Monday, October 10, 2016

Wedding Traditions - UK v. USA

I know I’ve been beating this topic to death recently, but I promise this will be the last mention of weddings… no, really, it will.

I recently came across an infographic showing the differences between American and English weddings.  I hadn’t really thought too much about it while planning my own, I just knew what I wanted and, well, went for it.

Starting at the beginning:

The Engagement:

In the United Kingdom, apparently the average length of an engagement is between 16 months and 2 years.  In America, it’s only 13 to 18 months.  Personally, mine was about 6 or 7 years!  We Brits like to make sure we’ve got it right, I think.  

Just after I was engaged, I was constantly asked “So, when’s the big day?” and I didn’t have an answer.  Just because you’re engaged, in my opinion, doesn’t mean you have to rush off down the aisle.  I’ve worked with people who have been engaged and married within a year.  As soon as that ring passed the knuckle, the cash register started ringing and there was no holding back.  
The Cost:

According to a survey by The Wedding Secret, the average cost of a wedding in England is £21,000 [$27,300].  Quite pricey.  In the USA the average is $32,641.

Note:  This is the average price - I've seen quite a few that have cost a whole lot more!

[I would like take this moment to point out to my hubby that he got a bargain and I am rather thrifty, contrary to what he may believe.]

Ahh, the fancy named “Bridal Shower” where basically you invite as many people as you can to your house (or some other lush location) and ask them to bring presents.  Usually, its just women who go to these things.  I’ve never been to one myself, but apparently weird games are played which may involve wrapping the bride-to-be in toilet roll to make a wedding dress.  A bit odd really.  I think it’s just an excuse to get early wedding presents if you ask me.  Hopefully, alcohol is provided, because I couldn’t imagine going to one if there wasn’t.  

I’ve been away from England for too long to know if there is such a thing there, but I’m sure it’s gradually sneaking over.

No, just no!
UK – The Hen Night

Basically a big 'girl’s night out' which may, or may not, involve loads of alcohol and scantily clad men (aka male strippers).  Also, there may be a pub crawl.  On second thoughts, there will definitely be alcohol.  There will probably be some crying, throwing up and declarations of love to the bride-to-be (and quite possibly to the aforementioned strippers)
Classy English!
USA – The Bachelorette Party

While I’ve never actually been to one, I’ve heard they are quite similar, although pubs aren't really involved.  They get a bit more expensive too as they tend to be at fancy places like wineries (possibly in a limo) and there may also be a whole weekend away.  There also always seems to be a 'theme' and everyone has to dress the same.  The Maid of Honour and bridesmaids have to pay.
Always a bit matchy-matchy
I didn’t have either – although I’m thinking a pub crawl would have been nice, but living in the USA pubs are few and far between and definitely there are not enough to crawl to.


  • The groom has his back to the congregation and does not get to watch the bride walk down the aisle, so it's a bit of a surprise when she gets there.
  • The bride walks down the aisle before her bridesmaids (otherwise how will someone hold her train?)
  • The wedding party (i.e. bridesmaids, etc) sit down with the congregation during the ceremony.
Bridesmaids definitely behind the bride

  • The groom faces the congregation so he can watch the bride walk down the aisle and presumably notice if she falls on her face.
  • The bride walks down the aisle after the bridesmaids.  (Then who holds the aforementioned train?)
  • The wedding party stands for the entire ceremony.


The sit down meal is the main point of the day.  Getting a fancy meal you don’t have to pay for, makes it all worth while.  Not until later, after the speeches are complete and the cake is cut does anyone get up and dance.  I’m wondering if this is, in fact, because nobody wants to make a fool of themselves until they’ve had a couple of glasses of wine?  You know, British reserve and all that.


As soon as the bride and groom enter the dining room, they have to dance.  They don’t even get a chance for a quick swig of champagne.  Everyone has to wait until they’re finished until the meal is served, which tends to be a lot shorter than those in the UK.  Many people actually get up and dance between courses (the cheek of it!).  


British wedding cakes are traditionally made of fruit cake and are tiered with anything from one tier to pretty much as many as your baker can get to balance.  Three seems to be the magic number though.  Each tier has little pillars holding each layer.  Obviously, butter icing is not a thing.  Nice hard Royal icing holds the shape.  
Very 1970's style

Most American cakes are made of sponge with butter icing (or frosting) and are ‘stacked’ which pretty much means they are just put on top of each other.  Then there’s the awful tradition of feeding each other a piece of cake, which invariably ends up being smooshed into someone’s face.  [see this post here for my views on that malarkey]

Clearly, I am generalizing here and not everyone has a massive wedding, but if you want to go traditional and all out, then you might want to get saving your pennies because wherever you live, it’s going to cost a bob or two.

My wedding was in no way what you would call “traditional” being in Las Vegas, but I did sneak in a little bit of jolly old England.  I changed the wording to the old fashioned Church of England vows which include “love, honour and obey” and you can imagine what reaction I got to that little word. [*smile*].  

I’m just an old fashioned romantic at heart.  

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Big Day

Ahh… so the wedding day arrived.

I thought the morning was going to be lovely and relaxing, a right old pampering day for me.  What was I thinking?  This is me, I know how the rest of the wedding planning went, and it wasn’t really smooth, was it?

Nope, no wedding morning bliss for me, we had to go shopping.  Not shopping for lacy undies and bridal accessories, the nice kind of shopping, but bloody groceries!  We had to find a Costco so we could pick up beers, cakes and anything else we had forgotten – all the necessary party stuff.  Yes, we could have gone there the night before but the other half had just driven three hours to Vegas and had a cold, so you know ... men. [*sigh*]

I also remembered I was responsible for decorating the suite.  Yes, we went all fancy and a got an actual suite – mainly because we were having the reception there and thought that having people squash into a normal room would be a bit tacky, what with not being able to swing a cat and the only actual sitting area being the bed.  So decorate I did….[You might see a theme here]

Yes, I went full on American/British.

Well that all got done and I did a bit of faffing around (as you do) and suddenly it was 2:00 p.m. Oops… I had to be at the chapel at 4:00 p.m. and there I was not showered, not thinking about getting ready and actually, not doing anything.  The ‘girls’ showed up and it was mass hysteria for a full on two hours!  Can you imagine, five women, one tiny girl and a 6 year old boy who insisted on taking photographs of everybody and everything every twenty seconds.  Not the calmest of places in the world.

I was stressing, crying, laughing and crying some more.  Then I started shouting at everyone and at that moment, I realized it was probably time for me to leave.  Actually it was past the time I should have left  as it was now gone 4:00 p.m. and I was late.

I jumped in the lift and ran through the hotel to the chapel.  Thank God I wasn’t in all my finery as I ran around a corner smack dab into my husband-to-be and all his groomsmen who were supposed to be there 20 minutes after me.  [another oops moment].

Finally making it, I was calmed down and shoved into a dressing room, which in all honesty was a bit fab.  Private toilet, lots of mirrors, perfumes, powders and potions and my dress and shoes were there ready for me.  The only thing missing was a couple of shot glasses and a bottle of tequila, which in hindsight would have probably been a disaster.   Oh, and it turns out my shoes were actually too big and I had to stuff the toes with toilet roll – very classy!  Thank goodness I didn’t opt for open toed shoes.  [*smiles*]

Eventually everyone got there, final primping was done, pre-wedding photographs were taken and it was time to get this thing going.  Obviously, I was still bawling and shaking like a leaf, which made my dad tear up and we both ended up walking down the aisle with wadded up tissues – again, quite classy.

Then, in what felt like twenty seconds, it was all over and I was a married lady.  I’m sure it was longer than that, but who knows?  It was Las Vegas after all.

At about that time we all subconsciously let our breath out and the party began.

Do I look happy? (that it's all over)
I’ve now been married for six weeks (not that I’m counting or anything) and for the lack of something better to say and not really wanting to sound like a McDonald’s advert…. I’m Loving It!!

Sticking to my roots!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wedding Weight Problems

You know when you're trying to lose a bit of weight to get into a dress for a special occasion?  Well that's what I've been doing.  The only problem is my family have been here for a week and of course they brought me all kinds of goodies .... Marmite crisps, Mini Cheddars, Galaxy chocolate, Jammie Dodgers ... Mmmmmm..... So there went that plan.  

I've now got four days before I get married and I've put on pretty much all the weight I lost.  I'm not really one of those avid dieters or calorie counters but I couldn't get my dress done up when it arrived so I had to do something.  I am now afraid it won't fit again on Saturday.  Whoops ... 

Even a day at Disneyland with these hoards of people won't move any of that excess poundage, I'm afraid.

But you know what?  Those CurleyWurleys are just too good to resist!  [And anyway, that's what safety pins are for, isn't it?]

Thursday, June 30, 2016

No Wedding Cake for Me!

Is it too late to change the theme of the wedding only one month before the ceremony?

I asked this question to my other half and he mumbled something about “Whatever floats your boat.” I have the distinct impression he doesn’t care one way or another. [*sigh*]

What prompted this?  Well, I was talking to my sister the other day and she asked me about our wedding cake and I told her I wasn’t having one and she was quite shocked.  When I told her why, she understood entirely.  It’s because of this:

Photo by wedding photographer Babs Evangelista.
This is the most godawful, crazy, terrible American tradition which would be right up the Mr’s alley. He would love nothing better than to smash cake into my face, the joker that he is.  Can you imagine how you would feel on the best day of your life with perfect makeup and hair and a (probably quite expensive) wedding dress and then some bugger smashes cake all over you?  Not a pleasant thought and I just don’t understand the American idea that your day is not complete until you have cake in your hair!

Obviously, it got me thinking.  A traditional British wedding cake with fruitcake and Royal icing couldn’t be smooshed onto me (without fear of knocking me out) so maybe…..

A search of the internet did not bring up any English cake makers in Los Angeles, obviously, but I did find a whole heap of British-American themed wedding ideas on Pinterest (Yes, I’ve been sucked into there also) and now I want to change my theme, not that I actually had one, mind you.  I want British-American Save-the-Dates and invitations [oops, too late], a Union Jack wedding dress [definitely too late] and a cake.  The Mr. is just taking it all in, knowing I’m dreaming and rolling his eyes!

But really, how could he not absolutely love one of these??  [*grin*]

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Problem with the American Office

The problem with the America office (apart from the atrocious spelling, obviously) is this:

Yes, those are goosepimples (or goosebumps as they say in the good ol USofA).

It seems like the minute the mercury moves up the tube, the air conditioning is cranked up (or should that be down?) and I have to sit at my desk freezing my backside off with my little heater barely taking the edge off.  I can try to turn the thermostat down, but there’s always that one person who complains “waaa... it’s too hot” and turns it back up.  I sometimes wonder what’s wrong with everyone. I’m sure it must have something to do with growing up with air conditioning that you get used to being freezing all the time.

The worst thing though?  If you plan on going out to dinner and see this on your phone, you have to think, “Oh, I must remember to take a coat” because not only are offices bloody freezing, every single restaurant is like a meat locker!  [And then they try and force you to drink iced water]

Partly cloudy??
Oh how I miss summers in England without the merest hint of air conditioning.  At least if it get’s a bit warm, we can open a window!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Wedding Planning - Part 2

If you read my post a while ago about the terrible time I’m having planning my wedding, this is a second installment.  If you didn’t read it, here it is.

Anyway, when we left off, I was up to the “Save the Date” part.  They’d gone out and now people think it was the invitation.  Since that time though it’s been pretty much radio silence.  A couple of people left a message on our wedding website [yes, we have one of those too *sigh*] and that’s it.

So what have I been doing, you may ask.  Well, this time around I’m having bridesmaids - I know, its only a Vegas wedding, but still.  My daughter, obviously, is one and so is my sister.  But that left my daughter’s very best friend (who’s like a daughter) having nothing to do, so I made her one too.  The other half wanted his family in the wedding, so now there’s a best man and two grooms men, both his grandchildren.  (Can you see where this is going?)  What about my tiny niece and nephew?  Yup – flower girl and ring bearer… and on it goes.  I’m rethinking that Westminster Abbey reservation as I write…

Of course, I’m supposed to be saving as much money as I can on this wedding – it is not going to be a Charles and Diana affair (oh, there’s the Abbey gone).  So for bridesmaid dresses my daughter suggested going to the Los Angeles garment district where you can buy stuff for cheap, cheap, cheap. Unfortunately, this time of year is Prom time and it looked like this:
It's flippin' pandemonium down there!
Whatever, I used to go to football matches every Saturday, so I’m used to pushing my way through crowds.  *smile*  

Would you believe it, we actually found a dress they liked in record time.  They tried it on, loved the fit and we asked if they had it in the colour we wanted.  “Oh yes, of course we do” they said, “We will order it and you can pick it up” they said.  Hooray you say.  Well, not so… it turns out the person who told us that was not the boss.  “Oh no” said the boss, “they don’t do it in that colour.. how about white?” he said.  Whaaaaa…..!!  Typical – nothing goes right, does it?  The expression ‘Too Good to Be True’ was running through my head.

Not to be discouraged we took the name of the manufacturer, went home and did what any reasonable person would do nowadays – we Googled.  And I only found it on Amazon didn’t I?  But sadly not in the right colour …. And this is where it gets interesting (just in case you were nodding off)

No, I do not want white!
I emailed them, yes they can get it in the colour I want and will make it specially, send the measurements. … so I did (well, one at least).  Turns out they were in China and yes, we’ve all heard the horror stories about beautiful dresses from China looking like rags when they arrive.  Well, after waiting a few weeks the dress turned up and *Drum Roll* it was bloody perfect.  The colour is exactly what I wanted and it fit my daughter like a glove.  Nice one China!

A few texts and email messages later, I got the measurements and gleefully ordered the other two dresses.  Fingers crossed they would get here as quickly as the other one.  And they did – except – and it’s a big except.. they are a DIFFERENT colour!!  Well, that’s a bit dramatic, they are actually a different shade, not a different colour, but at this stage, who’s arguing.  *Cue tears*

So for the last week I have been emailing to China to try and sort it out.  Apparently they no longer have the same colour material they made the first dress out of, not sure how they could have run out so fast, but whatever.  They can make me a new one in the colour of the other two, so let’s see what happens.  

My fingers are crossed, as are my legs, toes and eyes.  I’m going crazy and my daughter’s helpful comment on the whole situation?  “Well, what do you expect when you order from China?”

Thanks, thanks a lot!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Another Brit Style Mother's Day

Another year, another Mother’s Day, another British Pub.  What could be better?  Just about nothing, that’s what.  This year we tried Ye Olde King’s Head in Santa Monica.  

The Olde King’s Head has been in Santa Monica since 1974 so it’s got to be quite good to last that long – oh and it was.  They have a pub, a restaurant and a gift shop [Shoppe].  Obviously, I had to pop into the gift shop and pick up some delicacies before we left.  Actually, I only got some Bisto, but I could have spent a ton.  

Anyway, back to the restaurant.  We got there about 1:30 p.m. and it was busy, being Mother’s day and all and of course we didn’t have a reservation.  They have two rooms and an outside patio so there was room for us anyway.  The wind was blowing like anything so the outside patio was not our choice. It would have been nice though, as you can see the sea from there… yup, it’s just like being in Brighton! Sort of.

So as we sat down and looked at the menu it became increasingly obvious that we had no idea what to choose.  Everything looked so tasty.  Did I want a Sunday dinner, pasty and chips or a Steak, Guinness and Mushroom pie?  What a flippin’ dilemma, albeit a good one.  (I actually wanted them all).
What to choose?
I eventually narrowed it down and had the roast lamb Sunday dinner and my daughter went for the pasty with mashed potatoes instead of chips.  Both were bloody delicious and also bloody huge!  I have to admit that I am very ashamed of myself.  I could not finish my dinner, although I gave it my best effort.  There was so much there.  The only downside was that there wasn't enough gravy - but then I like my food swimming in it, to be fair.  I'm sure if I had asked, I would have been given more.

The place is actually quite fantastic.  When you walk in it’s as if you’ve just gone through a magic door to England.  British memorabilia everywhere, photographs, pictures, knick knacks – it was just like being at my nan’s house! *smile*  All of the waitresses we spoke to, or heard were English and the manager/boss was a very loud, very gregarious Liverpudlian.  We didn’t actually get a chance to talk with him as he was everywhere, making sure people were okay.   I heard him before I actually saw him and turned around expecting him to be the stereotypical Scouser complete with afro, mustache and tracksuit.  He did not look like that – at all!  

I will definitely be going back for the Afternoon Tea.  We kept eyeing the serving racks full of cream cakes and deliciousness passing by our table.  I took a photo of one of their flyers – they have sausage rolls and quiche and cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches and cream tea… oh my goodness, I could go on.  I’m drooling a little.

If you want to try this place, here’s a link:  

Being at the seaside, we decided to take a stroll down to the seafront and along the pier (as you do). Once again, it was very noticeable that we were not, in fact, in Brighton.  Although it was quite chilly and very windy, there were a few distinct differences.  Look at that beach – definitely not England. Although there was a big wheel on the pier, but no penny arcade or bumper cars, and definitely no rock.
This is NOT Brighton
No rock, but there is a Big Wheel
This is not a paid review, but I had to share because it's great.  And also, I can't not post a picture of the other present I got.  My daughter seems to know me so well!!

It's for the wall in my office!!