Meghan Markle has undoubtedly learned first-hand that American weddings and British ones are different. And while the two cultures share some similarities when it comes to nuptials — that is, when referring to weddings of the culturally-Christian variety, which we will focus on exclusively in this article — there are ways, big and small, that an American bride such as the Duchess of Sussex might find herself tripped up when getting married across The Pond.
Less Religious, More Formal
Religion doesn’t play nearly as big a role in daily life for Britons as it does for Americans, and so the average British bride is far less likely to be religious than an American one. That means that churches are less likely to be the site of the big day, with the happy couple preferring instead to marry in a castle, a park, or a country estate.
Similarly, according to Inside Weddings, most culturally Christian weddings in the U.K. follow exactly the same script, provided by the Church of England. For this reason, according to Inside Weddings, you’ll generally hear the same vows repeated at every British wedding. American couples often write their own vows, or choose vows from a book, or rely on vows provided by their own church denomination.
Less Going On Before The Wedding
An American couple (well, let’s face it, the bride) will find themselves stressed out ticking off pre-wedding activities like the bachelor and bachelorette parties, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, and so on.
— Ameyaw Debrah (@ameyaw112) May 16, 2018
Not so in Britain. While the bachelor and bachelorette parties are a thing over there, where they’re called “stag parties” and “hen parties” for reasons perhaps best left to the imagination, that’s it. There are no other pre-wedding events.
Differences In Attire
Most British wedding guests, women especially, don elaborate hats for weddings — something you won’t see in America unless the bride is getting married at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
Meanwhile, it’s not uncommon for British bridesmaids to — gasp — wear white, like the bride, to the wedding. And in case you were wondering, the bridesmaids will generally sit for a British wedding, while they’ll remain standing for American ones.
And by the way, in America, if you’re “honored” to be named a bridesmaid, that honor comes with a price tag, as you’ll be expected to pay for your dress. Most British brides pay for their bridesmaids’ dresses.
Most Americans rarely even see a fruitcake outside of Christmas season — indeed, as Johnny Carson once quipped, only one fruitcake has ever been produced, and people just keep re-gifting it to each other.
In England, the fruitcake is the dessert of choice for any proper wedding. Why? Your guess is as good as ours.
Keep an eye out for other differences, subtle and glaring, between American and British weddings when you watch Meghan Markle marry Prince Harry at 4 a.m. Eastern Time this Saturday.