An odd one from me you might be thinking, talking about wedding traditions in the UK but how are you, as a couple, supposed to know which ones you can take out, as you didn’t realise they weren’t a legal requirement. Or which ones to keep or change if you don’t actually know what they are and how? So here they are…
Not seeing your partner before the ceremony
This tradition comes from arranged marriages and was in place so no one pulled out from the marriage. We now just think it’s unlucky and like to build the suspense.
With your wedding there is absolutely nothing to say you can’t spend the night with your partner like you have done for years before and get ready to together the morning of. Particularly if you have any anxiety issues surrounding the day and being without your partner and not inducing too much stress from this routine change, this is a much better alternative for you both.
You could always have a private first look, which are quite popular nowadays, if you still wanted the surprise factor with your partner.
To give away the bride
This was a very business like arrangement when the father of the bride would walk them down the aisle to hand them over or give them away to their new owner… yuck!
Today it is much more sentimental than that and you can choose who will walk with you down the aisle, someone who is very special in your life, who has cared for you and always been there or even your partner themselves. It can be a very special moment.
When having an LGBTQ+ wedding you can choose who will walk down the aisle or you can meet each other in the middle, you could even come in from both sides to meet at the front. You really can do it however you want.
But if this is something you are absolutely dreading with the thought of being in the spotlight, you could be mingling with your guests beforehand and just be at the front for when the ceremony starts.
Again you could always do a first look here.
Groom and family to the right
This tradition came from a traditional Christian wedding, where the groom can protect their bride with his left arm, whilst he could fight off anyone who was trying to steal his wife with his sword in his right. (let’s hope he wasn’t left handed hey!)
Now we can stand whichever side you like there is no right or wrong way. I would also suggest instead of having your family and friends the same side as you, why not have them the opposite side so they can actually see you saying your vows and not the back of your head.
Or like quite a few do, have your guests choose a seat not a side, generally you have been together quite a while now and you know all your guests really well.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue!
This is an old English Rhyme from the 19th Century describing what you should have on your person on your wedding day for good luck “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe.”
Female relatives normally gave these to you, so you had something to tie you to the past, have hope for the future and good luck from a happily married friend. The colour blue stood for love and purity and the sixpence was for prosperity.
Some still love this tradition as they see it as good luck, however if this is just another added stress and tick off the checklist you won’t be any less lucky on your day or in the future.
The Exchanging of rings
Coming all the way from Roman times, many believed there was a vein leading straight to the heart from the 4th finger on the left hand, which is very cute but unfortunately not true.
Some are under the impression that the ring exchange in the vows is a legal requirement, but they aren’t and not compulsory at all.
Some people aren’t ring wearers or feel that the giving of rings is important to them, so you can exchange anything you want from framed copies of the vows to a different piece of jewellery. You could even have matching tattoos done or plant a tree. With a celebrant led ceremony you could have a hand fasting instead.
What day to get married on
Now here is a tradition that just proves that we can change things around if we want to. If I said to you what is the most popular day to get married on? I bet you said Saturday? Well according to tradition and this rhyme…
“Monday for health,
Tuesday for wealth,
Wednesday’s the best of all.
Thursday brings crosses,
And Friday losses,
But Saturday – no luck at all.”
So this tradition came from Queen Victoria she wore a white satin dress. It stands for purity and linked to wealth as only the wealthy could afford such a dress.
Nowadays you really can wear whatever colour, style and outfit you like, it doesn’t even have to be a dress. It just needs to be what you feel comfortable to wear and feel epic in!
This goes for veils too, you can have whatever colour or patterns you want (have you seen Crown & Glory veils?) they traditionally warded off evil spirits and hid your beauty, again going back to arranged marriages. Although nowadays you don’t have to wear one, you could opt for a cool cape, crown, floral headpiece or hat. The choice is yours.
Holding a Bouquet
This one always, makes me giggle, these flowers weren’t carried to look pretty these were carried to mask your smell!
Bouquets are in fact beautiful and come in various shapes, sizes and colours to match your theme. But there other alternatives like button or brooch bouquets (see my blog on this here). And the throwing of the bouquet is to see who will be married next, another one you don’t have to do! You could hand the bouquet over to someone special instead, some have a smaller replica of the bouquet made to throw, or keep it and have it preserved.
This goes back hundreds of years where the couple would give each guest something to remember the day by. It then turned to 5 sugar coated almonds, which represented happiness, wealth, long-life, fertility and health. Do you remember those? Yes I’m old enough to and they were gross!
We now opt for more creative favours from mini bottles of alcohol to charity donations. If you are on a tight budget why not incorporate the favours with your guests place names as a keepsake. Or get rid of them all together.
The Wedding Cake
The cutting of the cake is a tradition that when the bride made the first cut, it would ensure the marriage would be blessed by children. However some couples do not want to have children or even like cake! So you could always have a cake made of cheese, doughnuts or macaroons. Or you could have a table made up of all your favourite desserts instead.
The First dance
This originally came from the Ballroom; it was tradition for the guest of honour to lead the first dance and this transferred on to weddings in the 17th Century.
Traditonally it would be the newlyweds first followed by the parents dancing with the couple. Then the father with the bride the mother with the groom. Then the groom’s father with the bride and mother in law with the groom.
Now with all our blended families and LGBTQ+ weddings, this can be done in any order that feels good to you both or with whoever you choose. You can keep it to just the two of you and invite everyone up halfway through or taken out completely if you don’t like to be centre of attention.
Throwing of Confetti
Rice was thrown traditionally once a couple were married to encourage fertility, which then changed to shredded paper.
Nowadays we have biodegradable confetti, flower petals, or dried petal/leaves, which is a much better alternative for the environment. Again if this just isn’t your idea of a fun picking it all out of your hair and finding it in your outfits, take it out. However do make a note on your invitations as some guests may still bring some.
So to summarise, do whatever you want on your wedding day. Pick and choose the wedding traditions you like or change and get rid of any others you don’t. It’s your day, do it your way!
Thanks for reading
x Jodie x
Next read my blog on how to plan an alternative wedding here