There are a lot of traditional parts of weddings; some funny, some serious and some down-right outdated!
I had planned to explore the roots of these traditions but frankly they were a bit boring and a little odd – traditionally, for example, wedding etiquette dictated that you Congratulate the Groom while offering Best Wishes to the Bride. Apparently congratulations implies winning something, which the groom has. And the best wishes part….perhaps it should simply say ‘good luck’?
So instead we’ve taken a look at some parts of the wedding that either we don’t do anymore or have adapted to suit. Things that, even if you really want a traditional wedding, could be missed out without being missed!
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♥ Who Pays for What
Going way WAY back the family of the bride offered a dowry and the size of it determined if their daughter would get married and to whom (seriously!). Not so nowadays. More and more couples are getting married later in life and don’t expect their parents to pay for it. And where parents are willing to step in and help, it’s usually both sets that offer. Gone are the days of ‘Father of the Bride’ when the budget would spiral out of control and the FoB would feel faint every time the wedding is mentioned!
♥ Order of Procession
In the UK especially it was traditional for the Bride to enter with her father, followed by the flower girl and page boy and finally the Bridesmaids all in a line and who would then flank the bride at the alter. Some churches still insist on this so check with your church, but if it’s a civil ceremony people are pretty much doing what suits them and their bridal party. I had a 3 year old flower girl who didn’t want to walk on her own, so she walked down clutching the hand of one bridesmaid with the other following (only because the aisle wasn’t wide enough for all three!), and then she ran to her mum and dad! Once she was safely where she wanted to be I walked down with my dad.
My bridesmaids sat (one had a damaged knee from a skiing incident – that’s another story!) and the best man and usher were already at the front with my groom. I would have loved BMs and GMs to walk down together American style but they weren’t comfortable and I wasn’t about to push them to do something they didn’t want to. While etiquette is nice, and how your wedding looks is somewhat important, the comfort of your wedding party and guests should rank highly on the importance scale in my book!
♥ Table Favours
The tradition here was five sugared almonds (to break your teeth on!) in a silk cloth or organza bag. Each almond symbolised Fertility, Longevity, Health, Wealth and Happiness to the newlyweds. I remember this still going on in the 80s but in more recent times people use whatever they want for favours. We have noticed a new tradition emerging of separate favours for men and women – alcohol or food for the men, a keepsake for the women. And coming up strongly behind it is a donation to a charity in place of a favour, where the charity provides you with a little card to let the guests know why they don’t have sugared almonds to snack on!
♥ Receiving Line
In the past this was a way to introduce your guests to your family members. It took FOREVER and everyone was starving and in need of a drink by the end of it. Once again it’s become a thing of ease – whatever works. On our wedding day it was just me and Mr Wedmother and we gave everyone a cuddle as they came in. The whole thing was a way for us to say hello and thank you to everyone. Our bridal party helped them find their seats and used that as a chance to introduce themselves to the guests. It worked well, didn’t take to long and I had a glass of wine in hand the entire time!
♥ The Top Table
Reserved for the Maid of Honour, Best Man, both sets of parents and the happy couple, the top table was, once upon a time, quite an easy thing to set up with the seating as follows: MoH, FoB, MoG, Groom, Bride, FoG, MoB, BM (boy, girl, boy girl etc). However with more and more couples having parents that have remarried, two best men and even same sex parents this is very outdated now. Some couples go so far as to have their own table and distribute the wedding party amongst the guest tables to prevent any type of argument!
We had all the boys together and all the girls together so we could all enjoy a good chat and a giggle. My bridesmaids were doing a speech and needed to sit together and FoG was in charge of the video so he was on the end. It worked for us. Do what works for you!
♥ Throwing the Bouquet
It seems that traditionally female guests would try to tear off pieces of the Bride’s gown to get some good luck. The Bride would throw her bouquet in an effort to stall them while she ran for her life. Pretty glad we don’t do that any more! It was held that the person who caught the bouquet would be the next to marry and so only single ladies were permitted to vie for it, however less and less people are throwing the bouquet and it could be for a number of reasons:
- They want to keep the bouquet for posterity, pressing the flowers or putting it in a frame
- They don’t have budget for a second bouquet to toss
- Most of the women guests are already married and so it might not be a good idea to catch the bouquet! And they actually like those two or three single people so they don’t want to embarrass them into standing and fighting for the bouquet.
♥ The First Dance
So it seems that everyone got a first dance! This is a tricky one. In the UK we pretty much just want to start the disco after the first dance, so having the traditional father/daughter, mother/son dances can be hard to put in. One way is to choose a fairly long first dance song where the B&G start, then the parents are invited onto the dance floor where they swap partners and finally everyone is invited up to dance. Then the boogeying can commence – tradition followed without taking up hours of good dancing time.
There is a new trend (pretty much since Strictly started I think!) for choreographing the first dance, and of course taking a video so it’s on You Tube before the night is done. I like this too, but please don’t make your groom do it if he doesn’t want to!
♥ Groom arranges the Honeymoon
The groom was responsible for the honeymoon as most of the wedding planning and costs had been arranged by the brides family. It would be a surprise; the bride would change into a ‘going away’ outfit and be whisked off to the honeymoon destination. Not so anymore. Most brides I know want a say in where they’re going and they want a couple of days to recover from the big day before heading out. Some even wait a couple of months, and instead just have a mini-moon at a nearby, very swanky, hotel. Which they both chose and are happy with!
Ah, wedding etiquette and traditions – much fun! But we really think it’s up to you. If you want to stick to how it ‘should’ be done, mould it a little to suit or go all out with your own ideas….well that is completely up to you and we thoroughly support it! ♥