Marbled Thoughts

Trad vs contemp 5

A place for tradition in today’s wedding industry

The origins of marriage predate recorded human history, but the earliest evidence we have of similar ceremonies date from about 2350 BC. The word ‘marriage’ then didn’t exist until around 1250 CE, but the celebration has changed a lot since then.

At first, marriage was an act of alliance between two families. While arranged marriages still exist today, most couples throughout history didn’t marry because they were in love, but for economic reasons. Now, couples can marry for whatever reasons they like, in most of the world. This isn’t the only way marriage has evolved over the years, there are plenty of traditions that have come and gone over time. Read on to find out about a few that have been going through a revolution over the past few decades.


The white wedding dress

Rewind to before 1840 and wedding dresses didn’t come in any particular colour – mostly because most women didn’t have the luxury of owning multiple dresses. So, on their wedding day, they would usually just don their Sunday best, regardless of what colour it was. This ‘tradition’ was thrown on its head when Queen Victoria wore a white dress to marry Prince Albert, and since then created a new tradition of wearing white on your wedding day.

Although the majority of *brides in Europe, the UK and the US still prefer white or ivory for their dresses, there has been a big increase in people opting for different colours that better reflect their personalities and the vibe they want for the wedding. Because of this shift in opinion, it’s becoming the norm for bridal designers to include colour in their collections. For example, Vera Wang’s 2020 bridal collection used a mixture of white, blush pink, nude, and pistachio green.

Giving away the bride

Although it’s still customary in a lot of weddings that the father of the bride escorts their daughter down the aisle and ‘gives her away’ to her new partner, this is something that’s changing too.

Back in the day, the bride would stand to the left of their husband so his sword arm was left free to fight off any potential suitors who might try to steal her away before the marriage was finalised. As archaic as this sounds, it’s a tradition that’s still alive and well in many of today’s wedding ceremonies.

‘Giving away the bride’ dates back to the middle ages, when women were considered to be the property of their father until they were married, when they’d be given to their husband. Unsurprisingly, with the change in family set-ups and social attitudes, brides are choosing to be walked down the aisle by other important people in their lives like their mothers, siblings, friends or other family members. On the other hand, there’s been an increase in women walking down the aisle alone, like Meghan Markle chose to back in 2018.

Wedding invitations

Although most correspondence that happens between people nowadays is online, paper wedding invitations are something that has remained physical. For many, designing their own wedding invitations is the first hint at the overall sentiment of the wedding, and gives the guests a clue on the theme and colour palette. While they may end up taking a more virtual shape in the future, it’s likely that traditional paper wedding invitations are something that we’re not forgetting about anytime soon.

Who pays

Traditionally, the bride’s parents were expected to foot the bill for the wedding. However, now people are marrying later in life and weddings are becoming less centred around the joining of two families and rather two individuals, the responsibility for paying for the ceremony is falling to the couple themselves. A recent survey conducted by Bridebook found that up to 90% of couples expect to pay for their wedding themselves.

Wedding cakes

The old faithful fruitcake that used to be the centre of the wedding buffet is falling out of favour. The tradition of the wedding cake actually originated in medieval times, where it was commonplace for the groom to have to kiss his bride over a pile of sweet bread rolls – we think the person who started this trend probably just had a really sweet tooth and wanted an excuse to make everyone bring cakes to their wedding. However, this evolved into the wedding cake we’ve all come to know and love, as well as the newer tradition of the new couple cutting the cake together.

Over the past few decades, these cakes have got more and more extravagant, but they’re also a lot less restricted by flavour. Plenty of couples are opting for a sponge cake or even cupcakes or macaroon towers.

Location, location, location

While it used to be customary that couples would marry in a religious place of worship, there are a lot more options on the menu now. Destination weddings have been steadily rising in popularity over the past few years, but there are also plenty of couples hosting their ceremony at registry halls, hotels, and private wedding venues as well.

Social media is becoming a new tradition

One of the most up-and-coming traditions has got to be social media. It’s having an effect on the experiences that weddings offer and is changing the ceremony from ritual to spectacle. Long gone is the small wedding album that sits at the bottom of your drawer. Now, photos from your wedding will be all over social platforms, and if you’re getting ahead of the trend, you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities for your guests to interact with and maybe even your own wedding hashtag.

Customs like these all came from somewhere in the past and most have changed over time. While there will always be a place for tradition in marriage, just how traditional your wedding is will be totally up to you. After all, it’s your special day and it should reflect what you like and what makes you happy.

*While we use the terms ‘groom’ and ‘bride’ throughout this article, we understand that all weddings are unique and ‘grooms’, ‘brides’, ‘best men’, and ‘bride’s maids’ come in a range of gender identities and expressions. Please interpret these tips for your own celebration – we hope they help!

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