When we talk about "multicultural weddings" most people think of weddings like the Hindu/Catholic wedding we showed a few weeks ago. But cultural differences and misunderstandings can happen between all sorts of couples. Thanks to the Internet, British and American brides are sharing info and resources like never before. We asked British wedding planner, Rob Lowry to give us a little crash course in the differences between UK and US weddings.
Special to GigMasters by Rob Lowry
Many UK and US wedding traditions are very similar, yet often the order of things may vary and the terminology of events is also different in many ways. For example, in America the Bride has a 'Bachelorette' party prior to the wedding, this is something Brides in the UK would celebrate, however it is referred to as a 'Hen party.' In America, the Groom has a 'Bachelor party' otherwise known as a 'Stag' do in the UK. Rehearsal dinners are much less common in the UK than in the US.
The Bride in the UK has a 'Chief Bridesmaid' responsible for ensuring that everything is in order for the big day. In the US, this is very similar to the 'Maid of Honor'. The Groom has a 'Best Man' in both the UK and the US.
For the ceremony, the Groom would traditionally turn away from the congregation in the UK, not seeing the Bride until she has walked down the aisle, whereas in the US, the Groom would stand and face the congregation in order to watch his Bride walk towards the altar. In the UK, the bridesmaids walk behind the Bride, often carrying the train of the wedding dress. In the US, the bridesmaids walk in first and take their position ready for the Bride.
The UK reception tends to focus more on sitting together, reading speeches and eating, whereas in the US more time is spent on the dance floor. In fact the first dance in the US generally begins after the newlyweds are announced entering the room, whereas dancing in the UK is typically reserved until after the meal. Children are more common at UK wedding receptions and businesses known as créche services are often hired for babysitting.
Traditional wedding cakes in the UK are fruit cakes, made into three tiers. The smaller tier at the top has always been kept for the christening of the first child, which traditionally would be expected approximately 9 months later! In the US the wedding cakes are typically made of sponge and when the cake is cut, the Bride and Groom feed each other a piece of cake. Sometimes a piece of cake is saved for the couple's first anniversary.
In the UK it is quite acceptable for guests to be invited to the evening reception, where the ceremony itself and dinner is reserved for a small number of close friends and family. In the US however, if you are invited to the wedding you are expected to attend both the ceremony and the reception. At the reception, in the US it would be expected to be a 'free' bar and guests would be rather insulted if made to pay...whereas in the UK it is acceptable to pay for drinks at a bar with possibly a free buffet near the dance floor.
Essentially the differences between UK and US weddings are rather nominal; however some people are adopting traditions from all over the world into their own wedding, in order to make it the best day they possibly can.
British wedding planner Rob Lowry is an expert in making sure your big day really is the greatest day of your life. His specialist opinion has been sought by brides nationwide. As a consultant he helps brides create wedding lists (aka registries in the US).
What do you think? Does a British wedding sound like more or less fun than an American wedding? What other differences have you spotted? Let us know in the comments.