Throughout our lives tradition governs much of what we do. Whether cultural, religious or family, traditions provide us with structure, meaning and comfort. Traditional weddings are full of customs and symbolism, many passed down over the centuries, and some of which have their origins lost in the mists of time.

With the introduction of civil partnerships in 2005 came the opportunity to create a new set of traditions, but some of the old ones still stand true and are just as relevant.

The Ceremony

Civil Partnership Ceremony

Civil partnerships differ from civil marriages in that they don’t actually require any form of ceremony at all. The only requirements necessary are for a couple to have two witnesses and to sign a partnership document. This said, how many of us would want to formalise such an important commitment with so little form of recognition? At such an important time in our lives we want the people closest to us to share and celebrate the occasion, so we look to tradition to inspire us with a ceremony, supporters, vows and dress.

Best Men/Women

Civil Partnership Wedding Party

Having someone with you to steady your nerves and make sure that you’re in the right place at the right time is always good. Traditionally a couple would surrounded themselves with men and women of a similar age and wearing similar clothes to protect them from the unwanted attentions of evil spirits. This tradition continues in an updated form, with closest friends or family taking an honoured and supportive role at the ceremony, but doesn’t have to conform to any best man or maid of honour stereotypes at all.


Wedding celebrations have always included flowers, and they were often full of symbolism and meaning. The tradition continues for civil partnerships, with some of the superstitions still persisting, such as red and white flowers considered unlucky because of their association with blood and bandages. Lilies are also considered unlucky by some but adored by others, and buttonholes are a reminder of a time when a Knight wore his Lady’s (or Lord’s) colours to show his love.


Man Holding Out Suit Jacket to Show Red Lining

Today we’re able to wear what we want for our weddings. It wasn’t so long ago however that couples didn’t have such freedom, but here’s a tradition that we can happily ignore or not, as we choose!

Married in White, you have chosen right,

Married in Blue, your love will always be true,

Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl,

Married in Brown, you will live in town,

Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead,

Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow,

Married in Green, ashamed to be seen,

Married in Pink, your spirit will sink,

Married in Grey, you will go far away,

Married in Black, you will wish yourself back.

For more on what you might like to wear read Female Civil Partnership Outfits and Grooms Suits for a Civil Partnership.

Wedding Cakes

Art Deco Themed Wedding Cake

There are records of wedding cakes from in Roman times, although they were more like unsweetened loaves of bread. Over the centuries these developed into stacked towers of small cakes. Supposedly if a couple could kiss over the top of the cake they would prosper in their future life.

The tradition of a couple cutting the cake together and then feeding one another from the first slice symbolises commitment. Perhaps that’s a tradition that should definitely be revived for civil partnerships! Read more about Wedding Cake Traditions.

Guest post by Lester Gethings

Images from The Crawleys from An Art Deco Themed Civil Partnership