In England Down to nineteenth century parents or guardians of young people decided their marriage. They also organized weddings. Therewithal, in the time when everything about marriage was arranged, grooms and brides often could be not acquainted with each other. Not infrequently Often future newlyweds were not elder than 7 years old. Children could even be betrothed at the age of 3-7 years old. Afterward, when the future spouses reached certain age they became to live together.
Though, in the 17th century the judge have ruled that marriage between people could not be valid, if at least one of them was less than 7 years old. In cases when children were elder, they could become a married couple – needed just to embrace and name each other wife and husband for this. Of course, children have been continued living with their parents till they have become adults. At the same time kids have been already married.
Often young people in love run away from home and got married in secret, if their parents did not give them consent to the marriage. It was a protest against parental despotism and lack of freedom in choosing future spouse.
In 1653 the civil statute was adopted. According to this law a civil wedding ceremony was a compulsory formality for getting an official status of marriage. A Justice of the Peace had to carry out this procedure. In addition, the newlyweds had to furnish a certificate of a public wedding given by the parish church. In case if someone from the newlyweds was less than 21 years old, a certificate given by his or her parents was necessary, too. An exchange of rings was forbidden during the civil wedding ceremony.
Since 1753 the marriages contracted in English church having a special registration, have been recognized lawful only. Down to 1990 one could marry in that church only, which belonged to the county where him or his future spouses lived. Consequently, it became impossible to marry in secret on foreign soil, because the marriage might be considered invalid in such case.
From long ago weddings in England have been held from a reaping time till Christmas. The reason was simple – food abundance. There is a proverb there: in accordance with it September is the best time to get married if you want your coupledom to be good and rich.
A bride received as a gift decorative horseshoes which she wore on her wrist. It was thought that they could bring her good luck.
When the bride entered the church she was showered with wheat. Such wedding traditions existed anteriorly among many nations and have remained till nowadays. In present-day England bride is showered with grain, too. However, during this ritual bride doesn’t stand alone, but with her groom. The rite takes place not at entrance, but when the newlyweds leave the church after wedding ceremony. They are usually overstrewed with colored rise, ticker tapes, rose petals, etc.
On the North of England the bride flung up not a bunch of flowers but… sliced bread from the plate. Guests tried to catch a slice of bread because it was considered to be a good sign and boded great luck. There was a tradition in some regions of England to mammock a wedding cake right above the bride’s and groom’s heads. Somewhere newlyweds were showered with barley while sitting at the festive table.
The popular expression of “honeymoon” came to us from England too. How did it appear? There was a tradition to brew a beverage from honey for newlyweds. This drink was given to them before wedding night. It was believed that it could increase probability of fathering a child (in particular – a boy).
English wedding traditions in our days
During marriage preparations grooms and brides run through the wedding ceremony, first dance and other parts of forthcoming solemnity. Certainly, stag parties and bachelorette parties take place a couple of days before wedding.
Traditionally weddings are held at noonday. Then guests are usually invited to the lunch which is called «wedding breakfast».
English women prefer more modest wedding dresses than American fiancées. The most of English brides choose white or creamy gowns not to mention the fact that wedding outfits in different colors are always available at wedding boutiques.
The color of fabric should be the same for bridesmaids’ dresses, groom’s and best men’s waistcoats and neck-ties. The bride usually pays for bridesmaids’ outfits.
It is not typically for modern English brides to keep their wedding dresses for their daughters, because fashion tends to change. It is unlikely that one’s daughter will be happy about a contemplation of wearing the dress which is 25 years old. That is why bridal gown after wedding is usually sold or used in more original and soul stirring way: the fabric is used for sewing the baptismal clothes for the firstborn.
The brides are still trying to observe the old English tradition: «Something old, something new, something borrowed something blue and a silver sixpence in her shoe». «Something old» can be presented with a mother’s bracelet, «blue» – with underwear, «borrowed» – with elder sister’s garter, etc. And it is not difficult to find something new or to put a sixpence to the shoe. By the way, some modern brides wear decorative horseshoes on their wrists.
Ladies – guests cover their heads visiting the wedding. They prefer trendy flirty hats. The bridesmaids normally don’t put on a headwear.
Wedding procession makes the land to church. It usually consists of Rolls-Royces or retro mobiles, which they actually drive in ordinary life. Limousine is a rarely chosen car for these purposes.
A flower girl who throws about the flower petals goes before the bride while she walks down the aisle (modern brides prefer to walk alone without their fathers nearby).
Immediately after the ceremony photo-shoot with all the guests is usually held. Group photos are traditionally made near the church in which the newlyweds have married. When the weather is bad it is allowed to make photos in the church.
Right after the marriage ceremony a time for «wedding breakfast» comes. Newlyweds dance their first dance. There is also the tradition when bride’s father dances with his daughter and groom’s mother – with her son.
The bride throws the bunch of flowers which unmarried guests try to catch. It is not typically for English weddings to throw a garter (this tradition refers more to the USA).
As for the wedding gifts there is no special ceremony of donating. In these latter days so-called wedding registries become more and more popular. It is a kind of expected gifts list composed by bride and groom. The list passes from hand to hand among all relatives and friends: each of them can choose the gift for newlyweds from its items.
Newly wedded couples usually keep the boxes with their gifts clothed till the end of honeymoon. Then after opening the gifts, they sent gratitude postcards to the guests.