In every country, weddings are a sacred ritual between two people who are coming together as one. It is a day dedicated to love that everyone who attends will remember. In different countries, people celebrate this union of people in different ways, whether it is the traditions leading up to the big day or the type of reception held after ceremony. Two countries that are similar and yet different are England and America. Americans got a sneak peak at what a traditional English wedding looks like when Kate Middleton and Prince William were married back in 2011. The royal couple brought on a trend of traditional English weddings that we see today in many American weddings. Lets take a look at the differences between the two, other than the different accents you would hear.
Pre Wedding Traditions:
The tradition’s that couples practice before the wedding are just as important as the big day itself. Americans often hold Bachelor and Bachelorette parties as a last hurrah before committing themselves to their partner. These nights can be described as extravagant, fabulous and crazy. The night usually includes heavy drinking, burlesque dancers and over the top hotels and restaurants. American Bachelor and Bachelorette parties are certainly ones for the books.
Across the pond, the English also holds a party to say goodbye to their “freedom” but is called a Stag Do for the groom and a Hen Night for the bride. The Stag Do used to be a casual night out at a pub with extremely heavy drinking planned by the best man. Nowadays, Stag Do’s are starting to look more like Bachelor parties but instead of going to Las Vegas to party, the groom and his friends go to other countries such as Germany, Prague and Amsterdam for a good night out. Brides have now copied the idea of “last night of freedom” as well and have a wild night out with their closest friends. In England the night is referred to a Hen Night due to the old definition of it being a females only night. They often wear matching outfits and the bride is told to wear a grown and a sash that says bride on it. Other than the name, Stag Do’s and Hen nights are very similar to Bachelor and Bachelorette parties.
For the bride in America, she often has a bridal shower. This is an elegant party that all generations of women can come too. It is often in the fashion of a tea party when the bride receives gifts and gracefully celebrates her soon to be marriage with other women. In England, there is no such thing as a bridal shower. The bride only celebrates her wedding at the Hen Night.
The Wedding Party:
Just like in America, English Brides and Grooms have an entourage for their big day. In America, grooms have their best man and their groomsmen. In England, the groom picks a best man and his groomsmen are called ushers. Unlike an American wedding, the Ushers do not escort the bridesmaids in during the ceremony. They stand in front of the church with the groom where the groom faces the officiant with his back to the congregation. In England the Best Man has a very important job in all wedding activities. The speech made by the best man is an anticipated event in all English weddings. In America the best man’s speech is usually about how lovely they think the couple is and how great it is that they are finally married. In an English wedding the Best Man’s wedding speech, is a time to talk about the groom’s most embarrassing moments and mortify him in front of everyone he knows. It’s supposed to a good roast of the groom. Many guests enjoy the best man’s speech as you get a good laugh out of it.
Just like American weddings, English brides get to pick out their Maid of Honor and their bridesmaids. However in England, the Maid of Honor is called a Chief Bridesmaid and has an average of only three bridesmaids. When walking down the aisle, the bridesmaids also go after the bride and her father, because traditionally bridesmaids were there to hold her dress. It is also common that the Chief Bridesmaid does not make a speech at the reception. During the ceremony the bridesmaids and the ushers sit with the rest of the congregation during the ceremony, unlike American weddings where they stand with the couple.
Most English people in England are of the Christian faith but are known as The Church of England. This is a religion that many English people affiliate themselves with. In America, couples are allowed to write their own vows. However for the people who are Church of England in England are not allowed to write their own vows. The religion requires couples to follow a specific script. For a while, it did not even include “you many now kiss the bride”. This has changed and now many vicars are incorporating it into the ceremony.
In American weddings, the average number of guests is 100-150 people. These guests are invited to the ceremony, the cocktail hour and the reception. In an English wedding there is often an A list and a B list. The A list consists of family members and close friends. These guests are invited to the ceremony, the dinner as well as the reception. The B list is guests who may be acquaintances to the couple or who are bringing dates that the bride and groom don’t know. These people are generally only invited to the reception. The Cake: In an American wedding, the cake is the main centerpiece at the reception. It is usually a decadent many-tiered cake that can be different flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, marble and even red velvet. In an English wedding, it is traditional to have a fruitcake as the wedding cake. It is a dense mixture of fruits and nuts soaked in brandy. The cake can be refrigerated and kept for almost ten years. Couples often save the top of the cake and have it at as their first anniversary cake, which is actually what Kate and Prince William did!
Tying it All Together:
Weddings are becoming a huge event in today’s society. All the festivities leading up to the wedding, to the day itself is becoming a universal culture. With all eyes watching Kate Middleton and Prince William marry a few years ago, the idea of having a traditional English wedding has become very popular. Although there are differences between the two, it all comes back to one thing, seeing two people in love come together as one.
Interested in a British themed wedding? Check out our Pinterest Board!