5 British wedding traditions you should know before your special day

We love that today, couples are creating their own, memorable traditions when planning their wedding day. Traditions should be shared by both the bride and groom and have significance to both.

Here we share 5 longstanding British traditions you may want to consider before your special day...


 Photographer: Doriane Descamps


1. Buttonholes

A buttonhole, sometimes called a boutonnière, is a little flower worn in the lapel of a suit. They’re normally worn by the groom, ushers, fathers, stepfathers and any other male members of the couple’s immediate family. 

Mothers-of-the-bride and/or groom often wear a similar floral decoration called a corsage, either pinned to the right side of their outfit or tied with a ribbon around their wrist.

Male buttonholes should always be worn on the left-hand side with the flower facing upwards towards the man's left shoulder. Unlike men, ladies wear buttonholes on the right-hand side. Why? because they are always right... But it doesn’t stop there – a lady should have the flowers pointing downwards, so the stem should be pointing towards her shoulder.

Top Tip: Ask your florist to supply magnets for your corsage and buttonholes. Sticking pins into your new jacket, blouse or dress will leave pin holes whereas magnets can hold your buttonhole in place just as well…and not cause any unwanted pricks to the skin.


2. Engagement and Wedding Rings

There are different rings that will help you mark a special moment and during a marriage there are plenty. Hence, it can become a bit confusing to know how to wear them. But don’t panic, it is quite simple...

When engaged, wear your engagement ring on the fourth finger of your left hand.

When married, the wedding ring should go first so it is closer to the heart, followed by the engagement ring.

So what about the eternity ring? This one is up to you; you can wear it on top of your wedding and engagement ring or wear it on the opposite hand.

Top Tip: If you are local to the North East, The Jewellers Guild in Morpeth (you can find them on Instagram @the.jewellers.guild) can help you with all your engagement, wedding and eternity ring needs. Their bespoke service even allows you to have something extra special designed and made just for you.


3. Mother of the Bride

Traditionally, the mother of the bride's dress should complement the wedding party's colours (though not necessarily match) so if you're going for navy, the mother of the bride could choose a complementing shade of blue and so on.

Traditions have evolved as the years have gone on and today Mother of the Brides and Grooms are encouraged to wear an outfit that they love (with the bride's approval, of course). Sleek evening gowns, trendy midis, maxi dresses and structured jumpsuits are all great options for the mother of the bride.


4. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

This tradition comes from an Old English rhyme. Something old represents continuity; something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity.

For centuries, brides have included something from each of these categories in their weddings. And while abiding by the list certainly isn't a requirement for a happy marriage, it can be a meaningful way to incorporate cherished people, objects, and memories into your special day.


5. At the Alter

Traditionally at the alter the bride stands to the left of the groom during the wedding ceremony so that the groom can protect her with his left arm and use his sword with the right. Traditionally, the groom would need to fight anyone who was trying to steal his wife – mostly members of her own family, since it was common for them to think she’d be “stolen”.

Today, it is common to ‘pick a seat, not a side, you are loved by both the groom and the bride’ however if you do want to follow tradition the bride's family and friends would sit behind them to the left and the groom's family and friends to the right.


Top Tips for Wedding Traditions

  • You don’t have to include them all! Pick the ones you like and do them well.
  • Mix things up if you’re hosting a same-sex wedding! Lots of these traditions were for brides and grooms, but there are so many fun ideas you can replace them with if that isn’t you.
  • The biggest rule of 2022 is that there are no rules. Mix up the traditions as you see fit, and put a modern spin on things.