Regional Wedding Traditions in America

A couple pouring bottles of sand into a jar during their wedding ceremony.

Are traditions just something practiced for a long time or are they something more? We know that in the United States, plenty of people are following traditions old and new. And while these traditions tend to be part of a culture or religion, what about regional traditions? Over the years, weddings in America have changed and grown to include all different types of practices. Let’s look at some new and old traditions that have formed in specific regions of the United States. You may be surprised and even inspired by what others are doing!

The East

A desert bar with lots of miniature cakes and cookies.

Think about the east coast: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont. These states form some of the most popular vacation spots because of their high populations, extensive infrastructure, and fabulous beach locales. Possibly for these reasons, it’s traditional in the East to hold beach weddings. It’s also tradition to have the ceremony in a rustic and beautiful location like a beach cottage or winery.

In areas like New York and New Jersey where there are high concentrations of Italian folks, a Viennese hour is popular as well. This traditional Italian practice is basically another excuse to eat more dessert. How fabulous is that? A table is prepared with everything from mini cakes to macaroons. The Viennese hour sometimes goes longer than an hour, despite the name, in order for guests to enjoy the extensive sweets selection laid out for them.

The South

This US region, famous for its hospitality, includes wedding traditions like ‘burying the bourbon” and jumping the broom. These traditions come from old practices and beliefs passed down. Burying the bourbon began because of a belief that burying a bottle of bourbon could help deter rain on the day of the wedding. Couples who practice this tradition today buy a bottle of bourbon, bury it upside down near the ceremony space and dig it up at the wedding. The bourbon is then shared with the wedding party during the reception.

Jumping the broom began when slaves in the south were not allowed to marry in the traditional way. They cleverly created the idea of “jumping the broom,” which was a way for them to get married without breaking the law. Today, their tradition is still practiced and seen by some southerners as symbolizing a “clean” start.

The North

A bride and groom having their first look before the wedding ceremony.

The south isn’t the only region with cultural traditions. Carried over by the Polish, a dollar dance is a popular northern practice that helps raise money for the couple. This dance basically involves the auctioning off of dance time with the bride or groom. In the end, the money is tallied and whoever raised the most with their dances, the bride or groom, wins! Some northerners see it as a fun way to help cover some costs for the wedding or starting a new life together.

A bar shower is another tradition northerners sometimes take part in. The bar shower is just like a typical wedding shower except instead of gifts, guests are asked to bring alcohol or other bar accessories. Also known as a “stock the bar shower,” this type of party helps the couple build up their bar supplies. Bars, even in-home ones, are large and expensive to fill, so this shower is perfect to help with the cost!

Another popular practice in the north is the first look. The first look is a moment set aside before the ceremony for the bride and groom to see each other. Often photographed, this moment is emotional and special. Although this tradition is far from traditional in some places where the norm is for couples to see each other walking down the aisle, the north seems to prefer it this way.

The West

This region is full of beautiful areas. From the lush forests of Washington to the rocky desserts of California, it’s hard to choose which place is prettier. Perhaps this excess of scenic nature is why many westerners prefer to go green at their weddings. The go-green movement has gained some serious momentum over the last few decades and this is especially true in the west. Brides and grooms all over the west coast are taking up this tradition with recycled dinnerware and low electricity venues.

Speaking of going green, westerners also like the planting ceremony tradition. This is also one of the newer practices out there and involves planting a tree. What better way to celebrate your love than to forever capture it in the soil? Couples choose an appropriate plant and place the tree during the ceremondy into a pre-dug hole. They fill it in with soil or sand, and that’s it!

Another western tradition is the sand ceremony. The couple holds two different colors of sand in bottles and pours them together into a new container. Naturally, the sands mix and create a swirl of color, representing the joining of two lives. This beautiful metaphor is then stoppered and given to the couple to keep in memory of the day.

Wedding traditions can be beautiful old or new, East, South, North, or West. Now that you’ve seen what other regions are doing, what traditions will you adopt for your big day?

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