wedding traditions

Wedding Traditions

manchester town hall documentary wedding photographer vintage citroen wedding car


Wedding Traditions. What to Have, what Not to Have.

Congratulations, you’re engaged! And now the adventure begins as everyone and their dog tells you just exactly how and what you should have on your wedding day.
Your mum will want one thing… you will want the opposite… your best friend who got married last year will also want you to have it just like them. There will be numerous outings to cringe worthy wedding fairs, you will wonder if you actually need Save the Date stationery and organza chair covers (the answer here is definitely not!), you will be forced into wedding gowns you wouldn’t be seen dead in, and people will start to ask you what colour scheme or theme you’ll be having.
And breathe…
Whether you’re having an intimate city wedding with a handful of people in your favourite boozer, or a big lavish affair in a country house, your wedding should reflect who you are.
You don’t have to endure a church service or register office if you don’t want to… you can get hitched in a variety of amazing places these days including barns and art galleries. Lots of my clients opt to do the paperwork at the town hall the day before and have a celebrant such as the amazing Zena Birch, or their best friend conduct a much more personal service in a woodland or in their own garden.
woodland wedding ceremony camp katur relaxed wedding photography yorkshire
There is no law against not having confetti, a string quartet or even a wedding cake. If you would prefer a wedding pie.. go right ahead. If you prefer to have a fanfare of guests playing a Beatles Medley on Kazoos… well, feel free. I do love a kazoo. 


Most brides still opt for white or cream gowns to get hitched in, but occasionally I see a little break from the norm as trouser suits, two piece outfits complete with pockets, and gold sequinned gowns occasionally make an appearance. As for the Morning Suit and top hat… they are still popular with some grooms but I see less and less of them these days. Instead, the gentlemen have taken to wearing much more stylish outfits including hip tuxedos, a lovely bit of tweed complete with bow ties, and sharp bespoke suits from a local tailor. Whatever you wear, make sure you feel comfortable in it and ladies, if you buy a tight-fitting gown, try sitting down in it first! And don’t forget if you’re wearing high heels all day, to bring some comfy trainers for the dance floor. 
healey barn wedding photographer groomsmen portrait


The traditional thing about your dad walking you down the aisle is still very popular. But lots of my couples are opting to walk down together these days with some having a ‘first look’ prior to the ceremony. It all comes down to what you want as a couple and your family circumstance. I’ve had brides accompanied down by their sons, by mums and granddads. I’ve had them walk down on their own, and with both parents too. I always feel the groom gets a little left out of the coming down the aisle, so if you fancy making a big entrance, use some music and milk it for all its worth. 


When it comes to bridesmaids and groomsmen, you can of course, mix it up a little.  I’ve shot BridesMen (some of which wore fake boobs, dresses and wigs), and Best Women in tailor-made suits. I’ve had bridesmaids in multi-coloured dresses and groomsmen wearing shorts – it matters not a jot, just as long as you love it. Likewise flowers. If you’ve always dreamed of a big beautiful bouquet created by an incredible florist, then fabulous. If you prefer something a little more diy… lovely.
boho bridesmaids in flower crowns adel church wedding photographer


Just because you’re dad wants you to arrive in style in a vintage motor, doesn’t mean you can rule out arriving by Camper Van in true festival style (check out the lovely Dylan from Liberty Campers).  Some brides prefer to hop in a taxi, or climb aboard a vintage bus, I’ve even had a groom arrive in the DeLorean… yes, that’s the DeLorean.  I’m still waiting for the day the bride arrives in an ice-cream van or on the back of a Vespa but I live in hope. Whether you fancy hopping on the back of a tractor, arriving on a tandem or on a Monster truck (that was quite something), do your wedding transport your way. I do still love a grand old vintage motor tho.  
And for the record, it doesn’t matter which way up your mum’s corsage goes, which leg your garter goes on, or whether or not you have a first dance.
Colshaw Hall Wedding Photography


It is the law however, that you have confetti… nah just joking. But if you do decide on confetti, try and do lovely flower petals (lavender is great plus it smells amazing) instead of traditional paper and don’t rely on your guests to bring confetti – order your own and get your little flower girls to hand it out immediately after the ceremony.
confetti, documentary, wedding, photographer, yorkshire


In recent years, the very old fashioned receiving line has gone out of fashion.. but occasionally it makes a reappearance. If you really want a receiving line (and the more traditional venues practically insist on it) remember to build 20 minutes into your timeline so that you have chance to speak to every guest that comes your way. So instead of having an hour and a half between the end of your ceremony and sitting down for dinner, opt for a nice two hours so there’s no rushing about and chef isn’t stressing.


When it comes to speeches, there’s no law that says the bride can’t make a speech and that the groom definitely has to. Unless you are a good orator, keep it short and simple. But remember, this isn’t a slideshow presentation for work.. it’s a wedding. If your dad doesn’t want to speak but your mum is practically chomping at the bit, get her to do it. I’ve seen amazing bridesmaids speeches including specially written poetry, and I’ve also seen 12 best men all do a joint speech at a wedding – yes it took forever! I’ve seen groomsmen fall flat and get over emotional because they’re just not used to standing up and speaking in front of an audience, and I’ve seen a couple of best men who filmed an entire sequence of a journey that ended by them bursting into the reception complete with inflatable horses! Speeches can be as long as you want or as short as you want, but give people a guideline and tell them to stick to it. 
documentary wedding photographer dewslake farm
Let’s get one thing straight. I love cake. But you do NOT have to have a cake. You certainly don’t have to have a cake full of white traditional icing if you don’t want it. Feel free to have a pork pie cake, a cheese cake, a slap of chocolate, a table full of mini desserts, a dog shaped wedding cake, or a full on 6 tier extravaganza. If you’re planning on ‘cutting the cake’, check that your venue provides a knife. 
chocolate brick windermere wedding photography
Feel free to spend a few hours on Pinterest (and you can check out some of my boards here for some amazing styling ideas and wedding decor), and visit countless venues, but most of all, to misquote Sinatra, remember to do it YOUR WAY…
Yorkshire wedding photographer,  Shelly Mantovani at  Toast of Leeds.  If you’re getting married in the future in a traditional ceremony or something a little more interesting, get in touch by visiting my photography website at or you can find me on TwitterFacebook Instagram or Pinterest.  I photograph weddings across the UK in tipis, barns, country houses and iconic hotels. For more information and to check availability, contact me now.

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