A - Z of New & Old Wedding Traditions
Updated: Apr 29
Over the years many wedding traditions have appeared, some of which we still follow today without actually knowing the meaning behind them. Here we give you the background information on them, and some inspiration to help you decide if you want to include or discount them on your wedding day.
A - Arrival of the Bride
The bride usually arrives on her fathers right arm. In older times this was actually to stop him from using his sword arm and attacking her husband to be.
B - Bridesmaids
Dressed similarly to the bride, the original role of the bridemaids was to ward off evil spirits.
C - Confetti
The tradition of throwing confetti actually originated in Italy and symbolises the guests bestowing prosperity and fertility on the marriage.
D - Dance
The first dance between bride and groom is often eagerly awaited. It shows the love and unity between the new couple. The dance reveals the harmony between them and is an expression of their unending love.
E - Engagement ring
The tradition of wearing your engagement ring on the left hand dates back to ancient Rome, when the Romans believed your left-hand ring finger contained a vein that directly connects to the heart. This vein was called the 'vein of love"
F - Favours
Originally 5 sugared almonds were given to guests and symbolised health, happiness, wealth, fertility and long life. Some still give sugared almonds as favours, but there is also a whole host of ideas today to suit all budgets and styles.
G - Groomsmen
These days the groomsmen are usually close friends and family chosen by the groom to support him on his wedding day. This has been the case ever since groomsmen first appeared, but back in the "wedding by capture" era their role was very different. A groom would decide on who he wanted for his bride, gather a group of male friends and/or family and they would effectively kidnap or capture the bride to be. The groomsmen were there to fight off the brides angry father and family until the groom and his bride had got safely away. A far cry from the role they fill today.
H - Honeymoon
This again goes back to the "wedding by capture" era, more especially towards the end of this time when the abduction of the bride was more of a staged affair. In Norse traditions, the bride and groom would go into hiding for 30 days after the wedding. During this time, a friend or family member would bring them a cup of honey wine every day to consume, hence this time became known as the honeymoon.
I - Invitations
In the middle ages, weddings were typically announced by the town crier and anyone within earshot automatically became part of the celebrations. So at least these days you get to invite who you want rather than ending up feeding a lot of people who you don't even know.
J - Jewellery
It has long been a tradition in many families for the bride to wear her mother or grandmothers pearls and the groom to wear his fathers or grandfathers pocket watch.
K - Keepsakes
When the first bottle of champagne is opened it is traditional to present the cork to the bride and groom with a coin minted in the year of their marriage embedded in it.
L - Lighting Candles
A more recent tradition includes lighting candles during your wedding ceremony in remembrance of loved ones.
M - Maid Of Honour
A maid of honor is responsible for being the head of the bridesmaids, keeping them organized. Typically, the maid of honor leads the bridesmaids in planning the hen party. On the day of the wedding, a maid of honor helps the bride get dressed and stay calm.
N - Non-Traditional Wedding Ceremonies
Celebrants are a very popular choice now for couples who want a less traditional ceremony and the freedom to hold their ceremony anywhere they choose. Many will have the actual legal ceremony in a registry office attended by only their witnesses and then plan a full celebrant led ceremony encompassing all the things they want which are not usually possible in a registrar led wedding.
O - Order of Service
Typically an Order of Service is required for a church service and includes the words to any hymns or prayers you are including in your service
P - Photography
Since the invention of the camera they have come a long way and it is now one of the best ways to capture your wedding day in a way that will last a lifetime and if you include an album in your photography package it can become an heirloom to hand down to future generations.
Q - Quirky Ideas
Many couples now are writing cute messages for each other on the souls of their shoes. Others are now including their fur babies in their wedding day. The list is endless.
R - Receiving Line
This tradition is not as popular as it once was mainly because it can take up so much time on the wedding day. Many couples today opt to visit each table at the reception and chat to guests instead. This is also a great way to ensure you get photographs with all your guests if your photographer accompanies you around the tables.
S - Speeches
Wedding speeches are often the cause of much hilarity and filled with emotions. Traditionally they are after the wedding breakfast, but a lot of couples now opt to have them before the meal so that those giving speeches can get them out of the way and have less time for nerves to get the better of them.
T - Table Plans
There are so many ideas and inspiration for displaying your table plan but it is a great tradition to have and definitely saves your guests wandering around the tables looking for their seat.
U - Ushers
The ushers biggest jobs are to direct and seat guests at the ceremony. At a more formal celebration, they will escort guests to their seats, offering an arm to female guests (especially those that are arriving alone) and leading male guests or couples to the next available seat.
V - Veil
The wedding veil probably originated as a way to ward off evil and protect the purity of the bride. The veiling of the bride has origins in the idea that she's vulnerable to enchantment, so she must be hidden from evil spirits.
W - Wedding Cake
Each tier of the wedding cake has its own significance and the top tier serves a very special function indeed.
Tradition has it that the bottom tier is for eating at the ceremony, and the middle tier for distributing after the event.
And in the 19th Century, the top tier was saved until the first child’s christening – an event which often followed quite soon after the wedding.
As the traditional recipe is a fruit cake, which has a long shelf life, it was quite safe to tuck into a slice for a few years after the big day.
X - Kiss
A couples’ first kiss as a married couple is said to be the most important and meaningful one they will share. However, with family and friends eagerly watching and potential cultural differences and traditions to take into consideration, this pivotal moment can cause a certain degree of nervous anticipation and stress. We would strongly advise practising your kiss before the big day, a piece of advice we are sure many of you will not find difficult to follow.
Y - You
It is your wedding day, so make it about you and have your wedding, your way. Style and personalise it to fulfill your dream, not someone elses.
Z - zzzzzzzz
And so to bed. Your wedding day is a long and emotion roller coaster so do not overly worry about your wedding night. Just so you know, more than 50% of couples just go to sleep on their wedding night and do not consummate the marriage until later.