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Why do we cut the cake?| Wedding traditions and their meaning

The subject of wedding traditions often get brought up when I chat to my couples. I think my favourite is and always will be “why do we cut the cake?” Buckle up! So I bring you my very own blog on wedding traditions and what they mean!

Whether you’re planning a classic church wedding or an ultra-modern alternative shindig, chances are your big day will involve at least some traditions which have been included in weddings since the medieval times.  Although I’m sure not many of you will be exchanged for 12 goats and 40 heads of corn, I’m also sure not many of us know where some of the traditions come from. So gather round and let’s start at the very beginning…

Wedding Tradition: Giving away the bride

Now, this may be one which gets sidestepped for any number of reasons in this day and age, not least daughter’s aren’t really considered their father’s property these days, and new ideas of a truly feminist wedding may have quashed this one completely.  It used to be that women lived with their parents until they married, and whilst for some that is still the case (have you SEEN property prices?!), it is definitely not the norm.  So consider perhaps that this one should be more about respect, than permission.  Why not consider asking both the brides friends or perhaps asking parents together to give it a more modern twist.

Wedding Tradition: Why does a bride wear white?

tattooed bride and groom wearing white wedding dress and veil in wind

Many people think that white dresses were a sign of virginal purity; the idea that women stayed chaste until their wedding night, but did you know that the trend was actually sparked by Queen Victoria when she married Prince Albert in 1840.  Whilst brides the world over still opt for white, or the slightly more flattering ivory, there is nothing in the rulebook that says you have to stick with this one, and I love shooting weddings where brides forgo this tradition completely.  Nothing says alternative weddings more than the variety of colourful (or in the case of black, no so colourful!) dresses on offer these days. 

Wedding tradition: What do our wedding vows mean?

Wedding vows vary wildly from culture to culture, religion to religion and from Country to Country, but here in the UK we’ve used a pretty standard set of vows for hundreds of years. However, there is nothing to stop you really personalising the vows, especially as some of the traditional ones seem pretty outdated – many brides especially choose to omit the ‘obey’ clause, though ’til death us do part’ has a bit of a cool gothic feel!  Nowadays many couples decide to write their own vows, using anecdotes, words, and promises that are meaningful to them, to create wedding vows that are truly unique and memorable.  Take guidance from your registrar or hire a cool celebrant to write your own!

Why do you have to cut the cake?

The origins of the wedding cake date back to Ancient Rome, when the groom would break a loaf of bread over the bride’s head for fertility and good luck.  Later, it was seen as the first wifely duty for a wife to cut and serve food to her husband…ya know, because women are only good for keeping house! It was when Queen Victoria made royal icing popular and wedding cakes had a trend of slapping on thick layers of hardened icing. The weak women could no longer push the knife through the cake….enter our strong alpha husbands who would get up and help push the knife through the cake. Thus….a sexist tradition is born!

Wedding Tradition: Why do we wear wedding rings?

Speaking of rings, this is another tradition that dates back to Ancient Rome, although they were first associated with a marital dowry (uh oh, that old tradition we’d rather not speak of!), before they were exchanged from the Middle Ages when Christianity came to Europe.  Until the 20th century, they were commonly only worn by wives but have come to be worn by both spouses as an open sign of their marriage and vows to each other.  Furthermore, rings are circular, and just as a circle is endless and has no beginning or end, so does the love a married couple has for each other.  The circle shape of a wedding ring signifies that your love for one another is endless and will last forever.  Whilst traditionally gold, wedding rings come in a mind-boggling array of colours, shapes, and sizes, from the simple band to a bedazzled wonder, they can be as unique as your big day.

And there we have it: my favourite wedding traditions and their meanings!

Whether you adore them or hate them, you can’t help but feel like a wedding isn’t complete without rings, dresses and cakes. Stay tuned for my next blogpost: alternative wedding traditions to include instead. Expect pinatas, dance-offs, glitter, and tattoos!!

Be sure to email me to enquire and we can discuss with wedding traditions you’ll be including and excluding!