When it comes to wedding accessories there are all kinds of fun traditions and little gems of folklore relating to what you should wear on your big day, but do you know what they’re all about and is there a way of putting a bit more of a modern twist on them? Well today the lovely Kayleigh Herbertson would like to fill you in on some traditional and contemporary interpretations! Over to Kayleigh…
Wedding Accessories: Traditional and Contemporary Meanings
When we close our eyes and picture our wedding even the most modern of us is probably seeing something surprisingly traditional . Maybe we’re in a grand, white gown, perhaps there’s a church and a band playing the conventional wedding theme. Perhaps we have a beautiful long veil that is being held up by an adorable flower girl. Hair styled up and white shoes, we could have stepped out of any movie that involves a wedding. The traditions that surround weddings are in our subconscious and it’s only when we consider their importance (and history) that we’re likely to decide if they’re truly for us.
The Dress – Traditions and New Conventions
Not wearing a white wedding dress is considered unconventional but we’re all familiar with the meaning of a white gown. The rise of couples cohabiting before they tie the knot means that most brides are walking down the aisle happily acknowledging to her family and friends that she’s not “virginal”. The tradition for wearing white still endures and it’s still a beautiful colour to wear but there are a variety of dresses in alternative colours to choose from. There’s also this hilarious Victorian rhyme regarding coloured dresses:
Very traditional, the Victorians. Of course, the colour of the dress is entirely down to style choice and is unlikely to have any bearing in the marriage itself.
The “tradition” of getting a dress specifically for a wedding is also something of a modern marketing ploy. An entire business has grown from creating the ideal “wedding dresses”, expensive gowns designed for one wear. Historically, women would get wedding dresses that could be adapted and re-worn, only the very richest could afford a dress for one occasion. If you’re looking to save some money on your wedding then simply getting a dress (in any colour, including white) without telling anyone you’re a bride is likely to save you a great deal of money. One my favourite anecdotes relating to the wedding of my parents is my mother simply buying a white Laura Ashley dress and ironing it on the day. It’s amazing how the price for two identical dresses can increase when one is given the label “wedding dress”.
Veils and Face Coverings
Another long standing tradition, veils were used during weddings to protect the modesty of the bride. The unveiling during the ceremony symbolised her entrance to the world as a woman, revealed by her soon-to-be husband. The tradition of the unveiling is still present in some weddings, particularly religious weddings, but it has left mainstream media, instead the veils are presented as more of an extravagant hair accessory.
It’s important to remember that veils most frequently come in white and can even look quite strange in other colours. This means that it sits far more comfortably with a white wedding gown. Some designers also advise that a contemporary wedding gown isn’t well suited to a long veil, particularly ones that need to be carried. Alternatives include smaller and much shorter veils, you can even get vintage ones that feature netting. If you have your heart set on a full length veil then this is one traditional accessory that demands you go whole hog with a traditional wedding outfit!
If you wanted to accessorise with a contemporary face covering then I’d recommend checking out masquerade masks. Distinctive and decorative, they’re also incredible for a truly unique wedding. Grin Grimace and Squeak can even create a custom mask for your wedding, making it as individual as you are.
Pearls and Gemstone Jewellery
There is a tradition for the father of the groom to offer his future daughter-in-law a set of pearl jewellery to wear on her wedding day. This could be a necklace or earrings (or both) and they represent the purity of her marriage. This is a much less well-known tradition but can be a meaningful gift from family to family. Whether or not you receive them as a gift, pearls are another element of a traditional outfit but for a more contemporary spin you can get yourself some colourful gemstone jewellery. Choosing white pearls and clear diamonds as engagement and wedding jewellery is a relatively new phenomenon and gemstones are making something of a comeback. They allow you to pick jewellery that has greater meaning to you, whether it be as simple as a birthstone, a stone which matches the colour of your outfit or perhaps a colour to offer some contrast. A great example could be the colour purple, which is a warm and versatile tone that can be found in amethyst jewellery. This can be added to a white outfit to really create contrast or implemented with autumnal colours. Turquoise is also a popular alternative jewellery item for weddings. If you want to wear a traditional gown but give your accessories a modern twist then giving yourself a splash of colour via your jewellery is an classy way to stand out.
Alternatively, if you like the idea of this tradition but are vegan/vegetarian then moonstone jewellery is an excellent alternative that doesn’t involve animals.
Sixpence in Her Shoe and Beach Sandals
The most famous wedding day tradition comes from a popular rhyme. What do you need for a wedding? “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, simple right? What you might not know is that the poem ends with “and a silver sixpence in her shoe”. The silver sixpence was supposed to grant luck to the couple and was a particularly popular tradition in the early 20th century. If you wanted to continue this tradition then you can even get a silver sixpence straight from the British Mint to commemorate the occasion. Alternatively, it’s very easy to find a sixpence online or in old coin collections. You might even be surprised to find that this tradition is alive and well in your family, with many mothers and grandmothers having a sixpence they’ve put aside for future weddings. Make sure you check first!
Of course, this tradition is merely for the sake of tradition. No one can see that you’re wearing a sixpence in your shoe and I honestly wonder if it’s less comfortable to walk in bridal shoes when one of them has a coin inside.
One of the most modern wedding day traditions is that of beach weddings. Whether you’re going abroad or enjoying the beautiful beaches the UK has to offer, most heels won’t do you any favours on sand. This has led to the development of beach wedding sandals. Understated sandals that are also beautifully detailed with beads and intricate material strands to keep them in place. Unlikely to be worn again, this is nonetheless a lovely alternative to wedding day heels and can also be used for garden weddings and the like.
Traditional, Modern, Make Your Own!
It’s important to remember that we are not slaves to tradition, in fact traditions depend on us to carry them on. If a wedding convention has no meaning to you then you don’t have to make use of us. And if you’re planning the most contemporary wedding ever that doesn’t mean that you can’t use traditions that have meaning to you. Even the most modern of couples may choose to speak the vows we’re all familiar with or opt for a veil that falls over the face.
From the elements above – traditions and modern creations – you can mix and match to create a wedding ensemble that really represents you and your wedding day.