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.