UK Wedding Traditions and Etiquette
Right, wedding traditions and wedding etiquette, where do you even start? Do you have to do them?
Let's dive in so you have more clarity on there is and what's right for you!
So I'm going to go through this in order of occurrence from the beginning of the wedding planning, through to the end of the wedding day.
M O N E Y
Let's just jump straight to it, with the most awkward one shall we?! Us Brits don't like talking money, that seems to be a bit of a tradition in itself!
But that awkward conversation needs to be had at the start of your wedding planning to allow you to work out your total budget! If family members wish to pay or contribute to your wedding you need to know.
Traditionally the father of the bride (FOB) paid for the whole wedding, but that is a tradition which I think only happens about 50% of the time nowadays. It is now more common for the couple to put in the biggest contribution to the day and both sets of parents are likely to contribute as well.
The tradition here is that the FOB 'gives his daughter away' to her new family. That is why the brides family traditionally paid for the wedding as they celebrate that.
I N V I T E S
There is correct etiquette when it comes to writing invites. things to consider are who is inviting the guests? This in some sense reverts back to money and who is hosting the wedding. If the Brides family are the hosts then the invite will be written on their behalf, inviting guests to celebrate their daughters wedding.
If however the bride and groom are the hosts, then a more modern approach is suitable for inviting the guests. There are lots of different ways to write your invites depending on your family set up and approach. But the tradition goes back to the brides parents inviting the guests.
Two other things to note in regards to traditional invite etiquette, is that it is deemed unsuitable for couples to ask for money or a gift list in their invitations. However there are now plenty of polite ways to inform your guests of your wishes. We have had clients write poems or put the information on their wedding websites. So just think a little creatively.
The second tradition is that invites are not usually sent out until 8 weeks before the wedding date. For more information on this topic, check out THIS BLOG POST.
C E R E M O N Y
In regards to ceremonies, these are pretty traditional, as I'm sure you can imagine!
One tradition is how the bride and her bridal party enter the ceremony. Now you may not realise but it is British tradition for the bride to walk down the aisle infant of her bridesmaids. It's in America for the bridesmaids to go first! However nowadays in the UK, brides do either.
I personally let my bridesmaids walk first as I loved the idea of them having a moment and then theirs a build up for the guests until the bride arrives. Plus your bridesmaids can then see you walk down the aisle and see the reactions of the bride and groom instead do the brides back (just a personal preference, either is completely acceptable!).
As you probably know, the FOB 'gives the bride away'. He walks down the aisle with her and stands to her left. Sadly, this is not always possible, so make sure you think about alternatives.
R E C E I V I N G L I N E
This is one tradition that I think is slowly disappearing. A receiving line is where the couple plus their parents and perhaps the batsman and maid of honour all line up to welcome and thank their guests for coming. This either happens when their guests arrive at the wedding reception venue (if you've come from a separate venue for the ceremony) or as guests make their way into the wedding breakfast.
I think many guests are now choosing not to do this as it can take a really long time - allow 30 seconds per guest to make their way along the line! It adds up!
However I think it's important to thank your guests, which is why I always suggest an alternative to my clients!
The Wedding Breakfast walk-around..................
Watch this video to get the download on the wedding breakfast walk-around!
S P E E C H E S
Speeches are a big tradition at weddings and happen all over the world. In the Uk it is tradition for the FOB, the groom and the best man to make a speech. I have a blog post dedicated to just this topic, you can check it out HERE.
C A K E
Ok, so next we have cake! This is a tradition that is pretty much present in every wedding. If you don't want cake but still want to do the tradition of 'cutting', then there's always the option of cheese or having a small cake to cut if you decide on having a dessert station.
The reason behind this tradition is because traditionally the cutting of the cake symbolises the first meal as husband and wife. The bride holds the knife and the groom should place his right hand on top of the brides to symbolise their life together. The cake is traditionally cut from the back of the bottom tier. The groom then proceeds to feed the bride a small slice and then vice versa.
It is also a tradition to save the smaller top tier to serve at your first child’s christening.
F I R S T D A N C E
Traditionally the first dance is had by the bride and groom. this is then followed by a dance with the bride and her father. This usually happens just after the cake cutting and happens at pretty much every wedding unless the couple aren't particularly keen dancers.
B O U Q U E T T O S S
So this tradition would have happened as the bride and groom were leaving the venue to go on their honeymoon and the guests would be left to party.
I however have never experienced this. Every wedding I have been to or worked on, the couple have stayed to party with their guests! Then gone off on their honeymoon a day or two later. But the bouquet toss does still happen at times.
All the single women are usually gathered onto the dance floor and the bride throws the bouquet over her head to the group of single women. The saying is that whoever catches the bouquet will be the next to get married- which usually leaves the men sweating in a corner!
However not all brides want to throw their bouquet as they may want to preserve it. So an alternative could be to use a smaller bouquet just for the toss. I also absolutely LOVE the idea of instead of throwing the bouquet, giving it to the couple that have been married the longest!
So that is it! That is not all the traditions, there are LOADs, but that is a big chunk or the main traditions for you to consider in your wedding planning!
(you can check this out in video form HERE)
All photos by Sophie Duckworth Photography