Southern Wedding Traditions We Love
Down here in the South, we are ALL about tradition. And even if you don’t live below the Mason-Dixon, planning a wedding is pretty much the perfect excuse to bring out your inner Southern Belle. So, pour yourself a big ole’ glass of sweet tea, curl up on the nearest porch swing, and let’s chat about some of the best wedding traditions the South has to offer.
Burying the Bourbon
This tradition is VERY specific, and if you follow all the steps correctly, there’ll be no rain on your wedding day. Sudden summer rainstorms pop up all the time in the South (and let’s not even talk about hurricane season), so, why not push the odds a little more in your favor?
Exactly one month (no more, no less) before your big day, grab a bottle of your favorite bourbon and head over to your ceremony location. The bottle has to be completely full and unopened, so don’t sneak any sips or use that half-empty bottle left over from your engagement party. Find a good spot, break out a shovel, and bury the bottle upside down.
Be sure to mark the spot, because on your wedding day, you’ll have to dig it up, pass out a few glasses, and enjoy a toast with your bridal party.
Now, while I can’t say for sure if this works for everyone, so far, for the couples that have done this here on the farm, we’ve had a 100% success rate. And really, what’s the worst that can happen? A few rain drops, maybe, but, no mater what happens with the weather, you’ll still have a fun pre-ceremony ritual that you and your bridal party will remember forever.
The Grooms Cake
This oh-so-sweet idea stems from a Victorian-era English tradition of the groom and groomsmen having their own wedding dessert, usually a fruit cake laced with liquor. Fruit cakes are no longer #trendy, but the tradition of a groom’s cake is is still very popular in the South, and is usually a gift from the bride to the groom. The cake, which can be served at the rehearsal dinner or the wedding reception, is usually shaped to resemble an item with special meaning to the groom, and can be any flavor, although chocolate is the most classic choice.
Not sure what type of cake your groom wants? Just take your cue from the ultimate of all Southern movies, Steel Magnolias:
It’s no secret that the South is known for its whiskey (think Kentucky bourbon and Jack Daniels), but did you know that Coca-Cola was invented in Atlanta? Or that New Bern, North Carolina is the birthplace of Pepsi? Serving a signature drink is always a fun way to incorporate a bit of Southern culture in your wedding day. It’s also much more affordable than a full open bar…one or two signature drinks during the cocktail hour and then just beer and wine during dinner and dancing is really all you need! We even have a few Wild Flora Farm signature cocktails that we create using honey from our apiary and herbs grown here on the farm.
And for all the North Carolina brides, passing out bottles of Cheerwine for a toast during the reception is now a thing. It’s unique and fun, and a definitely a fresh twist on the classic champagne toast. Plus, it’s a fact that Cheerwine is the best. If you’ve never heard of this sweet southern nectar, get your eduction on by reading this.
We’re a college town. And yes, it’s always a #gdtbth (if you’re not from Chapel Hill, you can just ignore that). The point is, college sports are huge here, as they are in most other southern college towns. Fall is one of our most popular wedding seasons, which of course is also football season. Don’t fight it…if the big game is on, our couples have been known to set up viewing areas to cheer on their team. Sometimes they even turn the barn Carolina blue.
There are also other, more subtle ways to show team spirit: groomsmen socks or suspenders in team colors, and we’ve even had a few brides wear Carolina blue garters. Even if it isn’t game day, UNC’s campus is a pretty prefect spot for alums to take a few gorgeous photos.
And let’s not forget about THE most southern of all sporting events, the Kentucky Derby! Serve up those mint juleps, have guests wear fancy hats, and watch the race, wedding-style.
Ever hear of Mid-Western Cuisine? How about Northern Cuisine? No? That’s because food in the South is so special, it has its own category. From fried chicken, to shrimp and grits, to buttery biscuits and everything in between, southern food is an art. And, for many southerners, BBQ is where is all begins and ends. And we’re talking pork, not chicken, so don’t make that rookie mistake. Here in North Carolina, there’s Eastern-style, vinegar-based BBQ (which happens to be my favorite) and Lexington (western-style), tomato-based BBQ.
But pick a side and stick with it, because there’s no flip-flopping when it comes BBQ. What if there’s a division in the family? Serve both kinds, and let your guests decide which side they fall on. But, no matter what type of BBQ you serve, mac and cheese as a side is always a must.
Embracing the Heat
It’s hot in the South. Really, really hot. And humid. And so, by necessity, there are quite a few southern traditions that are based on just trying to keep cool. It’s most often in the south that you’ll find groomsmen in seersucker or light-colored suits. Sure, it looks good, but it also keeps the guys from overheating. Classic handkerchief squares serve double duty: they add a pop of color to the groomsmen’s suites and can also be used to discreetly wipe away sweat. And let’s not forget about the girls! Parasols are beautiful, provide shade from the sun, and make for lovely photos.
And of course, placing a fan on each chair during an outside ceremony is a nice way to keep guests comfortable on a warm day. And, finally, if you can’t beat the heat, at least take advantage of it by setting up a few games of corn hole (AKA bean bag toss for those not up to date with Southern terminology!) during cocktail hour.
The Bridal Portrait
This is a tradition that started long before the invention of the camera, back when artists would paint a portrait of the bride to be displayed in her family home. Now, of course, there are usually professional photographers at each wedding, but taking bridal photos a month or two before the actual wedding is still very popular in the South. In the past, this was primarily done in a studio, and the portrait was showcased at the wedding. Nowadays, the location varies, and is sometimes at the wedding venue, but can also be done at a popular garden, park or other outdoor location.
Monograms and Bow Ties
In the South, we’ll slap a monogram on just about anything, and a wedding is no exception. From monogrammed cocktail napkins to custom invitations sealed with a monogram stamped in wax, there is nothing that the addition of a monogram can’t make better! And of course, the bow tie has always been a classic southern touch.
So there you have it, some of the South’s most popular wedding traditions. If you have one that you’d like to share, leave a comment below; we’d love to hear about it!