Holidays and traditions in english-speaking countries

: 10/13

II. Customs, Weddings, Births and Christenings.


In Britain the custom of becoming engaged is still generally retained, though many young people dispense with it, and the number of such couples is increasing. As rule, an engagement is announced as soon as girl has accepted proposal of marriage, but in some cases it is done good time afterwards. Rules of etiquette dictate that the girls parents should be the first to hear the news; in practice, however, it is often the couples friends who are taken into confidence before either of the parents. If man has not yet met his future in-laws he does so at the first opportunity, whereas his parents usually write them friendly letter. It is then up to the girls mother to invite her daughters future in-laws, to meal or drinks. Quite often, of course, the man has been frequent visitor at the girls house long before the engagement, and their families are already well acquainted.

When girl accepts proposal, the man generally gives her ring in token of the betrothal. It is worn on the third finger of the left hand before marriage and together with the wedding ring after it. Engagement rings range from expensive

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

diamond rings to rings with Victorian semi-precious stones costing only few pounds.

In most cases the engagement itself amounts only to announcements being made to the parents on both sides and to friends and relations, but some people arrange an engagement party, and among the better-off people it is customary to put an announcement in the newspaper.

In the book Etiquette the author writes that as soon as congratulations and the first gaieties of announcement are over, man should have talk with the girls father about the date of their wedding, where they will live, how well off he is and his future plans and prospects. Nowadays this is often not done, one of the reasons being that today the young people enjoy greater degree of financial independence that they used to, to be able to decide these matters for themselves. However, in working class families, where the family ties are still strong and each member of the family is more economically dependent upon the rest, things are rather different. Quite often, particularly in the larger towns, the couple will have no option but to live after marriage with either the girls or the mans people. Housing shortage in Britain is still acute, and the rents are very high. It is extremely difficult to get unfurnished accommodation, whereas furnished room, which is easier to get, costs great deal for rent. In any case, the young couple may prefer to live with the parents in order to have chance to save up for things for their future home.

But if the young people, particularly those of the higher-paid section of the population, often make their own decisions concerning the wedding and their future, the parents, particularly the girls, still play an important part in the ensuing activities, as we shall see later.

The period of engagement is usually short, three or four months, but this is entirely matter of choice and circumstances.

The Ceremony

The parents and close relatives of the bride and groom arrive few minutes before the bride. The bridegroom and his best man should be in their places at least ten minutes before the service starts. The bridesmaids and pages wait in the church porch with whoever is to arrange the brides veil before she goes up the aisle.

The bride, by tradition, arrives couple of minutes late but this should not be exaggerated. She arrives with whoever is giving her away. The verger signals to the organist to start playing, and the bride moves up the aisle with her veil over her face (although many brides do not follow this custom). She goes in on her fathers right arm, and the bridesmaids follow her according to the plan at the rehearsal the day before. The bridesmaids and ushers go to their places in the front pews during the ceremony, except for the chief bridesmaid who usually stands behind the bride and holds her bouquet.

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

After the ceremony the couple go into the vestry to sign the register with their parents, best man, bridesmaids and perhaps close relation such as grandmother. The bride throws back her veil or removes the front piece (if it is removable), the verger gives signal to the organist and the bride and groom walk down the aisle followed by their parents and those who have signed the register. The brides mother walks down the aisle on the left arm of the bridegrooms father and the bridegrooms mother walks down on the left arm of the brides father (or whoever has given the bride away). Guests wait until the wedding procession has passed them before leaving to go on to the reception.

: 1/05/2007