What Wedding Traditions are there in the UK?
Whilst there are wedding traditions all over the world, this list focuses on UK wedding traditions.
If you have just started your wedding planning, you will be trying to find out what you should be doing, and whilst most of the information is widely known, there are some interesting facts which you might not.
British Wedding Traditions
The following list are all things that most couples will do on, during and after their wedding, nothing out of the ordinary here!
- Bridal shower – A pre-wedding celebration where the bride’s female friends and family shower her with gifts.
- Engagement party – A celebration to announce the engagement and allow the couple to introduce their families.
- Hen party – Similar to a bachelorette party in the US, a hen party is a celebration for the bride and her female friends before the wedding.
- Stag party – Similar to a bachelor party in the US, a stag party is a celebration for the groom and his male friends before the wedding.
- Wedding cake – A multi-tiered cake traditionally served at weddings.
- Wedding breakfast – A traditional wedding meal served to guests after the ceremony.
- Top table – A designated table for the bride, groom, and their families at the wedding reception.
- Wedding favours – Small gifts given to guests as a thank you for attending the wedding.
- Wedding invitations – Formal invitations sent to guests inviting them to the wedding ceremony and reception.
- Wedding rings – Symbolic rings exchanged between the bride and groom during the ceremony.
- Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue – A popular wedding tradition where the bride incorporates these items into her wedding attire for good luck.
- Father of the bride speech – A traditional speech given by the bride’s father during the wedding reception.
- Wedding speeches – A series of speeches given during the wedding reception by the groom, best man, and other members of the bridal party.
- First dance – The bride and groom’s first dance together as a married couple.
- Cutting of the cake – The bride and groom’s ceremonial cutting of the wedding cake.
- Bouquet toss – The bride tosses her bouquet to a group of single female guests.
- Garter toss – The groom tosses the garter he removes from the bride’s leg to a group of single male guests.
- Carrying the bride over the threshold – A symbolic gesture where the groom carries his bride into their home after the wedding.
- Honeymoon – A post-wedding vacation taken by the newlyweds.
The most common bridal tradition is wearing a white dress.
This tradition dates back to Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840, where she wore a white gown to symbolize purity and innocence. Today, many brides still choose to wear white or ivory dresses on their wedding day.
You can wear whatever colour wedding dress you want, but these are the meanings of other wedding dress colours.
Red Wedding Dress
In the UK, it is not considered traditional for a bride to wear a red wedding dress. This is because red is often associated with passion, desire, and strong emotions, which can be seen as inappropriate for a wedding ceremony where the focus is on love, commitment, and unity.
Furthermore, wearing a red wedding dress may be seen as cultural appropriation or disrespectful to certain cultures where red is a traditional color for wedding attire, such as in Chinese or Indian weddings.
That being said, there are no hard and fast rules about what color a wedding dress should be, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Some brides may choose to wear a red wedding dress to honor their cultural heritage or to make a bold fashion statement. Ultimately, it is up to the individual bride to decide what color wedding dress she feels most beautiful and confident in on her special day.
Black Wedding Dress
In the UK, wearing a black wedding dress is considered unconventional and is not part of traditional wedding customs. Black is often associated with mourning or funerals and may be seen as inappropriate for a joyous occasion like a wedding. Additionally, in Western culture, white or ivory are the traditional colors for a wedding dress, symbolizing purity, innocence, and new beginnings.
That being said, there are no hard and fast rules about what color a wedding dress should be, and some brides may choose to wear a black wedding dress as a symbol of individuality, rebellion, or to make a fashion statement. Black can also be a sophisticated and elegant color for a wedding dress, and can work well for evening weddings or more formal occasions.
Wedding Date Superstitions
What month is unlucky for weddings?
May is considered an especially unlucky time to marry. There’s an old rhyme that says, marry in the month of May and you’ll live to rue the day. So, why is this? In pagan times, May was dedicated to fertility rituals designed to bless the crops. Often times, these rituals took place in the outdoors and included lots of people if you get my drift. It wasn’t considered the wisest time for a bride to wed her husband. It’s even said that Queen Victoria forbade her children from being married in May.
What is the luckiest month to get married?
For those suspicious brides- and grooms-to-be, the best month to get married is June. June is named for the goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter and goddess of marriage. It is said that Juno watched over the women of Rome and that those who married in June would have her favor on their marriages. This tradition has endured to our modern era where June is still considered one of the best months to marry. After all, as the saying goes,
“Married in the month of roses – June – life will be one, long honeymoon!”
What is the luckiest day for a Wedding?
in Jewish lore, Tuesdays are lucky because it is written in the book of Genesis that on the third day after Creation (a Tuesday) God looked around and ‘saw that it was good.’ But Greek folklore says Tuesdays are unlucky because Constantinople fell on a Tuesday. And the old English rhyme in Every Woman’s Encyclopedia says to marry on ‘Monday for wealth, Tuesday for health, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, and Saturday no luck at all.'” In short, some religions and cultures may have contradictory interpretations of which dates are luckiest—ultimately you just need to pick a date that feels right for you.
Whilst marrying on a Wednesday might be the luckiest, it’s also difficult for your friends and family to attend the wedding as everyone will have to take time off work and sort childcare etc.
Saturdays are traditionally the most popular day of the week to get married for this reason.
Old Wedding Traditions
Here are a few old wedding traditions that are still popular today
How the ring finger got it’s name
The ‘ring finger‘ got its name from the ancient belief that a vein directly connected it to the human heart, and that wearing a ring on that finger might alleviate ailments.
This vein was known as the “vein of love” or the “vena amoris,” and it was believed that wearing a ring on this finger would connect the wearer’s heart to their partner’s.
The tradition was later adopted by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who continued to wear wedding rings on the fourth finger of the left hand. Over time, the tradition spread throughout Europe and eventually to other parts of the world.
Today, many cultures around the world still follow the tradition of wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand, although some cultures wear the wedding ring on the right hand instead. While the scientific accuracy of the “vein of love” theory has been debunked, the tradition of wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand remains a symbol of love, commitment, and the unbreakable bond between two people.
Why do you get down on one knee to propose?
Getting down on one knee to propose is a traditional gesture that dates back to medieval times. It was originally a sign of chivalry and respect, as knights would kneel before their lord or lady to show loyalty and obedience.
The tradition of kneeling during a proposal specifically is said to have originated with the Roman Empire. In Roman times, men would propose marriage to their partners while kneeling, as a sign of humility and submission.
Over time, the tradition of getting down on one knee during a proposal became associated with love and devotion. The gesture is seen as a symbol of a man’s willingness to humble himself before his partner and make a lifelong commitment to her.
Today, getting down on one knee during a proposal is still considered a romantic and traditional gesture in many cultures around the world. It is seen as a symbol of love, respect, and a deep desire to spend the rest of one’s life with their partner.
Wedding Reception Traditions
The moment when newlyweds enter their wedding reception is traditionally called the grand entrance or the wedding reception entrance. It is a special moment that marks the beginning of the wedding celebration and is often accompanied by music, cheers, and applause from the guests.
The grand entrance typically follows the wedding ceremony and usually takes place at the reception venue, where the newlyweds are greeted by their family and friends. The couple may be introduced by the wedding DJ or announcer, and they will often walk into the reception hall arm in arm, while the guests cheer and applaud.
The grand entrance is a popular tradition in many cultures and is a chance for the newlyweds to make a memorable first impression on their guests. It is often followed by other traditional wedding activities such as the first dance, speeches, and the cutting of the wedding cake.
Weird Wedding Traditions from around the world
- Tidong community, Indonesia: In the Tidong community, it is customary for the bride and groom to not only exchange vows and rings but to also share a bowl of raw chicken blood as a symbol of their commitment to each other.
- Blackening the bride, Scotland: In some parts of Scotland, it is traditional for the bride and groom to be covered in various sticky and smelly substances such as mud, curdled milk, and fish sauces before the wedding day. This is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the couple.
- Kissing the goat, Sweden: In certain regions of Sweden, it is common for the bride and groom to kiss a live goat as part of their wedding ceremony. This tradition is believed to bring good luck and fertility to the newlyweds.
- Stealing the bride, Romania: In some parts of Romania, the groom must “steal” the bride from her family and friends on the wedding day, often with the help of his groomsmen. The bride’s family and friends will then give chase, and if they catch the groom, he must pay a “ransom” in the form of money or drinks.
- Shoe stealing, India: In some Indian weddings, the groom’s shoes are stolen by the bride’s sisters or friends during the wedding ceremony. The groom must then negotiate a price with the shoe thieves to get his shoes back. This tradition is believed to bring good luck and prosperity to the newlyweds.
- Polterabend, Germany: In Germany, it is common for the groomsmen and bridesmaids to smash porcelain plates and dishes outside the couple’s home before the wedding day. The couple must then clean up the mess together, which is believed to prepare them for the challenges of married life.
- Crying before the wedding, China: In some parts of China, it is traditional for the bride to cry for one hour every day for one month before the wedding day. The bride’s mother and grandmother may also join in on the crying. The tears are believed to be a symbol of happiness and good fortune.
- Cutting the groom’s socks, South Korea: In South Korea, it is customary for the groom’s friends to cut his socks off during the wedding reception. The socks are then tied together and the groom must untie them using only his teeth. This tradition is believed to test the groom’s strength and commitment to his bride.
- Spitting on the bride, Kenya: In some Maasai communities in Kenya, it is traditional for the bride’s father to spit on her head and breasts as a sign of good luck and fortune.
- Pot smashing, Greece: In some parts of Greece, it is customary for the bride and groom to smash a clay pot outside their home before the wedding day. The number of pieces the pot breaks into is said to represent the number of years the couple will be happily married.