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Wedding Ideas

An A-Z Guide to British Wedding Etiquette and Wedding Planning

Inspiration – 19.12.16

Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting things you will do in your life, but there are definitely some challenging aspects! There are a range of things you need to consider, from the traditional walk down the aisle to what colour your wedding team will be wearing. This A-Z guide will help you with each element of wedding planning and provide some ideas for creating a celebration that reflects both traditions and your unique preferences.
 

A IS FOR AISLE

Whether you’re tying the knot in a religious venue or having a civil ceremony, you’re likely to walk down an aisle before saying your vows. Wedding tradition states that a bride is escorted down the aisle by her father; however, many people opt to have both parents or walk down the aisle unaccompanied. Partners also sometimes walk down the aisle together, choosing to enter as the established couple they already are. There are no set rules, it’s totally up to you and your partner.

These days, etiquette isn’t too concerned about which side of the aisle guests sit on, but it’s always polite to leave the front row seats for immediate family and close friends.
 

B IS FOR BRIDAL PARTY

Always ask your chosen wedding party if they would like to be included rather than assuming, and be understanding if they politely turn down the opportunity. A good wedding party member should take the role and responsibility seriously. There are no rules when it comes to buying outfits, but it’s important to be clear about finances. Generally speaking, it’s always kind if the couple offers to pay for wedding party outfits. If you’re expecting them to pay for themselves, you need to give them some choice in what they are going to wear.
 

C IS FOR CAKE

Wedding cake isn’t essential, but it’s a lovely tradition worth sticking to. Cut it when the time is right during your day. You don’t have to stick to a rigid timetable, but make sure it’s included in your wedding planning for the day.

D IS FOR DANCING

We all love that romantic first dance moment. Choose a song that means something to you both, whether it’s a smoochy love song or something more upbeat and fun. If the thought of swaying around the dance floor in front of your guests fills you with fear, don’t do it – simply get the music started and bring the wedding party onto the dance floor with you.
 

E IS FOR ENGAGEMENT RING

We all imagine being presented with a beautiful diamond at the same time as the proposal. In reality, nowadays, many couples like to choose the ring together, which is a great idea. Set a budget in advance and try on several styles, stones and settings before making your decision.
 

F IS FOR FAVOURS

While it’s lovely to give each guest a small favour, it’s not essential and is something you should only consider if the budget allows. Keep costs down by giving a favour that doubles up as a place name, or a simple sweet treat that guests can enjoy with coffee.

G IS FOR GIFTS

British wedding etiquette states that a gift registry should be set up before the invitations are sent out, and details of that list can be mentioned discreetly in the information sent with each invite. Asking for money can be a practical option, but you should expect that some guests would prefer to buy a present. If you ask for cash, explain what you are saving up for so that guests know what they’re contributing towards.
 

H IS FOR HEADDRESSES

The veil… to wear or not to wear? Only you can decide whether you’d like to wear one, or whether you would prefer a beautiful tiara, elegant hair pins or fresh flowers. If you go for the veil, make sure any embellishment doesn’t compete with your dress and, if you’re having a ‘blusher’ that covers your face, don’t forget to flip it over your head for the first kiss!
 

I IS FOR INVITATIONS

Invitations should be sent out 8-12 weeks before the big day, and you should send them to everyone you would like to attend the wedding (including the wedding party!). Always include useful information such as directions and details of local accommodation.
 

J IS FOR JEWELLERY

Jewellery can accessorise your outfit beautifully, but it’s important to choose wisely. Wedding etiquette states that you should keep the fingers on your left-hand clear of any other rings. If you’re wearing a wedding dress, a necklace needs to work well with the and you might choose delicate earrings or hairpins. Often, less is more. Wearing a watch isn’t the done thing – you don’t need to be checking the time on your wedding day.

L IS FOR LISTENING

Throughout the wedding planning, it’s crucial to consider everyone involved in your big day. While it is your day, it’s also of huge importance to your close family and friends. Compromise can be essential. If your partner has their heart set on a live band, but you’d prefer a DJ, you need to find a middle ground or decide whether it really matters to you.
 

K IS FOR KEEPING LISTS

Some guests may bring gifts on the day while others will order from a gift list. Whatever you receive and whenever you receive it, be sure to keep a detailed list. It’s crucial to thank every person for his or her generosity and for sharing your special day. While no one expects you to be writing thank-you notes on your honeymoon, wedding etiquette states that you should write them as soon as you arrive home.
 

M IS FOR MENU

A well-planned wedding menu should take all guests into consideration. While you can be daring with spices and flavours, you may consider offering less adventurous alternatives and cater for any dietary requirements. And, be sure to offer plenty of food, especially when you start to serve alcohol. A well-fed guest is a happy guest.

N IS FOR NO SHOW

Alas, on the day of your wedding, you might have one or two guests who don’t turn up. This may be due to illness or personal circumstances, and the hope is that they give you some notice. If you are not aware until the last minute, it is the correct wedding etiquette to ask one of your wedding party to inform the caterer and to alter the seating plan accordingly. These things happen.
 

O IS FOR OLD, NEW, BORROWED AND BLUE

Wearing something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue is a wedding tradition that is fun and simple to follow. Chances are you have many new things, from your outfit to your shoes, so consider borrowing a piece of family jewellery; perhaps a bracelet or hair accessory. Your something blue can be as simple as a piece of blue ribbon sewn into the lining of your outfit.
 

P IS FOR PLUS-ONES

There are no strict rules for inviting ‘plus ones’ and much of the time, it’s hard to make space on a guest list for all your friends and family without inviting people you don’t even know. If you are inviting a single guest who you feel will know very few other people at your wedding, it is considerate to ask if they would like to bring someone with them. Not essential, but considerate.
 

Q IS FOR QUIBBLING

Wedding planning, while enjoyable, can have its stressful moments! There are differences of opinion, financial implications and deadlines to stick to. If you feel an argument brewing, take a breath and remain calm. Remember why you’re getting married, and try to avoid quarrelling over details that probably don’t matter. It’s also a good idea to take time out from wedding planning on occasion and spend time together having fun and talking about other things.
 

R IS FOR RECEIVING LINE

The receiving line is an opportunity for the hosts to greet all the guests as they walk into the reception space showing good, British wedding etiquette. These days, many couples scrap the idea and choose to circulate around the tables instead. The choice is yours. If you decide against the receiving line, it’s important to spend time moving around every table during the wedding breakfast, making sure you welcome each and every guest.
 

S IS FOR SPEECHES

Traditionally, there are three wedding speeches – the father of the bride, followed by the groom and then the best man. However, these are not set in stone, and both wedding partners may want to speak, as well as other family members. Timing is key, and the speeches together should last no longer than 45 minutes. If you decide to change the order of the speeches or the speech makers, that’s completely up to you. Make sure that guests can hear by providing a microphone if necessary, and ensure that everyone has a full glass of something fizzy for toasts. Champagne is lovely, but Cava and Prosecco also fit the bill perfectly.
 

T IS FOR TABLE PLANS

Seating plans are essential unless you’re planning a very informal or intimate celebration. You want your guests to have a lovely time at your wedding, so it’s important to consider different personalities and interests and arrange tables accordingly. Top tables are traditional but not always practical, particularly if there are any complicated family politics. If you do decide to sit with friends instead of family members, always make sure your parents are seated appropriately with a good view of you and the speeches.
 

U IS FOR USHERS

If you choose to have ushers or a wedding party in general, they have a few key tasks, predominantly at the ceremony. They should be the first to arrive and distribute the orders of service as your guests arrive. At the reception, they should help guests find their tables and support the wedding couple throughout the day.
 

V IS FOR VIDEOS

It’s easy to see why wedding videos have become popular – they are a wonderful memento of the day and something you’ll treasure for years to come. If you are hiring a professional videographer, be sure to take a look at their work and brief them on exactly what you’re looking for. If you decide to ask a friend, bear in mind that the end result is unlikely to be as polished and remember that the friend is doing you a favour.
 

W IS FOR WEDDING BUDGETS

While it isn’t exactly romantic, wedding finances need to be discussed before you start your wedding planning. There is no strict wedding etiquette here – you might be paying for your wedding yourselves or receiving a family contribution. Honest discussions are essential to avoid any confusion or overspending.
 

X IS FOR KISSING!

Well, yes, we have to mention that first kiss. When you’ve said your vows and you’re finally married, you’ll share that special first moment.
 

Y IS FOR YOUNGER GUESTS

Whether or not you choose to invite children to your wedding is entirely up to you. Whatever you decide, make it clear and, if children are invited, write their names on their parents’ invitation. Tradition states that every person over the age of 18 should get their own separate invitation. It is perfectly acceptable just to invite children who are family members, or page boys and flower girls.

Z IS FOR SLEEEEEP…

At some point, you need to wave farewell and head to bed. If you decide to be the last ones on the dance floor, good for you! Equally, if you’d both like to escape a little earlier than some, that’s perfectly acceptable too. It is considered British wedding etiquette to say goodnight to any guests who you won’t see for breakfast the following morning.

If you would like to find out more about planning your wedding at Mythe Barn, why not book a visit and meet one of our wedding experts? Click here to find out more.

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