The english wedding: humour and tradition

In a country historically linked to the monarchy, the bride remains the undisputed queen of the wedding. However, some guests have key roles and decisive tasks in the English wedding.

Does the dress code impose rules? British humour will make every custom extremely pleasant. Pack your suitcase and your wedding hat… we’re flying to England today!

The dress code for guests

The custom is for women to wear a headdress or an alternative accessory to pin on their hairstyle at an English wedding. This custom, which some brides don’t compromise on, allows guests to wear ceremonial hats in a variety of styles.

For men, the traditional dress code is top hat, waistcoat and morning suit. The ceremony usually takes place during daylight hours. If the groom or guests are of Scottish descent, some weddings allow the wearing of a kilt, whose design (tartan) recalls the colours of the house. This garment is complemented by an accessory called a sporran, a small bag that was once used to carry money.

Superstitious rituals related to the bridal dress

The bride should wear something borrowed, something old and something new, to seal the link with her loved ones and the transition from her family of origin to her new life as a couple. In order to look good, the outfit should be completed with a touch of blue: a jewel, a detail, a garter or any other accessory. It seems that this custom comes from Jewish tradition, where brides wore a blue ribbon as a symbol of lasting love and fidelity.

As a further ‘precaution’, the more superstitious should carry a silver coin (lucky silver sixpence) to slip into their shoes. Sometimes this small amulet is given to the bride-to-be as a sign of good luck… You never know!

Ph. Sean Davis

Roles in an English wedding

In an Anglo-Saxon marriage, there is a precise division of roles to ensure that everything runs smoothly and pleasantly. During the ceremony, the groom is assisted by groomsmen, male relatives or close friends, who are responsible for escorting the bridesmaids and seating the guests. The groomsmen are joined by the wedding usher, a support figure who helps to distribute the programmes during the ceremony and accompany guests who have difficulty walking.

The best man, the main witness, is chosen from among the groomsmen. The best man is responsible for holding the wedding rings, helping the couple with the main tasks and entertaining the guests. The best man’s duties include organising the bachelor party and the welcome toast, a fun speech in which  the groom is barely spared.

Ph. Tom Page

Another key figure in Anglo-Saxon weddings is the maid of honour, who provides practical and emotional support to the bride as she prepares for her wedding. During the ceremony and reception, the maid of honour coordinates the bridesmaids, helps the bride with her dress and deals with unforeseen events. Although she has a more prominent role than the other bridesmaids, she doesn’t have to shine… The real queen of the English wedding is the bride!

Cover image: Nom & Malc

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