When you’re planning a wedding in the South, you might consider incorporating some deep-rooted traditions and decoration styles into your celebration to make for a memorable event. These traditions have been handed down through generations and can be fun, quirky, and even superstitious. Many people don’t even know where these customs came from but including them in your celebration can be a great way to make your event truly unique. Here are just eight Southern wedding traditions to keep in mind:
1. Bridal Luncheon
Not every bride follows this tradition, but it tends to be a must-do item on the Southern bride’s to-do list. Having a formal luncheon with bridesmaids, friends, and family the day before the wedding is a tradition that dates back several generations. This is scheduled the afternoon before the day of the wedding and includes a brunch or lunch menu, a dessert platter, and light cocktails. It’s a pre-wedding-day ceremony the entire bridal party will never forget and a great way to relax before the big day of events. This is also a great time to give thanks to those who have helped you plan for your big day! Preparing personalized pieces of jewelry or monogrammed clothing for your bridal party and close family members would be a great way to show your appreciation.
2. Burying the Bourbon
This is a Southern wedding tradition that’s meant to prevent rain from ruining your wedding day. Before the wedding, the couple buries a bottle of bourbon upside down at the wedding venue. Forget the barware—all you need is a full bottle of bourbon for this tradition. The idea is to be at the venue exactly one month before the wedding date and to make sure the bottle is completely full of bourbon before burying it. It can be a fun tradition that the couple records to keep as a memory.
3. Outdoor Weddings
Hosting the entire wedding event outdoors, including the reception, ceremony, and party, is a longstanding tradition of brides and grooms tying the knot in the south. Since several Southern cities are the perfect backdrop for a wedding with Spanish moss-covered trees, lush foliage, and ocean views, it makes sense to host the entire event outdoors. If you plan on having a wedding in the South, choosing the right season is important. Spring, summer, and early fall are the most beautiful times of year to host an outdoor wedding because plants and trees are in full bloom.
4. Cake Pulls
This tradition has its roots in the Victorian era and is one way bridesmaids and single ladies get to predict their future. A set of symbolic charms are attached to ribbons and all of them are baked right into the bottom layer of the wedding cake with some of the ribbon left to hang out of the bottom.
During the reception, the bridesmaids and single women in the wedding party have the chance to choose one ribbon and pull it out. The charm attached to it is a symbolic message. For example, the person who gets the heart may soon find love. The person who gets the four-leaf clover might be in for a string of good luck. This can be a fun way to get the wedding guests more involved with the party and enjoy a generations-old tradition.
5. Parasols for the Bridal Party
Parasols may have come from Victorian traditions of women carrying a lightweight umbrella when they were outside to ward off the sun’s rays. If you’re planning a Southern wedding in the middle of summer, you might want to incorporate this tradition into your celebration. Parasols or pretty personalized umbrellas for the bride and bridesmaids may be an extra prop to carry, but they make for a great photo. Consider having a set of parasols made for both the bride and groom in different colors or with different accents to make them a standout accessory at the event.
6. Oversized Flower Bouquets
Since many Southern blooms are hydrangeas, large roses, and gardenias, you can expect to see these flowers in the bridal bouquets and centerpieces at a Southern wedding. Oversized flowers can add a dramatic but elegant touch to any event space and be the focal point of different wedding events. Look for unique color combinations and exotic accents to create a signature bouquet the entire party will love.
7. Southern Menu
Outside of more contemporary wedding styles, almost all Southern weddings will include a menu of classic southern cuisine. From shrimp and grits to barbecued ribs, don’t be surprised to find a variety of hearty southern favorites on even the most elegant of wedding dinner tables. Many catering companies specialize in traditional southern fare and will also include Southern-style cakes and desserts—the over-the-top and extremely decadent types of sweet treats—on the menu to dazzle the crowd.
8. Groom’s Cakes
Many people don’t realize that having a groom’s cake is a Southern wedding tradition. It’s a chance for the bride to impress her groom with a creative cake that speaks to his personality, interests, and talents. From cakes shaped like musical instruments to superhero cakes for the comic book enthusiast, you’ll find at least one creative concoction sitting on the dessert table during the wedding. Since this is a gift, the cake may be presented to the groom outside of the reception.
From fancy bridal luncheons to the classic cake pulls at the reception, there are several Southern wedding traditions you can incorporate into your celebration to make it a truly memorable event. Just make sure to take plenty of photos of the different activities and plan ahead to gather the special supplies needed to partake in the tradition in true Southern style.