American wedding customs – steal or trash?

It’s American Independence Day! To celebrate on behalf of our American cousins, I’ve decided to have a look at American wedding customs, traditions and trends. Which ones would we like to nick for our own weddings – and which ones should stay firmly across the pond? Under the Vintage Veil investigates!

Customs from across the pond

The rehearsal dinner

Americans love to draw out their celebrations – which I think is fab. However – while it’s great for everyone to get to know each other in advance of the wedding, it’s also another major expense which most couples (particularly in this climate) really don’t need! A whole additional meal is a lovely extra – but I don’t see it catching on in any formal way. Under the Vintage Veil’s Meryl went out for a Chinese! I think she has the right idea.

Bridesmaids first!

In America they have the wonderful tradition of building suspense by sending the bridesmaids in before the bride! I love that idea as it really adds to the bride’s special entrance if she’s preceded by the bridesmaids. We’re actually stealing this one for our own wedding, with the bridesmaids in different coloured Doris skirts and the groomsmen having ties to match the bridesmaid they’re walking down the aisle! Our own Meryl had her bridesmaids walk in before her – and here they are!

Photo © 2011 Pow Pow Pictures 

Cocktail hour

Yes! Steal – it’s a great way to occupy your guests while you have your formal pictures taken and you can put a British twist on this American tradition by making it into “Pimms and lemonade hour”! However I personally wouldn’t go as all out as they do in the US. In the States they tend to lay out a really big spread of food which I always found confusing – I think little canapés are great for keeping guests going until the mean but (and I’m really showing my age here) you don’t want to ruin their appetites for dinner!

Photo credit Skinny Love Designs – full feature here

First dance before the meal

This I can totally get on board with for nervous couples – imagine being so anxious about the first dance that you don’t enjoy your own wedding breakfast? On the other hand, if it’s not a source of anxiety, perhaps it’s best to leave it until after the meal as to not leave your guests hungry!

Photo © Caro Hutchings Photography

Fist pumping

I first encountered “fist pumping” on Don’t Tell the Bride USA when I didn’t know what they were talking about and just thought they were being incredibly rude! So I looked it up on Wiki: “The fist pump is a celebratory gesture in which a fist is raised before the torso and subsequently drawn down and nearer to the body in a vigorous, swift motion. The fist pump is sometimes carried out in parts of the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and Japan (where it is known as guts pose) to denote enthusiasm, exuberance, or success and may be accompanied by a similarly energetic exclamation or vociferation.”

On further investigation it seems to be associated with Jersey Shore. That’s America’s TOWIE.

Well that clears it up! But I think we Brits are a bit reserved for fist pumping so I’ll leave that one to the Americans! They do it so well…

Cake smashing

OK – hands up here, I don’t get this one at all. Please somebody explain the benefit of having cake smashed into your face by your beloved? While it might be fun for about 30 seconds, think of the hours you will have spent on your make up – and think of the dress! Noooo! Sacrelidge! Perhaps it could be a great way for a bride to get all her frustrations out the other way around though! I think we’ll leave that one Stateside –  but I’d love to hear from some braver couples who tried it!

Photo © Andy Pickard at Peacock Pictures


Photo © 2012 Blaine Photography

Trash the dress

Yes! No… Yes! I mean no… I mean – OK – I couldn’t do it! I love my dress too much. But I can totally see the appeal – it’s somewhat cathartic after months of planning to just lay it all to waste in one fell swoop. And the pictures are really compelling. I think I’m going to have to remain on the fence for this one – what do you guys think?

Photo © 2012 Sarah Morris Photography

What are your favourite wedding traditions from across the pond? Have you incorporated any into your big day? We’d love to hear from you!

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