Just like anywhere else in the world, weddings in the United States mean great celebration, often rather expensive and perhaps more extravagant than in other countries in the world.
According to the Bridal Association of America, the average wedding in 2009 cost approximately $30,000 (this amount does not include the Honeymoon expenses or the cost of the engagement ring).
Planning for such an event is crucial. Last-minute weddings work well only in the context of Las Vegas where people usually have spontaneous weddings.
Otherwise, a wedding venue is chosen meticulously and booked at least 6 months in advance. The picture to the right shows one of such venues, the Glendalough Manor in Tyrone, Georgia (see the map below).
A "venue" represents the entire wedding industry, as it provides multiple indoor and outdoor locations, food and beverage catering, officiation, photography and video services, entertainment, and a complimentary wedding planner.
There are several traditions associated with the wedding in the United States that make it different from Ukrainian weddings. First of all, any US wedding has a rehearsal, usually a day before the wedding to help the wedding party know what everyone is doing. The wedding party is a group of people involved in the wedding ceremony: a maid of honor, a matron of honor (optional), bridesmaids, best man, groomsmen, a flower girl (or two), a ring-bearer (optional), the bride and the groom, and their parents. Rehearsal is usually followed by the rehearsal dinner. Traditionally, the groom's family pays for the rehearsal dinner, while the bride's family covers the rest of the expenses.
The second difference is the ceremony. In the US, the ceremony is usually officiated by an ordained pastor or a priest who, by law, can "seal the deal." If a family is not too religious, they can choose to go to the Court-House and have a formal ceremony there.
If it is a religious ceremony in the Protestant church, the bride and the groom are free to write their own vows and repeat them to each other after the pastor. The exchange of the rings follows the vows, and the next optional step can be the lighting of the "Unity Candle." The bride and the groom then pronounced husband and wife, and then everyone is invited to congratulate the newlyweds and join them at the reception. (The image to the left is a photo of our friends' wedding that we attended in June 2011).
As people walk into the reception hall, they sometimes pick up their "placement cards" (see the image to the right) to know at which table they can be seated.
Receptions can either be lavish, with a full-course meal and an open bar, or a simple "cutting of the cake."
The reception hall is festively decorated with specific colors that have been chosen by the couple. Each table is decorated with a "center piece" (usually a candle or flowers) of particular colors (see the image to the left).
At the end of the reception the bride and the groom cut the cake
and feed it to each other. It can sometimes be amusing and fun, other times the spouses try to be very careful not to smudge the other person with the cake. The bride throws her bouquet at the very end, and tradition has it that whoever catches the bouquet will be the next to get married (below are two pictures from my own wedding as I tossed the bouquet).
Below is the map of Tyrone (Georgia) the place where Glendalough Manor wedding venue is located.
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