Post # 1
So… backstory to set this question up. FI is from England. Moved to the US three years ago for work but his friends and family remain in the UK. We got engaged and are planning a destination wedding for next year (it would always be a destination for someone, so I am making it a destination for everyone, seems fair).
My question is – does etiquette differ in the UK drastically from the US? I don’t want to expect something that may occur were his family American (not that I expect anything, but you know what I mean) and have it not happen because it’s not tradition in England but I also don’t want to offend them by taking charge of something they expect to do. For example, does the same tradition/etiquette exist there as it does here, that the grooms family pays for the rehersal dinner? I don’t want to assume they would and not have one but I don’t want to plan one and offend them by stealing their thunder.
FI is NO help. Typical male jock who has no idea!!
Is there an Emily Post UK version?
Post # 3
I haven’t a clue, but maybe Mrs. D’orsay could give you some advice since she married a UK-er.
Post # 4
I think communication is key here! If your FI has no idea about wedding traditions in his own country of origin, could you sit down with his parents to talk about it? If you have a good relationship, sit down and chat about what traditions they expect to occur, and you do the same, and then decide together which ones you want to keep. Although, for the stickier financial ones (i.e. do the groom’s parents traditionally host the rehearsal dinner in the UK), definitely enlist your FI to talk to them instead of you. Because that could get awkward! Good luck!
Post # 5
I’m marrying a Scot (we live in London) and I can’t say I notice any differences. I think some people are surprised we have a wedding planner, and we’ll be having a Jewish wedding which will be new for a lot of people attending from the UK (as there aren’t many Jews here). Sometimes I read the forum on http://www.youandyourwedding.co.uk — like wedding bee but in the UK!
Post # 6
I think you had better speak to your FI and his folks – I’m British, and had never even heard of a rehearsal dinner before moving to the US 4 years ago! Rehearsal dinners in the UK are VERY unusual, so your man’s family won’t know that your side would expect it!
Also in a related note, whilst US and UK weddings are largely similar in tradition, Brits don’t tend to do the “feeding each other cake” thing (they cut it and pose for photos and then it’s whisked away for slicing and serving) or the “throw the garter at the men” thing. The first time i saw the garter thing happening, i was a little concerned that he was going up under her dress in the middle of the dancefloor 🙂
Post # 7
I don’t think you’ll offend them by not knowing the customs. I am sure if they want to contribute funds or even host an event that they will be vocal about that. My FI is English and Swiss and his parents have given us a monetary gift that we are putting towards the wedding.
I did attend a wedding with FI in England this past November, and silversixpence is right…there was no feeding each other cake, no bouquet toss, no garter (and I don’t think we’ll being doing these traditions either). But the rest was pretty much the same…ceremony followed by cocktail hour, grand entrance of the couple to the reception hall, toasts and sit down dinner, and lots of dancing! The wedding went until about 1am. I’ll say this, Brits sure know how to give a toast…the best speeches I’ve ever heard at a wedding!
FI had also never heard of a rehearsal dinner or an engagement party. My parents are throwing us an engagement party this weekend so he’ll experience that for the first time as the guest of honor 🙂
Post # 8
My husband’s English…the big things I’ve come across are bridesmaid’s dresses (in England, the bride pays for these, not the bridesmaids), bars (cash bars are more acceptable at least among my husband’s family in the UK than among my circle in the US), and “family dances” (my husband had never heard of the father-daughter dance, and thought it was super-creepy). Also, this probably won’t apply in your case, but in at least some parts of the UK it’s perfectly acceptable to have a ceremony with lots of people, then only invite some of them to the sit-down dinner (“wedding breakfast”) before opening the reception up to all guests for dancing, cake, and a late-night snack.
Post # 9
Mr.F is useless and helpless!!! You all are right, another example of why communication is KEY. Albeit not with Mr.F. I think I will call his mom to make sure I don’t offend in any way.
so…a wedding breakfast is not…breakfast? this had been perplexing me while I debated getting married over there (I won’t lie, visions of castles and estates danced merrily through my head at one point).
Thank god the cake and garter aren’t “english” and I will be more justified in crossing it off my list. We trade my watching football/soccer for him sitting through “wedding sunday” on wetv or any other wedding related program and he got this devilish grin the first time he saw cake smashed in someone’s face. I calmly explained that he is NOT to do that if he would like to be married more than a few hours.
Post # 10
I’ve no idea what actual british customs are or not since I’m having a dutch wedding, but some things that seem not done in Europe in general that we do in the US:
– Rehersal dinners
– Feeding each other the cake
– Throwing things at the bride/groom when they leave the church/ceremony location (of course this also may be that most cities just don’t allow it)
– Inviting everyone that goes to the ceremony to dinner (at least here in the NL it’s more common to have a reception where everyone gets a few appatizers and a drink then are shoved off and the wedding party/important family and friends go off for an expensive 7 course meal).
– Garter/boquet toss
– The last one, I’ve absolutely NO idea if it’s considered as much of a faux pas as it is in the US, but at least in the NL and I think in Spain it’s considered perfectly normal and very pratical to ask guests for an “envelope” instead of specific gifts.
Oh, and something that seems typical in Europe but we don’t do in the US is EVERYONE coming to the wedding gets a flower to pin to their shirt. Though I’ve seen it limited just to witnesses and their partners, parents, grandparents, and special friends.
But…all this being said…just because it’s not a “tradition,” it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Just don’t expect them to know what it is and make sure it’s explained before hand or in the ceremony/at the reception! For example, FI and I will be feeding each other a bit of cake. And everyone invited to wedding is invited to dinner (this was a “shocker LOL).
Post # 11
My wife is from Wales. A few differences she has told me about:
- The bride tends to walk in before the bridesmaids. They think of this as showing that the bride is more important than the bridesmaids. I was really struck by this one, because it seemed to me like having the bridesmaids go first increases the anticipation while waiting for the bride.
- The typical wedding cake is fruit cake with marzipan and royal icing, rather than a sponge cake.
- As the PPs mentioned, it is typical in the UK to have a big reception for everyone, but a smaller meal for just certain people.
- Weddings can take place only at approved locations. Typically, this is a church, but some castles, etc., are approved as wedding locations. But there is no such thing as a home wedding or a wedding in the park.
- Weddings are more rigidly “secular” or “religious.” A secular officiant is not permitted to include any religious traditions whatever. (For example, even having a chuppah at the ceremony, with no mention of God, would be out.) A religious officiant is required to abide by the rules of the particular religion.
- Anyone can get married in the Church of England (equivalent to our Episcopal Church), even if neither of them is a member. They just have to go to services for the three weeks preceding the wedding, so that the banns can be read. (I.e., “I publish the banns of marriage between NN of … and NN of … This is the first / second / third time of asking. If any of you know any reason in law why they may not marry each other you are to declare it.) The reason is that the Church of England is the established religion, so it has both civil and religious functions.
- Bachelor parties are known as stag parties. Bachelorette parties are known as hen parties.
Hope this helps!
Post # 12
Hello I’m from London! I think that 2dbride above got it most right with her comments. In the UK we don’t have rehearsal dinners at all. We DO however have registries and I know plenty of english brides who have chosen to do a bouquet toss and throw confetti.
Although in mainland europe it is more acceptable to give cash/ask for cash, registries are far more common in the UK.
The bride does usually walk in front of the bridesmaids who walk in right behind her (but some people are changing this). The main difference with bridesmaids actually is that we have fewer of them!! Some weddings will have no bridesmaids and anything over 3 is considered pretty huge. We also don’t have groomsmen, just a best man.
No such thing as a grooms cake.
Oh and as to the inviting everyone to the ceremony and not to the dinner…. I have never heard of this!! I was always told that everyone who is invited to the church should be at the reception, but it is acceptable to invite some people to the evening only (i.e. after the dinner) if they are work colleagues etc and not friends or family. But you would never do this to someone who was invited to the ceremony.
Favours are less common and more usually sugared almonds (although this is also changing rapidly).
But the thing is, nothing you do that is different from this will actually OFFEND anyone. If you are having an American Style wedding then that’s great! And all the english people can learn some new American traditions!