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March 1, 2007updated 01 Feb 2016 10:46am

Wedding Belles

By Spear's

Daisy Prince on the delightful trauma of organising trans-Atlantic nuptials

Daisy Prince on the delightful trauma of organising trans-Atlantic nuptials

Wedding season is here again and with it comes a nice collection of stiff, white envelopes to put on the mantelpiece. This year, I’m adding my own invitation to that pile, as I’m getting married to a lovely man called Hugh.

As the name of my column already tells you that I’m a mid-Atlantic girl, it should come as no surprise that I’m getting married in Newport, RI, USA. Organising a wedding anywhere is like running a social gauntlet but trying to organise it from a different country is like creating a perfect storm of logistical headaches.

Although I’ve been to more than my fair share of weddings, it is true that you’ll never know how much work is involved until you do it yourself. Lots of time has been discreetly set aside at work trying to get a hold of florists and bands, and worrying about transportation to and from the ceremony, reception and dance. Among brides these tasks are collectively known as ‘Wedmin’.

One of the biggest differences between the UK and the US is the length of time for an engagement. The British think that once you’ve made up your mind and decided to get engaged then you should throw yourself headlong into it and plan on getting married in six months or less.

The Americans like to take their time and wait at least a year, sometimes more. In my experience the planning will take exactly the time you’ve allotted to it. By the time I get married, I will have been engaged for a year and a half and the planning is going to take just about every second. It makes me envy one couple I know, who got engaged and married within a week. As nice as that sounds, that’s not going to be my story.

A great thing about a British-American wedding is being able to introduce each side to the best aspects of the other’s culture, although this might also provide its own set of difficulties.

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I am going to have a high tea for the reception and I have already been told that caterers will require a detailed memo on how to make a marmite and cucumber sandwich and aren’t sure how to pronounce, let alone find, scones.

At this point, I have no idea how many people are going to fly over from the UK for the wedding. One of the battles I fought and lost with my mother was over whether or not to put an email address on the reply card. This is one key sign of a generation gap.

She mistakenly believes that my friends are organised enough to find a stamp, put the stamp on the envelope and then physically take it to a mailbox. I know better and I’m convinced that we will have no idea who is coming until the week before.

For the intrepid guests who do manage to mail the reply card and make their way over to the other side of the pond, their reward will be the prospect of meeting a new group of people who are mostly single. At Newport weddings in the past, the Englishmen have been a great success with the American girls, not withstanding one or two cultural hiccups.

Take a similar transatlantic marriage I went to a few years ago between an American girl and an English boy. A large contingent of British men was invited and there were lots of single, healthy, beautiful American girls ready to swoon at their accents. Sadly, the American girls hadn’t been warned that when Englishmen are in new surrounding they cling to each other for self-protection.

At dinner, in true public-schoolboy form, the men greeted each other with exuberant slaps on the back, and brayed so loudly at each other that it would have appeared as though they hadn’t seen their friends in two years, although it was actually only a couple of hours. One pretty American girl was heard to remark, puzzled, to a friend, ‘Are British boys always so happy to see each other?’

I am sure that despite any cultural differences, my guests are going to have a great time at the wedding.   I know they are all looking forward to it, as am I, but what is really worth waiting for is the honeymoon. St Bart’s here we come!

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