Everything You Need To Know About The Un-Wedding Trend

Many of us grow up fantasizing about the day we don a white gown, walk down the aisle, and say "I do" to a real-life Prince or Princess Charming. But what if there's a better way? Meet the un-wedding trend — not to be confused with the unhyphenated term "unwedding," which refers to a separation or divorce. An un-wedding is a marriage ceremony that bucks tradition in favor of a modern, customized celebration. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples had no choice but to abandon their big wedding dreams and try something different. Non-conformist bridal website Rock N Roll Bride gave their tips for an un-wedding celebration in 2020, when weddings were being postponed left and right, suggesting couples still honor their original wedding day with a few close friends and a small romantic meal.

But even after some of the initial pandemic mayhem has subsided, un-weddings are proving to be a trend that is here to stay. In 2021, as some weddings were back on track, Town & Country declared it "the Year of Micro-Weddings & Elopements." In early 2022, Brides forecasted the rise of intimate, non-traditional, and unique weddings. And looking back even before the pandemic, Glamour reported that elopements were trending, especially among millennials.

For many, un-weddings may replace the generic wedding fantasy, but what exactly sets them apart, and is defying tradition worth it?

The only rule is there are no rules

One of the biggest points that sets un-weddings apart is that they defy the old wedding rulebooks. As the hosts of "The Un-Wedding Podcast" sum it up, "un-weddings are about the couple, not the norms." They explain that while weddings may allow couples to choose a color scheme or a desired season for the big day, there isn't actually much room for personalization.

With an un-wedding, anything goes. One wedding officiant described an un-wedding ceremony on her blog that involved Star Wars light sabers, mystery ring bearers, and vows written by children. Another wedding expert wrote on her website about a beachy un-wedding that included a recycled graduation suit, a kitchen baking session, and a Zoom gathering. The options are endless — you could even have a weekend-long event if that's your thing.

However, having no rules doesn't mean traditions are totally out. As wedding photography company We Can Be Heroes points out, many couples do enjoy at least a couple of wedding traditions, and these can be included in an un-wedding ceremony too. The key is for couples to consciously choose traditions because they're meaningful, not just because they're expected.

An un-wedding might be less stressful

Weddings are notoriously stressful. In a 2018 Zola survey, 96% of couples said that wedding planning caused them stress. Not only that, but wedding planning can stir up new conflicts for engaged couples who feel weighed down by family pressures and high expectations (per Martha Stewart). From deciding the first dance to choosing the color of the bridesmaids' dresses, it can all become overwhelming — no wonder the bridezilla trope exists.

An un-wedding aims to sidestep many of these struggles, leaving couples and their loved ones feeling relaxed and stress-free on the big day. According to Stylist, a wedding is less about love and more about navigating a lengthy to-do list. An un-wedding, on the other hand, does away with much of the decision-making that comes with a traditional celebration.

There may still be some planning involved, but the sense of casualness and spontaneity many couples had to accept during the pandemic still remain in today's un-weddings. This might make it easier to actually enjoy getting hitched, without micromanaging every detail. And similar to a planned elopement, an un-wedding could be an opportunity to skip the guest list entirely, or at least keep it short and sweet, to avoid unnecessary family drama.

You might get a better deal

It's common to plan a wedding on a budget to keep costs down, but many couples are still pushed into spending thousands of dollars on their big day. In fact, The Knot reports that the average wedding costs $34,000 — and with inflation, the cost is only going up (per New York Times). For frugal couples, an un-wedding might be the perfect way to save money.

"The Un-Wedding Podcast" speculates that many wedding companies and vendors don't worry much about pleasing brides and grooms-to-be because they don't depend on repeat business, knowing that most couples will only have one wedding. Therefore, they offer pricey packages that may not even suit the couple's needs or wishes. However, an un-wedding may take on an à la carte style, where money is only spent on what the couple actually values.

We Can Be Heroes suggests skipping the bridal boutiques and opting for an alternative dress style or swapping dress shoes for sneakers. Changes like these, along with an unconventional approach to decor, food, the venue, and other details can potentially shave a small fortune off the cost of getting married.