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Here Comes the Bride!

Its sometimes claimed to be the biggest day of your life. Indeed, many little girls spend hours fantasising about their dream wedding, whether it occurs on a bouncy castle dressed as Sharpe (mine) or on the Eiffel Tower to Prince William (my sisters). Yet how much do we know about this most hallowed of institutions? Why are certain traditions set in stone? Read on...

Why a white wedding? Although we associate weddings with pomp, ceremony and swathes of white, its a more recent tradition than youd think. Mary, Queen of Scots provoked shock when she wore white to her first wedding in 1558- it was normally a colour of mourning. She seems to have been well ahead of her time; it wasnt till Queen Victorias wedding to Prince Albert in 1840 that the colour caught on in popular imagination. This seems to have been more for reasons of etiquette than aesthetics; the prudish authors of these tomes said the white dress had connotations of innocence and purity, i.e. qualities every good Victorian bride was expected to have.

Something old, something new... Despite its prevalence, the origins of Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue remain on the murky side. An additional line thats often overlooked today And a sixpence in her shoe suggests a British link. Its earliest known appearance is in a Pennsylvanian newspaper, where its described as a Puritan custom. Wherever it came from, its one of the best known marriage customs. It even made an appearance in Doctor Who- where all four criteria apply to the TARDIS!

Wedding customs Every culture has its own wedding customs and superstitions. While some are easily understandable (you dont want the groom to see the bride, itll spoil the surprise!), others are downright dotty. How would a veil prevent a Roman bride from being spirited away? If anything, the Biblical story of Jacob is a compelling reason against

wearing a veil- the poor sap only realised hed married the wrong sister after the service. Its a shame others have passed into obscurity. I personally much prefer the old custom of kissing over a pile of cakes to one elaborate cake with figurines. And if youre 1) a total butterfingers and 2) unmarried, catching the bouquet is never going to be your forte!

The Wedding March The best known theme played at weddings is Felix Mendelssohns Wedding March in C Minor. It was actually written to open Act Five of A Midsummer Nights Dream, though seldom played in performances of the play today. The first prominent wedding to use it was that of Victoria, the Princess Royal to Prince Frederick William of Prussia. While traditionalists continue to use it, a couple can walk down to the aisle to practically any tune of their choice. My mum always loved Jesu, Joy of Mans Desiring- a pity it was played by a tone deaf organist!

Notable weddings Theres nothing the Western world loves more than a wedding. The recent wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (a real blow to my sister!) was watched by 24.5 million viewers worldwide. While these figures pale beside those of Williams parents- a mind boggling 750 million- it still shows the Brits love a street party.

Wedding fever Our enthusiasm for weddings remains unquenched. Practically every romantic comedy features a wedding in some shape or form- the undisputed king, Four Weddings and a Funeral, obviously features four! Already occasions of high drama, films love to play with every possible combination: the groom being unfaithful, somebody being exposed as a bigamist, the bride falling in love with somebody else, someone getting jilted at the altar... A surprise hit of recent years is BBC Threes Dont Tell the Bride. The straightforward premise- the groom organising the entire thing- has resulted in some truly gut wrenching moments!

Want to know more? Follow these useful links!

Wedding Customs Around the World: If you thought British customs were wacky, take a look at these!

Wedding and Gems: A boutique for gorgeous, classy bridal accessories. A must have if you love Swarovski crystals!

Wedding Cakes.co.uk: The UKs number one choice of wedding cake provider.