British Wedding Traditions- A Royal Affair

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Until the early 90s, getting married in the Great Britain wasn’t as easy as it is today. Apart from the restriction from getting married in the district where only the couple resided, the couples were also required to go through various medical tests. Now, things have changed. Read on to know the wedding traditions followed in the Great Britain.

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The Proposal:

Marriage is commenced with the proposal, in which a man proposes to the girl for the wedding. The proposal involves the presentation of the ring followed by the question “Will you marry me?” If the girl accepts the proposal, the couple will be engaged. The engagement ring has to be worn by the woman on the third finger of the left hand. Also, if it’s a leap year, then the woman can propose the man on the 29th of February.

Banns:

In England, marriage is considered valid only if the reading of the banns, the Old English word for summoning, has taken place and the license has been obtained. The elders of the family get together to set the date of the wedding. And once the wedding date is decided, ‘the banns’ is hosted in a registry office or the local parish church. The purpose of the banns is to prevent the illegal marriages. The most common reasons for a marriage to be considered invalid are pre-existing marriage, which hasn’t been annulled, lack of consent, a vow of celibacy, or the couple being related in a prohibited way.

Invitation:

A traditional British wedding involves loads of people, which include close friends, relatives, and colleagues. Along with these, there must be a ring bearer, a young attendant who carries wedding rings and ushers, who help with organizations.

The guests are generally invited to both wedding and ceremony, but in some cases, the reception invites could be limited. The guests have to reply to the invitation, stating whether they can come or not.

Wedding Ceremony:

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Before the wedding ceremony, the usher has to present the guests with flower, correct books and order of service. He also has to ensure that the guests sit in the correct places. The seating arrangement depends on the guest’s relationship with the bride or groom. The first seats are reserved for the bridal party, and the front row is reserved for close friends and family members. In some weddings, the bridal party stands near the couple at the altar.

The groom, along with this best man wait inside the altar for his bride and the entourage, which consist of the bride, the bride’s father, bridesmaids, maid of honor and flower girls. The bride with her entourage arrives in a sophisticated horse drawn carriages or cars.

As the bride and the entourage arrive, the usher or the groomsmen escort first the grandparents, then parents and the bridesmaids to their respective seats. The maid of honor can enter herself or can be accompanied by the best man.

The bride then walks down the aisle, escorted by her father. This is usually accompanied with the wedding march. This marks the beginning of the ceremony.

The priest, vicar or registrar then makes the bride and groom take vows for marriage. While most of the wedding vows are taken from traditional religious ceremonies, the non-traditional couple selects poems, love songs or their wordings as the vows.

After the vows begin the ring exchanging ceremony. The wedding ring is put on the third finger of the left hand, which is also called the ring finger.

After the ring ceremony, the bride, groom, two witnesses and officiant go to a side of the room to sign the wedding registrar. A marriage cannot be considered legal until the wedding certificate is issued.

After the registrations, the guests throw confetti, flower petals, birdseed and rice at the newly married couple for a prosperous wedding.

Throwing Of The Bridal Bouquet:

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This is a long followed tradition in British weddings. The bride stands in the front, with the bridesmaids and maid-of-honor behind her. She throws the bouquet over the head and whoever catches it will be the next person to get married.

A latest British wedding tradition is the groom through the bride’s garter to a group of unmarried men. The one who catches it will be the next one to get married.

The Wedding Clothing:

The tradition of wearing a white dress for the wedding day began in the Victorian era. And contrary to what most of the people believe, a white wedding dress symbolizes purity, not virginity.

Another British tradition is brides wearing or carrying “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” for the wedding. The bride often tries to get one item that meets all the qualification. And the wedding dress is anyway new. Another tradition is wearing a coin in a shoe so that it brings prosperity.

Reception:

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A wedding is followed by the reception, which could be on the same day or the next day. A number of speeches and toasts are raised in honor of the couple. The dancing session, which is termed as the Bridal Waltz is followed by the speech. More often than not, the couple selects their favorite music to dance. A dance between the bride and her father is also customary. The groom often cuts in halfway between the dance, which symbolizes the bride has now left the father and will now join the husband.

In some areas of Britain, the reception is also known as Wedding Breakfast. It is imperative for the bride and grooms to share their first meal as a couple together. Since breakfast means breaking the fast, the wedding breakfast implies the couple is eating their first post-wedding meal together.

The Wedding Cake:

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An elaborate, three-tiered wedding cake is a must in the reception. Traditionally, a fruitcake is served, but now parents are opting for cake of various flavors and designs for the wedding. Edible figures of the bride and groom dressed in the formal attire are also presented on the cake.

The cake is cut by the couple together as it symbolizes both of them working and solving all their problems together.  A tier of the cake is preserved and eaten at the first anniversary or the christening of their first baby. The cake, which is meant to be frozen, must be fruitcake so that it can last for a longer time. A piece of cake is also sent to guests who were unable to attend the wedding, as a memento.

We hope you find our article informative. If you have any queries, leave us a comment below!

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