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An American Wedding Posted by on Oct 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

As I recently got married, I figured now was as good a time as any to make a post about an American wedding. In this post, you’ll learn lots of vocabulary related to American weddings, as well as some customs and traditions. As this is a language blog, you’re encouraged to practice your English as well, even if it’s at home by yourself!

An American wedding.

An American wedding.

Pre-Reading Questions

Before we get started, try answering these pre-reading questions about American weddings:

  • What do you know about American weddings?

  • Have you ever been to an American wedding?

  • Where have you seen American weddings (i.e. TV shows, movies, etc.)?

  • What English words do you know that are associated with weddings?

  • How are American weddings similar to those in your country? How are they different?


Who are these people? Use three of the vocabulary words!

Who are these people? Use three of the vocabulary words!

These vocabulary words are important for talking about weddings. Try to read them out loud, guess the meaning if you don’t know it, and then finally check your dictionary.

  • to get engaged

  • decorations

  • DIY

  • bride

  • groom

  • wedding party

  • bridesmaids

  • maid of honor

  • groomsmen

  • best man

  • bridal shower

  • bachelor/bachelorette party

  • ceremony

  • priest

  • to exchange vows

  • reception


Mmmm... cupcakes.

Mmmm… cupcakes.

Wedding customs in the United States vary depending on a person’s religious and cultural background. In fact, most wedding customs followed in America come from other cultures. Many aspects of weddings have changed in the past several centuries in America. Whereas weddings used to be small family gatherings at home, many weddings today are very elaborate. Some people even fly to a tropical island, which is called a “destination wedding.” Certainly people in the early 19th century couldn’t imagine flying to the Bahamas just to have a wedding.

While things are sure to change again in the future, there are certain aspects of American weddings that are quite common these days. Once a couple gets engaged, they begin the long process of wedding planning. You can even hire a wedding planner to do everything for you. There’s a lot to think about when planning a wedding, such as location, guest list, food and drink, entertainment, decorations, and much more. With more than two million weddings in the USA every year, the wedding industry is very big and quite profitable. Although many people are happy to hire a wedding planner, some choose to take a do-it-yourself, or DIY approach to save money.

Our wedding party.

Our wedding party.

One modern wedding tradition is for the bride to wear a white dress, which symbolizes purity. It’s common for the groom to wear a tuxedo, although some choose more informal attire. It is customary to have a wedding party in weddings to accompany the bride and groom. The bride will choose her bridesmaids and will designate one the maid of honor, while the groom chooses his groomsmen and appoints one the best man. Typically, the bridesmaids will throw a bridal shower and bachelorette party for the bride prior to the wedding. The groomsmen will also have a bachelor party for the groom. Bachelor parties in America can be a bit crazy, and Hollywood movies have even been made about them.

The bride being walked down the aisle.

The bride being walked down the aisle.

On the day of the wedding, the bride and groom may choose not to see each other until the ceremony. These days, some couples forego this tradition in order to take “first look” photos, where the photographer captures the moment they see each other for the first time after getting ready. Another interesting tradition is for the bride to have “something old, something new, somethng borowed, and something blue” with her. In the ceremony, the bride’s father will often walk her down the aisle. This is a symbol of his acceptance for the groom and the marriage. Usually a wedding ceremony is conducted by a religious official, such as a priest. Other traditions include exchanging vows, putting on the wedding rings, and a giving each other a kiss to seal the marriage.

Tossing the bouquet.

Tossing the bouquet.

Next is the reception, which is basically a big party. There are a few traditions associated with the reception. Couples will cut the wedding cake and feed it to each other, the bride and groom will have a first dance, and the bride will throw her bouquet of flowers to the single women in attendance. Whoever gets the flowers will be the next to marry. American weddings are a lot of work, but they sure are lots of fun!

Post-Reading Questions

Now that you’ve studied the vocabulary and done the reading, try to answer these questions:

  • What did you learn about American weddings?

  • How are they different from the ones you see in movies and TV shows? How are they similar?

  • Who are the people in the wedding? Use the words you learned!

  • Are you married? What was your wedding like? If not, what do you want your wedding to be like?

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


  1. natalia:

    Thank you very much, Sasha, for this text.The subject is very interesting. I had real pleasure in reading it.In my country we have something in common. And there are some special things. I’ll try to write about them later (because I am going to involve some of my students to commenting your really good article).

  2. Elena:

    Sasha I really liked your article. We in Russia are celebrating the wedding in restaurants, in large rooms, you have a very beautiful and unusual wedding ceremony where the wedding party with dancing takes place outdoors. The wedding ceremony is similar to our traditions exactly as we do, but there are special customs. Here in Russia the groom with his friends and his relatives “buy” the bride (before the wedding ceremony) from her family. And during the wedding party the bride is often stolen by the guests, and the groom must “buy” her back.Of course, all the money goes to the newly born family. Thank you for a good story, may you write more such articles!

    • sasha:

      @Elena Thanks, Elena! Russian weddings sound like a lot of fun, too. Actually, my dad is Russian. Maybe you could tell from my name! Glad you liked the article, and many thanks for your nice comment.