What is an anti wedding?

a bride being set free from wedding traditions

If you’re thinking an anti wedding is some sort of satanic cult ritual, you couldn’t be further from the truth. When I stumbled upon the term, I was intrigued to find that there’s a movement among some couples to return to simpler wedding traditions and eliminate all of the overblown, expensive parts that have become the norm. If this sounds like something you might be into as well, keep reading as I explore what makes an anti wedding and how to pull one off yourself.

An anti wedding is a stripped-down, back to basics version of a wedding ceremony and / or reception. It takes away all of the things the wedding industry has said “must” be included in a wedding and only includes the most essential elements like a small ceremony, inexpensive attire and decor, and a no frills reception.

An anti wedding is also known as a non-wedding or untraditional wedding. The movement started as a backlash to how expensive and bloated modern day weddings have become.

Who is an anti wedding for?

The average wedding cost, according to the Knot, is over $30,000. As Millennials and Gen Z are facing record levels of student debt, rising housing costs and inflation, that $30,000 could be use on a car, a downpayment on a house, or paying down debt. So many couples are questioning why they need to spend that kind of money to have an expensive party that overshadows their love.

Or perhaps the idea of all the attention being on your and your loved one, too much? An anti wedding allows for a more intimate setting to say your “i do’s.” If this sounds like something you might be interested in, let’s talk about how to pull it off.

How to pull off an anti wedding

First, think about what’s most important to you as a couple to cement your love and commitment to each other. Maybe it’s having your closest family and friends as a witness or getting married in your childhood church or temple. Maybe it’s having a courthouse ceremony and a dinner at your favorite restaurant afterwords. Identify what is more important to you and ignore what the bridal magazines say is necessary.

Second, plan the ceremony. The goal is simplicity and staying true to who you are as a couple. If you’re religious, your local place of worship will be perfectly suited and usually affordable. If you’re into nature, plan a hike to your favorite spot. Or if you want the simplest or retro route, opt for the courthouse.

Third, plan the celebration. An anti wedding can mean you just have a ceremony and no party afterwords. Or it can mean you plan an understated reception, such as a cake and punch reception. We’ve written about cake and punch receptions here. The important thing is that it feels natural to you and doesn’t feel contrived. It doesn’t even mean it has to be inexpensive. If sushi is your favorite food, maybe you treat you and your closest family and friends to a night at the most expensive sushi bar in town after your wedding!

Now you’re thinking outside of the wedding box. Let’s keep talking about what other alternatives you can explore.

What can I do instead of a wedding?

Ultimately, an anti wedding is about ignoring what society expects that a wedding should be. So if a catering hall meal with 150 people, a big poufy dress, and a night full of dancing to Ed Sheeran sounds like a nightmare come true, skip it! Here are fifteen things to do instead of a wedding:

  • Rent out a bowling alley and have a ten-pin celebration
  • Have a picnic at your favorite park
  • Rent out a movie theater and screen your favorite flick
  • Donate the money you would’ve spent to a charity
  • Host a backyard BBQ
  • Play lazer tag, groom’s side versus bride’s side
  • Rent out an arcade (pre-loaded cards make a great wedding favor)
  • Crash your favorite dive bar and buy a round of drinks and apps
  • Have a fast food celebration to satisfy your favorite craving
  • Take your guests out to a ball game
  • Have a private chef come to your home for an intimate dinner party
  • Take a walk from the courthouse to visit your favorite spots in your hometown
  • Rent bicycles and head to the most scenic spots in your city
  • Book a party bus for an hour or two for an on-the-go celebration
  • Go to a museum or planetarium (buy yourself something from the gift shop as a souvenir!)

Looking for more ideas like these? We have a post on the most unique wedding themes that will give you more ideas to make your wedding one of a kind.

How do you celebrate a wedding without a party?

Just because you’re thinking of having an anti wedding that ditches cultural norms in favor of something more low-key doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate your wedding. If you don’t want to have a party at all, even one that happens at a bowling alley or restaurant, there are others things you can do to celebrate your nuptials.

To celebrate a wedding without a party, think about what would feel equally celebratory to you as a couple. You can complete a small ritual that symbolizes your commitment, create a physical symbol of your love, or celebrate with a special trip.

Here’s an example for each of those three ideas for how to celebrate a wedding that don’t involve a party:

A small ritual that symbolizes your commitment

For example, many couples tie a knot or light candles as part of their ceremonies. You can take that experience home with you and light the same candle every night at dinner to celebrate your marriage. It’s a small, daily reminder of the promise you’ve made to each other.

A physical symbol of your love

Use some of the money you would’ve spent on a wedding and buy a meaningful piece of jewelry, put it towards your forever home, or adopt a tree or name a star. Yes, a wedding ring counts but make it really amazing with an engraving or an upgraded piece you couldn’t afford otherwise. Whenever you look at the object, you’ll be reminded of your love.

man putting a wedding ring on a woman

A special trip

For example, go backpacking through Europe, drive across the United States, surf the Gold Coast or ski in the mountains. Book an amazing honeymoon just for the two of you that you’re always remember.

What do you think of the anti wedding idea? Ready to give it a try or does it not seem like it would work for you? Let us know on our exclusive Facebook group, Bold Weddings on a Budget, and get ideas from other like-minded brides.


Jaime is the owner of Loud Bride and Coast Designs LLC. She got married in 2017 in Geneseo, NY and designed her own wedding invitations and programs for the occasion. Now, she designs bespoke wedding stationery and affordable templates for other couples. She lives in New York city with her husband and two children.

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