Wedding Traditions

Dec 3, 2013

Wedding traditions used to be so important to many people. However, things are certainly changing and there is far more freedom to improvise than there ever was.

Nonetheless, there is still a groundswell of tradition – or at least some sort of modified (‘new!’) tradition.

One of the joys of weddings today is that you can have a bespoke ceremony (cue: celebrant Michael!)  and choose how many – or few – of the traditions to incorporate.

The traditions go beyond the ceremony itself, of course, as they would include paper invitations for beforehand and thank-you notes for after.

I’m not certain how ‘traditional’ it is, but it is definitely diplomatic to include all the family in the ceremony, letting them know in advance what involvement (if any) they will be invited to have. It’s also wise to reserve seating for them at both the ceremony and reception.


‘New traditions’ would seem to involve the couple contributing towards (or paying for) the wedding. Despite some massive, showy weddings today, many are opting for smaller or destination weddings.

Some couples are asking for money or gift cards, rather than a wedding list, in their invitation, which I consider poor etiquette. There’s nothing wrong, however, with mentioning to people that they would appreciate donations for new bedroom furniture, say.


Also improper is the failure to send a thank-you note afterwards. These should go out (on paper!) within three months (although some say – unbelievably! – that a year is acceptable). Courtesy surely dictates that you acknowledge any present you have been given fairly promptly after the honeymoon.

Gifts do not have to be expensive – a thoughtful choice can fit the bill admirably. For second marriages, gift cards and cash are probably most useful.

The wedding

As far as the wedding itself is concerned, it might not be the father who walks the bride down the aisle – it could be the stepdad. Then, there is no obligation to use bridesmaids or ushers, and so on. If you do, and if the bride and groom process in, do they come in first or after? What music, if any, will be played? What readings will there be? Who will deliver these?

The answers to these questions will influence exactly how traditional the wedding will be. The celebrant can be a great help here. For more information, please see my article at

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