If you are an American, one thing you may not realise is that the wedding you envisioned for Harry and Meghan isn’t exactly the one that happened.
This isn’t only because their wedding is fit for royalty. As it turns out, there are a bunch of interesting, and fundamental differences between weddings in America versus those across the pond.
So, while you wait for your invite to the wedding of the year check out these surprising differences between British and American weddings.
British wedding toasts are more like roasts
At an American wedding, you can generally expect the toasts and speeches to rely heavily on sap and sentimentality. But at British weddings, the toasts might seem, well, rather rude.
According to Vogue, the goal of wedding speeches in the UK is to fully mortify its recipient. So, if you’re giving a toast in the US, you can prepare your standard touchy-feely fare. If you’re giving one in England, just pretend like you’re getting ready for a roast.
If you’re a woman, you probably won’t give a toast
According to Cosmopolitan, British weddings traditionally only have three sets of speeches -one from the groom, one from the father of the bride, and one from the best man.
British wedding guests wear hats
One thing you can definitely be prepared to see at the upcoming royal wedding is some fancy headwear. According to PureWow, it is royal protocol for all royal women to wear hats on official occasions. (So, yes – Kate Middleton is going to be wearing one at the upcoming royal wedding.)
And if you were wondering, this isn’t just a royal thing – according to Vogue, almost every wedding outfit in the UK tends to be topped off (literally) with a fancy hat or fascinator.
British weddings are slightly less formal
Other than the hats, however, British weddings tend to have more casual dress codes than American weddings. So although an American wedding may encourage a black tie dress code, people will come to a wedding in the UK in slightly more relaxed attire.
British bridesmaids often wear white
Another big sartorial disparity between UK and American comes in the form of its colour palette. In the US, it’s a big faux pas to show up to a wedding wearing white if you aren’t the bride, but for Brits, it’s customary for bridesmaids to wear all white.
Guests can be “ranked” at British weddings
According to BBC America, in the UK, it is perfectly acceptable to use a tier system for your guests.
To put it in American terms, you can think of it like a “first string” and a “second string” of guests – the first string will come to both the dinner and the reception, while the second string will only attend the reception. This is a good way to mitigate the cost of the wedding, and, frankly, an excellent way to minimise time spent with some more obligatory wedding invites.
British weddings are more likely to have a cash bar
Should you manage to swing an invite to Harry and Meghan’s wedding this spring, make sure to stick some pocket change in your clutch. According to BBC America, it’s more acceptable to have a cash bar in the UK than it is in the US (Though, if you’re invited to the more selective dinner portion of the wedding, you’ll most likely be served some wine free of charge.)
This helps make the cost of a wedding a little less terrifying, and (probably) also makes it so that guests at the wedding don’t get quite as sloshed.
Brits often pay for their bridesmaids’ dresses
There are few personal injuries greater than that of having to shell out a few hundred dollars for a bridesmaid dress you wouldn’t be caught dead in any context other than a wedding.
Fortunately, if you’re a bridesmaid in the UK, you won’t have to – there, brides normally pay for their bridesmaids’ dresses.
In the UK, the bride doesn’t enter the room last
If you think about the procession order for most of the weddings you’ve attended, you may have noticed that, in the US, the bride tends to be the last person to enter the room. In the UK, this isn’t usually the case – instead, the bride precedes her bridesmaids, who will hold up her train or veil as she walks down the aisle.
The groom faces away from the bride
In the US, the groom faces the bride and watches as she walks down the aisle. But, in the UK, it’s customary for the groom to face away from the bride and turn around only when she reaches the altar.
William and Kate stuck to this tradition when they got married back in 2011, if you were wondering.
Weddings in the UK are shorter
Weddings in the US tend to have a lot of different components – there are the bachelor and bachelorette parties, a bridal shower, a rehearsal dinner, and all of the random activities that people like to tack onto their weddings, often making their wedding day turn into a wedding weekend.
According to BBC America, weddings in the UK don’t have quite so much going on. People have bachelor and bachelorette parties (except, of course, they have decidedly British names – “stag night” for bachelor parties and “hen dos” for bachelorette parties), but not much else. This ensures that a wedding lasts a day, max, rather than the drawn-out weekend wedding affair that can happen in the states.
The first dance happens at different times
In The US, the first dance between the newly-married couple happens when they are “announced” into the dining room at the start of dinner. In the UK, the first dance happens after the meal, when the cake has been cut.
British couples rarely write their own vows
One thing you might not see at a British wedding? Personalised vows.
According to Inside Weddings, this is because most people hold their weddings through the Church of England, which uses the same script for every wedding.
British wedding cake is often fruit cake
In the US, you’ll find that wedding cakes are available in pretty much any flavour, from vanilla to chocolate to pink champagne. For UK weddings? This may not be the case.
According to Inside Weddings, many traditional weddings in the UK serve … fruitcake. Yum?
British brides often get kissed by chimney sweeps
According to Atlas Obscura, professional chimney sweeps are often hired on the day of a wedding to take a photo with the groom, kiss the bride, and mingle with the guests. Apparently, the presence of a chimney sweep is considered a harbinger of good fortune for the marriage.
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