With Christmas behind us and a New Year ahead, this has been a season full of festivity and tradition. I hope your holidays have been filled with friends and family, enjoying good food and of course, the occasional drink!

There are lots of traditions during this Holiday Season, many of which we are familiar with, such as singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ on New Years day (even if we are less than sure of the lyrics!) but there are many more traditions with which, we are less familiar today – for instance, how many of you opened your back door on the stroke of midnight to let the old year out?

And so, with my thoughts turning to the weddings coming up this year, it got me to thinking about those wedding traditions that have their roots in our past but which still have significance in contemporary wedding celebrations, primarily those traditions that have the intention of bringing the newly wed bride and groom lots of luck for their future together! I’ll start with one tradition that is quite close to my heart and to my own roots.

Love Spoons…

In Wales, the carving of love spoons is a centuries old tradition. Young men would lovingly carve a spoon from a single piece of wood to give to their loved one, not only as a symbol of their love and devotion but as proof of their capability to provide for the family. Practical skills in a husband are of course very desirable and in the past a beautifully carved spoon would demonstrate the young man’s skills. If a young man succeeded in capturing his girl’s heart, then the spoon would be treasured and proudly displayed on one of the walls of their home, much as a wedding photograph would be today. Thankfully, you can commission someone else to do the work, if, like me, your whittling efforts would be more likely to end in losing a finger than in an ornately carved gift! And that’s just what I did for my bride on her wedding day – as you can see above, I gave her a love spoon, with a detail of a bell between two hearts, on the morning before we were wed. The bell signifies that it was our wedding day and is also meant to indicate being together in harmony; the hearts, one for her and one for me, to indicate our love for each other! The original love spoons would likely have been quite simple by design but ever more intricate designs were created as time moved on and as young men vied for the attractions of their lady folk – the more complicated and difficult to carve, the more it was meant to symbolise the depth of the creator’s love and desire to labour on behalf of his loved one. It has also been suggested that the size of the spoon would reflect the carver’s love, spoons can vary considerably in size but then size isn’t everything is it?

My mum being Welsh, it was my parents that introduced me to this tradition. When my baby girl was first born, her nanny and grandpa bought her a love spoon, with the symbol of a dragon on it – not only a reminder of our welsh roots but also a symbol of protection. The walls of my childhood home were adorned with love spoons, both of the bought and paid variety as well as those my dad spent hours whittling away in the garage. My dad made love spoons for occasions such as wedding anniversaries, or, Valentines day but also for those occasions he might have found himself needing to say sorry.  And so, cast out of the house (I may exaggerate a little) he would carve my mum a love spoon in order to remind her of his love and to restore some harmony!  These gifts, borne out of celebration, or, apology, or, simply as a way to say ‘I love you’, provide a unique snapshot of my parents’ life together, quite unlike anything else – well they certainly beat flowers from the garage anyway!


Other traditions intended to bring luck and good fortune to married couples include incorporating horseshoes into the wedding décor. In Scotland, horseshoes have traditionally been sewn into the hem of dresses, or, carried by the ring bearer, or, added to bouquets. The horseshoe should always be carried with the open side facing up, by way of holding your luck in. Be careful not to point it down, as to do so, would allow your luck to fall away!

The Bells, the bells…

In Irish wedding tradition, it is popular to give bells as a wedding gift, or, to incorporate them in some way into the wedding day. Much like the bell carved onto the love spoon I gave my wife, the chiming of bells is harmonious and to hear this ringing is to remind the couple of their vows and to restore harmony if the relationship experiences difficulty.

Something old, something new…

And ever popular, the tradition of something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue prevails to this day in England. Acquiring a sixpence for your shoe though, has become somewhat more difficult since decimalisation! The something old refers to wearing an item, such as family jewellery, to represent a connection with the bride’s family and her old life – some ideas for your ‘something old’ can be see in the infographic below. Wearing something new, the wedding dress being the most obvious, is said to represent good fortune and success. Wearing something borrowed is meant to bring good fortune to the marriage. Wearing something blue, meanwhile, represents loyalty in the marriage.

Wedding traditions infographic

Infographic: Simply Bridal

Whatever, traditions you follow, or, whichever new celebrations you plan for your wedding day, I am sure they will be as unique to you and as treasured as the love spoon, above, is to me. If you are looking for a wedding photographer, do take a look at my work and get in touch, I’d love to hear more about your plans.

By Rob Dodsworth