British wedding superstitions and traditions

Princess Diana and her bridesmaids all wore white. Photo by AP.Princess Diana and her bridesmaids all wore white. Photo by AP.There are certain wedding traditions and rituals we have come to expect in the U.S., but across the pond in the U.K., traditions are not quite the same. There are also some interesting superstitions that are still believed to this day. Here are a few you can expect to see and hear about surrounding Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding.

A bride should wear white, and so should her bridesmaids

Queen Victoria popularized the white wedding dress when she wed in 1840. Before, brides just wore their best dress for the ceremony. In the U.S., women are told never to wear white out of respect to the bride and to not detract attention from her on her big day, but the tradition is different in the U.K. An old superstition advises bridesmaids and groomsmen to dress similarly to the bride and groom to ward off evil spirits. Princess Diana had five little lookalikes at her wedding.

You may not kiss the bride?
The Church of England has a set script which may not be altered, so you may not write your own vows. This script does not include the last line, "You may now kiss the bride." Instead, Prince Charles and Princess Diana started a tradition of a public kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony, which Prince William and Kate Middleton are expected to replicate on Friday.

The bouquet
Queen Victoria had myrtle, the herb of love, in her wedding bouquet in 1840. After the wedding she planted a myrtle shrub at the Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, and each British royal bride since has placed a sprig of myrtle in her own bouquet.

A silver sixpense in your shoe is good luck. Photo by Thinkstock.A silver sixpense in your shoe is good luck. Photo by Thinkstock.Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, silver sixpence in your shoe
While Americans may be unfamiliar with the last line, it is believed that placing the old English coin in the bride's shoe will ensure future wealth.

Spiders aren't scary
If you find one in your wedding dress it is said to be good luck! Bad luck would be encountering a funeral on your way to the wedding.


There is no bridal shower
Royals expert, Carolyn Harris, of Queen's University says all the fanfare leading up to the wedding is more of a North American custom. British brides do have "hen parties" though, which are the equivalent of bachelorette parties. Pippa Middleton planned a "Dirty Dancing" themed event for Kate and her close friends. Prince Harry also organized a stag party (or bachelor party as we call it in the States) for Prince William and his buddies at a friend's country estate outside London.

No throwing of the bouquet!
After all the photos are taken, Kate Middleton's flower arrangement will be placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey. The memorial holds the remains of an unidentified soldier from World War I, and the tradition originated with the Queen Mother. She left her bouquet on the grave following her 1923 wedding to the then Duke of York in honor of her late brother, Fergus, who was killed at war in 1915.

Invite a chimney sweep

Their attendance at a wedding is also considered good luck! Apparently King George III was riding his horse in a royal procession when a dog bit the horse's legs and made the king completely lose control of his ride. A man rushed out to help and then disappeared into the crowd. When the king later went back to thank the man for saving his life, all he found out was that he was a chimney sweep. No word on if there's one on the guest list for Friday's event.

Kate Middleton was given Princess Diana's sapphire engagement ring. Photo by Getty Images.Kate Middleton was given Princess Diana's sapphire engagement ring. Photo by Getty Images.Diamonds aren't always a girl's best friend
Like flowers, jewels have different significant meanings. A sapphire (like in Princess Diana's ring that has been passed on to Middleton) symbolizes marital happiness.

"Here comes the bride" wasn't always played
And that isn't the real title, either. Princess Victoria played German composer Richard Wagner's "Bridal Chorus" during her wedding processional in 1858, establishing a new tradition. The tune comes from the 1850 opera "Lohengrin."

Bridesmaids are typically children
At Princess Diana's wedding, her bridesmaids were all little girls (see top photo). "Kate Middleton is altering this tradition somewhat in having an adult maid of honor-her sister, Pippa-but her other bridesmaids will be children," says Harris. The little ladies at Middleton's side will be Grace van Cutsem (William's goddaughter) and Eliza Lopes (Camilla Parker Bowles' granddaughter), who are both only three years old. Harris says, "a British royal groom would traditionally have two male supporters, but once again, William is following a more 'American' style by having his brother Harry as his best man." Bridal parties also can be much larger in the U.S., while two to four bridesmaids is the norm in the U.K.

There are lucky wedding days and months
According to superstition, each day of the week brings a different fate for a bride. Friday is considered very unlucky, and according to rhyme, if you wed on Friday "brides will suffer crosses." Meaning death. Kate and Will have chosen to ignore this old limerick, and go against the superstition. As for the month, the saying goes, "Marry in April when you can, joy for maiden and for man." See, the royal couple is destined for marital bliss after all!

Kate Middleton will take a Rolls Royce to her wedding. Photo by AP.Kate Middleton will take a Rolls Royce to her wedding. Photo by AP.Transportation

Most royal brides arrive alone in a horse-drawn carriage, but Kate Middleton will be traveling with her father in the queen's Rolls Royce Phantom. She selected the car with large windows to allow onlookers a great view. Middleton will exit the ceremony with Prince William in the same carriage that Charles and Diana used, a 1902 State Landau made for the coronation of Edward VII.

Gold wedding rings
The Queen Mother and every royal woman who has wed after her have included a piece of the same Welsh gold nugget in their wedding rings. Middleton's ring is expected to follow this tradition.

The queen must approve a royal marriage

Harris points out that according to the royal marriages act of 1776, the queen must give permission for the marriage of any person in line to the English throne. "When Prince Ernest of Hanover married Princess Caroline of Monaco a few years ago, it was necessary for him to get the queen's permission to retain his place, however distant, in the line of succession," says Harris. Prince William asked Kate Middleton's parents in advance for her hand, and Queen Elizabeth formally approved the marriage by signing an "Instrument of Consent." The document will be given to the couple once they are married.

The bride enters first
In the U.S., the procession order is flower girl, ring bearer, bridesmaids, bride and father. In the U.K. there is typically no flower girl. Young page boys and bridesmaids follow the bride down the aisle and are responsible for holding her train.

Let them eat fruit cake!
Forget those sugary vanilla weddings cakes-fruitcake is the tradition in the U.K, and Middleton has helped design a multi-tiered one decorated with white frosting, flowers, and fruit. Prince William has additionally requested that his childhood favorite chocolate biscuit cake be served.

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