Today, Tomorrow, Always: A Linguistic Adventure in Weddingland
Planning a wedding is always a joyous and exciting experience. However, if you plan to attend (or even play a leading role in) the ceremony in English-speaking countries, you should know the most common wedding words and phrases.
It is essential since this knowledge simplifies general communication and makes the planning process and the nuptial as seamless and comfortable as possible. And we are happy to help you with it! Dive into this article, and learn useful terms and expressions for your big day.
Unique Wedding Traditions and Customs Worldwide
A wedding is always a happy event. And while the main concept remains the same in most countries, there are numerous unique traditions from all corners of the globe. We want to share some of the most exciting and unusual ones with you, so let’s start today’s article with this marital journey.
Weddings in the USA are unique and full of exciting traditions, and the rehearsal dinner is one of the most famous customs you can face in nuptial ceremonies. It is a pre-wedding event traditionally held the night before the marriage. The rehearsal dinner is an excellent opportunity for the couple, their families, and some close friends to practice the critical logistics. It helps ensure everyone involved in the wedding understands their role and what to expect during the ceremony.
Another famous tradition in the United States (which we believe you’ve heard about) comes from the age-old English rhyme. It’s called “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe.” While there are still some debates about the meaning of each phrase, here is the most common explanation:
- something old – the thing that will remind the couple about the past;
- something new – the thing that will give optimism and hope for the future;
- something borrowed – the thing you can take from a happily married friend as a symbol of luck and love;
- something blue – anything of this color, as in ancient times, people believed it would ward off the evil eye and stand for purity and fidelity.
As for the last phrase, silver sixpence in her shoe, it was used as a symbol of prosperity for the newlyweds. And even though this British coin no longer exists, some brides still do their best to find one in flea markets and antique stores.
General traditions in the UK are very similar, but each part of the country has its unique customs. For example, the concept of “eloping” or “sneaking away” is still very popular in Scotland. These wedding words mean “secretly leaving home to get married without permission.”
And why do full-grown adults need approval for the wedding? Well, the roots of this tradition go centuries back, when young people weren’t allowed to marry before a particular age. Although these rules are forgotten now, some couples still like to add spice and thrill to their ceremonies and choose to elope.
Brides of Wales also have their cute customs. They often add myrtle (a small tree with shiny leaves and white flowers) to their wedding bouquets. During the ceremony, the bride gives parts of the herb to her bridesmaids. There is a belief that if the bridesmaid plants the flower and it blooms, they will be the next one to get married. We think that this custom is amazing. No wonder Kate Middleton herself implemented it at her wedding!
Ukrainian weddings are known for their rich cultural heritage and vibrant celebrations. Modern ceremonies differ from traditional ones, but still contain many unique customs.
One of our favorites is called ransom. In this lighthearted tradition, the groom must endure various challenges and tasks to “ransom” his bride. The bridesmaids and family members set obstacles or playful demands, which the groom must fulfill by performing acts, solving riddles, or providing symbolic gifts until he successfully gets to his beloved.
Another unique custom is called veil removal. This one is touching and sincere and always tears guests’ eyes. In Ukrainian culture, the veil is a symbol of purity and modesty. During the wedding ceremony, it reveals the bride’s transition from maidenhood to married life. The person who removes the veil is the mother-in-law, showing that the bride is accepted in her new family. After that, the veil is replaced by another headdress, like a scarf, a shawl, or a kerchief.
Chinese wedding traditions are deeply rooted in ancient customs and cultural practices. One thing that differentiates the country’s ceremonies from other ones in the world is the red color prominently featured in weddings. The bride typically wears a red gown called a qipao or a traditional two-piece cheongsam dress. Red decorations, including lanterns and banners symbolize joy and good luck.
There is also a great tradition called “Yu Nu.” The couple participates in a ritual where the groom shoots a bow and arrow toward the bride. It symbolizes the pursuit of love and strengthening the bond between the newlyweds. If you already think this is dangerous and scary, don’t worry – of course, the arrow is not real; it is just a symbolic representation. Occasionally, the groom may shoot a red silk ribbon between the bride’s hands.
Our favorite German tradition is called Polterabend. It is a pre-wedding custom where friends and family gather to break dishes and pottery outside the bride- and groom-to-be house. This act is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the couple. The bride and groom then work together to clean up the mess, symbolizing their ability to overcome challenges in their marriage.
The following famous German tradition is similar to the previous one, as it symbolizes the couple’s ability to work together, overcome challenging obstacles, and share responsibilities in their future life. The custom is called “log cutting” or “log sawing,” and the name speaks for itself – the bride and groom try to cut the log in half using the two-handed saw.
Wedding Vocabulary 101: A Comprehensive List
Ah, with all this romance and love in the air, our minds slipped into a whirlwind of wedding charm. But don’t worry! We are still focused on the article’s main purpose. Now that you are acquainted with some worldwide customs and traditions, it is time to learn some terms and vocabulary about weddings. So buckle up and follow us on this fantastic adventure!
Essential Wedding-Related Terms
Learning wedding terms is a great way to expand your vocabulary and enhance general English skills. Below, we’ve compiled a list of basic and essential words associated with wedding.
- Bride – a woman who is getting married.
- Groom – a man who is getting married.
- Marrier – a gender-neutral term used to describe a person who is getting married.
- Reception – the celebration or party after the wedding ceremony.
- Ceremony – the formal and symbolic event where the marriage vows are exchanged.
- Maid of Honor – the chief attendant to the bride, typically a close friend or sister.
- Bridesmaids – the female attendants who assist the bride during the wedding.
- Best man – the chief male attendant to the groom.
- Page boy – a young male attendant accompanying the bride or groom during the ceremony.
- Flower girl – a young girl who walks down the aisle before the bride, scattering flower petals.
- Wedding vows – promises and declarations of the couple’s commitment made during the ceremony.
- Guest book – a special book where wedding visitants write their names and leave messages for the newlyweds.
- Honeymoon – a vacation taken by married couples shortly after the wedding.
These words cover some key elements and roles associated with the wedding. They represent the individuals involved, the ceremonial aspects, and the post-wedding celebrations. Learning this vocabulary is essential for anyone participating in the ceremony since it alters all the processes and overall communication.
Slang Wedding Terms and Phrases
While most marriage-related terms are quite obvious, many slang expressions and idioms still have a significant place in wedding ceremonies. And, of course, we want to share the most exciting ones with you! You can find them in the list below.
This term describes a bride who becomes excessively demanding or difficult during the wedding planning process. Although it is still quite popular nowadays, many people think it’s offensive, so make sure the person you want to describe with this term won’t consider you rude.
Example: She became a bridezilla, obsessing over every little detail of the wedding. She insisted on changing the flower arrangements thrice!
Example: The stress of wedding planning got to her, and she became a bridezilla, yelling at everyone involved in the preparations.
To tie the knot
This famous idiom is a synonym for the phrase “to get married.” This expression is rooted in Celtic culture, where the bride and groom tied or “fastened” their hands using knots of cloth during the wedding ceremony.
Example: After dating for five years, they finally decided to tie the knot and make their commitment official.
Example: They announced their engagement last month, and now they’re excited to tie the knot and start their life together.
This is another popular nuptial-related term that describes a wedding that happens quickly and hastily because the bride is pregnant. There is also a comedy movie with the same name, starring Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel.
Example: Jason and Kate had a shotgun wedding after finding out they were expecting their first child.
Example: The couple’s families were surprised by their sudden announcement of a shotgun wedding, but they supported them and helped plan the ceremony in record time.
This term refers to a marriage or a relationship with a significant age difference between the partners. The older person is called May, and the younger is December.
Example: Their marriage raised eyebrows due to the significant age difference – a classic May-December romance. However, their love and connection transcended the age gap.
Example: Despite being from different generations, they were drawn to each other and didn’t let the May-December aspect of their relationship bother them.
A match made in heaven
This idiom is usually used to describe a perfect couple. When we see two people who ideally suit each other and are meant to be together, we consider them a match made in heaven.
Example: Our friends always called me and my husband a match made in heaven. And I believe it’s true!
Example: Their compatibility and shared interests made them a match made in heaven. They’ve always seemed to be on the same wavelength.
Trouble and strife
Example: I better check with the trouble and strife before making any plans.
Example: I can’t go out with the lads tonight, got the trouble and strife’s birthday coming up.
To pop the question
The last idiom in our list refers to a marriage proposal. It showcases the unexpected circumstances of asking your partner the main question.
Example: He planned a romantic dinner by the beach to pop the question and make it a memorable moment.
Example: She had been dropping hints about getting engaged, so he knew it was the perfect time to pop the question.
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To sum up, understanding wedding terms and phrases is valuable for anyone planning to attend or participate in English-speaking weddings. This knowledge enhances communication and facilitates a seamless and comfortable experience throughout the planning process and ceremony. Additionally, exploring unique wedding traditions and customs from various countries adds a fascinating dimension to the cultural richness of weddings worldwide.
Are there any wedding-related words that can be naturally used in casual conversations?
Sure! Some terms that are related to weddings can be used in various contexts. For example, you can face such words as “guests,” “ceremony,” “vows,” and “reception” in different conversations, not always connected with nuptials. The idiom “to settle down,” which is often associated with finding a long-term partner and getting married, also means, in casual contexts, “to establish a stable and more permanent lifestyle.”
What are some popular wedding-related idioms?
Many idioms are often associated with weddings and marriages. Some of the most common ones include “a white wedding” (traditional and a little stereotypical ceremony), “to jump the broom” (Am. E. to get married, usually without any religious customs), and “to call it off” (to cancel the wedding).
What is a bridal shower?
It is a pre-wedding celebration, typically organized by the bride’s family or friends. It is a gathering where the bride is “showered” with gifts, well wishes, and advice for her upcoming marriage. It is an opportunity for close friends and family members to come together and have fun with the bride before the wedding day.
Is knowing wedding vocabulary essential for language learners?
The importance of such vocabulary depends on the learner’s specific needs and goals. Suppose they have a personal interest in this topic or plan to attend or participate in weddings in the English-speaking context. In that case, understanding specific terms and expressions will be beneficial. However, it is not considered essential for all language learners, as the focus may vary based on individual interests.