Wedding Traditions- Do you need them?
Well first off, the short answer is NO! Now let me elaborate.
Now a wedding in itself is a tradition going back centuries and starting off in a church, we’ve moved on from that somewhat and a wedding venue now takes on all shapes and forms from a stately home to a Tipi in the woods. You can pretty much get married anywhere you want these days, and if you can’t ‘legally’ marry in that place you can do the legal bits before or after and have an unofficial ceremony. What I’m trying to say here is- do whatever you want! The key thing here is YOU, now forgive me for getting a bit ranty on this subject but I really believe that the only people that matter are you two and if you want a private ceremony because you’re shy or just because this is a super special thing you want to keep just for the two of you, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Of course, when there’s family involved these things can be much more complicated and I’m certainly not saying “to hell with them all” . What I am saying is that if you want something, then you absolutely should do it your way and try to find a way to make it happen without hurting family.
There’s a few wedding traditions that I think are dying off, at least I see them less and less at weddings I photograph. Most couples are just guided by the venue so sometimes aren’t even aware that you can choose whether you want these things, but here’s just a few:
The tradition of throwing confetti over the bride and groom actually comes from Italy, to bestow fertility and prosperity on the newlyweds and would have been flowers, grain or rice. Nowadays we have paper or real flower confetti and its often banned by churches and some venues due to the mess it makes.
Now I’m the opposite of traditional and I love informality, but confetti is one of my favourite times of day, we always get a cracking (sometimes hilarious) photo and it really makes your guests feel involved in your day. Just remember most guests under 40 wont even think to bring confetti, so if you want it its well worth providing it if those photos are something you want.
It was Queen Victoria who made white the colour of the British Wedding Dress when she married Albert in 1840. Since then there’s been thousands of styles and variations on the all important wedding dress but white/ivory and variants of it still remain the most popular. I think this is one tradition us ladies rather like!
The Cake is a tradition that originated with the Romans, flat and round to symbolise fertility. The more modern tiered versions are said to be inspired by a church spire. The cutting of the cake is actually a more modern tradition and around 50% of my couples tend to opt out of this or even have a cheese cake instead which can be fed to the evening guests.
The speeches aren’t a tradition as such but have become somewhat a ‘must have’ with all weddings. I’m going to play devils advocate here and probably ruffle a few feathers to say “if you’re really nervous about speaking, don’t have them!”
Whilst planning my own wedding all I’ve heard is “you HAVE to have speeches” which gets my back up straight away because this is YOUR wedding. Sorry for being shouty but I see time and time again where couples have gone with the flow not realising things are optional then being so nervous on the day. I once had a best man get so nervous about his speech that he was drinking half pints of vodka and coke during the meal and found face down on the floor in his room after a search party was sent for him not being in his seat when his speech came around. Don’t let it get that far, a wedding is supposed to be enjoyable so if this fills you with dread thank people with heartfelt words written in cards and give out the gifts in the morning when you’re all getting ready instead. You can thank your guests for coming as you see them throughout the day, it doesn’t have to be a public declaration!
At my own wedding I’ve actually compromised on this, we’re having informal speeches during the drinks reception, speeches at my own wedding fill me with dread as I’m not one for the limelight, but James thinks he’s Peter Kay and wants his 2 minutes of fame so I’ll be hiding out with a group of friends braced for his northern anecdotes about throwing balls at sticks no doubt- he’s cricket obsessed!
Of all the wedding traditions this is probably the most time consuming. This is where you line up- usually with both sets of parents and welcome your guests into the room as they sit down for your wedding breakfast. It’s something I probably see once or twice a year and only at venues where they suggest this to their couples. It can take around half an hour, and with the average time between ceremony and wedding breakfast being around 1-2 hours it leaves little time for actually enjoying yourselves. Don’t forget, all your guests will congratulate you after the ceremony so you’re essentially doing this twice with a receiving line.
Again less of a tradition and more of a habit, venues will usually get all the guests into the room then announce in the new Mr & Mrs Newlyweds. Lots of my couples opt out of this and simply sit down as the guests do, its your wedding and if you’re not a fan of the limelight its something that your guests won’t even miss.
So thats a few wedding traditions explained, just remember that your wedding is all about you two declaring your love for each other so if formalities freak you out just go with what makes you comfortable. A top tip, is to tell family that this is what you’re doing before hand and explain why, that way you’ll avoid Aunty Irene asking what time you’re cutting the cake on the day!
For more wedding planning hints and tips check out the blog, I’ll be posting weekly about my own wedding planning experiences for your amusement! You can also see lots of gorgeous recent weddings here for inspiration.