English weddings have a rich history of both tradition and superstition, and many of those relate to the wedding dress itself. If you’re set on a UK destination wedding then you may want to include some of these in your wedding planning. While times may be changing, a traditional English bride will wear a white bridal dress on the day of the wedding. The groom will wear a suit, complete with top hat and tails for a classic wedding style. But where does this tradition come from? You may be surprised!
Here are some of the best-known UK wedding traditions, along with their origins and meanings.
Wearing a white wedding dress
It seems like this tradition has been around forever, but in fact, it only dates back to the Victorian era. Up until then, brides wore a variety of colours. For wealthy brides, it was a matter of social status, so they often wore rich fabrics and bold colours in the height of fashion, to show off their family’s fortune. Ordinary folk typically wore their best church attire. This all changed when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in a white satin dress trimmed with Honiton lace. With illustrations of the royal wedding being widely published, the public adopted the look, although it only really became commonplace in the 1960s. People tend to assume that the colour white is used to represent purity, but in fact blue was the colour associated with purity, which made it a popular choice before Victoria’s lasting fashion statement.
Wearing an heirloom wedding dress
Wearing a dress that belonged to your mother or grandmother is actually a relatively new custom, although it’s a lovely way to bring a sense of tradition and heritage to your big day. Of course, it also fits nicely into another classic English wedding tradition, as your ‘something new’. Another heirloom dress tradition is using the fabric from a bride’s wedding gown to make a child’s christening gown. While many brides shudder at the idea of cutting up an expensive piece of bridal couture, many still do, and it’s a great way to create a family heirloom that can be passed down from one generation to another.
Not seeing the bride in her wedding dress
The most well-known wedding dress superstition is the one that says that the groom shouldn’t see the bride in her wedding dress (or before the ceremony). This comes from a time when arranged marriages were common, and was a way of ensuring the groom didn’t back out of a wedding if he didn’t find her attractive, thus bringing shame on her family. Thankfully times have changed! At many of my luxury weddings in Essex and London, the couple chooses to have a ‘first look’, which allows them to settle their pre-ceremony nerves and have that moment they first lay eyes on each other beautifully documented by the photographer.
Finding a spider on your wedding dress
Now I’ll admit I am less than a fan of the eight legged creepy crawly – OK understatement of the year but! – If you happen to find an uninvited guest on your wedding dress on the morning of your wedding, don’t be so quick to get rid of him! Finding a spider in your wedding gown is a good omen, according to English folklore, due to give you luck for the years ahead!
As you can see, many of the wedding dress traditions we take for granted have changed over the years. So if you want to wear a coloured gown or have a first look before the ceremony, go for it! As your wedding planner, it’s my job to make sure that the wedding you have is the one YOU want.