My first British wedding on a very British Summer day
Weddings are happy occasions. Although a wedding of my own is nowhere in sight, I don’t mind them and have long since gotten over the life-envy that social media tends to create.
This was my first time I attending a wedding in a different country of my own! Being a traveler at heart, it is interesting to learn about different traditions and customs for other cultures, and in this case how British people do weddings.
One wedding in 5 years
I don’t go to many weddings, and actually don’t love dress shopping. This time around, there was no question that I had to attend, and the dress shopping consisted of ordering a dress online and bringing it with me. Luckily, the dress was great and I didn’t need to do anything else. I think it took all of about 20 minutes if you include trying on time when it came in the mail.
Believe it or not, this wedding was the first in 5 years that I’ve attended. The last wedding I attended was my older sister’s wedding. As a 30-something year old, that may make me an anomaly. Having lived abroad for the better part of the last 5 years might have had something to do with it, but anyway, this was my first wedding in a long time.
Not only that, it would be my first time attending a wedding in a different country than where I am from.
I’ve heard about Latin American weddings, Indian weddings, Italian weddings, Danish weddings, and so on. I’ve attended a few Chinese American weddings in my childhood, and a fusion Indian/Chinese American wedding which was my sister’s.
This was my first overseas and non-American wedding!
What a lovely place
It’s a rare opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and forget about what is happening in our regular lives.
It was such a pure feeling of happiness to be there with so many good friends to celebrate the marriage of two friends. My group knew both the bride and groom quite well as we had all lived in Singapore at some point.
What’s more amazing is that our group is the most diverse group of friends I’ve ever had in my life and I love it. Although there is a large British/European contingent, I love how different and alike we are. It might not be uncommon for expat friend groups to be diverse, but I like my group and like to think that we are special.
A few photos
Tips and things to know
It’s a small affair
I’m pretty sure there were less than 100 people the entire day. This was by far the smallest wedding I’d ever been to! It’s a nice change. I kept thinking more people would arrive for the evening part of the day, but it never did get that full.
I quite like that it was a small occasion. It makes for more meaningful interactions with the bride and groom, and you don’t feel like you are lost in a sea of people. Although, this does mean that crashing a wedding in the UK is probably out of the question.
Lunch was the real meal
Instead of dinner being the main sit-down meal of the day, the lunch reception was the main meal. I’m not sure if this is the case for most British weddings, but from what my friend told me it seems to be pretty common. There was a less formal catered meal of burgers and fries during the evening part of the wedding, which was a grab it for yourself type of ordeal.
It is ok to give cash monies
Unlike in the States where it is still somewhat frowned upon to give or request cash as a wedding gift, it seems to be quite acceptable in the United Kingdom. Many families gave cards with their gifts. No wedding registry, and no carrying physical gifts into the venue to be seen. Of course, the bride and groom requested this, and people seemed to adhere to their requests. (Because it would be impolite not to I am guessing! See the next section.)
Be on your best behavior (kinda)
British people are stereotyped as putting really high value on being polite. While not universally true, it can’t hurt to put good manners to use. If in doubt, say sorry or thank you. If you are meeting people from the older generations, this might help get you on their good side if you are worried about making a good impression. Generally, I wouldn’t be too worried, but I also wouldn’t get blackout drunk and do crazy sh*t.
Drinking and dancing are encouraged
Speaking of drinking…On the one hand, while you should try to be polite, feel free to let loose and have a good time. Many British weddings will have an open bar for the entire reception. Not everyone gets down on the dance floor, but at this wedding a good number of people made it there and had a good time!
You don’t have to wear a fancy hat
When I first heard about these tiny hats that British women pin to their heads for these types of occasions, I didn’t really believe it. It’s such a small hat, and looks pretty intense. I didn’t know what or where or why this was a thing. This is an olden tradition that dates back to … Although it is still OK to do this if you would like, it certainly is not a requirement and you won’t feel left out if you choose not to.
A Great British summertime wedding
All in all, a great time was had! Since the wedding was a small one, I felt like we got a lot of time to hang out with the celebrated couple. This never would be the case in the States! I’m really happy that it was such a small group. It felt a lot more like a celebration, and less like a full day of events with lots of people around.
One thing that I realized is that maybe I should wear dresses more often. I stopped wearing them after I was probably about 10 years old because I went through an awkward phase and didn’t like how dresses looked on my body, but I could do it more now.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t cold at all the entire day. It was summer, but summers in the UK can get downright chilly sometimes, especially in the evenings. Even my friend who is prone to feeling cold didn’t feel cold in her off the shoulder dress.
If you are heading to your first British wedding, I hope that these tips have helped you out. It was less overwhelming than most other weddings that I’ve been to in the past.
As for future weddings…In 2018, I will have the pleasure of attending one of my closest friend’s wedding in Japan! DURING CHERRY BLOSSOM SEASON!!! That will be a whole different thing and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it!