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15 things to know about British Weddings

15 things to know about British Weddings

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Beautiful day for a beautiful wedding! What was your wedding day like? Was it magical?  iBiographer is a great place to write about your own special wedding day and preserve those wonderful memories!

Of course watching the royal wedding gave everyone an idea of some of the traditions of a British church wedding with the hymns, choir, and bells tolling. And even though not all the British wedding customs will apply when it comes to a royal wedding it does come very close to what really happens. Meghan or should we say Duchess of Sussex chose to respect the royal family traditions but on the world stage was not shy to give it her own touch and embrace some of her own culture and heritage ...certainly causing a little stir amongst some of the guests not familiar with these traditions!

While the United States and United Kingdom may seem to be very similar there are quite a few differences between the two when it comes to wedding traditions. Recently however, there are some US traditions that are beginning to make an appearance across the pond but the old traditions still stay strong and firm in place.

 

Here are 15 things to know about if you ever find yourself

marrying a British prince or invited to a British wedding:

 

1. It's the church or Registry Office.There are very few destination weddings. If you marry outside the church you will need to get married again at the Registry Office to make it legal and official.

 

2. It is very uncommon for British couples to write their own vows, since the majority of the population gets married in a Church, which follows a strict protocol.

 

3. They tend to happen during the day time, usually early afternoon and go on till around midnight.

 

4. They usually have 2 receptions - a sit down meal after the service, and then an evening reception with music and dancing. Usually this is where people not as close to the couple or partners of main guests can be invited to attend e.g. co workers, boyfriends/girlfriends. Elderly guests may decide to skip this part. The food is usually snacks or a light buffet.

 

5. Guests usually wear formal clothes, suits with hats/ fascinators for the ceremony. Guest especially women usually change their outfit to more relaxed evening/cocktail dresses for the evening reception. If there is a big enough gap in time, guests may even leave after the main reception, go home, change clothes and return for the evening reception.  

 

6. British couples do not have as many pre-wedding activities as those in the United States. While they do have stag nights and hen do's (bachelor and bachelorette parties), they do not have bridal showers. 

 

7. There is also no rehearsal dinner night for the Groom's parents to organize and pay for. A small casual rehearsal can happen at the venue if allowed and then everyone does their own thing.

 

8. It's usually a cash bar so no free drinking! It is something that surprises UK guests at an American wedding which can makes them very happy, and even drunk!

 

9. British bridesmaids follow behind the Bride. The maid of honor is called the chief bridesmaid. Bridesmaids sit during the ceremony, while most American bridesmaids stand beside the bride throughout the service.

 

10. The Ushers (groomsmen) as they are called just help with seating and guiding guests. No walk up or down the aisle for them...or standing up in the front with the groom and bestman.

 

11. Americans can have pretty much whatever flavor they want for cake. American cakes are soft sponge cakes covered in soft flavored butter cream freshly prepared before the wedding. Meanwhile traditional English are rich fruit cakes made weeks before and are covered in marzipan ( a barrier to stop the dark color affecting the white icing) and Royal Icing. They can be hard, brittle and tough to slice! Fruit cakes like this last for a few years. The top tier can be stored at a cool room temperature, and was traditionally used for the first child's christening cake. Also, if you have guests who could not make it to the wedding they will be expecting a piece of the cake through the mail!

 

12. The speeches are done by the groom, bestman, and the father of the bride. A British groom is liable to give a full speech, instead of a brief toast thanking the guests. The bestman's speech is expected to be full of humor and embarrassing tales. And they can all be quite long ................!

 

13. The bride and groom do not sit alone like in the US. There is a top table of all the main characters. From middle it starts with the bride and groom. To the groom's left side is the bride's mother, groom's father, chief bridesmaid. To the bride's right is bride's father, groom's mother, bestman. Additional people like more bridesmaids and the priest can also be at the table if there is room.

 

 14. There is traditionally no father/daughter or mother/son dance like in the US. However it may be starting to be adopted in UK. There is also no dancing during the main reception meal. It is all left for the evening reception.

 

15. Traditionally the  main costs of the wedding are paid for by the bride's parents. The bridesmaid dresses are paid for by the bride and not the bridesmaids like in the US. Traditionally the groom is supposed to pay for bride's ring, any ceremony fees, flowers for bridal party, gifts for bridal party, transportation for himself, bestman and wife, flowers for the mothers, & the honeymoon. Nowadays it seems to be getting more equitable between the two families.
 

 

Now you know what to expect if you end up marrying a British prince or get invited to a British wedding!

Maybe some of these traditions might come over to the US over time.

Are there others? What are they?  Let me know if I have missed any.

If you've been to both British and US weddings,  which did you prefer?

Do you know any other usual or unusual wedding traditions? 

Please excuse any speling and grammatical errors to.