If you’re engaged to your partner and are both wanting a more relaxed approach to your big day, you might be interested to hear that you’re not alone — less formality is becoming far more popular when it comes to tying the knot.
Many modern brides and grooms are being tempted down the path less traditional, which offers a more informal day for everyone — focusing more on the happy couple’s personal wishes rather than all the typical wedding conventions.
The ideas we have outlined for you in this article should help you to plan the perfect low-key wedding day.
Firstly though, let’s look at what constitutes a formal wedding.
What constitutes a formal wedding?
A formal wedding is highly traditional and often features:
- Many guests (100+)
- A traditional wedding dress (often with train and veil)
- A smart dress code
- Elaborate wedding invites
- Extravagant bouquets
- Traditional décor
- Traditional or lavish wedding favours
- A reception held at an exclusive hotel or club
- A live band, singer, or DJ
A formal wedding would also involve all of the traditions that have been part of this celebration for hundreds of years — from the cutting of the cake to the throwing of the bouquet; from speeches to the first dance.
For some couples, this all would constitute the perfect wedding but, for the purposes of this article, we are today looking at ways to change things up and make your day a more casual affair.
Ideas for an informal wedding
1. Send e-invites
Firstly, you could swap your ‘save the date’ cards and paper invites for electronic versions. This is a key decision as a less formal invite sets the tone for the day well in advance. As a bonus, deciding to send e-invites will save you money and be better for the environment.
2. Choose a simple venue
Instead of splashing the cash on a grand country house venue, those of you wanting a more relaxed day will enjoy yourselves just as much (if not more) in a family garden or the local town or village hall.
You’ll also have the benefit of full control over the day, most of your guests will know where the venue is (unlike the stately home nobody has heard of), and you’ll save yourselves a fortune.
3. Ditch the 3-course meal
The tradition is for a three-course meal at weddings, which is often served to guests by venue staff dressed in formal black and white.
If you give the fancy venue a miss, you can also easily skip this tradition as the two tend to come hand-in-hand.
Instead, consider your favourite foods and foods that match your theme (if you have one), and serve those instead. In summer, a BBQ is always a popular choice with guests.
Alternatively, consider asking your guests to bring a dish with them for a large buffet, or organise a ‘bake-off’ with desserts amongst the guests with a prize for your favourite.
4. Consider different seating
In line with a more relaxed food situation, you may not need the tables and chairs. Instead — depending on your choice of venue and season — consider bales of hay, deckchairs, beanbags, cushions, or picnic blankets.
If you do still want tables and chairs, you can make it feel more casual by using rustic seating and skipping the fancy chair covers and sashes.
For the ultimate in informal dining, skip the table plan and let people choose where they sit to eat.
5. Dress as yourself
If you don’t feel comfortable in a big white dress or a plain suit, then don’t feel you need to wear it. Embrace your individuality — it’s your day, after all.
If you’re a bride and want to wear a purple wedding dress or a trouser suit on your big day, do it. If you hate heels and would rather wear your Dr. Martens like you do every other day of the year, why not?
If you’d feel wrong in a plain suit as a groom, find something that you feel more ‘you’ in. Break the rules and let your personality shine through.
6. Give the bridesmaids freedom
Your bridesmaids will thank you for this one. Don’t choose a dress on their behalf and expect them all to wear the same; instead, give them your requirements and let them each choose their own outfit.
For example, you could ask them to choose a pastel dress of any length or style. This way, your bridesmaids can find a dress that suits their personality and body type — making them and the overall look more relaxed.
7. Drop the dress code
While some wedding invites stipulate formal dress and some don’t mention what to wear (leading guests to assume its formal attire), you could use your invite to let your guests know that the typical wedding dress code has been dropped.
You could say “wear what you like!” or suggest something that fits in with your theme (if you have one), such as a vintage style or outfits influenced by Harry Potter.
8. Let guests be bartenders
Instead of requiring bartenders, why not provide the drinks and let guests help themselves? Just choose a dedicated area and fill coolers or buckets of ice up with anything that needs to stay cold — beer, white wine, etc. Don’t forget to provide glasses, bottle openers, paper towels, and so on, too.
By doing this, your wedding will have more of a ‘party with friends’ feel to it.
9. DIY it
Nothing says informal more than a wedding full of DIY touches — whether it’s handmade favours, table decorations you and your mum made, or a table plan you illustrated yourself.
Bunting is a lovely DIY idea if you’re having an outdoor wedding, too.
10. Let the games begin
If you opt to not have a formal sit-down wedding reception, then you’ll have some time to fill, and there’s no better way to fill it than with a selection of games to play with guests.
If it’s summer and the weather is good, you could set up some fun outdoor games such as rounders, skittles, or croquet.
If you’re indoors, think beer pong, quizzes, cards and board games.
If you have any more ideas for a casual wedding, let us know in the comments below.
Don’t forget to choose your wedding rings before the big day — you can browse our selection online or pop in-store to try some on. If you have any questions regarding wedding rings, you can get in touch with our friendly team who are always happy to help.