The next royal wedding date was just announced: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be married on May 19, 2018.
This made me reminisce about- yes, Prince William and Catherine Middleton, to be sure- but also my youngest daughter, who was married in London. She and her now-husband became engaged while I was visiting in them in London, and it was not a total surprise… but what WAS a surprise is that they wanted to get married in seven weeks.
Now, I am a wedding planner, so I was prepared for that part, but I had to learn some English traditions:
When I went shopping for a long dress for my daughter’s wedding, the salespeople were shocked that I was looking at black gowns. In America, a black dress is a formal dress (particularly a gown) and it is worn very frequently by the mother of the bride… and they are popular for bridesmaids too. In London- NO. (The dress I eventually purchased was a raspberry color!)
In America, we have short wedding toasts. I always advise my couples to have those giving toasts to “be brief, be sincere, and be seated.” In England, there is a toast to the Queen and then a speech by the father of the bride, the best man, and the groom. Long speeches! In America, it is common for a toast from not only the father of the bride but also the mother of the bride… And the maid of honor speaks as well. But American toasts are often just a minute or two in length. There are no speeches by women in traditional English weddings!
In England, lovely canapés are offered to guests prior to the meal. In America, the hors d’oeuvres tend to encompass a larger range of heavier foods.
In London, I learned that it is common for all the centerpieces in the room to be the same height, although this is not an absolute rule. Here in Philadelphia, the centerpieces almost always vary in height.
In the US, we tend to use an odd number of candlesticks on a dinner table. In London, there were four on every table.
And here are some notes I wrote after my daughter’s wedding:
- Bring tissues from the US for tears of joy! Have not found soft tissues in London!
- Welcome bags. Do ahead! Buy fun things, and have someone else fill and deliver the bags. It is way too time consuming to do right before the wedding.
- Bring items from home for bathroom amenity baskets. You won’t want to take the time to go shopping. It seems like a quick trip, but there tend to be so many other things to do.
- Schedule time on the wedding day to go to the venue ahead of time and see it all set up. You will want to see it in a quiet moment.
- If you only have three things in an emergency kit, bring: pads for shoes (all kinds), sandpaper for the bottom of shoes, and a glue gun for anything else!
- Call the airline ahead of time if you are traveling with a gown and don’t want to put it in the luggage hold.
- You will need to check with the local registry office, even if you are getting married in a religious institution, for a license. You can contact an embassy to find out the guidelines or, of course, go online.