RED at a wedding - the hill I'm prepared to die on

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (20/11/2023)
Categories: | Wedding Attire  |
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The words "RED:
                      is the hill I"m willing to die on" on a
                      red backgroundWearing Red to a Wedding as a guest or as the celebrant. That's the hill I'm prepared to die on. While this might sound extreme, there are extremely good reasons for my stance.



We are all familiar with the mantra (aka the rule) Don't wear white to a wedding. Which, in reality, is shorthand for Don't upstage the bride. It's a simple enough rule of etiquette, but let's unpack it.

  • Brides, apart from insanely rich brides, did not wear white until Queen Victoria made it almost a rule that you broke at your peril. White clothes were expensive and difficult to maintain. Remember, despite romantic movies, the world was a far dirtier place. Unsealed roads. Horse poop in the streets. No council garbage collection. No vacuum cleaners. You get the picture.  And, most brides just wore their best dress.
  • Photos were posed, studio photos. And colour film did not exist.
  • So it was all about the in-person experience on the day.


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While Western brides wearing white was quickly translated into being symbolic of purity, rather than of wealth, and, in certain cultures, the bride always wears red as a symbol of happiness. the general symbolism of red has been historically far more complex than that of white.
  • Red has represented many things, from the life force and the divine, to love, lust, anger, and courage.
  • From early times to the end of the Middle Ages, red held a place of privilege in the Western world.
  • In the Middle Ages, red had religious significance, as the color of the blood of Christ and the fires of Hell, together with and secular meaning, as a symbol of love, glory, and beauty.
  • During the Reformation, Protestants began to review red as indecent and immoral and linked to luxury and the excesses of the Catholic Church.
  • For many cultures, red is deemed to be the only colour worthy enough to be used for social purposes.
  • After the French Revolution, red became associated with progressive movements and radical left-wing politics.

Technological advances

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Wedding photography in the 21st century is nothing like it was in the 19th, or even for most of the 20th.
  • Black and white photography is a stylistic choice, not the only game in town
  • Pretty well every guest will have a device that allows them to not only take photos, but to publish them on social media and send them to friends, 
  • Some guests, and your official, professional photographer will have the capacity to zoom in for close-ups
  • Photos of your wedding will live forever in the cloud

A photographic truism


Red draws the eye. It's a bulletproof resource for grabbing attention. If a photographer wants to draw the eye of the viewer to something, including in a landscape, they will position a "touch of red".

It's a trick that has its origin way before cameras were invented. In the Renaissance period, for example, red was used to draw the viewer’s attention to the most influential figures in a painting.

Translate this to a wedding and a red-wearing celebrant changes the whole dynamic of the ceremony.

What about red lipstick?


I'm hardline on this one. The majority of brides still opt for subtle lip colours, and grooms go au naturel. Put a celebrant, or a bridesmaid wearing bright red lipstick in the picture and your main people look pale by comparison.

So, while women are commonly advised to wear red lipstick when doing a public speaking gig, it should be remembered that solemnising a marriage is more than just a gig, and much more than about the celebrant.

Are there any exceptions?


There are always exceptions!
  • Bridesmaids all dressed in red
  • All the guests being requested to wear red

Why are these exceptions? Because red en masse becomes a background, a sophisticated contrast against which the marrying couple, and what they are wearing, stands out. We all love those photos of the marrying couple in front of a red wall.

Related posts


Based on the North American experience and data, proposal season (aka engagement season) kicks off on the fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving), peaks on Christmas Day, and continues until Valentines Day.  All of which makes sense. It’s cold, it’s cosy, snuggling, weather, and it includes the 2 biggest days for family get-togethers, together with the top day for focusing on new beginnings and the most (commercially) romantic day of the year.

Ironically, proposal season also includes what has been dubbed International Breakup Day, the day on which, according to an analysis of Facebook Status changes since 2008, is December 11. There’s also another breakups peak on 21 February. Exactly one week after Valentine’s Day.

Do these Proposal Season dates hold true in Australia?


If you take media stories at face value, it would seem that way. But many of those stories are recycled from US media sources, with just the names and places changed. If you look deeper into the Aussie way of doing things, maybe the story is not such a simple one.

In this country where the proposal happens has a lot of influence on when it happens!. For someone in love any time of year can be the perfect time to propose, especially in a country that offers so many beautiful options.

Christmas Proposals

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School holidays, traditional beach getaway time, family get-together time, and the opportunity to have an engagement ring do double duty as a Christmas pressie, all feed into summer and Christmas being a popular time to propose.

We’re relaxed, many of us have time off, there are lots of parties. Why not add one more celebration. It works for a lot of couples. (Though, keep the present-giving thing separate. Absolutely spring for a separate Christmas gift!)

Valentine’s Day Proposals

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Another no-brainer. The whole country, it seems, decorates for romance, restaurants ramp it up, suitable boxes, cards, and gifts are available in every supermarket. It’s super convenient to plan. Just might not be super-easy to pull off in an intimate fashion in a restaurant or other venue crowded with couples bent on romance.

Location, location, location

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With the planned proposal industry alive and kicking, and the backdrop to photos being a major aspect of the planning, decisions about where the proposal happens has a huge influence on when proposal season is in a particular location,

Australia has no shortage of breathtaking spots that make for the perfect backdrop to popping the question. From lush rainforests to the red centre, from fabulous beaches to rugged mountain ranges - you name it, we have it!

And it stands to reason that the height of summer may not be the perfect time in every location. It all depends what you have in mind.

Here is my take on choosing the perfect timing in the perfect location.

Snow season

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If the whole hot chocolate, warm mittens, flickering fireplaces vibes are your thing, head for the snow. Which means June, July, and August. And if you go to Tassie, a proposal under the Southern Lights could be a romantic and unforgettable experience. Imagine standing in the crisp, cool air, wrapped up in a warm blanket with your loved one, as the sky above you comes alive with vibrant hues of green, pink, and purple.

Sunrise or Sunset at Uluru

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It may be on every tourist’s bucket list, but sunset at Uluru is truly breathtaking. As the sun begins to set, the colours of the sky change creating a beautiful backdrop for Uluru. The rock changes from bright orange to deep red and then to a dark silhouette. There's a sense of tranquility as the desert quiets down and the stars begin to twinkle in the sky. It's a great time for stargazing and experiencing the peacefulness of the outback. And perfect for proposing and looking forward to all the possibilities of your life together.

If you’re willing to get up mega-early, sunrise at Uluru is an even more magical experience. As the sun slowly rises over the horizon, the colors of the sky change from deep blues to oranges, pinks, and purples. When the first rays of light hit the top of Uluru, they create a stunning contrast between the bright orange rock and the blue sky. The silence and stillness of the desert in the early morning add to the atmosphere. Sunrise at Uluru is peaceful, magical, and perfect for proposal photos.

But don’t forget the multiplicity of other opportunities the Red Centre and the Outback in general offers in May, June, July, August and September.

Tropical beaches and waters

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If sand, sea, sailing and snorkelling are your thing, head north. The Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays, the many fantastic locations along the West Australian Coast. Just remember to insure the ring! I’ve lost count of the number of “dropped the ring in the sand/sea” stories I’ve heard!

Obviously you’ll need to avoid cyclone season, so May, June, July, August, September and October are all good months to choose.

Fabulous urban locations

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Stick close to home, or head off to explore a different city. City proposals work 24/7 all year round. Each season and each city has its own vibe.

You might coordinate with an event or festival, of which there are many. Give the nod to your best-beloved’s interests by where and when you choose to drop to one knee. Whatever and where ever you choose there will be no shortage of fabulous, or iconic, or quirky backdrops for photos.

Proposing with a bang

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New Year’s Eve. Sydney Harbour. You might want to spring for a hotel room or restaurant overlooking the bridge and the fireworks. Or, do the deed among all of the revellers as the year turns. Word to the wise. It might be a good idea to leave the expensive ring at home and propose with a fun substitute (a la Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Dropping the ring in a huge, heaving crowd is not going to end well.

But Sydney isn’t the only city with fab fireworks on New Year’s Eve. One of the others might work for you. As might staying at home and watching it all play out on the TV screen, with a glass of bubbles in your hand and the ring box to hand.

PS: You can propose without a ring! The important thing is the question and the answer. Your proposal can be as simple or elaborate as you like. You can shop for a ring together, later. Or you can forgo the ring altogether in favour of something else. One of my friends opted for a ute instead (they lived on a farm and she always wanted her own ute.)

A few words of advice about timing

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Seriously rethink any impulse you might have to add a proposal to another celebration, particularly if that celebration is specific to your partner. In my book, proposing on the day your partner graduates, your partner’s birthday, the day your partner gets a promotion at work etc, downgrades their perception of your appreciation of their achievement. Celebrate with them. Make sure they know how impressed your are. And propose on another day.

Thanks for reading!

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                        Jennifer Cram
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