In the previous blog, we briefly explained what a Southern Wedding is but this time we want to go a little more into detail.
After the big question has been asked, and the answer was ‘yes’, the wedding planning begins. The groom will ask a special person to be his best man at the wedding and form a wedding party, and the bride will find here the maid of honour and the rest of her bridesmaids. In American weddings, during the ceremony, you will often see a “wedding party” consisting of bridesmaids and groomsmen that will be on each side of the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony. These people are often family and closest friends. The history behind this tradition comes from very long ago. The groomsmen were originally there to help ensure the bride’s safety during the wedding and keep away other potential suitors until the ceremony was completed. This is also why the groom and groomsmen stand to the right of the bride, to this side it would be easier to reach for their swords if any fighting was necessary. The bridesmaid, on the other hand, is one of the oldest traditions and began in biblical times. Women had other females stand with them, noting the wedding of Jacob to Leah and Rachel, where there were “literally the bride’s maids” in attendance.
Nowadays, the bridal party has slightly different tasks and we’d hope definitely no drawn swords or fighting! Before the wedding, the maid of honour and the best man will each plan a bachelorette and bachelor party for the bride and groom to celebrate their “last night of freedom” before they tie the knot with one another. The bridal party is the bride and groom’s most trusted friends and family, and are there to help guide them through the planning of the wedding and overcome any second thoughts or “cold feet”.
Another tradition for the bride and groom before the big day is to ‘bury the bourbon’. As the folklore goes, the key to a rain-free wedding day lies in this well-placed bottle of spirits. The bride and groom must bury a full bottle of bourbon upside down at the ceremony site exactly one month prior to the wedding to keep the rain away. This tradition is still celebrated in the southern wedding.
The Big Day
Like everywhere else in the US, the Southern Wedding begins with the wedding ceremony where the newly-weds share their first kiss as a married couple. This can either be in a church or outside, but what is very common at all southern weddings, is the rural vibe. At many southern weddings, you will experience a lot of nature, flowers and lace.
After the ceremony, it is tradition to form a ‘second line’ made up of the bride and groom, the wedding party and the wedding guest parading from the ceremony to the wedding reception celebrating the ‘I Do’s’.
The reception will usually be a beautiful setting, inside or outside, where everyone will enjoy a beautiful meal together. Family and friends will give speeches, sharing their love for the new couple and their newfound happiness.
Later that night, there will usually be a party where you can experience, the father-daughter dance, a special moment between the father and the bride, or the newly-weds’ first dance. You can also experience the ‘tossing of the bridal bouquet’ where all the single ladies gather behind the bride. The person to catch the bouquet will, after tradition, be the next to get married.
The Southern Wedding Cake
First and foremost, the Southern Wedding Cake must be white. Today’s wedding cakes can be whatever colour the couple desires, but during Victorian times, the sugar used to make the icing was white hence the white cake, and the tradition goes on in the traditional southern wedding cake.
Every person in New Orleans will know the flavours of the traditional southern wedding cake, and this is still a common flavour in many weddings today. A white, almond-flavoured confection with a beautiful filling and white icing.
Before anyone gets to taste the beautiful wedding cake, it’s a tradition that the bride and groom must cut the first piece together. Following this moment, you’ll experience that many couples will be feeding each other the first bite of wedding cake. Everybody has their own take on this tradition, but many couples use this moment to be a little playful and silly with each other.
Lastly, we have the cake pull. If you are ready to foretell the future of your bridesmaids, cake pulls will do the trick. The ribbon laden charms are placed in the wedding cake for each member of the bridal party to pull out. Each charm has a separate meaning and is believed to reveal the fate for each member of the bridesmaids.
- Ring: Soon to be Engaged
- Airplane: Exotic Travel is in the Near Future
- Highchair: Blessed with Children
- Four Leaf Clover: Always Lucky
- Owl: Full of Wisdom and Intuition
- Rocker: Blessed with a Long Life
- Heart: Lucky in Love
- Ballet Shoes: Dances Through Life
- Tiara: Forever the Princess
This is of course not all the traditions that exist. The traditions also vary from wedding to wedding as not everybody wants the exact same wedding or value traditions equally, but hopefully this gives you an idea of some of the different fun and quirky traditions you can experience at a southern wedding.