Weddings are amazing celebrations! No matter how small or large the gathering, wedding traditions can provide a unique opportunity for couples to communicate and display their love story for one another.
Whether you’re interested in adding small intimate actions into the wedding ceremony or including something grand into the reception, incorporating a fun, spiritual, cultural or heartfelt wedding tradition into you big day can add a special touch that you will always remember. Below are some popular wedding traditions, however, don’t be scared to add your own twist to something old…or even better, create your own tradition!
Lastly, make sure you select the right photographer, one who is experienced in capturing special moments including wedding traditions.
1) Jumping the Broom
In some Black communities, marrying couples will end their ceremony by jumping over a broomstick, either together or separately.
During slavery, vows exchanged between enslaved Black people were illegal and did not constitute an official marriage. Many enslaved Africans brought broom culture over during chattel slavery. Like many other things, it grew and transformed because of the specifics of enslaved people’s circumstances. For that reason, jumping the broom became a ritual intended to legitimize their marriages.
The ritual lost popularity after emancipation, but certain literary works and films have reintroduced this practice as one of many popular wedding traditions to a new generation.
2) Unity Candle
A favorite wedding tradition, often time spiritual in nature, is the lighting of the unity candle. The set-up includes three candles: one that represents the bride, one that represents the groom, and one that represents their covenant marriage.
When the individual candles are used to light the central candle simultaneously, it signals the union of those individual lives and the commitment they have to each other and the marriage. Unity candles can be personalized with names of the bride and groom and date of the wedding, allowing it to become a keepsake to be cherished for years to come.
3) Pouring of the Sand
It involves both partners pouring sand into a single container, symbolizing their life-long commitment and the joining of their two lives. Sometimes parents are included as well, to symbolize the blending of families.
Colored sand may be used to give a special meaning to the wedding. For example, white sand can represent devotion or spiritual values, whereas yellow sand can mean balance, friendship, or harmony. Bolder colors such as red can indicate passion, romance or love. When the colors are poured and blended, it further illustrates that the marriage cannot be separated as the grains of sand can never be separated and poured again back into individual containers.
4) Tying the Knot
The phrase “tying the knot” comes from a traditional wedding practice where the couples’ hands were literally bound together with cloth in a hand-fasting ceremony.
Today, tying the knot can be represented by the couple tying loose ends of a cord into a tight unbreakable knot. Just as we use knots to bind or connect in real life, the knot represents the commitment of the couple as one solid unit.
Many view the knot as a barrier to bad luck and therefore it is often seen as a symbol of protection for the couple as they enter their marriage. Based on Christian belief, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” In this instance, tying the knot can be done by using three differently colored strands that symbolize the joining of each spouse and God into the marriage. It is believed that a long and successful marriage can be achieved by keeping God central in the marriage.
5) Blending Paint
Instead of candles or sand, artsy brides and grooms can each choose a different color of paint and pour it onto a single canvas, creating a modern-art representation of their marriage. The canvas represents the marriage, while the colors they choose represent individual milestones, celebrations, dreams and passions. The colors, when applied to the canvas, will blend, mix, and flow together, creating a new color to represent their shared experience as a couple.
6) Throwing the Bouquet
Today the bouquet is tossed to single women with the belief that whoever catches it will be the next in line to marry. Therefore, this tradition can become quite competitive as women lunge (and sometimes wrestle) to collect the coveted prize bouquet; because what woman doesn’t want to find or solidify their future of love at a wedding?
Some brides choose to keep the original bouquet as a keepsake while having a specially designed bouquet to be used for tossing. Brides enjoy using the bouquet toss as a way of celebrating and sharing the spotlight with their single friends and to wish them luck in finding love.
The ceremony often continues with the the garter tradition being performed next.
7) Retrieving and Tossing the Garter
The tradition of removing the bride’s garter is reserved for the groom, who will use either his hands or teeth (Naughty…but highly entertaining), and then toss the garter to the unmarried male guests. This is usually performed after the tossing of the bouquet. It is presumed that the man who catches the garter will be the next man among those in attendance to be married.
If you want to keep things spicy, the ceremony often continues with the man who catches the garter being obliged to place it on the leg of the lady who caught the bouquet. This wedding tradition always gets the crowd excited.
Wedding traditions have been around for as long as marriages themselves. These traditions are a great ways to communicate your love, create visual representations of your marriage goals, or even get guests involved in on the wedding action. The important thing to remember is to choose wedding traditions that are important to you and represent the love between you and your partner.