British wedding traditions you should know before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding

Traditions to know before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding.

LONDON -- Every culture has its own unique set of traditions for the big day and the Brits are no exception.

Britain's royal family exemplifies tradition and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s May 19 wedding will be the wedding of the year, filled with some well-known and some not so well-known British customs.

Here are a few aspects of a traditional British wedding experience that differ from standard practice in the U.S.

British wedding traditions

Bachelor and bachelorette parties have different names

In the U.K. a bachelor party is known as a "stag do," and a bachelorette party is called a "hen do" or hen party. Both are usually held over an entire weekend -- sometimes even longer. Kate Middleton’s hen do was top secret, but for her sister Pippa Middleton's hen do, the duchess of Cambridge reportedly took part in a weekend of skiing in the Alps.

Wedding breakfasts

Instead of a Saturday night formal affair, many British weddings are usually held in the morning, with the first meal that follows often called "wedding breakfast" - though it may be a lunch or a dinner.

Prince Harry and Markle's wedding will begin at noon local time, or 7 a.m. ET, at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. After the carriage procession, the newlyweds will attend a reception where they will rejoin their wedding guests. Harry and Markle are expected to continue celebrating their marriage at an evening reception hosted by Harry's father, Prince Charles, for close friends and family, which is not open to the public.

Hats for the ladies!

British women have serious hat game.

(Remember Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie's eye-popping hats at Will and Kate's 2011 royal wedding?)

It's common tradition for all women attending a British wedding to accessorize their dress with a hat or a fascinator, a decorative headdress in place of a hat. They'll be worn throughout the entire ceremony and usually for an afternoon reception, but will be taken off during dinner or in the evenings.

Morning suits for the gents

In many British weddings, the men traditionally sport morning suits instead of a tuxedo. A morning suit is traditional British daytime formal dress consisting of a three-piece suit including a morning coat with tails, a waistcoat and trousers.

Only men tend to make speeches at dinner

The father of the bride, the best man and the groom are typically the ones to give speeches at a British wedding, not the maid of honor. The whole point of the speeches is usually to embarrass the newlyweds as much as possible.

Here comes the bride ... first

The big reveal you often see in Hollywood films where the bride finally emerges last in the procession doesn't happen in the U.K. The bride typically walks down the aisle first –- and her bridesmaids will walk behind her, usually to hold the train of the dress.

Pippa Middleton turned heads at her older sister's 2011 royal wedding when she trailed her sister in a sleek white dress.

Royal family wedding traditions

Wedding bands contain Welsh gold

All royal wedding bands typically contain Welsh gold – a tradition beginning in 1923 with the Queen Mother. Welsh gold is so rare it can be valued up to 30 times more than standard gold. Welsh gold has a history of more than 2,000 years since the time of the Romans.

The wedding cake is typically made of fruit

Some couples even opt for pork pie wedding cakes.

Harry, 33, and Markle, 36, have broken with tradition in this regard, commissioning pastry chef Claire Ptak of London's Violet Bakery to create a lemon elderflower cake with buttercream icing and fresh flowers as decorations, according to Kensington Palace.

The Royal Marriages Act 1772 is repealed -- but there are still rules

Some rules, however, remain. According to the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013, the first six people in line to the throne must obtain the consent of the queen before marrying.

The queen gave her consent for Harry and Markle's marriage on March 14. The consent is announced and marked with a letter to the Privy Council, the group of advisers to the Sovereign. Heirs to the throne may also marry a Roman Catholic – something previously not allowed. However, Roman Catholics currently cannot ascend to the throne themselves as the monarch is the head of the Church of England.

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