While there is a place for traditions, many couples are opting to do something different when it comes to their wedding day. Some include traditions because ‘everyone else does it’, but the only things a couple should include are the things that are meaningful to them. Read on for our ideas for alternatives to wedding traditions.

Wedding unit ceremony, pouring of Steam Whistle beer at the Steam Whistle Brewery, Toronto. www.rebeccachan.ca
Our couple pours beer together at their wedding at the Steam Whistle Brewery, Toronto.

Here are some ideas for alternatives to traditions often done at weddings:

Garter and Bouquet toss:

There are a lot of stories as to where it originated, however it is often known to be a tradition that ‘singles’ out the single gals and guys at the wedding to see who might be the next to marry. When done well, it can be a good way to get guests on the dance floor to start the dance.

Garter and Bouquet Toss alternative:

Instead of focusing on the singles, why not honour those who have been married the longest at your reception? Consider having all the married couples on the dance floor and hold a dance off to a favourite tune. Call out years of marriage and have couples leave the floor when their year comes up, until you have one last couple left. Give the longest standing couple a special gift, maybe a bouquet and garter, maybe something different. This is also something couples will consider if there aren’t a lot of single guests anymore.

Cherry Blossom Wedding at Shangri-La Hotel Toronto - Polaroids of guests
Guests take and leave polaroids of themselves instead of a photo slideshow.

Photo slideshows

You know the drill – lights dim and a slideshow plays of the bride and groom growing up. First the bride’s photos come up of her growing up, then the groom’s photos of his upbringing. Then, without fail, there are photos of the both of them journeying together. Cheesy Powerpoint is a must for this it seems. There’s nothing wrong with a good slideshow! I much prefer them as a background slideshow when guests get their food, rather than a main event to be watched by all.

Photo slideshow alternative

Instead of showing guests your life story, consider asking guests to bring a photo of them with either the bride or groom (or with you both!) and have them stick it into a guestbook, DIY style. This allows guests to be a little creative and serves as a fun way for the bride and groom to remember their day. Create an interactive polaroid guestbook that acts as a slideshow that people can view during the night. Or print out photos to be hung or displayed in a creative way (how often do we see printed photos anymore?).

Candle unity ceremony

Many couples opt to include the candle unity tradition into their wedding ceremony. This, along with the sand, symbolizes a joining of two individuals that aren’t to be separated. Sometimes parents are included in the lighting of the candles as well. It can be a great symbolic gesture for couples who like that sort of thing, but my hunch is that most couples do it just ’cause’.

Candle unity ceremony alternative

Don’t do anything on your wedding day just ’cause! Consider something the both of you have in common and play on that. I’ve seen a couple who rock climbs together use the rock climbing ropes to do a figure-eight knot with their hands, symbolizing the bond they can have. It is meaningful to them and has a lot of symbolism. Do you both enjoy art? Maybe you can paint something together. Are you both rock climbers? Include your rock climbing ropes in the ceremony. Get your thinking caps on and think of something that works for the two of you.


Rebecca Chan is a Toronto wedding planner and day of wedding coordinator providing sophisticated planning for the style-savvy couple. Whether you need planning assistance or wedding day coordination, Rebecca can help you create your dream wedding day. Contact her today, she'd love to hear from you.

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