Weddings: traditional and modern

May 7, 2013

One of the joys of weddings is a mix of traditional and modern. I’d like to examine some of the traditions, and suggest a modern take as  a possible alternative.

 1.      Wearing a Wedding Veil

Traditionally, a veil was a symbol of purity; nowadays, it tends to be worn simply because it is lovely and has a romantic element (and indicates that “this is the bride”). Blushers can be worn alone or as part of a two or three-layer veil ensemble. The longest piece is usually worn for the ceremony only, and it is detached before the reception.

Nowadays, some prefer to replace the veil with a millinery cap or a tiara.

2.      Something Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

A charming tradition whereby the bride carries personal treasures on her wedding day. They will normally mean something only to those closest to her.

Nowadays, the groom can participate too. He might wear his father-in-law’s cuff-links, for example.

 3.      Throwing Rice

Throwing rice, or confetti, is an ancient and lovely custom, that symbolizes the showering of abundance and fertility on the newly-weds. (It could be wheat, as in France or sweets and sugared nuts, as in Italy.)

A modern-day alternative is biodegradable confetti. Also quite popular are banners, blowing bubbles or little noisemakers.

4.      Tossing the Bouquet

One of the most exciting moments in the ceremony is when the single women wait for the bride to throw the bouquet over her shoulder.

Today, some brides choose to save their bouquet and throw, instead, a special bouquet or a “fortune bouquet” (maybe a dozen small flower clusters tied by a ribbon which the bride unties before throwing).

 5.      Cutting the Cake

Virtually no wedding – of whatever scale omits the cake-cutting.  The couple take centre-stage, and the bride places her hand on the knife, with the groom’s over hers. They cut the cake and then feed each other (symbolising that they will always care for one another).

Nowadays, there might not actually be a cake. In that case, it will probably be a question of the bride eating part of a pastry before the groom’s turn.

6. The Car

Many a wedding ends with a car driving the happy couple off, to the accompaniment of cans or  old boots tied to the bumper, with “just married” sprayed on the car in foam.

Of course, today, the vehicle may be a motor-bike or coach and horses.

An interesting modern idea is to have the guests’ cars decorated during the reception. You could have a ‘thank you for coming’ card attached to the wing-mirror, for example.


So whether you stick to the traditional or innovate a bit, these ideas may add an extra zest to the big day. Enjoy!


Michael Gordon is a celebrant based in London.