Canada vs England: How Our Wedding Styles Differ

We all know that culture, religion and personal taste are some of the things that make every wedding unique (including your crazy aunt who dances on tabletops)! And we know that a traditional Indian wedding is going to be a very different ceremony to an Canadian one. But did you know that there are also some pretty big differences between Canadian and English weddings too?

It’s only when you go across the pond that you’ll see the little quirks that make UK weddings so different from their US counterparts. Curious?

Pre-Wedding Celebrations

In Canada we have bachelorette and bachelor parties. In the UK they call them hen and stag parties. In middle English, hen referred to any female bird. Hence it got the label for an exclusively ladies only party. The same goes for the stag. In the UK, they also don’t have a rehearsal dinner. Whereas here, a rehearsal dinner is a major thing. We go in for a big soiree so that both families can spend time with each other before the wedding. It’s a beautiful sit-down meal with Champagne and toasts flowing. In the UK, the bride and groom don’t see each other the night before the wedding and usually stay in different hotels.

The Wedding Ceremony

They don’t all get married at Westminster Abbey a la Kate Middleton in the UK, you know! But there are some major differences in the ceremony itself.

For example in Canada, we call men in the wedding party, the groomsmen. In the UK they are known as ushers. And it’s the ushers who hand out the programs and seat the guests.

In England, the bride walks down the aisle first, and the bridesmaids follow behind holding her train. Whereas over here we send the bridesmaids down first, and the bride is the last to make her show-stopping entrance. We also let the groom stand facing the entrance so he can see his bride walk down the aisle. But in the UK, tradition stands that the groom has his back to the bride and doesn’t see her until she arrives at the front. Scary for the groom! What we can be sure remains the same on both sides of the pond is that a professional wedding photographer is used to capture all these special moments.

The Reception

In England, the meal after the ceremony is traditionally called the Wedding Breakfast. But fear not, they don’t get married super early so they can get their breakfast in. And it's not really breakfast at all! It comes from pre-Reformation times when the bride and groom would have fasted before the ceremony to receive Holy Communion. The name has stuck, but it is in fact an evening meal.

The reception meal is typically longer than here, and there is no dancing in between courses. In the States, the cake is generally made of sponge and the bride and groom feed each other a slice after cutting. However, in the UK, the cake is traditionally fruit, although these days they tend to have sponge as the other tiers. The fruit cake is then preserved to be eaten at the christening of their first child.

Speeches

In Canada, anyone in the bridal party can give a speech or toast, and they are usually sentimental. However, in the UK it is a tradition for just the groom and best man to give a speech. And the groom’s speech is usually jam-packed with anecdotes delivered to embarrass the groom in front of the party. How mean is that?!

The first dance in the UK also happens after the sit-down meal and cake cutting. Whereas in Canada the bride and groom take their first dance as soon as they enter the dining room.

Who knew so many little things could get so confusing!