Wedding Traditions You'll Only Find in the South
Southern wedding traditions have been handed down to us through the years, and they hold great meaning for Southern couples as they prepare to walk down the aisle. It’s heartwarming and meaningful to re-create the same traditions that your mother and grandmothers did, but it’s also fun to start a few wedding traditions of your own. Implement any of these time-tested traditions as you celebrate your wedding with friends and family, and they’re sure to make your big day even sweeter. While there are some wedding trends that have proven to be fleeting, these Southern wedding traditions have stood the test of time. Southern brides love to keep these traditions alive on their big day—and they make for great photo ops too. What traditions will you plan for your wedding day? Are there any out-of-the-box traditions that you can’t wait to try? No matter what Southern wedding traditions you perform, the memories of your big day will be priceless.
Plenty of Seersucker
Southern summers, am I right? The heat of Southern summers strikes fear in the hearts of many—but not those clad in seersucker. This classic fabric is not only stylish, it’s also super breathable. It keeps you as cool as a cucumber. That’s why it’s a must for outdoor weddings in the sweet, sweet summertime. Outfit your groomsmen in seersucker suits, and they’ll thank you once the weather reaches top temps.
We take our botanicals seriously in the South. When choosing bouquet designs, we consider floral styles, hues, and fragrances too. And our favorite garden bloomers have to be represented. Don’t be surprised to see gardenias, hydrangeas, rambling roses, or other pretty Southern blooms in the bride’s bouquet at a Southern wedding.
Burying the Bourbon
Legend has it that if you bury a bottle of bourbon before your wedding day, you’ll ward off bad weather and enjoy sunny skies during the ceremony. To implement this tradition, visit your venue with your fiancé before the wedding (on a day with the kind of weather you’d like to see on your big day!). Then bury a full bottle of bourbon upside down. That's it!
This Southern tradition has its roots in Victorian England. For a cake pull (or ribbon pull), symbolic charms attached to ribbons are baked into the bottom layer of the wedding cake. At the reception, bridesmaids and single ladies have the opportunity to pull a ribbon. The charm they find at the end of the ribbon lets them know what’s in store—a hot air balloon charm signifies a life of travel, a four leaf clover signifies good luck, a heart hints at love, and a fleur-de-lis promises prosperity. Each set of charms is different, but we like this New Orleans-themed set that includes a steamboat (signifying a life full of adventure), a crawfish (a life full of treats), a saxophone (a life of harmony), and a crown (a life of luxury).
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The bride’s “something old, something, new, something borrowed, something blue” is a tradition that stretches beyond the South, but our somethings borrowed and blue tend to be family heirlooms. They’re passed down from our great- great- great-grandmothers and give us a sense of history and connection to our families. Our precious heirlooms always make an appearance on the big day.
Memorable Groom’s Cakes
While the wedding cake is usually stately and elegant, the possibilities are endless for the groom’s cake. (Who remembers the red velvet armadillo groom’s cake from Steel Magnolias?) When the groom gets to choose everything—from the style to the flavor—you never know what will happen. Popular Southern groom’s cake ideas include cakes shaped like football helmets, the groom’s home state or alma mater, books, favorite foods, animals (dogs, eagles, alligators, etc.), and even tree trunks. Some grooms forego the traditional cake altogether and make a groom’s dessert of stacked doughnuts, Oreos, or pancakes.
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Classic Southern Cuisine
You may find signature cocktails at lots of wedding receptions these days, but Southern receptions do them with a distinctive regional flair. You’ll see our local spirits—Jack Daniel’s, Pure Southern, and Kentucky bourbons (Bulleit, Wild Turkey, and all the rest). Put your own spin on our one of cocktails for an instant hit at your reception. Try our recipes for a Bee’s Knees Honey Cocktail, a Blackberry Pisco Sour, Blueberry-Lavender-Champagne Punch, Strawberry-Ginger-Champagne Punch, or a Grapefruit Tequila Fizz to get the party started.
We brave the heat, even in our wedding day finery. For an outdoor wedding, not even the hottest day of the year can keep us inside. (That’s what those paper fans are for!) The prevalence of outdoor ceremonies is also why we have to bury the bourbon—all in hopes that we’ll have sunny skies on the big day. Ensure that you keep cool all day by checking out our favorite warm-weather dresses as well as our no-melt makeup tips.
A pre-wedding luncheon gives the bride ample opportunity to spend time with her bridesmaids, friends, and family before the big day. It’s usually scheduled for the afternoon on the day before the wedding, though sometimes it’s held at lunchtime on the wedding day if the wedding ceremony is held in the evening. Expect a few activities, lots of photos, and a light, fresh brunch or lunchtime menu. The menu is usually filled with egg salad sandwiches, chicken salad, deviled eggs, mimosas, and a Bloody Mary or two. Not to mention pretty desserts like Lemon Sherbet Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting, Mini Strawberry Tarts, and Lemon Cheesecake Bars.
Rollicking Second Lines
Head down to New Orleans for this spirited tradition. A brass band leads the newlyweds and the wedding party on a rollicking parade filled with dancing, singing, and celebration after the ceremony. It’s immeasurable joy and exuberant music, all rolled into one fantastic tradition. (The City of New Orleans even has a parades division, so you know this is one popular tradition.)