How Wedding Traditions Changed Over Time: What’s Still in and What’s out

wedding traditions

Weddings are full of interesting traditions. We’ve moved from the bride needing permission and a dowry, to live streaming our big day across the internet, but which of the older wedding day activities do we still include in modern weddings?

How different would your wedding be if you were getting married 100 years ago? Maybe you’d be surprised to find out how many wedding traditions have stood the test of time, or maybe you’re ready to buck the trend! Whether you’re planning on a super unconventional wedding or sticking with tradition, use this article as a guide to help you decide which traditions to include and which to ditch.

wedding traditions


1. Getting down on one knee

Long before the wedding day, the very first step in your nuptials is the proposal. Now we know the traditional way, your partner getting down on one knee.

Many people still choose to do this. Why? Originally it was a sign of respect towards a woman from a knight, and of course, everyone loves a knight in shining armour. This tradition is still going strong however, it is becoming less common with many partners choosing alternative proposals.


2. Asking for permission

When a man wanted to propose, he used to need his bride’s father’s permission to do so. It’s 2019, we don’t need permission from Dad to get married anymore.

However, some people still follow this tradition but now more as a sign of respect to your family. Rather than asking for permission, you can use the word ‘blessing’ to suggest you want their approval rather than need their consent.


3. The Hen Do

We’ve been having these pre-wedding blowouts for a very long time. There’s evidence of bachelor parties as far back as ancient Sparta!

For women in the 20th century, the hen do tradition used to mean your coworkers having a laugh and giving you advice before you stopped working. Obviously now we don’t have to stop working when we’re married, so the tradition has changed. Now it’s similar to the stag do, ‘last night of freedom’!


4. Bride’s family paying

This is a tradition that varies hugely from family to family. Of course it used to be that the father of the bride paid for most of the wedding.

These days the bride’s family often contribute but it’s rare that your family will pay for all of your wedding. Most couples save up their own money and pay for their wedding themselves.


5. Your father giving you away

Fathers walking their daughters down the aisle comes from arranged marriages. Your father used to be giving you away to your husband when women were still seen as property.

This tradition you will still see as a feature in most weddings, however, nowadays some brides may choose their mother or another important person in their life to give them away.


6. Wearing white

We all know the traditional wedding dress colour is white right? Actually, it wasn’t all that common before 1840 when Queen Victoria wore white to her wedding and made it popular.

White is also seen as a sign of purity. These days you can choose any colour dress you want but if you’re going for traditional then, of course, you want a white dress.


7. Best woman and bridesmaids

In ancient times bridesmaids would actually be dressed the same as the bride! This was to confuse any jealous suitors or evil spirits.

You probably don’t want all your bridesmaids in white these days! We’re also not so strict about the gender of bridesmaids and best men anymore either, with some weddings choosing to have a best woman instead.


8. Wedding favours

Wedding favours used to be a sign of good luck as well as a way to show off your wealth. Many couples would have a sugar cube or sugared almonds as their gifts for the guests.

We still use almonds now but we also have many other quirky wedding favours as a way to thank guests for attending your wedding.


9. First dance

You might have a first dance at your wedding now, or you could choose to skip it and get everyone on the dance floor together, but where does this tradition come from?

Well at a formal ball the guests of honour would usually start the first dance. In the past ballroom dancing was taught in schools, so brides and grooms would follow suit in their wedding.


10. Throwing the Bouquet

This tradition actually comes from England and was seen as a way for a bride to pass on her good luck. It was also used as a way to distract guests while the bride and groom slipped away.

Many brides still want this tradition as a part of their big day but some also opt to keep their bouquet for themselves as a memento.


12. Surname

It’s 2019 you can choose your own name! If you want to stick with tradition you can opt for your husband’s name, or go double-barreled or even create a new name together. If you’re not sure of your options or how to change your name after the wedding you can find out more in: Changing Your Name After the Wedding: Our Handy Checklist.


So, are you going for a super traditional wedding? Or are you throwing out the rule book and making something new? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter channels below!