How are wedding traditions changing?


When it comes to a traditional UK wedding, things like white dresses, having the bride’s father give her away, the best man’s speech, and bouquet-throwing all spring to mind. Throughout history, these wedding traditions have remained popular, and the majority of couples have followed the same structure. But how important is a traditional wedding? With society becoming increasingly diverse and an emphasis on individualism, why should we feel the need to conform to a traditional wedding?

Using data collected by the YouGov marriage tracker in September 2020, we look at how the UK really feels about wedding day traditions and the percentage of those who think they should be either dropped or preserved*. Not only that, but The Cairn Collection, provider of hotels in Newcastle, has analysed Google search volume data collected between October 2019 and October 2020 to see what the UK is searching for when it comes to wedding traditions.

* percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number

The Wedding Traditions Going Out of Fashion

Some of the most traditional aspects of weddings are now considered to be outdated. Here are the traditions that are declining in popularity.

Wearing a White Dress

Probably the most iconic aspect of a wedding is the bride’s white wedding dress. For decades, wearing any other colour on our wedding day would be seen as strange – however, it appears people in the UK have split opinions on the unwritten rule of a white wedding dress. YouGov data found that 35 per cent of people said this tradition is no longer necessary, with 40 per cent of people arguing it should be preserved. The remaining 25 per cent were unsure.

Similarly, Google search data finds that some are seeking ways to go against the traditional norms of a wedding. The term “non traditional wedding dresses” was searched 1,000 times in October 2020. The similar term “non white wedding dresses” was also searched 880 times in the month. 

Wedding Favours

As for the wedding favours and gifts that are given to guests by the bride and groom to show their appreciation, not everyone thinks this gesture should be essential. The YouGov survey found that 45 per cent of people think this tradition should be dropped, while only 27 per cent think this should be kept. 28 per cent of people were unsure.

Partners and Promises

One wedding promise that was historically expected was for the bride to obey her partner. With the rise of feminism playing a prevalent role in the structure of society, it seems the majority of people agree that this patriarchal expectation should be dropped. 69 per cent of people agree this should be dropped, with just 16 per cent of people thinking it should be preserved. The remaining 15 per cent said they don’t know.  

Parents and Permission

Another traditional act that often occurs before the proposal is the man asking his partner’s parents for permission to marry her. Although this tradition is thought to be an act of sincerity that shows the girlfriend’s father you have pure intentions, not everyone thinks this is necessary anymore. The YouGov poll found 52 per cent of people agree that this is not important, while 30 per cent said they think this tradition should be kept. The remaining 18 per cent were unsure.

After all, it’s your partner’s choice to marry you, not their parents!

Which Traditions Remain Important in the UK?

Not every wedding tradition is declining in popularity in the UK. In fact, it appears that some remain important for the majority of people.

May You Have This Dance?

According to the same YouGov survey, yes, the first dance tradition is still hugely popular. It is voted to be preserved by 73 per cent of people. Only 7 per cent thought it should be dropped, with the remainder unsure.

Not only that, but a lot of soon-to-be-married couples are wanting to know how to have an entirely dance-themed wedding, with the term “dance wedding” searched 720 times in September 2020.

Speech, speech, speech!

The YouGov data finds that the best man’s speech, whether it be a complimentary one or alternatively rather humorous, continues to be of importance to the majority of people on their wedding day. 71 per cent of people agreed this tradition should remain, with just 10 per cent thinking this should be abolished.

It seems that many are turning to the likes of Google on advice for their speech too, with the term ‘best man speech template’ being searched 1,300 times in September 2020.

From wedding venues to dresses, this data found that the UK continues to move away from traditionality on their big day, instead embracing a sense of modernity that society presents to us. That isn’t to say that traditional weddings shouldn’t happen however – just don’t feel obliged to stick to the unwritten rules on your big day!

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