A Tale of Two Weddings

A Tale of Two Weddings

Adrienne BoettingerFriday,1 August 2014

The Snap:

When it comes to most things, ‘Mericuns like to think we’re #1.  We’re tops when it comes to the number of our citizens we imprison and the number of gun deaths per year but we lose out to Norway in per capita wealth and Japan in life expectancy. It pains me to say this but we’re not top dog when it comes to partying at weddings. Recently, I had the pleasure of attending an English wedding and while there, I was struck by the differences between English and American weddings. USA, we gotta take things up a notch because when it comes to nuptial fiestas, our former sovereign reigns supreme.

The Download:

Qualifications as expert wedding evaluator: There was a period of time in my late 20s and early 30s where I attended 85 bazillion American weddings. Seriously, every other damn weekend found me flinging bird seed or confetti at a happy couple, sidling up to an open bar, and doing the Electric Slide. Also, I’ve recently been to a buttload of weddings whilst helping out my wedding florist friend. So I know my shit.

A few weeks ago I attended the lovely wedding of my cousin William to his fair bride Melissa in Cornwall; this was my first English wedding. I intend no disrespect to the numerous American weddings I’ve attended and enjoyed but this English wedding was literally an entire day and night of celebrations.

Ceremony: In England, the bride comes up the aisle first and at a fairly good clip, is followed by the bridesmaids and flower girls. In America, the procession is way longer with the bride coming in last. British ceremonies get the marriage and vow part out of the way first so the couple can relax and listen to all the readings and songs, etc. And British ceremonies are more fun/entertaining. However, English weddings involve a lot of legal work and signing of registers during the actual ceremony at which point it’s like a free-for-all for the audience, particularly all the precocious and highly sugared/caffeinated children.

Children: Brits welcome loud and boisterous children and don’t even seem to break a sweat when said children perilously circle the wedding cake at full speed while giggling maniacally. Americans tend to like children to be more decorative than audible at weddings.

Duration: American receptions last 4 hours and you can bet your be-ribboned and be-laced ass that the wait staff will chase you out as soon as they can to set up for the next event. British weddings last ALL DAY LONG. The ceremony was at noon.  After pictures and a journey to the reception location, the festivities continued from mid-afternoon to well after 1am.

Overall food types and quantity: Whenever people moan about bland British food I have to wonder where they’ve actually been because my only problem eating in England is that I do entirely too much of it. Weddings are no exception. During the cocktail hour (which they call breakfast — thoroughly confusing us Yanks), we had tropical drinks and Cornish pasties…not those kind of pasties!! They’re similar to empanadas or savory hand pies. Then everyone gets to choose an appetizer (or starter) and main course with plenty of sides. We were even served a buffet of sandwiches and snacks a few hours after the dancing started to fuel up the party.

Bouquet and Garter: Brits forego the cattle call to identify and mortify the singletons amongst the crowd. As someone who has caught a bouquet twice and remains unwed, I appreciate the omission of that event.

Dessert: I would call this a draw between USA and the UK. Brits serve individual desserts (called puddings) and you get to pick out what your heart desires from three delicious options. This is awesomesauce. But I find American wedding cakes tastier than the dense, marzipan fruitcake favored at British weddings.

Dancing: Brits love a good dance and believe in full-participation crowd dances. They embrace the cheesy fun knowing it will get everyone out on the dance floor and lead to an overall more festive air. As a lover of dancing — particularly alcohol fueled interpretive dancing to 70’s and 80’s songs — I have to say it was fabulous.

But some things were the same on both sides of the pond. Like the bride looking gorgeous while the groom stands somewhat sweetly nervous and handsome, the joy of watching people you care about have the time of their lives, and the fun of twirling around in a party dress on a dance floor. 

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Hat Tips:

New York Times, Image Credit: Flickr*


*Converted from color to black and white

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