So you’ve had the perfect engagement with the perfect guy, and the perfect ring . . . what’s next?  As any good Southern lady will tell you, your future lies in the past.  Southern wedding traditions have histories at least as far back as the Civil War, and some are just so common in weddings throughout the country, you’d be surprised to discover they take root in the South.

When a bride in the South begins to plan her wedding, certain things are just assumed and expected.  Some customs have reached out beyond the Mason-Dixon line, while others have remained simply and uniquely ours.

Not surprisingly, most if not all of the following traditions stem from Southern hospitality. A bridesmaids’ luncheon hosted by the bride is a way for her to honor and say thank you to her attendants for their support.  Gifts are typically given and often involve something monogrammed, another wildly popular Southern tradition.  In the past, monogrammed handkerchiefs were gifted. Today the range of monogrammable merchandise is vast and wide, but if you’re looking for a nice nod to southern traditions, the handkerchief is a nostalgic touch.

Being the belle of the ball is the dream of every Southern girl. We’re all just modern day Scarlett O’Haras waiting for our dates to ask us to the Atlanta Bazaar.  Your wedding is the perfect way to set this scene.  Beginning with bridal portraits, a transplanted European tradition, both bride and her parents are able to appreciate the glamour of the moment forever.  Posed and formal, these pictures are as important to a bride as the wedding day pictures themselves.

Southern traditions thread themselves into the ceremony and reception as well. Burying the bourbon ensures no rain on the big day, so they say.  One month prior to the wedding, a bottle of bourbon must be planted upside down on the ceremony grounds to ensure good weather.  The bottle is dug up at the reception & enjoyed by the bridal party.

Another widely accepted Southern tradition is having an outdoor wedding. Whether it’s the great climate, or the old moss-oak trees, the South has some of the best scenery for outdoor weddings, and Southerners often take advantage.

Jumping the Broom is another tradition in African-American weddings.  Descended from the period of slavery in the South, and even farther back from a speculated West African tradition, jumping over the broom as man and wife erased all of the past misfortunes and gave you a clean slate to begin your lives together.  The tradition is honored today as much for its heritage as for its superstition.

Last but not least, Southern traditions have made their way into the desserts as well. Grooms cakes, again more widely spread now, began as a Southern alternative to the wedding cake, decorated in honor of the groom’s hobbies, and typically hold more flavor than the traditional wedding cake. The wedding cake pull also claims popularity among Southern brides. Charms are planted in the cake and attached to ribbons pulled by the bridal party before the cake is cut.  Many different charms hold different meanings, but there is always one ring present, and she who pulls it is next in line to get married!

Whether you are looking to be the time-honored traditional Southern bride, or a more modern model, chances are a Southern tradition or two will find its way into your big day!

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Photography: Kaitlyn Fellows

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