GREAT BRITISH WEDDING TRADITIONS   

Weddings are nothing if not about traditions. From the grand gesture of walking down the aisle to the nuanced customs that make weddings germane to cultures and countries, traditions make weddings both universal and unique.

And as more men tie the knot, we get the privilege and responsibility of contributing to new wedding traditions: those that update ones that are ages old and, of course, those that are entirely new. 

Great Britain has no shortage of wedding traditions. In fact, it is the history and customs of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that make getting married there so compelling. Whether you can draw your ancestry back to any of these countries or are simply drawn to a sense of history, Great Britain should be at the top of your list for saying your “I do’s.” 

Here are some of our favorite British wedding traditions: 


NORTHERN IRELAND

Handfasting: This is an ancient Celtic tradition in which each partner holds the hands of the other, wrists crossed holding right hand to right and left hand to left. The officiant, family member of friend winds a ribbon around the wrists over the top of one and under and around the other, creating the infinity symbol. And, guess what you just learned the origin of? You guessed it: tying the knot. I guess you can say this is the father of all wedding traditions! 

Make-up bells: In ancient times, it was thought that the chime of bells kept evil spirits away and reminded the married couple of the wedding vows. Today, it is nice to hand out bells to your guests to ring as you say your vows. Ringing bells is also a nice alternative to throwing confetti (which is common across Great Britain) as the couple exits the wedding venue. 


WALES

Lavender and Ivy: Dating back to pre-Christian Wales, the Welsh believed that garlands of lavender and heather were good luck, while ivy represented loyalty and free-growing shamrock bestows carefree happiness to the couple. 

The Bidder: A long time before emails and text messages, the Welsh had a far more romantic way to distribute invites to a couple’s wedding ceremony. The so-called Gwahoddwr or “Bidder” was a local bard who would spread the good news, often in song or rhyming verse.  For those of you, musically inclined or with a penchant for performance, this might be a memorable way of making your engagement known. 


irish-wedding-4.jpg

SCOTLAND

Pinning the Tartan: This symbolizes the acceptance of each groom into the other’s family. Once the grooms are officially declared husband and husband, a family member of one groom pins the crest of the family to the other spouse’s tartan and vice versa, thus symbolically becoming part of each other’s family.If yours is not a family that comes with a tartan and a crest, simply adapt it to involve pinning a meaningful symbol to each other’s lapel. 

The Wedding Walk: This procession involved the bride exiting her house, right foot forward for good luck, followed by the best man. They’d join the groom and maid of honor and, all together, they’d be led by a fiddler to their church. Today, simply make this about the two grooms, making sure each leads the wedding walk with their right foot and, as in ancient times, avoiding pigs and funerals as both symbolize bad luck. 


ENGLAND

Something borrowed…: One of the most commonly known Victorian traditions for brides is to wear or carry "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" during the service, again for good luck to do so. We say, grooms can take this as their won and perhaps wear a blue handkerchief new to the groom, but perhaps belonging to a grandparent. 

Roast toast: What we call the wedding toast, in England is the wedding speech. And, lest you think it is going to be a respectful and emotional speech, think again. English wedding speeches are meant to be entirely inappropriate, being as indiscrete as possible and are meant to bring the house down with laughter. Take on the wedding speech tradition at your own peril! 

k376_mv_signatures_v1_20150714-e1436911470727.jpg