Are there any real differences between US, Canadian, Australian & British weddings?

Those’d be the ones that involve a matched pair of genitalia? 'cause, that was gonna be my point…

I was in England for a wedding where half the attendees were Canadian. The English didn’t know what the clinking of glasses with cutlery meant during the reception. Unfortunately it was explained to them (the bride and groom must kiss), cause I find it rather annoying.

Also, I don’t think I’ve been to a wedding in Canada that didn’t play “Old time rock and roll” by Bob Seeger. Even more prevalent than the chicken dance.

This sounds downright rude to me: “We’re gonna throw a big party to celebrate our wedding, and you’re invited! But please be sure to bring enough money to cover your portion of the food, drinks, decor, and entertainment, even though you have no say whatsoever in any of it!!!” Can I throw a party that looks expensive, but is really quite cheap, and just keep the difference? Don’t get me wrong - we appreciated the cash gifts at our wedding, but NO gift was “required.” Sounds like a fund-raiser to me.

Different strokes for different folks I guess. It’s a lot easier to hold a $5000 wedding with each person giving $50 than a $2000 wedding with the bride & groom paying $2000 and getting 20 toasters in return.

It’s not as if they send you an itemized bill at the end of the party, it’s just that you generally have a feel about how fancy a wedding is going to be. If it feels too posh for you, then don’t go. Then again, if you are genuinely in a bad financial situation, most couples would understand if you gave less.

Best man toast is completely different in US vs. UK.

How so?

There was a reason I left any details out!

Maybe completely different wasn’t the right wording. It seems like from my American perspective that the best man’s speech is supposed to be very good and funny and long in the UK, or it’s a disappointment to everyone involved. And there’s a bit about reading telegrams and toasting the bride’s maids and it just seems very different than the US where some best men just give a quick speech off the cuff and a toast and they’re done.

Let’s see:
Bride’s father (or whoever gave her away): Thanks guests for attending, makes nice speech about his daughter and how happy she is to be marrying a lovely guy like the groom. Toasts the couple.

Groom: Thanks guests for attending, thanks both sets of parents, says nice things about the bride. Toasts the bridesmaids.

Bestman: Thanks the groom on behalf of the bridesmaids, reads out telegrams (or emails or letters) from absent guests, says nice things about the bride…horribly embarrases the groom with slightly off-colour anecdotes about his bachelor life. Toasts the couple.

That’s the absolute minimum-the women don’t usually speak, and the father of the groom may or may not make a speech. Other than that it’s completely up to the taste and talents of the speakers, although most people spend quite a bit of time and effort writing and preparing their speech.

I have to say that all the speeches at our wedding (we had 2 best men, both fathers and the groom speaking) were fantastic, not in the slightest cringe-worthy and very moving. Especially my husband, who said very nice things about me!

Just wanted to make a note that the wedding described where guests give cash wasn’t a traditional Aussie wedding, it was a Vietnamese Buddhist style one - the quoted material was snipped in the middle, in a way which made it a little confusing.

If you go to a traditional Aussie wedding and give cash as a present, no-one would be offended (hey, we’re not picky!) but it wouldn’t be the usual thing to do. But there’s so many different cultural groups in Australia that I try to check when I accept an invitation, to see if there might be any international traditions being used instead.

I believe that for Italian weddings, cash is a common gift? I got the impression that it’s considered to be a gift that’s both useful for the couple and simple for the guest (no fussing over registries or running around town to get it). If that’s how it’s normally done, then I suppose asking for gifts would be the weird thing to do instead.

I can’t afford a lavish party, so I’ll make my guests pay for one!

I am told that here in the United States, if you receive an invitation and you decide not to attend, you must still send a gift.


Having been going to these things for years, I must admit I was originally of the same mind as you, and it took me a while to change my thinking. Bear in mind that I’m a person who loathes with a passion such things as gift lists for weddings, and even store vouchers or cash for birthday gifts, etc.

However, I came around to this way of thinking in the end. You have to realise that the trade-off is the couple walk away from their lavish night with no gifts. The gift was the reception, and it’s gone. A memory. Further, the cash is given in the traditional Chinese/Vietnamese “red bag”, and nobody knows who gave what. Some receptions run at a loss, and the couple have to prepare for that contingency. Some run at a modest profit, and then they can buy their own toasters. The couple doesn’t know how it’s going to go, so it’s not a fund-raiser. One time, I was responsible for setting one up, and I think we came out about even on the money, and were left with about three bottles of expensive spirits. They tend to work out pretty close to the mark.

Also, giving a traditional western-style gift is acceptable too. For the guests, it usually works out at about AUD$150-200 per couple, and for that, you get a banquet which includes expensive dishes such as lobster, an open bar with top shelf everything (XO cognac is huge at these weddings, and it flows like water). The guests have an expensive night out, but they do get value for money. The bride and groom get a memory to last a lifetime, especially if it’s a thing normally beyond their means. And you can put $20 in the envelope if you can’t afford any more, and you’ll still get the lavish night out. I don’t really have a problem with it nowadays.

I can’t afford kitchen implements, so I’ll make my guests pay for them! As I said, different strokes for different folks.

However, I think it’s possible to gain an appreciation of why the Vietmanese custom is like this. It likely started when most Vietmanese were still peasant farmers living in small villages. While chicken or fish would have been relatively common meats, pork and beef would have been pretty much reserved only for special occasions; religious holidays, births, deaths and weddings. The slaughter of a pig or cow was an occasion for the entire village to gather together because it would be impossible for a single family to dispose of all that meat by themselves (AFAIK, while preserving fish is common in Vietnam, it was not normal for the Vietmanese to preseve meats). Such celebrations would be an occasion for singing, dancing, excessive drunkeness and as much meat as you could handle. Thus, Vietmanese village life was charecterised by long bouts of frugality punctuated by periods of gluttonous feasting. Logistically, there was simply no way around the fact that cows and pigs come in inconveniently large, discrete packages.

This attitude is likely carried onto the modern era. When you celebrate, you go all out, no holds barred. Exotic delicacies, free flowing, top shelf liquor and the feeling that no money was spared. Of course, this isn’t actually the case, even back then, the slaughtering of a single cow might have represented a significant chunk of a family’s assets. It simply wasn’t realistic to expect a single family to be able to absorb that sort of outlay. Thus, arose the tradition guests were expected to make a contribution to the costs of the ceremony.

Do they have a ‘Money Dance’ or ‘Apron Dance’ in other countries, other than the US? I’ve always wondered about that one.
It’s only done at some wedding receptions, usually certain ethnicities (blue-collar Polish and Italian seem big on the idea), and seems rather tacky to me. Guests line up and must pay to dance with the bride for a few seconds. Someone like the Maid of Honor collects the money in an apron or basket. The idea is to collect cash for the honeymoon. Sometimes the Money-collector will annouce how much people give, “Uncle George has $10! He’s next! Cousin Richard has $20! He gets a turn, too!” It’s all in fun, but usually ends up sounding like they’re auctioning off a cheap hooker, IMO.

One difference that my American wife has remarked on is that in Canada, wedding cakes tend to be fruitcakes. In the United States, she says, wedding cakes tend to be more like “regular” cakes.

I went to a wedding here in Calgary where the bride was Philipino, and they had a money dance, with people pinning money to her skirt. This is not a Canadian tradition.

I don’t really understand why the wedding cakes here are fruitcake, Spoons. I like fruitcake well enough, but that’s for Christmas, not a wedding. Our wedding cake was chocolate, and DEE-licious.

I don’t know if this is a different tradition between countries or not, but Canadians don’t tend to invite people outside of family and close friends to weddings (unless it’s just people I know who don’t do this). I’ve read threads here about couples’ parents wanting to invite their cronies to their children’s wedding, and that always struck me as unusual.

Oh, and of course, we all take our shoes off when we come inside at a Canadian wedding.

Ha! Just kidding!

What kind of fruitcake is used for a wedding cake? All I can think of is that awful dried-up Christmas fruitcake that everyone makes fun of. Is it something different or (hopefully) better?

Here in the US, if you have your reception at a hotel and buy a package deal, with the cake included in with the meal and bar tab, you usually get a pound cake, with some sort of buttercream frosting. They’re usually just very average, taste-wise. You could go to the grocery store and get a frozen Sara Lee pound cake that’s much better, IMO.
Getting something different, like chocolate (yum!) would require getting someone to make it for you personally. Of course that would cost extra, depending on where you’re having the reception.

You need a better recipe. My grandmother’s fruitcake recipe has been used for numerous wedding cakes, to great success across three continents. “Dried up” suggests something went very very wrong.

I’m pretty sure that the person who told you that is mistaken. I’ve been reading up on a lot of wedding etiquette lately, and although there are regional differences, for generic Western-style weddings it’s understood that a gift is always optional - otherwise it wouldn’t be a gift, it would be payment.

Some hosts might look down on you for not giving one, but they would be rude and tacky for thinking that way (or misinformed by rude, tacky people). Miss Manners in her column frequently tells off people who write to her if they’re whining because they didn’t get a gift from someone, or they got a gift they didn’t like, etc.

If I couldn’t attend someone’s wedding, it’d be because I was broke, too far away, or didn’t know the couple well enough (one of those weddings with a crowd of 500, how can everyone know the couple?). In those cases, I’d think a card with my good wishes would be fine.

I’m relieved to hear you say that.

I remember an acquaintance of mine planning for his gigantic wedding noting that he wouldn’t send invitations to certain friends and acquaintances because he didn’t want to obligate them to send a gift.