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What Happens in an American Wedding

Living in America makes one feel free – free to do anything, free to live, free to love, free from traditions. While this is true, there are still many wedding practices that flavor this memorable event with a distinct touch of Americana. Here are some:

Starting from the engagement, Americans can think of unique ways to personalize their wedding. As there really isn’t any engagement tradition, the more unique and memorable the marriage proposal is, the better.

For most weddings, the engaged couple visits their parents to inform them of their engagement. Then, at times, the engaged couple hosts an engagement party. The engagement party costs less than a wedding reception since most of the time, the menu will only include cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Therefore, if the couple is on a tight budget, they can just invite more guests to the engagement party if they plan to limit the number of guests during the wedding.

Most wedding preparations include a bridal shower hosted by the maid of honor and the bridesmaids. The groom may also have a bachelor party the night before the wedding, but he has to be careful not to drink too much.

Wedding invitations should include response cards to quickly inform the couple whether the person has accepted or declined. Also, the wedding invitations should be sent four to six weeks before the event.

Usually, there is a rehearsal dinner in which the wedding party and guests come from near and far to be present. The groom’s parents usually pay for this dinner.

A bridal luncheon may be hosted for the bride’s attendants during the wedding day. However, time constraints may not permit this to be part of the schedule for the wedding day. Likewise, the groom may also host a groom’s dinner for his groomsmen.

Interestingly, even if the couple is not very religious, they often still prefer a religious ceremony. However, this may pose a problem since in America people of different faiths and religious backgrounds get married. Sometimes, because of this, people get married twice, once in the bride’s religious tradition and once in the groom’s.

Even if there are few people who believe in bad luck, some couples still ensure that the groom does not see his bride until she starts walking down the aisle.

It is still practiced that the groom and his groomsmen enter the church through a side door. The bride will then walk down the aisle with her father. In some cases when both her father and stepfather brought up the bride, she may ask them both to escort her.

During a formal reception, there is usually a bridal table where the couple and the attendants sit. Also, food and drinks should be served as the guests appear at the reception.

Before, gift giving used to depend on what the guest thinks would be useful for the couple. Now, it is better to register for gifts so the guests will know what to bring that the couple will need and this also minimizes duplication of gifts.

Upon receiving an engagement or wedding gift, it is better to send a thankyou note apart from saying “thank you” to the giver. This should be sent within two weeks upon receipt of the gift. Make a personalized thank you note, instead of using an impersonal generic thank you note.

These are just some of the many American wedding practices that make each one unique. Whether one chooses to be more traditional or prefers to have a very different wedding, the most important thing is that Americans still believe in the wedding vow, “For better or worse, ’til death do us part.”

Lloyd Leiderman is especially interested in helping people get the most from their wedding while keeping expenses down. See how at