Wedding Traditions in UK
It is tradition in the UK to wear white on your wedding day, a tradition that became popular for everyone after the wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert in 1840. Prior to this brides would simply wear their best Sunday dress or a new dress in their favourite colour. It is said to be unlucky for the couple if the groom sees the bride in her dress before the ceremony.
There is an Old English rhyme for brides and many brides still adhere to: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe. These are the good luck charms a bride wears or carries on her wedding day. These can be gifts given to the bride from her close family or friends. Something old may be something that the brides mother or grandmother wore at their own wedding, or something that is meaningful to them which represents continuity to the next generation. Something new represents optimism for the future. The something borrowed is a symbol of happiness whilst something blue equals purity, love, and fidelity. The sixpence in the brides shoe is mostly discontinued, but is a wish for good fortune and prosperity.
Brides and their bridesmaids have always held floral bouquets, and not just for their visual beauty and touch of romance. In Ancient Rome brides wore or carried flower garlands, with flowers representing new beginnings, faithfulness and fertility. Herbs and spices were particularly popular in the Middle Ages, both to mask body odour, but also to ward off evil spirits. The bridal bouquets as we know them today become popular after the bouquet carried by Queen Victoria at her marriage to Prince Albert.
The flower in the groom’s buttonhole comes from the time when a knight would wear his Lady’s colours to display his love. The bride throws her bouquet backwards over her shoulder for the group of unmarried girls to catch, with the girl who catches it destined to be the next to wed.
A traditional wedding ceremony begins with a young flower girl scattering flower petals along the path to the church, followed in close succession by the bridesmaids and the bride. It is traditional for bridesmaids to wear dresses very similar to a bridal gown and this is a tradition that goes back to Roman times when rogues and highwaymen often kidnapped a bride as she made her way to the church. Bridesmaids used to dress like a bride to confuse these men and to prevent any harm coming to the bride. Today, the bridesmaids role is to make sure the bride enjoys her day.
The tradition of wearing a wedding ring is known throughout the world, having started in Ancient Egyptian times when it was believed the fourth finger on the left hands was where the vena amoris or “vein of life” began, which went straight to the heart. This meant that placing a ring on that finger symbolised your lasting love and commitment.
It is tradition in the UK at a wedding proposal for an engagement ring to be given to the person who says ‘Yes’ and this ring is also placed on the fourth finger of the left hand, known as ‘the ring finger’. After the wedding British women usually wear both their engagement and wedding ring. As there is a British superstition that a wedding ring must never be taken off, the wedding ring is put on first and the engagement ring sits above that.
Traditional wedding cake/h3>
A traditional wedding cake at an English wedding is a three-tiered rich fruitcake made from cherries, ground almonds, raisins, currents and sultanas, candied mixed peel, spices and more. This tradition has its foundation in the Roman period when a wedding cake was shared during the ceremony. This Roman cake contained fruit and nuts to symbolise fertility. In the UK, some couples put the top layer of the fruitcake aside to celebrate the christening of their first child.
Best day to marry
British folklore says that Wednesday is the best day to marry, although Monday is for wealth and Tuesday is for health. Surprisingly, Saturday is considered the unluckiest wedding day, yet it’s usually the most popular day of the week to marry.
The full folk rhyme is:
Marry on Monday for health,
Tuesday for wealth,
Wednesday the best day of all,
Thursday for crosses,
Friday for losses,
and Saturday for no luck at all.