The Difference Between US & UK Weddings


We have spotted some interesting differences between US and UK weddings. The reason they are different is because weddings reflect our history and traditions. They change from one region to another usually within the same country.  Before you marry someone across the pond read some of our fun facts about weddings.

Learn the surprising differences in our article

The US and the UK share more than their language (which is also different in both countries). Whether you are planning or attending, this is a whole different story when it comes to weddings. From the formalities to its size. Let’s go over the major differences between weddings in the United States and United Kingdom.

Average Read Time: 3 minutes 45 seconds

Are US or UK Weddings More Extravagant?

Weddings have reached a whole new level in the United States. Celebrations are centered around creating unique experiences. You can see anything from flowers hanging from the ceiling to indoor fireworks. But this does not apply to most UK weddings. Their receptions tend to be less extravagant and more casual while still formal.

Reception décor is important for couples on both sides of the pond but…

You will notice polished florals and tasteful table settings in the UK. The UK tends to focus on seasonal blooms and upcycled elements. While the US has personalized table settings, foreign florals and statement décor pieces. The US will use photo backdrops and drapery to highlight certain places of a wedding reception. Most clients even lean towards setting up beautiful DIY wedding drapery. You find this online with free shipping and easily install yourself!

What is a UK Wedding Hen Weekend

Planning a wedding in the US means planning at least three main events:

1. bridal shower
2. rehearsal dinner
3. wedding reception

In contrast, the UK couples only throw a stag or hen weekend, a celebration comparable to a bachelor and bachelorette party, but supersized.

US weddings have a bridal shower thrown by the mother or mother-in-law. You receive gifts from friends & family (mainly household items). Then it comes to the bachelor / bachelorette party organized by your bridesmaids / groomsmen, which implies a party or a fun weekend getaway. Next, the night before your wedding, you will plan a rehearsal dinner. This is where everyone participating in your ceremony will attend and practice every move for the next day. Finally, the wedding ceremony and reception happens on the final day.

Phew, that was exhausting. If you are a UK couple, you will only have a hen weekend, a 48-hour party with your closest friends; you will travel to a fun location within Europe or even to popular destinations in the US, such as Las Vegas and New York. And then your wedding day, super simple.

US & UK Bridal Parties Differences

Wedding parties are more likely to be larger in the US, with up to ten bridesmaids and groomsmen by your side on the big day. For UK couples, numbers scale down. A bride will choose a chief bridesmaid (equivalent to a maid of honor in the US) and perhaps one bridesmaid.

Traditionally in the US, the bridal party precedes the bride when entering the ceremony venue. During this bridesmaids and groomsmen will enter in couples. UK traditions are a bit different. The bridesmaids follow the bride and the groomsmen are by the groom waiting for the bride.

UK Weddings Have a B-List

Having a B-list means you make your A-list first. This includes your close family and friends. Once they RSVP, you see how many seats you have available and then invite your B-list guests. This is a common practice among UK couples but not so much in the US, where it is considered rude for many.

US Wedding Decor Vs. UK Wedding Decor

US Weddings tend to go above and beyond with personalized details. This can include monogram lighting, a couple portrait near the entrance, signature drinks, a welcome sign, etc. The goal is to wow guests as they come into the venue. A major difference is that all those details are less common among UK couples.

How are US & UK Wedding First Looks Different

Seeing each other for the first time in your wedding attires is a heartfelt moment. This first look is different in the US verse the UK. For example, US couples have two ways of doing this. First, the traditional couples will meet at the altar; the groom will be facing the entrance as the bride walks down the aisle. And the modern approach implies a private moment.  This is when they meet before the ceremony to pour out all the emotions of the moment with only their photographer present.

UK couples do it differently, they will meet at their ceremony, but the groom will not be facing the entrance, which means all the guests can witness their first look, a truly magical moment filled with emotions and excitement!

US Speech Vs. UK Wedding Roast

Whenever you attend a wedding in the US, you expect a meaningful and teary speech from the maid of honor, best man or parents of the couple. It will be full of cheesy stories and perhaps one or two dad jokes. In contrast, a speech in the UK looks more like a roast, they will do their best to embarrass you. There won’t be a dry eye in the room, because everyone will have tears of laughter.

Do UK Weddings have a Grand Entrance

US couples and bridal parties spend a lot of time figuring out how to make a big entrance to the reception. They choose a song or several and practice surprise choreographed dances and event use cold spark fireworks to make it more dramatic. The same can not be said about our friends across the pond. Their entrances tend to be more casual and relaxed. Sometimes UK couples will skip the introduction completely and just mingle with guests during cocktail hour.

Do UK Weddings Have an Open Bar

Open bars are a standard when you go to a US wedding; you do not have to worry about how many drinks you have had or paying a bill at the end of the night. However, in the UK couples will set a cash bar. Everyone who wants a drink must pay for it (unless you are part of the close family and friends). Sometimes there is courtesy wine available.

A Cash Bar Has (2) benefits:
1. You save on money on your alcohol budget.
2. A cash bar will prevent your guests from over drinking.

Weddings are wonderful celebrations of love, and we are certain you will enjoy attending or planning a wedding here or there. Experiencing different traditions is the best way to expand our horizons as we get to know other cultures. We hope you found these facts interesting. Feel free to browse helpful articles in our blog and our list of easy to setup DIY event rentals.

- XO Team Ship

Let's Plan Your DIY Wedding Under Budget

📦 Shop Our Most Popular Rentals

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *