Louise Roe Schools Us in English Wedding Etiquette
The fashion blogger and bride-to-be reveals how she's incorporating some British traditions into her own big day.
In just under a month, I'll be walking down the aisle to say "I do." I can't even believe how quickly it's arrived-it seems like just yesterday that Mackenzie proposed to me, in the middle of a blizzard on a ski trip! After New York Fashion Week, I head straight to England, and tie up all the loose ends before the big day. We've finished most of the wedding planning at this point, and are now just adding final touches, like the seating plan and DJ's playlist.
Organizing the wedding, and going to friend's weddings in the interim, has made me realize just how important personalizing your day is. Both my fiancé and I grew up just outside of London, so it was very important to us to have our wedding in the UK, celebrating with a few very British traditions. Read on for my tips on English wedding etiquette and how to create personal touches that are unique to you and your spouse-to-be!
Use your surroundings
Without giving too much away, we are getting married in a very special part of England, and our guests will be able to experience the history and tradition of where Mackenzie and I grew up. We jumped through hoops to secure this particular place, and the effort is going to be well worth it. That was a huge part of our decision to get married in the UK, not the USA (even though the sunny weather and beach were extremely tempting!). When planning your wedding, think about the personal history and culture of both you and your fiancé, and try to bring the vibe of that into your special day, whether with the location, décor, or food!
Splurge on stationery
In my opinion, the invitations you send out to your guests are very important. It's not about spending a fortune, but taking the time to pick a font, color, print, and paper that really sums up the vibe of the day. Guests can immediately get the feel of what your wedding will be like and even get hints on what to wear from the very second they open the envelope. A stiff card with embossed script and written in formal language most likely means a formal wedding, while a brighter card with fun designs and relaxed language will often signal a more laidback event. Since our wedding will be on the formal side, we used very traditional calligraphy on a thick cream card, found online at Wedding Paper Divas. It's traditional for the parents of the bride to "host" the wedding, so the invitations are officially from my parents.
Take your alcohol seriously
Brits have a reputation for enjoying their cocktails, so we have hired a mixologist to make a big deal out of the bar. We wanted to create some special drinks (not just the average vodka tonic) but fun, interesting concoctions with names, unique glasses, special straws, and interesting garnishes. The guy we are working with, Adam from Holy Water, is the most passionate guy ever. He goes nuts over the slightest hint of herb, spice, and flavor to a drink, which made us all the more excited about what he is creating. The cocktail tasting will go down in history-he made about 40 different drinks for us to sip and choose from, all with their own names and completely different presentation!
Now I can't talk about English wedding etiquette without discussing hats. It's a very British thing to wear a hat to a wedding, and is definitely one of my favorite traditions. Nothing says "fabulous wedding outfit" quite like a hat, and you can remove them after the ceremony. Traditionally, ladies wear their hats on the right-hand size, and are not required to remove them when going inside the ceremony as they are more fashion accessories and part of our outfits (as opposed to the men, who should always remove their hats inside, or even for photographs). I'm obsessed with big sideways saucers. Even Asos and TopShop now make cool wedding hats. I mean, when else do you get to wear a fabulous hat to match your outfit? If you do expect or ask guests to wear hats, make sure you provide a safe, dry area (usually within the cloak room) for ladies to store them during the reception. I'm hoping that most of the ladies come to our wedding with hats or headpieces!
While it has become more acceptable in America for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony during "first look" shots, in the UK it is still quite traditional for the bride and groom not to see each other until she walks down the aisle. In fact, they don't even stay in the same place the night before. After the rehearsal dinner, one of my bridesmaids and oldest girlfriends will stay with me at my hotel. My final slumber party!
Guest tip: Mind your attire!
When planning your outfit, be aware of how the look might make the bride feel. Black and white used to be absolutely banned for guests, but times have changed. A pretty black dress is now totally acceptable, especially for an evening wedding. Personally, I'd still steer clear of white, unless it's mixed into a print or worn with color. And keep the cleavage to a minimum… not only is sexy inappropriate for a religious ceremony, but upstaging the bride in any way is considered a faux pas. This is her day, let her shine!