Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

October 2012

Wedding Traditions – The Inspired Bride

Wedding traditions from the West often has its roots in Christianity. But with western influences having as strong a foothold in every corner of our society as our own Asian ones, it’s not surprising that non-Christians here are incorporating some of the western wedding traditions into their big day as well. Part two of SingaporeBrides’ ultimate guide to wedding traditions contains all the information you need to know about wedding traditions hailed from the West.

Over the years, these western wedding traditions are so assimilated with our own Asian ones that brides can no longer tell which originated from the West and which from the East. But you can be the one of the first few brides who does. And because we know you don’t have much time for a long read, we’ve singled out six of the most common western wedding traditions that are still popular today.

1. The One in White

White is still the prevailing colour most brides would pick for their wedding gowns, even though other coloured gowns such as ivory and black gowns are available for their choosing. But, the white wedding gown isn’t a wedding tradition passed down from a long time ago. It wasn’t until the 19th century that a white wedding gown was in trend. And guess who started it all? It was Queen Victoria herself. She was the first to depart from the norm and had donned a white gown when she wed Prince Albert. Before she knew it, people started copying her style and over time, that became the tradition as we know it today. So, what did non-royalty brides before Queen Victoria wear at their weddings? They simply wore the best thing they could find in their closet; what colour it was was of little consequence.

2. Something Old, Something Blue, Etcetera, Etcetera

The Chinese aren’t the only ones with blessings meant to bring good luck and happiness to the happy couple. We have the four blessings for our hair combing ritual and the English has this:

Something old, something new, Something borrowed, something blue, And a sixpence in my shoe.

Chances are, you’ve probably heard of this saying or have come across it in a book or magazine. Bet you didn’t know this traditional saying has English origins and dates back to the Victorian age. Each item in the saying represents a good-luck token for the bride and it is said that her marriage will be a happy one if she carries all of them on her wedding day. This tradition symbolises the continuity between the bride and her family and blesses the bride’s marriage and new family with happiness, good fortune and wealth. Today, this English tradition is mostly practiced for the fun factor.

3. Single for One Last Night

You’re about to get hitched and commit yourself to a life of fidelity and monogamy, so what do you do the night or week before your big day? Paint the town red with your single friends for one last time before your obligations as a wife and later, mother, prevents you from doing so! Or, if you prefer, a quiet night with the girls will suffice too. Similarly, your groom-to-be will be treated to a stag’s night he will never forget by his groomsmen.

If you have an opinion against painting the town red and doing something outrageous, do make it known to your girlfriends. Else, expect to have exactly that on your hen’s night. Programs for hen’s night range from pub hopping to club-hopping, to private strip parties or dinner at a fancy place where you’re dared to do things you would never attempt while you’re sane.

4. Permission to Kiss the Bride, Sir

“You May Kiss the Bride” – probably the five most anticipated words at a wedding solemnisation (yes, even more anticipated than “I now pronounce you husband and wife”) everyone will be waiting for. All eyes will be glued on the two of you as you take your first kiss as husband and wife and in the reverie of the moment. But, the kiss wasn’t always a romantic gesture. In the earliest days of civilisation in the Middle East and Ancient Rome, a kiss was used as the formal seal to agreements or contracts. Since marriage is a kind of contract, having the groom kiss his bride after the exchange of vows was essentially an act of “sealing” a deal, not one of romantic love. Talk about a mood killer.

We say, give your guests something to look forward to and celebrate at the ceremony. Whether you want your kiss to be a sweet, quick peck on the lips or a five minute passionate lip-lock, our advice to you remains the same: pucker up and practice your kissing before the big moment. I’m sure you’ll want your guests to remember that moment for the right reasons.

5. Who’s the Next Bride?

The throwing of the flower bouquet is one of the most anticipated highlights at a Western wedding celebration. The practice involves the bride throwing her flower bouquet to a group of single ladies, and whoever catches it will be the next in line to get hitched – or so the superstition goes.

Centuries ago, guests would try to get a fragment of the bride’s clothing as a symbol of good fortune, sometimes even leaving the poor bride and her gown in tatters. As gowns became more expensive to own, brides thought of several alternatives to this tradition and so the bouquet and garter toss began. Traditionally, after cutting the cake, the groom would remove his wife’s garter and throw it to the unmarried gentlemen in the crowd. Then the bride would toss her bouquet to the unmarried ladies. Mostly, it’s done out of fun and entertainment, but some ladies take it seriously and will do everything in their power to hold that bouquet in their hands. If you know your single friends will be too embarrassed to catch the bouquet, you can still make it memorable by picking out a specific individual, a newly engaged friend or particular guest, and make a special presentation instead of throwing the bouquet.

Nevertheless, the throwing of the flower bouquet is a sweet and timeless tradition still widely practiced today. If you’d like to hold on to your bouquet for a little longer, you can ask your florist to make a smaller and lighter version of your bouquet just for the tossing.

6. The Speech

At a wedding celebration, there are many speeches and each one of them says something different. The best man and maid of honor will usually be invited to say a little something about the couple, from their characters and personalities to watching them grow as a couple. The couple themselves would also be invited to make a short speech, usually encompassing their gratitude to their family and friends for always supporting them and for joining in the celebration of their union.

Your guests might look forward to these speeches but there’s no need to make your speech an hour-long lecture. The best speeches are often short and sweet, shares brief insight of the couple’s history and relationship, and are filled with humour. So tailor your speeches to be three or five minutes long.

You don’t have to be from a particular culture or race to incorporate their wedding traditions into your big day. Likewise, it is not necessary to include all the traditions from your culture or race if you don’t want to. However, before you make any decisions to exclude or include any tradition, it’s best to discuss with your elders and groom to avoid any conflict or displeasure.

For more information on Chinese wedding traditions, read Wedding Traditions – The Traditional Bride.