Not your average big day! British royal wedding traditions through the ages

How many of these did you know about?
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In recent years, royal couples have put their own modern twist on their wedding ceremonies.

Whether it was Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s gospel choir at the church service or Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank’s decision to throw a plastic-free affair, it’s clear to see the royals inject their own bit of flair into their big days, but there are always some age-old must-haves.

Keep scrolling to see the wedding traditions that have been carried down through generations of the British Royal Family.

Wedding rings made from Welsh gold

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Most of the modern royal ladies including The Queen Mother, The Queen, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, and Princess Diana have or had wedding rings made from the same nugget of Welsh gold, which came from a Welsh mine, Clogau St David’s at Bontddu.

However, even if they wanted to, no more future couples can have a ring made from that – only one gram of the original nugget remains and it’s locked in the Privy Purse Office.

The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex’s wedding rings are made from a 21-carat piece of Welsh gold given to the Queen by the Royal British Legion in 1981.

Prince Harry, who is the first male member of the royal family to wear a wedding ring, opted for platinum over a traditional gold one.

Carrying a sprig of myrtle in the bridal bouquet

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson on their wedding day in 1986.

(Image: Getty)

Back in the days of Queen Victoria, her husband Prince Albert’s grandmother gifted her a posey of myrtle. Since then it’s been grown at Queen Victoria’s old holiday home Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and has appeared in the bouquets of royal brides for good luck, starting with Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter.

Sarah Ferguson famously carried a bouquet in the shape of an “S,” designed by florist Jane Packer and made with gardenias, roses, lily of the valley, and, of course, that traditional sprig of myrtle.

Placing the bridal bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior

On the Queen Mother’s wedding day in 1923, she laid down her bridal bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey and walked down the aisle without her flowers.

This was a tribute to her brother Fergus, who died at the Battle of Loos in 1915 and the gesture paid tribute to those who were injured and lost their lives in the First World War. Since then, many royal brides have left their flowers on the grave after their wedding.

Even though her wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi took place during the 2020 lockdown, the latest royal bride, Princess Beatrice, sent her bouquet to Westminster Abbey after the ceremony to carry on the tradition.

Official photographs

A lot has changed since the Queen’s 1947 wedding day!

(Image: Getty)

It wouldn’t be a wedding without pictures, but when the most famous family in the UK is involved, a royal photography session is definitely in order.

The tradition started with Queen Victoria’s son Edward and his bride Alexandra, as before then it had been all about hand-painted portraits.

There’s often a lot of structure when it comes to these photographs but in more recent weddings, we’ve seen the royal couples’ personalities come out a little more.

Speaking to Town and Country in 2019, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s photographer Hugo Burnand recounted: “We finished with three minutes to spare so I asked Catherine if we could do the shot we had talked about previously. And she turned to William and said, ‘What do you think?’ And he said, ‘Let’s go for it,'” Hugo explained. “So in three minutes she sat down on the steps, Sarah Burton put the dress out perfectly, Prince William leant in, the children basically did what they felt was the right thing to do.”

He added: “That was a very spontaneous picture. That little detail there [points to Kate’s hand touching William’s knee] and William leaning in there, all these things were not directed, but a result of a good relationship with everyone.”

White wedding dress

It’s a nice day for a white wedding: Queen Victoria started this tradition at her wedding in 1840.

(Image: Getty)

Founder of the Australian School of Etiquette, Zarife Hardy tells Now To Love that the reason white is the colour of choice for royal brides goes back quite a few years.

“Queen Victoria was the first woman to start the white wedding dress. She wore it on her wedding day to Prince Albert in 1840, so now every bride wears a white dress because of her. Prior to that it was more ivory or cream.”

On her 2005 wedding day to Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall wore a cream dress and matching coat for the civil ceremony but opted for an embroidered pale blue and gold coat for the blessing at St George’s Chapel. This is most likely as it was her second marriage – she was previously married to Andrew Parker-Bowles.

Orange blossom

The Queen Mother wore an orange blossom wreath on her wedding day.

(Image: Getty)

Oh Queen Victoria, you are a bit of a trendsetter aren’t you!

Instead of wearing a tiara on her big day, Queen Victoria sported a wreath of orange blossom flowers as a symbol of chastity. Later on in their marriage, her husband Prince Albert gave her various orange blossom jewellery pieces too. How romantic!

Orange blossom has been incorporated into the bride’s wedding attire in different ways. The Queen Mother wore an orange blossom wreath like Queen Victoria did whereas when Queen Elizabeth married Prince Phillip, her wedding dress featured an orange blossom design made from tulle and outlined in seed pearls and crystal.

Whilst it didn’t appear in their bouquets or dresses, Catherine and Meghan made nods to orange blossom through their wedding day perfumes.

The Duchess of Cambridge’s signature scent was reported to be Jo Malone Orange Blossom after she requested that candles burned the scent in Westminster Abbey whilst Meghan’s official wedding fragrance was said to be inspired by the brand’s Bergamotto di Positano perfume, that features notes of the flower.

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