Sunday, 24 February 2013

UK vs USA Wedding Differences!


As you know, Laura and I are a USA/UK partnership - over the past couple of years our different upbringings have seemed to have less and less impact on our daily lives. What we eat, do and say are becoming more and more alike. This time last year we even did a post on our language differences - something we are still working on :)

As we are now at the start of wedding planning we are noticing that this important event is done differently on both sides of the Atlantic. The fundamentals remain the same; a wedding is a joining of two people who are in love and want to make a public and legal commitment to each other till death do they part. The details however are more different than we'd have thought!

We have checked our understandings with friends to make sure we aren't making things up or confusing our limited wedding experiences with episodes of 'Four Weddings' or 'My Fair Wedding' or any number of wedding shows we have recorded.

So what differences are we talking about?

Lets start at the very beginning as it turns out that there are differences on how weddings are organised! For instance, the Bridesmaids - in the UK bridesmaids dresses are paid for along with shoes and accessories. I understand that generally, this is NOT the case in the USA. When it comes to pulling their weight/doing their duty as a Bridesmaid, American Bridesmaids also tend to step up more to offer help with DIY and are significantly involved in the planning. British bridesmaids are not greatly involved until the day of - it's a walk in the park in comparison :)

Language difference alert: BACHELORETTE vs HEN party. In essence they are one and the same, except for a few details, such as that in the US they don't have 'L plates' for the brides. Laura does not want us having a Hen Party. I have conceded on this one as we will be having our party in the USA and I'm not sure explaining that we are a 'Hen Party' will work at every venue. We will share our plans on what the Bachelorette party will be when we have it confirmed.

Attire - dress-wise we will both be wearing wedding dresses, so that's not the issue - but when it comes to the guests that's where things start to change. In the UK, as guests we wear hats to weddings, or more recently fascinators! It's common for all most all the ladies to be modelling some sort of head gear - though that's not as much the case in America!

Royal wedding fascinators!
To the wedding ceremony, when do bridesmaids walk - before or after the bride? In the USA bridesmaids lead the bride, they pass down the aisle and make their way to the front where they remain standing for the ceremony. In the UK the bride leads and the bridesmaids tend to follow and help with the train if necessary. They then sit on the front row.

Best Bridesmaids ever
In fact, being a bridesmaid in the UK seems a WHOLE lot easier - they don't pay for much, their responsibility is mainly on the day, in the USA they really work for the title!

In the UK the groom (not relevant in our case but still a point to note) must remain facing forwards until his bride arrives at the front - how difficult would that be! One of us will be at the front and there is NO way we'll have our back to the congregation, we want to see and enjoy it all.

At British weddings we have a wedding 'breakfast' regardless of the time! It is held after the wedding ceremony. According to Wikipedia the reason is:

'The name is claimed to have arisen from the fact that in pre-Reformation times the wedding service was usually a Eucharistic Mass and that the bride and bridegroom would therefore have been fasting before the wedding in order to be eligible to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. After the wedding ceremony was complete, the priest would bless and distribute some wine, cakes, and sweetmeats, which were then handed round to the company, including the bride and groom. This distribution of food and drink was therefore a literal “break fast” for the bride and groom'. 

We will not be having a wedding breakfast, we are doing the American version and will have a wedding meal/dinner! At the meal, our first entrance as a married couple will be in the USA style, that  is accompanied with an announcement, applause and the band. In the UK a polite round of applause suffices but we want to start the meal as a celebration!

At dinner there is also the difference with the top table - in the USA the table tends to seat the bridal party - in the UK it tends to be the Bride/Grooms family. We will be going for something that isn't US or UK! Stay tuned!!

Oh and then there's who comes to the wedding meal. That may seem obvious but its not so. In the UK we  have two separate celebrations, we have the formal part with the ceremony and the meal, then we invite additional evening guests. Laura explained that doesn't happen in the USA, everyone invited comes to the whole day. As we are having a destination wedding it makes sense that everyone will come to the whole day.

Now something we both found weird was in the USA people apparently hit the dance floor between courses! We both love to dance but pre-dinner!?! We will therefore be doing the British way of serving all our courses THEN dancing. That way everyone will have the energy to dance into the night.

Then there's the cake - traditionally, wedding cake has been a fruit cake in the UK (though we know brides are moving away from this tradition!) and displayed using pillars between layers where as in the USA the cake tends to be stacked and made of something delicious! We will be going for the delicious cake but the design is yet to be finalised! We know it will be red velvet and we know it will taste SO GOOD as we've already chosen our baker!

As you can see we have quite a few things to discuss and as with the rest of our life it will be a fantastic fusion of USA/UK! Just wait 'till we get started on the food :) I think there may be a sizable amount of Dairy Milk chocolate coming with us!


  1. Gosh... I didn't know there was that many differences
    The way you are planning sounds perfect :) xx

  2. That is very good to know and very interesting! In Oz its a perfect mix of both UK and USA style given what I've read. Red velvet is also a perfect choice! X

  3. There a lot of differences, I think it is nice that you will blend them and make the day your own:)

  4. From memory, in Oz, the Bridesmaids walk down the aisle first, then the Bride, and then the Head Bridesmaid or Maid-of-Honour walks behind the Bride to keep the train in place. Oh, and another thing that is big here in the USA is the Rehearsal Dinner, held after the ceremony rehearsal. Maybe one of your readers could explain why this is so important! ;-) Good blog though, keep up the good work! Love youz, Mum xxxx

  5. We didn't realize that there were so many differences! Loved reading this!

  6. Haha! What the hell is an L PLATE and HEN PARTY?! Also, I have been to US weddings that have a private ceremony, but a bigger party with dinner afterwards. Also, never seen dancing before food. Dancing is reserved for when everyone is liquored up and full of good food. :)

  7. Writing all your wedding posts must be adding to the excitement for you guys! I get excited for you just reading it !!

    I haven't been to many, but in South Africa I'd say the tradition is much a mix between UK and USA. The ceremony is usually very formal and normally held in a church, followed by a big celebration party lasting way into the morning hours.

    I saw such a cute wedding video a little while ago of a lesbian couple, ...see it in the link below if you like :) (scroll down the article to view the video)


  8. Really i dint know the difference ever. I just come to know and thank to post valuable post to share and realize the difference..

  9. Wow it is very nice thought.Thanks for sharing this post.

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