Explain American Weddings Please!

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Pandora II

Aug 3, 2006
This is going to sound a bit strange to most of you, but I am really fascinated reading all these threads. American weddings sound really complicated to me compared with UK and European weddings.

For example, what is a wedding shower, or a rehearsal dinner and why does it cost so much to be a BM??

I presume a bacherlorette is what we call a "hen party" and for men a "stag night".

In the UK it works like this:

Normally bride''s parents pay for everything except - licences, the church, cars, rings, honeymoon and gifts for the BM''s: the groom pays for these.

BM''s tend to be young cousins, siblings etc of the couple and occasionally a best friend as MOH. They turn up on the day, put on a pretty dress and generally misbehave in the church. The bride normally pays for the dresses.

The groom has his best friend as the "best man" whose job is to hold onto the rings, organise the stag night and make a speech at the reception.

Other male friends act as ushers in the church.

The stag night tends to be more elaborate than the hen night. Some people have ghastly drunken nights out all dressed as nurses or airhostess''s etc and tend to end up in hospital or jail! Amongst my friends, the guys tend to go away for a weekend and the girls tend to go out for a nice dinner a couple of weeks before the wedding.

The film Four Wedding''s and a Funeral is a pretty accurate guide to middle/upper class weddings in the UK

In continental Europe it''s less formal and I''ve never seen BM''s or best man etc

My BF''s brother is getting married in Chicago in September 07 to a really lovely American girl. I am so pleased as I like her a lot and they are coming to live in London after their EIGHT week

I am hoping for an all-out US wedding as they sound really different. However I''d like to be forewarned about things!


Jul 11, 2005
A wedding shower is a party given for the bride, often by her bridesmaids. Gifts are usually given, food eaten, and sometimes games are played. It is usually attended by only women.

A rehearsal dinner is usually the night before the wedding or very close to it when everyone who is in the wedding party gets together after they have rehearsed the ceremony. A rehearsal is a practice run. You decide where people will stand in the church, how you will enter the church, and all that. Afterward, there is usually some sort of dinner, formal or informal, hosted by the bride and groom.

BM costs involve (commonly) paying for their own dress, shoes, jewelry, hair and makeup for the day of the wedding, travel expenses if they don''t live where the wedding is held, gifts for the bridal shower, and gifts for the wedding. They may also help to pay for the bridal shower and bachelorette party. Some of these things, like the hair/makeup or shoes for instance may be paid for by the bride to ease the financial strain, but in the U.S. the BMs usually pay for their own dress.

I do think our bachelor and bachelorette parties are the equivalent to your stag night and hen party, respectivley.


Jan 2, 2006
there is a also a huge difference between north US and south US in reception expectations. a wedding/reception up north, say in chicago or new york, is expected to be a hugely expensive beef roast 200 dollars a person affair, whereas down here, we have cake and punch.

i have relatives on both sides of the mason dixon line and have seen both kinds of receptions. my northern relatives did not understand our southern wedding.

I personally would never spend for a north type wedding. BBQ anyone?


Jul 20, 2006
I had one of each, a wedding in Atlanta, Georgia as well as one in London, England (I''m American, he''s English and older family and younger friends in university couldn''t travel so we had two weddings).

Maybe it''s my age, 24 at the time of marriage, or the fact that I got married in a large city, but they really didn''t seem that different to me.

I know showers aren''t the norm in the UK and are seen as a gift grab, but that really seemed to be the major difference between the two cultures. His family also gave smaller (read: less expensive) presents as compared to my family, but I think that''s because his family is older and more are pensioners.

His friends paid for their own outfits, threw an outragous all-weekend stag party in another city, expected just as large of a party as my US friends, were upset when we put-off creating a gift list, got us the typical expensive gifts, and took us out for drinks the night before the wedding (since we didn''t have a rehersal dinner and they still wanted to celebrate).


Oct 30, 2006
Australian weddings sound just like UK, but starting to evolve into US style. Bride and grooms parents will either split costs or the couple pays for everything themselves- traditional- brides parents pay for everything for the reception and dresses etc- grooms parents pay for the alcohol. Couple pays for rings, honeymoon.

Tacori E-ring

Aug 15, 2005
I think the cost division is different from person to person. For example my ILs only paid for the RD. My parents paid for the whole wedding (except rings, honeymoon, gifts, marriage license, hotel room and invites). Some couples pay for everything. Some pay for nothing. Same for pre wedding parties. I know people who had no showers and some that had more than 3.
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