British Wedding Traditions
Image by Sara Dalrymple Photography
Us Brits love a good old tradition or two, and weddings are undeniably littered with the things! Many of the common practices we take for granted at a wedding actually do have some (often rather ambiguous and/or tenuous) traditional symbolism. Whether or not you're interested in sticking with conventions or throwing them out of the window (fine too!) we thought we'd fill you in on some of the potential explanations behind our weird and wonderful traditions.
Before The Wedding
- It's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding day, if possible the groom should avoid looking at her as she walks up the aisle for extra luck!
- Rain on the wedding day is actually considered lucky as it is a sign of good fertility in marriage.
- The bride should avoid wearing her full wedding outfit before the big day, as it would be bad luck!
- Something old, something new... This is often made up of something old to remember strong bonds with friends (sometimes the garter of a happily married friend), new to symbolise new life together, something borrowed brings good luck from the family and something blue represents fidelity in marriage.
The Big Entrance
- The Bride traditionally enters on the left hand arm of her father, ahead of the bridesmaids. In recent times bridesmaids often enter first to build excitement for the entrance of the bride.
- The Bride then positions herself to the left of the groom at the altar. This is so that his right arm is free to access is sword should he need to fight of advancing suitors or protect his bride.
The Wedding Service
- In a church service, the usual order of service is as follows:
- Entrance of the Bride / Welcome and Introduction by the celebrant / Hymn / Readings / Sermon / Exchange of Marriage Vows / Prayers / Hymn / The Signing of the register / The Final Blessing / Exit
- The vows should be exchanged when the minute hand is on the ascension, thus ascending towards heaven and happiness.
- The Bride and Groom exit first, followed by Bridesmaids and Pageboys, the Best Man and Chief Bridesmaid, the Mother of the Bride and the Grooms father, and the Mother of the groom with the Brides father.
The traditional line up for the receiving line is as follows:
- Bride's Parents
- Groom's Parents
- The Bride
- The Groom
- Maid of Honour
- Best man
- The top table (if arranged long ways) should be seated in the following order - the Chief Bridesmaid, Groom's Father, Bride's Mother, the Groom, the Bride, the Bride's Father, the Groom's Mother, the Best Man. Naturally alterations can be made if one's family situation is complicated.
- Speeches: the Bride's father kicks off the speeches welcoming the guests and the groom into the family and toasting the Bride and Groom. The Groom responds by thanking the Bride's parents as well as his own on behalf of himself and his new wife. He also thanks those involved in organising the weddings, and lastly toasts the bridesmaids. The Best Man then answers on behalf of the Bridesmaids and provides some light hearted musings on the day and the groom. He is not required to offer a toast, but often will toast the Bride and Groom again using their names.