3 Tips on Nontraditional Marriage Paths

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
March 9, 2023

Every culture and religion has traditions revolving around monumental life events, and marriage is no exception. In some relationships, a traditional engagement or wedding doesn’t appeal to either partner. Every relationship is unique; for some people, that means deciding to forgo tradition and forge their own paths toward marriage.

Many couples can confidently state from experience that you don’t need a traditional wedding for a marriage to be happy. Explore several types of nontraditional marriage paths, learn the couples they might be right for and what to consider with these kinds of ceremonies.

Skipping Engagement

While Western tradition often has couples become engaged before marriage, many couples get married without being engaged first. The reasons for skipping engagement vary, but plenty of couples who were never engaged go on to have happy, long-lasting marriages.

When to Consider It

Some couples consider engagement an unnecessary or outdated tradition. If you and your partner have been together for many years or have children, you may not think it’s necessary to become formally engaged. Some couples also dislike the concept of engagement and choose to skip it.

You and your spouse-to-be may want to forgo engagement for financial reasons. For example, the expenses of an engagement, like buying a ring and throwing a party, can be difficult to squeeze into a budget. Skipping an engagement allows you to put that money toward the wedding or other purchases like a home or vehicle.

What to Think About

You and your partner should be in agreement on skipping the engagement. Some people view engagement as a prelude to marriage that shouldn’t be skipped, even if you’ve been together for a long time. But some people want to enjoy the engagement period before officially tying the knot.

Skipping a formal engagement doesn’t simplify wedding planning. In some cases, it may complicate the process: If you and your partner are looking for venues or vendors, and your friends and family don’t know you’re planning a wedding, you may not receive as much help and support from them. 

Engagement can also help some couples get into wedding-planning mode and become more focused on sorting out the details, so skipping this step can cause you to lack the motivation to start planning. 

If you and your partner want to get engaged but have financial concerns, there are ways to lower the cost of your engagement. For example, you may use your engagement rings as wedding rings rather than buying separate rings for the ceremony, or you could purchase a cheaper engagement ring. 

A fantastic way to save money on the engagement ring is opting for a lab-grown diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are manufactured in a laboratory rather than mined from the earth. They have the same chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds and are indistinguishable to the human eye. Lab diamonds are more affordable than natural diamonds because of their fast production, which is a few weeks rather than the millennia required for natural diamonds.


Couples who want to skip large ceremonies and reduce the stress of wedding planning may choose to elope rather than have a traditional wedding. The couple has the marriage ceremony when eloping but typically skips traditional celebrations like the wedding reception. 

@thegroomclub Can you get married without being engaged? ? #marriagetok ♬ Sleepmode - Official Sound Studio

An elopement doesn’t mean you have to forgo celebration entirely. Many couples will invite friends and have an informal celebration of their marriage. 

When to Consider It

Traditionally, couples eloped because their family or friends disapproved of the marriage. This is still common today: Many couples elope because their families disapprove of their partner's religion, culture, gender or sexuality. 

If your or your partner’s family disagrees with your relationship or the plans for your wedding celebration, elopement may help you avoid any ceremony-related conflicts.

In the modern era, eloping has become a popular way of having a small wedding with less planning and fewer formalities. Some couples don’t want a long, drawn-out celebration and decide to have a small, impromptu ceremony. This allows the wedding to be more informal and can save costs for the couple to put toward their honeymoon or future expenses.

What to Think About

Elopement isn’t as simple as running off and getting married; you and your partner will still need to plan the wedding. You must decide where to get married, who will officiate the ceremony, who you want to attend and other aspects, such as dress code. 

Elopement is a small event that’s primarily focused on the ceremony. While it’s not the right choice for someone who wants a large event or day-of celebration, some couples choose to elope and have a big celebration after they’re officially married. 

If you and your partner are considering eloping despite wanting a large ceremony, consider talking to a wedding planner about alternative options.

Nontraditional Ceremony

If you and your partner aren’t enthralled by the idea of a traditional wedding ceremony or want to do something unique, a nontraditional ceremony may be the right option. These ceremonies can take many forms, such as themed weddings, extended celebrations or a combination of traditions and practices from their backgrounds. 

When to Consider It

If neither you nor your partner is particularly close to a religion or culture with a traditional wedding ceremony, a nontraditional ceremony may be the right choice. Forcing yourselves to adhere to traditions, particularly ones you aren’t close to or dislike, can make the happiest day of your life an unpleasant experience. 

A nontraditional ceremony allows flexibility and lets you and your partner express your personalities without conforming to traditional constraints. These weddings are ideal for couples who want to be more involved or hands-on in planning. You will need to work more closely with your partner and wedding planner to ensure the wedding unfolds in a way that everyone is happy with. 

What to Think About

Though a nontraditional ceremony can be an incredible experience, some can be expensive and challenging to plan. For example, if you and your spouse are considering an Au Naturel wedding, you may have trouble booking a venue that allows nudity. Similarly, outfits, decorations and catering for a Star Trek-themed wedding will likely be more expensive because they need more customization and more time to prepare.

Nontraditional ceremonies may also throw guests for a loop. Many guests expect weddings to be formal or semiformal events, and traditional Western weddings are a one-day affair. Multiday events or nontraditional ceremonies may have different rules, procedures, dress codes and plans you’ll need to review with your guests.

Compromising with your partner is critical when planning a nontraditional wedding. You may need to make more wedding-related decisions than you would in a traditional ceremony. Work with your partner to find solutions both of you will enjoy.

Plan the Wedding That’s Right for You and Your Spouse

Neither you nor your partner needs to have a traditional wedding to have the marriage of your dreams. In planning such an important event together, you and your partner affirm your commitment to each other. Communicate openly with your significant other, not just about what the both of you want for your wedding but what you’d like your lives to look like after marriage.

No matter what your wedding looks like, it should be a joyful event that marks the start of your newly married life. Traditional or not, you both deserve a celebration you can remember with fondness.