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Hen Ideas

Wedding traditions explained

Rob Reaks , February 7, 2020

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Ever wondered where those Wedding Traditions come from? Here are some of our favourite wedding traditions explained.

If you’re newly engaged and planning a hen do or stag party, give us a call – 01273 872200.


Before Tinder, men had to resort to rather more creative ways to find a bride. In Germany, for example, on the first of May young unmarried men erect a tree in front of the house of the girl they’re in love with. Typically a birch tree decorated with ribbons and a heart with the girl’s name. The tree is left for one month. If she can work out who left the tree there, and likes the man in question, love should blossom. Obviously, most of us just send a card on St Valentine’s Day, much easier and cheaper than a Birch Tree!

Engagement Rings

Engagement rings and wedding bands on the left ring finger have symbolised LOVE since 2800 BC. The ancient Egyptians believed that the left ring finger was directly connected to the heart by the love vein (Vena Amoris).

Wedding traditions explained

Down on one Knee

“Knights would get down on one knee in front of their lord as a display of respect, obedience, and loyalty. … “. So, if you’re struggling with the ‘Obey’ part of your nuptials, it’s actually rather nice – your partner getting down on one knee to propose is actually their pledge to be loyal and respectful. In 2019, Red7 searched the Nation for the ‘Best Proposal’, read more HERE.

29th February

Girls, it’s your turn to get down on one knee (well, you can do this all the time, if you wish, of course but it’s a particular tradition that this happens during a leap year).

It’s an Irish tradition, which began in 5th century. St. Brigid of Kildare complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait far too long for men to propose. So, good old St. Patrick decreed that women could propose to men on the 29th February. The tradition was then taken to Scotland by Irish monks and has since spread across the globe. It is often known as Bachelors’ Day because of the tradition. 

The Hen Party

According to the BBC, the phrase “hen party” dates back to the 1800s to denote a gathering of females, but there was no pre-wedding context. Hen as slang for “woman” dates from 1620s; hence hen party “gathering of women,” first recorded 1887.

Red7 has been creating amazing Hen Parties in the UK and abroad for three decades, making us the UK’s original and best hen party travel firm.

Wedding traditions explained

And, the Stag Party…

A Stag, using it’s original Germanic meaning of “a male animal in its prime”, was applied to a group (party) “composed of males only” in American English slang back in 1848. The Stag Party grew in popularity in the 70’s and coincided with the ‘bar crawl’, which remains the number one activity for a stag party (hen parties like them too!).

Wedding traditions explained

White Wedding Dresses

Prior to the wedding of Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg, brides wore bold colours and layers of furs, velvet and silk. Black was especially popular in Scandinavia. So, when Queen Victoria wore a white gown trimmed with Honiton lace she started a new and enduring trend for getting married in white.


This is a Western tradition, to assist the Bride on her big day. She is responsible for leading the rest of the bridal party through the planning of any pre-wedding events. She may be called the Chief Bridesmaid, or the Maid of Honour (if unmarried) and Matron of Honour (married). Incidentally, Maids of Honour are the junior attendants of a queen in royal households. Each year, Red7 searches the Nation for Britain’s Best Bridesmaid. Did your bestie go the extra mile? Read more HERE. (Too late for this year, nominations open every November).

Wedding traditions explained – Something borrowed…..

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe.” – is a well know poem by an unknown English poet. It represents the past (old) and future (new). Why Blue? Well, blue wards off evil and ‘borrowed’ represents the happiness given by the groom to the bride (and vice versa). Often Brides will borrow something sentimental from a loved one to bring happiness to the couple. Sixpence isn’t used so much these days, but represents wealth.

Throwing the bouquet

This one harks back to 15th Century Britain when guests would try to tear pieces off the bride’s wedding dress, flowers or even pull her hair out. They thought that this would give them luck (the poor Bride). So, over time this tradition evolved so that now the bride simple throws her bouquet into the crowd with the belief that the person who catches it will be the next one up the aisle.

A kiss from a Chimney Sweep

Since the Reign of George II, Chimney Sweeps have been regarded as lucky. So, for a small fee you can ask a Chimney Sweep (yes, they do still exist) to bestow good luck on your marriage by shaking the groom’s hand and kissing the bride.

Wedding traditions explained – Confetti throwing

This custom is from ancient Roman times, where wheat or oats were thrown at newlyweds to bring them fertility and wealth. These days, most people throw paper confetti (which many venues don’t much like). Why not try some eco-friendly confetti from Shropshire Petals. The call for natural petal confetti began as churches and venues preferred it to paper or synthetic confetti. Real flower petals are more romantic and eco-friendly making them acceptable to most wedding venues and churches.

The First Dance

At the Royal Ball it was (is) customary for the male guest of honour to dance with the Lady of the house to start things off. At the wedding reception, this custom sees the Bride’s Father (or the Groom) take the Bride’s hand for the first dance, after which everyone else is welcome to join in.

The Honeymoon

The Vikings created this celebration. Newlywed couples went away after the wedding to live in a cave for a month (give us the Maldives any day!). Each day, during 30 moons (‘Moon’), a family member would visit them with some traditional honeyed wine (‘Honey’); thus, this isolated cave time was named the ‘Honeymoon’. This is one tradition that has evolved into something very much for the better!

Wedding traditions explained – Being carried over the Threshold

Another German tradition, when the groom would hoist his new bride over his shoulder and carry her into his hut. He did this to make it look as though she was resisting him to demonstrate her chastity.

So, if you’re engaged and looking to organise an epic stag party or awesome hen do, call the experts at Red7. We’re your new best friend….. 01273 872200

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