshot. Look into your partner's eyes and notice how you feel. Pause when you get to the altar and look out at all your loved ones who came here to celebrate and support you. You'll thank yourself for those small moments of mindfulness for years after the wedding.