Wedding traditions are gestures which have been passed down from couple to couple throughout the years and can become truly heartfelt moments on your big day. But the problem with old traditions is exactly that, they are old.
These days, couples are happier adding their own spin on their wedding day, and why shouldn’t they? I love it when a couple suggests a twist in the order of the day; it creates something unique for them and their guests. More importantly, they won’t look back and think ‘I wish I had done that differently’.
Where Do Wedding Traditions Come From?
Some wedding traditions can go back hundreds of years and often have a cultural significance to symbolise the love and commitment between two people. Over time, these have been adapted and blended into a mix of old and modern-day wedding traditions. Which ones you choose to include on your wedding day should be entirely your decision. But to give you an idea, I have listed the 12 traditions which many couples are updating.
12 Wedding Traditions Worth a Refresh
1. Cutting a 3-tiered Wedding Cake
A tiered fruit cake was a popular wedding dessert as it stays fresh for a long time. The tiers could also be split up for different occasions with the top tier originally being saved for the Christening of your first child. However, couples are beginning to avoid cake altogether. Whether you prefer a savoury treat or are catering for multiple dietary requirements, modern wedding cake ideas now include cupcakes, an entire dessert table of varied options, cheese boards, doughnut walls, pies or even pouring a Champagne tower together instead.
Alternatively, I have seen couples opting for just a single tier and choosing to make it an intimate moment with just them and the Photographer, instead of something for everyone to watch. You can then save the cake and have it the next day (cake and mimosa's for breakfast sounds good to me!)
2. Making a Wedding Gift List
Previously, gifts were centred around helping newlyweds set up home. Although this is still the case for some, many couples are already living together and have all the pots and pans they need. Yes, couples may insist your presence is the only present they want, but we all know we cannot turn up to a wedding empty-handed.
Breaking the tradition of wedding gift lists, presents now consist of vouchers for date nights, contributions towards a honeymoon, chipping in to pay for part of the day (this is normally from close relatives), or donations to a charity. Anything that you as the couple are comfortable with asking for.
3. The men holding the Mic!
Normally, wedding speeches fall to the father of the bride, the groom and the best man. However, not all wedding parties include these 3 people. Sometimes, a bride’s mother will know them better than their father or the maid of honour would like to share a poem (or rap!) about the couple. Also if you are a bride and want to make speech go for it, why should the men have all the fun! There is no limit to how many speeches you can have, but try not to let them have the mic for too long. If you do have more than 3 people speaking I do advise splitting the speeches between the courses, so guests are not sitting down listening for hours on end.
4. Wearing a White Wedding Dress
When we think of a bride, we picture the princess dresses from the fairy tales we grew up with. Even though they are magical, this style of dress isn’t for everyone. With so many types of wedding dresses, part of the fun is trying on as many as possible to find the one which fits you best.
The colour white is also an old-school idea to reflect the bride’s youth and innocence. However, white might not be your favourite colour or can be quite harsh on some skin tones. Many brides now opt for a softer ivory colour, pastel colours, or even a flower pattern or a bright colour to reflect their personality.
5. Dads Giving Their Daughters Away
This tradition is seen as archaic as it originally represented the bride being passed from one man to another. As proud, independent women, some brides now choose to walk themselves down the aisle (Thank you to Meghan Markle!). There is no right or wrong decision here, but it is sometimes nice to have a sturdy arm linked to yours – those wedding jitters can hit you when you least expect it! So, maybe look to ask your mum, brother or best friend? I have recently had couples decide to walk into together with their baby too which is really sweet them coming in as a family.
6. Dreaded Bridesmaid Dresses
There is a theory that bridesmaids must wear hideous colours and retro-style dresses, so they don’t pull focus from the bride. These days, we are all about making sure our girls look and feel beautiful. You have picked your tribe because they mean something to you, so you want them to enjoy the day as much as you. Brides are starting to give more freedom to their bridesmaids, removing the stress from themselves! By giving them a colour palette to complement the wedding theme, bridesmaids can pick dresses based on styles they feel comfortable with. Some modern brides also let their girls where suits if that is what they feel more comfortable in and they do look very cool!
7. Tossing the Bride's Bouquet
Although it is meant to be a silly gesture, throwing the bouquet is a dreaded moment for all singletons. Especially for women as men were never usually included. Women might not want their relationship status broadcasted to the entire wedding party and as the bride, you may not want to throw your expensive bouquet onto the floor. There is also the risk of injuries or ripped dresses! As an alternative, why not gift your bouquet to someone or take it home for yourself and get it dried and framed?
8. Top Tables for Immediate Family
A wedding seating plan can be the most stressful part of a wedding. Not only do you have to manage friends and family relationships, but the guest list constantly changes! Traditionally, the top table signifies the merging of two families, so includes the couple’s parents. However, modern family set-ups don’t always mean this will be the nicest arrangement for you.
Here is what you need to remember, it is your day! If you don’t want to sit separate from the wedding party, put yourself in the middle. Choose to sit with the ones you will have the most fun with or those you have not seen for some time. Or why not have a sweetheart table just for the two of you, carving out a moment for you guys to sit and soak it all up?
9. Standing in Line
Receiving lines is another very old and extremely formal part of a wedding. It often happens right after the ceremony and allows each guest to queue up and say congratulations to the bride and groom. The problem is, receiving lines can sometimes be a bit awkward as there is a lot of waiting around. Delaying guests reaching the canapés and welcome drinks, as well as the bride and groom being free to naturally work the room. If you are looking for a more relaxed wedding vibe, then maybe skip the line.
10. Including Wedding Favours
Sugared almonds are known worldwide as a classic wedding tradition but they are not to everyone’s taste. Wedding favours are now personalised to you or your wedding theme. These could include individual notes for your guests, your favourite sweets or a small token which means something to you as a couple. Alternatively, couples have used the cost of favours as a charity donation on your behalf or removed them completely. Putting the allocated expense into something else such as a popcorn stand, end-of-the-night sparklers or more drinks behind the bar!
11. Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blue
You may have heard your grandparents refer to this rhyme as it was considered an important part of the bride’s outfit back in the day. With all four tokens (something old, new, borrowed and blue) bringing a lifetime of prosperity within your marriage. But when life is busy enough, trying to source these four items can bring more stress than luck, and therefore is often skipped by the bride. Instead, brides wear sentimental jewellery which has been passed down to them, put the sentimental jewellery in their bouquet instead of wearing it or they have treated themselves to some sparkling new jewels to complement their dress.
12. The Wedding March
This classic song is more suited to religious ceremonies or movies, but even then, many couples are opting for modern songs over the classics. Whether it is the original artist or a string quartet performing it, picking a song which resonates with both you and your partner adds another unique element to your day. It can also trigger a lot of happy tears, so make sure tissue are to hand!
It can be great fun creating your own wedding traditions, but also if the older traditions do feel right for you then keep them. If you need any help or inspiration in adding your own special touch to your wedding day, then please get in touch here.
Photographers (in order): Joe from The Curries, D & J wedding Photography, Emis Weddings, V& H Photography, Joe from The curries