Wedding traditions: Old and New


For those of you who are new to the Pearline Events blog, hello and welcome! I am Natasha owner of Pearline Events. I create and organise elegant weddings for busy couples.


Jennifer Patrice, Celebrant

Weddings are wonderful celebrations of the union of two people. There are many traditions entwined in a wedding, which we have all seen or even participated in. Do you ever wonder why we do these things, like tossing a bridal bouquet? Well, I do, so I decided to do a little research. So today, I will highlight three UK wedding traditions and explain two new modern ones, as well as the meaning of colours in your wedding, for you to consider. This month I also have a guest contributor, lovely Jennifer Patrice, joining me who knows first hand about some of the modern approaches, as she conducts them as a Wedding Celebrant!




1. Something old something new

We have all heard the saying something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue but what does it all mean? This tradition comes from an Old English rhyme, which is thought to have been around since 1883!

  • Something old represents continuity; normally something given to the bride by a happily married woman. Such as jewellery, or a hairpin.
  • Something new offers optimism for the future couple; this can be something new that the bride wears like the dress, shoes, veil etc.
  • Something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; an item is lent to the bride, by a family member or even a friend. It is thought the bride must return the item after the wedding to ensure good luck.
  • Something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity. Some brides wear a garter with a touch of blue or have a piece of blue ribbon tied to your bouquet. Or worn underneath your dress.
  • And a silver sixpence in her shoe this last part of the rhyme is not as well used. The sixpence coin was a symbol of prosperity. It was also superstitious as it was said to help ward against any evil done by frustrated suitors!


2. Why does a bride carry and toss a bouquet?

  • In Ancient Rome, brides carried or wore flower garlands, believing that flowers signify new beginnings, fidelity and hope of fertility. In the Middle Ages, strong-smelling herbs and spices were thought to ward off and drive away evil spirits, bad luck, ill health and help mask the smell of body odour. Nowadays we carry them because we like the look of flowers! Well, I do anyway!​
  • Tossing the Bouquet is a tradition that stems from England. Women used to try to rip pieces of the bride's dress and flowers to obtain some of her good luck. To escape from the crowd the bride would toss her bouquet and run away. Thank goodness things have moved on, since then!

3. Why do we have a wedding cake?

  • The wedding cake has been part of weddings since medieval times. Originally cakes were made of wheat which was a symbol of fertility and prosperity. As a relic of once performed fertility rites, these ‘wedding cakes’ would have been thrown at the bride!
  • Unmarried guests scrambled for the pieces, and they would place them under their pillows to aid their own fortunes in marriage. It is believed that the tradition of having a wedding cake stems from this strange custom.
  • The typical white in a cake symbolises purity. The joint task of the couple cutting the cake was meant to symbolize their first joint task in married life. The gesture of feeding cake to each other is believed to be a symbol of the commitment the couple are making. It is also tradition to keep the top tier of the cake for the couple’s first child’s christening.



So now onto some modern ceremony ideas, if you fancy doing something a little different. Here are two modern symbolic rituals and their meaning, along with useful information about the colours you use, for you to consider. Earlier I mentioned Jennifer Patrice, an award-winning Celebrant. Over to you Jennifer.


Hello, Natasha – thank you for inviting me to contribute to your blog.

A symbolic ritual is an impressive addition to any ceremony, they are theatre and – most importantly – it is a way for the guests of the couple to visibly participate in the events. There are no hard and fast rules to a symbolic ritual, it’s up to the couple which way they want to go, but there are some things to remember. A ritual should be simple to perform; have a clear beginning and end; be suitable for the venue; represent acting in harmony; be easy to describe its meaning and most importantly it should be FUN. 

Below are two that really make an impact, bringing emotion and visual poetry to the ceremony proceedings.


1. Ring warming

The tradition of a ring warming is that the rings are passed around among guests before the ring exchange. I always like to involve the mothers of the couple at this point, the mother of the groom collects his ring, sends it around the guests and it comes back to her. The mother of the bride collects her ring sends it around the guests and it comes back to her. Each guest holds the rings for a short while, giving them a blessing, sending the couple their love, hopes, thoughts and good wishes for a happy future together. The mother of the groom then hands the grooms ring to the bride and the mother of the bride then hands the brides ring to the groom. When the rings are then exchanged they are imbued with the love, joy and support of their guests to take them forward on their new journey.


2. Sand pouring ceremony


Sometimes referred to as a "blending of the sands" ceremony each person pours a small container of sand (often two different colours, so that you can see the different layers) into a larger vessel to symbolize their "coming together" as a couple.

Recently I included a sand pouring ritual in a wedding I conducted, and the couple were joined by their three children to take part.  As this was happening this is what I said


Before my closing words I am going to ask the children to join us. With the help of Vicky and Bink they are going to perform a sand pouring ceremony. Today as Vicky and Bink have sealed their commitment to each other with the exchange of rings they also make a commitment to their children. They recognise the significant role that they play in this marriage celebrated today. They will now join Vicky and Bink in this commitment by each contributing a part into one blended family. Today, this is symbolised through the pouring of these three different coloured sands, each representing one of the children. As the three sands are poured into the family's one united container, they will be joined together as one. Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and returned each into their own individual containers, so will the bond with your family be forever united and inseparable.”


3. Colours

There are many interpretations of colours, weddings and ceremony rituals are no exception to that rule. As many rituals do use colours it is handy to know the meaning of them in relation to weddings and married life, below are a small selection:

Red = Passion for life, physical energy and health; Pink = Tenderness and romantic love; Orange = Sweetness, trust and creativity; Yellow = Respect and spontaneity; Green = Compassion, unconditional love and balance; Light Blue = Communication, harmony and self-expression; Dark Blue = Intuition, wisdom and emotional intelligence; Purple = Peace, spirituality and selflessness; White = New beginnings and goodness.


Thanks, Jennifer! So, if you're looking to put your own stamp on your wedding, incorporate a ritual that signifies the reason why you, your spouse-to-be, and your guests are there on the big day: unity, then I hope this gives you some great wedding ceremony ideas. I have witnessed the sand pouring ritual myself and it’s a lovely, visual representation of two people moving from ‘me’ and ‘you’ to ‘us’, symbolizing the joining of two lives together.


Each wedding and couple are unique so whether you want to embrace the traditions or weave in some of the modern alternatives or come up with something completely different. It really doesn’t matter, it’s about bringing your style to your day and giving it special meaning.


Having a celebrant means you can create the wedding you want. You can find out more about Jennifer and her services by visiting her website


If you want help planning any aspect of your wedding day, Pearline Events are here, please contact me to discuss.


Natasha x



Image credits on this page - Anthony Hurren and Pinterest



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