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Wedding » Indian-weddings » English-weddings-061219
English Weddings
From fairy tales to reality

English Weddings
Folklores of knights in shining armour ready to save the damsel in distress and the fairy tales of Cinderella have painted a rosy picture of British marriages in our minds. And when you think of elegance and tradition, of pomp and ceremony, England surely comes to mind.

Read on to know more about the rich customs and rituals that are a part of a traditional English wedding.


Religious beliefs
The Church of England, a Protestant Episcopal Denomination, is the State Church. Most English marriages follow the rules of this church. However, other religions found in England include Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Congregationalist, Unitarian, Society of Friends, Muslim and Judaism.

Church marriages Church marriages
As early as the 16th century, marriages were arranged by parents or guardians. Parents often made the marriage arrangements and betrothals while the bride and bridegroom were small children. The children would continue to live with their own parents and meet from time to time for meals or holiday celebrations. These pre-arranged marriages came under fire in the late 17th century when a judge held that marriages prior to the age of seven were "utterly void".

The Civil Marriage Act of 1653, passed by the Puritans under Cromwell, required a civil ceremony before a justice of the peace. The wedding ceremony consisted of a simple formula to be repeated by the man and woman and was accompanied by hand fastening. The use of a ring was forbidden.

Later the Catholic Church, in the Council of Trent, restated its position that marriage was one of the seven sacraments and therefore could not be dissolved.

Time & Place
Sunday used to be the most popular wedding day, as it was the one-day most people were free from work. However, Puritans in the 17th century put a stop to this, as they believed it was improper to be festive on the Sabbath. Saturday is the preferred choice of the masses in tying their nuptials.

As for the time of year, the saying "Marry in the month of May, and you'll live to rue the day" dates back to Pagan times. But since May, the start of summer, was dedicated to outdoor orgies, Queen Victoria is said to have banned her children from marrying in May. Traditionally, the safest season to marry is between the harvest and Christmas, when food was plentiful. An old English rhyme says "Marry in September's shine, your living will be rich and fine" and "When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last."

Customs and superstitions
Superstitions play a very important part in English marriages, so much so that they have slowly been accepted as customs.

The tradition of tying old shoes to the back of the couple's car, for example, stems from Tudor times when guests would throw shoes at the bride and groom, with great luck being bestowed on them if they or their carriage were hit! In Anglo Saxon times to establish his authority the groom symbolically struck the bride with a shoe. Brides would then throw shoes at their bridesmaids to see who would marry next.

It is customary for the bride to be given a decorative horseshoe, which she carries on her wrist. The horseshoe is given for good luck.

In the 17th century, wheat was cast at the head of the bride when she came from church. Now it's customary to throw colorful paper confetti or rice at the bride and groom as they leave the church after the ceremony.

In Wales, the bride is always carefully lifted by the groom over the threshold on her return from the marriage ceremony because it is considered very unlucky for a bride to place her feet on or near the threshold and trouble was in store for the maiden who preferred walking into the house.

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