21st century weddings

21st century weddings

As a confirmed ‘dinosaur’, I’m a little wary about what I say that relates to 21st century weddings (or even 20th century ones?!), but I think the following tips may prove instructivel.


Like it or not, smartphones and computers are part of the whole wedding process, so they must be factored in. Websites can help the couple with their organisation, aid communication with guests and enable sharing of photos after the ceremony.

However, not every couple will want photos plastered all over Facebook before they’ve even had a chance to look at their own pictures. They may not like the idea of outstretched arms all over the place taking photos on phones, when they have paid a photographer good money and don’t want to have arms blocking the shots. A well-considered sign at the entrance of the venue politely asking guests to refrain should be enough to deal with that issue.

The couple will surely not want ringers blaring out either. In that case, ask the celebrant to start off by requesting that mobile devices are turned to silent. If planned sufficiently well, the couple can even include a note in the invitation that they request a tech-free ceremony.

Having said that, there may be couples who actively encourage guests to share photos on social media from the word go, but, either way, it’s important to communicate your wishes in advance.

Incidentally, I still believe in a hand-written ‘thank you’ note after the event.

Unconventional ceremonies

Of course, traditionally, weddings used to be mostly religious, and many – though fewer – people still go down that route. However, increasing numbers are choosing a personalised civil ceremony. I believe that some of these can be the most beautiful and meaningful ceremonies, but, when you are a guest, they may not be your ‘cup of tea’.

If you have accepted an invitation, you presumably have an inkling of the style of the wedding. Even if you don’t, the fact that you have accepted to come means that you should not criticise or show displeasure. If that’s how the couple want to conduct their big day, then you should respect it. (And if you go with the flow, you may even acknowledge that the ceremony is not that bad after all!)

The same may apply to the décor, venue, music, rituals and readings. Accept and enjoy!


Wedding lists (or registries) are a useful way of ensuring the couple receive what they want by way of gifts. You can go online, once you’ve received the link from the couple, and order whatever you choose, and this item is then automatically unavailable to anyone else.

If it’s an older couple who are marrying, they may already have all that they need. However, they may be happy to receive money. Some financial institutions offer mobile cheque deposit through their banking app. (That way, the couple may be able to pay for wedding outgoings without having to over-extend themselves.)

Nowadays some people will be looking for contributions to their honeymoon fund.

Reducing expense

Incidentally, by using a rewards card for those expenses or even the honeymoon, the couple may get back quite a lot of money – or value – which is a good bonus.

Major milestones are not being celebrated as they were fifty – or even twenty – years ago. Even ‘dinosaurs’ need to adapt to the times and use technology for everybody’s benefit – while always acknowledging the continuing need for dignity and respect at these big occasions.

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.

Weddings: traditional and modern

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.