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- Xiangtan University, Online Postgraduate (Phd Doctors) English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas...
Speaking Lesson: Wedding Customs and Traditions
The objectives of this lesson are to make students aware of the wedding
customs in the UK and to generate discussion about births, deaths and
marriages in both China and the UK. To increase the students participation
in lessons and to help give more confidence in speaking to the class in
Lesson Activities: Students
will act out an English wedding and also a Chinese wedding ceremony. Open
discussion about births, deaths and marriages.
Weddings in the UK:
(NOTE: Woman =
"Bride", Man = "Groom")
Old, something New, something Borrowed and something Blue" -
Traditional, well known rhyme, which list some things the Bride must wear
when she gets married.
The A to Z of Weddings...
A is for ALBUM - Your
wedding day is unique and pictures of this special day are unique too,
because as the memory fades they will be a constant, vivid reminder of your
happiest moments. So ensure you have perfect photographs by employing a
B is for BRIDE AND
BRIDESMAIDS - Once the wedding date is set the bride will have a full diary
right until the big day. One of your first tasks is to choose your
bridesmaids. The bridesmaids job is to help the bride on the wedding day.
Another pleasurable task is choosing your wedding dress, whether it is going
to be made, bought or loaned and assist your bridesmaids in choosing their
outfits. Together with the groom you will decide on your guest list, send
invitations, book the wedding cars, reception, photographer and flowers, so
the sooner the planning starts the easier it will be. A bridesmaid is
usually a sister of the bride or groom or a close friend of the bride.
C is for CHURCH - Once
you have decided to marry in a church and set the date, it is important you
see the church minister as soon as possible. Once you have booked the church
the minister will offer you advice on the form of service, choice of hymns
and wedding music.
D is for DATE - Whether
it is booking the church or reception venue, selecting your photographer or
choosing your flowers, remember to book early to avoid disappointment.
E is for ENTERTAINMENT -
If you have decided to have an evening reception, as well as booking a
suitable venue, you have to think about the type of entertainment you
require whether you want a live group or band or a disco. Today most people
have discos, but before booking a certain DJ ensure he can meet all your
requirements. For instance, can he play all ranges of music from waltzes for
the older guests to the latest sounds around?
F is for FLOWERS - The
wedding bouquet and wedding flowers are an important part of your wedding
and must be chosen with great care. The wedding bouquet must complement your
dress, while the bridesmaids' bouquets must suit their dresses. There is a
choice between fresh or silk flowers for bouquets, garland and corsages, The
florist will advise you on your choice and you may well prefer the beautiful
fragrance and natural beauty of fresh flowers. It is also a good idea, if
possible, to take a piece of cloth from your wedding dress and bridesmaids'
dresses to the florist.
G is for GROOM AND BEST
MAN - The groom and best man must also look after their wedding attire.
(Best man is the best friend of the Groom) If it is going to be morning
suits they will have the choice of whether to hire or buy their suits. If it
is going to be ordinary suits then again they can buy or hire dark suits,
but if hiring, it is important to reserve your suits early. The groom
chooses the best man and ushers, pays for the ring, fees and gifts for the
bridesmaids and ushers, flowers, transport and traditionally the honeymoon.
H is for HONEYMOON - Put
yourself in the hands of a reputable travel company whether you are
honeymooning in this country or abroad. It is also important to go to a
travel agency early to ensure you get the dates and destination you want.
I is for INVITATIONS -
For anything other than a very small wedding, printed or engraved
invitations are the most convenient. Most stationers have samples so it is a
good idea to look through a few books and get comparative quotations before
making your final choice. It is a good idea to post invitations at least six
weeks ahead to give people a chance to plan ahead and note down your replies
for the catering numbers.
J is for JEWELLERY - It
is a good idea to start looking for your wedding rings three months ahead in
case they need altering. Very often the groom will buy the bridesmaids an
item of jewellery, such as a cross and chain or bracelet, as his wedding
K is for KISS - When the
minister or registrar utters those famous words, 'kiss the bride', you know
your wedding day worries were unfounded it's gone like a dream!
L is for LOVE - Your
wedding day is the start of a lifetime of love and sharing together, so
ensure everything is well planned and organised in advance so you won't miss
a minute of this unique day.
M is for MORTGAGE - Most
newlyweds wish to start off married life in their own home and plans for
house buying must start as soon as possible. House particulars are available
from estate agents and once you have viewed a property you wish to buy, the
next stage is to arrange a mortgage.
N is for - NEWSPAPER
ANNOUNCEMENTS - If you wish, news of your engagement and forthcoming
marriage can be placed in your local newspapers. Most wedding photographers
will also ensure that a wedding day photograph will appear in your local
0 is for OUTFITS - As
well as choosing your beautiful wedding dress you must also decide what
other outfits you will require. For instance, if you are having an evening
reception are you going to wear your wedding dress so guests who are
attending only the reception can see it? Or are you having a separate
P is for PRESENTS - One
ideal way of coping with wedding presents is to compile a wedding list which
you can give to all your guests to give them ideas of what you really need.
Include the complete price range of gifts so no-one feels obliged to 'spend
a fortune'. Keep a master list for yourself so you know which items are
being bought for you.
Q is for QUEST FOR THE
BEST - Obviously, you want everything to be perfect for your wedding day, so
it is always a good idea to allow yourself to shop around and compare
services and prices.
R is for RECEPTION -
When organising your reception you must decide whether or not you require an
evening reception, and if you are going to have the same venue throughout
S is for SPEECHES -
Speeches are an important part of a wedding, but they should be brief,
sincere and humorous if possible. The bride's father or an old family friend
proposes a toast to the bride and groom's health. The bridegroom replies and
should thank those who have given the wedding.
T is for TRANSPORT -
Wedding cars should be booked as early as possible. As most people have
their own cars, sometimes the only cars required are for the attendants,
immediate family and you and your father. Don't forget to check your travel
arrangements one week before the wedding.
U is for USHERS - Formal
church weddings require a minimum of three ushers. They hand out service
sheets to guests on arrival and show them to their seats. The bride's family
is on the left-hand side of the altar, the bridegroom's on the right. The
ushers are chosen by the groom and his best man and are usually brothers,
close relatives or friends.
V is for VIDEO - Having
a professional video made of your wedding day is the ideal way of keeping
cherished memories alive.
W is for WEDDING CAKE -
Your wedding cake should be moist, rich and beautiful and it should
photograph well X is for the kiss that started it.
Y is for why WORRY? - If
you have followed our guide everything will be well organised and go without
Z ... zzz - Is for
sleeping peacefully knowing you will have a splendid day.
Weddings - The Legal
Requirements: If you wish to marry in England
and Wales you may do so either by civil or religious ceremony. A civil
ceremony can take place at a register office or other premises approved by
the local authority for marriages (e.g. hotel, stately home etc.) A
religious ceremony can take place at a Church or Chapel of the Church of
England or Church of Wales or any other place of worship which has been
formally registered by the Registrar General for marriages.
You must not be related to each other in a way that is forbidden by Law. The
minimum legal age for getting married is 16 years old. In England and Wales
the written consent of the parents or Guardians is required for persons who
have not reached 18 years old and have not been previously married. If
either of the persons is below 18 a birth certificate must be produced. It
is preferred that all persons produce such evidence.
Both partners must be acting by their own consent.
Second and subsequent
marriages: There is no limit to the number of
marriages you can enter into providing you are free to do so. That is you
are widowed or have been divorced and granted a decree absolute. Evidence
will be required to be produced i.e. original death certificate or divorce
absolute certificate with the original court seal. (photocopies are not
If you wish to marry by civil ceremony, that is at a register office or
other approved building for civil marriage, you should first contact the
Superintendent Registrar of the district where you wish to marry. You may
marry at any register office or approved premises of your choice in England
and Wales. However, for a marriage in an approved premises, you will need to
make arrangements at the venue in question. In addition you will need to
give a formal notice of your marriage to the Superintendent Registrar of the
district(s) where you live.
Church of England or
Church of Wales: If you wish to be married in
the Church of England or Church of Wales - and generally you will be able to
so so only if you or your partner live in the parish - you should first
speak to the Vicar. If he is able to marry you he will arrange for the Banns
to be called on three Sundays before the day of the ceremony or for a common
licence to be issued. The marriage will also be registered by the Vicar and
there is generally no need to involve the local Superintendent Registrar.
Other places of
religious worship: If you wish to marry by
religious ceremony other than the Church of England or Church of Wales you
should first arrange to see the Minister or other person in charge of
marriages at the building. However, the Church or religious building in
question must be in the registration district where you or your partner
live. It will also be necessary to give formal notice of your marriage to
the Superintendent Registrar of the district(s) where you live. A registrar
may also need to be booked.
The legal formalities:
Unless you are marrying in the Church of England or Church of Wales by Banns
or Common Licence You and / or your partner must attend personally at the
register office for the district(s) where you live and give notice of your
marriage to the Superintendent Registrar.
Notice of marriage can
be given in one of two ways:
Superintendent Registrar's certificate without licence. This is the most
common form of notice and a form giving the couples names and addresses,
ages and location of the ceremony will have to be completed together with a
declaration that there is no legal objection to the marriage.
If both partners reside in the same registration district. Each partner must
have lived in that district for at least seven days prior to giving notice
to the Superintendent Registrar of that district. Either party may give
If the couple reside in
different districts to each other, then each person must give notice in
his/her district or either party must give notice in both districts. However
notice cannot be given until both persons have lived in their respective
districts for at least seven days.
After the Superintendent
Registrar has established that he can take notice of marriage, it is entered
into a marriage notice book and a statutory form is displayed on a public
notice board for 21 clear days. (This is the equivalent period that banns
are published in the Church of England) The reason for this is to allow
anyone who has any objection to the marriage to register his objection.
A certificate of
marriage is then issued (Not a Marriage Certificate which is issued after
the wedding) and held at register office until the day of marriage. If
notice of marriage is given in two districts, then one should be collected
by the couple as it will have to be produced before the ceremony can go
The marriage has to take
place after 21 days and within one year of Notice of marriage having been
given. If the marriage is postponed beyond the one year fresh notice will
have to be given. (e.g. if notice is given on 1 July the marriage may take
place on or after the 23 July)
Registrar's certificate and licence 'Special Licence':
This requires that one of you has lived in the registration district for at
least 15 days prior to giving notice at the register office. Your partner
need only be resident of or be physically in England and Wales on the day
notice is given. This is a more expensive option but it then allows a
marriage to take place after only one clear day of giving notice ( excluding
a Sunday, Christmas Day or Good Friday). Be ready to provide certain
documents to show the Superintendent Registrar these may include a passport
or some other form of identification. If either of you are divorced you will
need to show a decree absolute of your divorce. (e.g. you can give notice on
a Monday and be married on the Wednesday)
How far in advance to
book: A notice of marriage is valid for one
year. You may therefore not give notice of marriage to the Superintendent
Registrar more than a year before the date of the Wedding. The sooner you
arrange to book the marriage the more likely it is that you will get the
date and time of your choice. The Superintendent Registrar will be able to
give you more precise information in this respect.
When you visit the Superintendent Registrar or Vicar to make the formal
arrangements you will need to produce certain documents, for example if you
have been married before a decree absolute of divorce bearing the court's
original stamp, or if your previous spouse has died a certificate of death.
It would also be useful
if your birth certificate or passport (or some identity document) could be
produced. Photocopies are unlikely to be accepted. Other documents may also
be needed depending on the circumstances, for example, the consent of
parents to a marriage where one of the partners is under the age of 18 years
old. If you are not able to provide any of the above documents the
Superintendent Registrar will explain what other documents may be
Notice of marriage must
be given in person to the Superintendent Registrar by one or both of the
partners. No one else can do so on their behalf. Where an advance booking
for marriage has been made it is essential that a formal notice is given to
the Superintendent Registrar once it is within three months of the marriage.
The earliest recorded
diamond engagement ring was given to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 by her fiance,
Archduke Maximilian of Hapsburg. Although until the 19th Century only
royalty and the very rich could afford diamonds, little did Maximilian know
that he would set a trend for so many centuries.
The bride stands on the left and the groom on the right, so that the groom's
sword-hand always remains free. This dates back the days when a groom
kidnapped his bride-to-be and might, in the middle of the ceremony, be
called upon to fend off intruders.
The bride's family is on
the left-hand side of the altar, the bridegroom's on the right.
The right of women to
propose to men on the February 29 each leap year, goes back hundreds of
years, when the day had no recognition in English law. It was considered
that the day also had no legal status – thus it was reasonable to assume
that tradition had no status, so women took advantage of this and proposed
to the man they wanted to marry. Women who want to take advantage of this
ancient tradition can put it to the test on February 29 next year, in the
fertility. Paper confetti and rose petals are a modern substitute for rice
and corn, the symbol of a full harvest and therefore abundance.
Something old stands for
a link with the past, ensuring that friends will be faithful, and can cover
a myriad of things from jewellery to a veil. Something new looks to the
future, success in a new life; and must be either something newly made or
never worn before. Something borrowed is where the family can contribute and
refers to a link with the present, indicating that the bride takes with her
the love of her family. The idea is to borrow something small and perhaps
precious – a prayer book, a veil, a piece of jewellery, a hair decoration
– but it should be returned after the wedding. And something blue? Blue is
the colour of fidelity and can be worn to be seen, as in a blue trim, sash
or flower in the bride's bouquet, or hidden from view, a sexy garter for
The wedding cake has
symbolised fertility since Roman times and the custom of the bride cutting
the first slice was supposed to ensure a fruitful marriage. On the wedding
cake there should be a few silver horseshoes – silver stands for luck –
and horseshoes for protection against the devil.
White is always
considered the traditional colour of wedding dresses, the sign of purity,
but this is a fairly recent idea dating back to the late 18th Century. Long
hair hanging down her back was an earlier sign of the bride's virginity.
As the 19th Century
began, the fashion was for white and gold as women aspired to resemble the
classical Greek statue. In the mid 1920s fashion took on a very different
look. The great designer Coco Channel kept her boyish look for day but her
bridal gowns were feminine and simple. The feminine woman returned in the
1930s, personified by Greta Garbo. Wedding dresses for this period were of
simple well-cut design, worn with a small coronet on the back of a short
hairstyle to create the effect of height and gracefulness.
It's considered bad luck
for a bride to try on her complete wedding outfit before the wedding day.
And don't be surprised if you find a hair sewn into a handmade dress – to
do this is supposed to bring good luck to the seamstress...
The bridegroom does not
have too many superstitions attached to him, but he must not drop his hat or
the ring. Should the bride have to help him put the ring on her finger he
can expect her to be boss in future. On no account must he go back for
anything after the wedding journey has begun, any money he pays out during
the day should be in odd sums, and he must ensure that no telegrams are
handed to him on the way to the church.
Ubest man was known as
the groomsman. The groomsman was originally present to ensure the capture of
the bride. His only qualification was that he should be unmarried, but today
many grooms choose married best men.
Brides and grooms-to-be can register with a department store and compile a
list of presents they'd like chosen from the stock in the shop. Then all the
guests have to do is go along or telephone, say how much they want to spend
and pick the gift from the list that suits their budget. As each gift is
bought, it's ticked off the list so no one else can buy it. Most wedding
services will wrap and deliver for you.
The Best man.... how to
plan the ultimate stag night: The origin of the
custom of holding such a night is unknown, but what is known is that it's
likely to be the last big party the intended will have before his days as a
single man are up. Traditionally the Stag night has taken place on the eve
of the wedding. But this is not the case now, as there needs to be time to
There are many different
interpretations of the "Stag Night" ranging from a drink up the
pub one evening to a week away abroad with the lads, although a typical Stag
Night would probably consist of a daytime activity (such as go-karting or
clay pigeon shooting) followed by a pub crawl or nightclub. The best man
would nowadays organise the whole event taking special care to ensure that
some sort of embarrassment befalls the groom (A photographic record of this
is a must for future blackmail.).
Ideas For Stag Night
Go Kart Racing (indoor or outdoor)
Quad bike racing
Clay Pigeon Shooting
Overnight Ferry Trip
The Wedding Reception:
The Bride and Groom will have left the church first so they should arrive at
the reception venue first, closely followed by the parents. A Receiving Line
should quickly be formed to receive the guests and at the head of the line
should be the parents of the Bride as they are technically the hosts. Next
should come the Groom’s parents followed by the Bride and Groom, and
various attendants which is an optional choice. If the reception is a
smaller less formal affair, the Bride and Groom may welcome the guests on
The Wedding Cake:
The cake is normally cut by the Bride and Groom after the speeches and
toasts and photographs will be taken at the same time. Many of the guests
will probably want to take a photograph so there should be some clear space
around the table holding the cake. The Bride and Groom having made the
initial cut, the caterers will cut the cake into small pieces and distribute
it to the guests. Where the cake is in several tiers, the top tier will be
kept intact to be used for the first child’s Christening. To make the cut,
the Bride holds the knife and the Groom places his hand on hers. If the
icing is hard Royal icing it can be given a start earlier on by using a
sharp knife heated in boiling water to break the surface which will avoid
any messy damage.
The departure of the
Bride and Groom: An enterprising Best Man and
the Bride’s and Groom’s friends will probably have comprehensively
decorated the car in which they are to leave the reception with the
traditional tin cans and crazy foam. It could be wise to have a second car
secreted not too far away to continue the journey in but do not disappoint
your guests by not leaving initially in the decorated car. The Best Man will
announce the departure of the Bride and Groom who will at some stage of the
proceedings have changed into their going-away outfits. Everyone can then
join in the fun as they depart, throwing rice and confetti.
This is the traditional holiday which the married couple take after the
Wedding Customs and
The Wedding Cake:
No matter how great a cook the bride is, she must not make her own cake or
she doom herself to working hard all her life. Neither must she sample a bit
of it prior to serving it on her wedding day. The first slice must be cut by
the bride or the couple be childless. Nowadays it has become tradition for
the husband to assist in the operation by laying his hand over hers while
she is cutting. This "cutting by committee" approach is said to
signify that the couple announces it will share all possessions.
The Wedding Dress:
The color of the gown is deemed crucial in terms of what sort of luck it
will attract to the marriage. White, silver, blue, pink, and gold are now
considered the luckiest shades. Blue has always been popular because it
signifies constancy, and often bridal favors are deliberately shaded this
color to take advantage of its lucky properties. Nothing black should be
worn by the bride, else she risks becoming a young widow. Green is also an
unfortunate colour because of its associations with fairies, and its wearing
is also said to foretell a change into clothes of mourning. Green has been
deemed so unlucky that in Lowland Scotland neither bride nor guests would
consider wearing it to a wedding. Brown is avoided because of an old belief
that says those who wear it "will never live in town," a statement
taken to mean their husbands will never rise in business or otherwise
acquire riches that would enable the family to move up to finer
surroundings. Purple is out because it is seen as a mourning color.
Married in white, You
have chosen a right.
Married in blue, Your lover is true.
Married in pink, Your fortunes will sink.
Married in green, You will not long be seen.
Married in red, You'll wish you were dead.
Married in yellow, Ashamed of the fellow.
Married in brown, You'll live out of town.
Married in grey, You'll live far away.
Married in black, You'll wish you were back
The Wedding Ring: In Western society, the
wedding ring is a deeply significant item, with its never-ending circlet of
gold symbolizing a love without end. It is placed on the third finger of the
left hand because ancient Greek physicians were convinced a vein ran from
that finger straight to the heart. To lose or break the wedding ring is to
foreshadow the end of the marriage through the loss of the husband. He will
die, be unfaithful, or some unforeseen disaster will befall him.
We throw confetti or rice to wish the happy couple a fruitful marriage. The
well-wishers' showering of the pair with colored bits of paper or dried
grain acts out the community's desire to see the newlyweds showered with
blessings from above, with those blessings interpreted as a houseful of
The Wedding Bouquet
(Flowers): These days the bride throws her
bouquet to all the unmarried females present, the person who catches the
bouquet is said to be the next bride. Customarily, the bride turns her back
on the assembled maidens and flings her bouquet over her shoulder without
looking, thus leaving fate a free hand.
Carrying the Bride over
the Threshold (Doorway): There is an old custom
of having the groom carry his bride over the threshold. Nowadays, that
threshold has come to mean the doorway into their hotel room, but those who
are going to an actual house should play it safe and treat both the main
door and the door to the bedroom as important thresholds.
Not seeing the Bride:
Modern custom dictates that bride and groom not see each other before the
ceremony. Generally, the pair must part ways no later than before midnight
the evening prior to the big day. On the wedding day itself, the groom
should even avoid entering his bride's home. This stricture against seeing
one another is carried so far that grooms are cautioned not to look at their
brides until they both stand at the altar. He must not even turn to watch
her as she makes her way up the aisle, but should stand with his back to the
The Wedding Day:
Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday's the best of all. Thursday
brings crosses, and Friday losses, but Saturday - no luck at all.
The Wedding Vows: The wedding service vows can
be altered by the couple if they wish to write their own. a more
traditional wedding will use the following vows:
Who Gives this Woman to
be married to this man?
("I do" or
"Her mother and I do" or "We do")
Dearly Beloved, We are
Gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the Face of this company,
to join together this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony; which is an
honourable estate, instituted of God, and therefore, is not by any to be
entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly and
advisedly, and in the fear of God. Into this holy estate, these two persons
present come now to be joined. If any man or any woman can show just cause,
why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him or her speak, or else
hereafter forever hold his or her peace.
(Groom), Wilt thou have this woman to be thy wedded wife, to live together
after God's ordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her,
comfort her, honour and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking
all others, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?
If so, please answer I
(Bride), wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together
after God's Ordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love him,
comfort him, honour, and keep him in sickness and in Health; and, forsaking
all others, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?
If so, please answer I
_____________(Groom) please repeat after me: I ________________(groom) take
thee _________________(bride) to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold,
from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in
sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.
_____________(Bride) please repeat after me: I __________________(bride)
take thee _________________(groom) to be my wedded husband to have and to
hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in
sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.
Do you have your rings? Please take the ring you are going to give your
wife, and place it on her proper finger, and repeat after me:
With This ring, I thee wed.
Please take the ring you are going to give your husband, and place it on his
proper finger, and repeat after me: With This ring, I thee wed.
Bless, oh Lord, the rings, that each who gives it, and each who wears it,
may abide in thy peace, and continue in thy favour. Those whom God hath
joined together, let no man or woman put asunder. For as much as
________________ and _________________ have consented together in holy
wedlock, have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto,
have given and pledged their troth, each to the other, and have declared the
same by giving and receiving a right, and by joining hands; I pronounce that
they are, Husband and Wife. You May Kiss Your Bride.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I now introduce to you as Husband and Wife,