American or English?

Mar 18, 2019
outdoor civil wedding

Do we want American-style weddings?

American and British affairs can be strikingly different. We Brits do our pageantry really well, but Americans know how to enjoy themselves.

So what differences are there between (typical) English and American weddings?

Rehearsal Dinner

A rehearsal dinner is very much de rigueur over the pond. In my experience, it is the exception in England. It is commoner, though, for larger, more complex events over here, but the dinner is likely to be an add-on. Sorting out choreography is the main purpose.

Bridal Parties

The number of people actively involved in the wedding tends to reach double figures in the US; far fewer usually participate in England. That can make life easier, if all goes without a hitch, but can otherwise put a lot of work on a few people’s shoulders.


For a nation that talks about diapers, faucets and the like, it’s not really surprising that the Americans have a different wedding vocabulary too. “Ushers” are referred to as “groomsmen”, and so on.

The English “wedding breakfast” is a source of confusion, of course. It tends to be eaten in the afternoon or evening, and, of course, you shouldn’t expect to find conventional breakfast foods on the menu!


Many UK venues will be historic and have evolved a set way of doing things. They don’t welcome change, and many Americans are rebuffed if the venue doesn’t want to put their ideas into practice.


The ceremony itself can be very different. One of the main decisions to be reached is whether the wedding begins in the American or British way. According to UK tradition, the bride comes in first, followed by bridesmaids (supporting her train) and possibly ushers. In America, all the participants enter first and suspense is built until the bride enters in all her glory. The American way is prevailing these days, and I have to confess that I prefer the drama of it.


After the ceremony, there is usually the wedding breakfast (possibly, after canapes and drinks), then a break, and the evening festivities. Unlike in the US, people may only be invited to certain sections.

One reason why Americans are invited to the whole shebang as a matter of course is the vast distances they may have to cover to attend a wedding. It’s only fair for them to be welcomed in all parts!


The Americans take advantage of the opportunity to harangue a captive audience! Over here, that privilege goes to the bride’s father, the best man and the groom (although some brides are muscling in too nowadays).


Our American cousins expect there to be an open bar; they are usually very surprised at the idea of a cash bar! With the costs of weddings as they are, it’s not unreasonable, though.

I’ve conducted several Americo-British weddings, but not yet been invited to the reception, so if I’ve got any of this wrong, please do correct me.

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