Wedding etiquette is more important than you might think. Especially if we’re talking about British weddings, as people of this country value their traditions, laws, and rules highly. So, if you’re going to marry a British or attend a wedding in the UK, there are some things you should know about and follow to avoid misunderstandings and embarrassing situations. Of course, we don’t say that these etiquette rules are cut in stone, but your beloved person and the wedding guests will definitely appreciate it if you show that you’re familiar with their wedding traditions and customs.
Who pays for the wedding?
Historically, the father of the bride paid for the wedding in most cases. This usually happens today as well. And it’s self-evident, because who else will spend a lot of money to just make the bride’s dreams come true?
Though today, there are various other possibilities. The couple can pay for their wedding from their own savings or the bride’s and groom’s parents can divide the costs or even other relatives can give money for the wedding (grandparents, cousins, etc).
Wedding invitations etiquette
In Britain, wedding invitations are usually sent about 8 weeks before the event. But there is one thing you should know – it’s considered inappropriate to ask for money as a wedding gift in wedding invitations. Nowadays, most couples prefer money to a specific wedding gift and they might mention it in the invitation. But don’t do that in the UK, it’s ill-mannered.
Walking down the aisle
The world is globalizing now and many wedding traditions get old-fashioned. The couple today can do whatever they think suits them on their wedding day. But still, there are traditions, you just choose if you want to follow them.
For example, in the UK, the bride walks down the aisle first, with her bridesmaids behind her. As you might know, at American weddings it’s vice versa.
And, of course, somebody has to walk the bride down the aisle – sort of to give her away to her groom and her new family. Traditionally, it’s her father. But if that’s not possible, she can choose whomever she wants – her mother, brother, best friend, cousin, or anybody else.
Receiving line is out of fashion. Alternatives?
Traditionally, there was a custom in Britain to have a receiving line of wedding guests – the couple greets and thanked each guest before inviting them to come into the church or wedding hall. On the one hand, it’s nice and polite for the bride and groom to have a quick chat with every wedding guest and thank them for coming, but on the other hand, the guests form a long line and it takes pretty long to talk with ever one of them. So, people were waiting for 30-40 min before they were able to go inside and enjoy the wedding. That’s why people rarely do this today. But many couples choose some alternative variant – for example, they come to the guest’s tables during breaks between wedding meal courses or thank the guests for being there during the cocktail hour.
Sweetheart table / head table / top table
It can be rather confusing as to where to sit the wedding party – the closest people of the bride and groom. There usually is a sweetheart table / head table / top table where the couple, their parents, and the maid of honor and best man sit at the reception. In the UK, there is a certain traditional order of seats.
And this is it. From left to right:
maid of honor – groom’s father – bride’s mother – groom – bride – bride’s father – groom’s mother – best man
But what if the parents are divorced and there are step-parents? Don’t worry, there is a certain order in this case, too)).
If the groom’s parents are divorced. Again, left to right:
best man – groom’s stepmother – groom’s father – bride’s mother – groom – bride – bride’s father – groom’s mother – groom’s stepfather – maid of honor
If the bride’s parents are divorced. Again, left to right:
bride’s stepfather – maid of honor – groom’s father – bride’s mother – groom – bride – bride’s father – groom’s mother – best man – bride’s stepmother
This wedding tradition is pretty much widespread and widely known. The couple makes the first cut of the cake. The groom puts his hand over the bride’s hand and they cut the bottom tier. Then, they feed each other with a small piece of the wedding cake.
And one more tradition says that the upper tier of the cake, the smallest tier, is kept and frozen until the couple celebrates the Christening of their first child. Of course, not every cake can be frozen and then unfrozen, so mention your plans to the baker so that they make the upper tier from fruit or some other suitable material.