You are here: Home > Tips & Articles on Weddings, First Communion, Baptism, and more! > Wedding Traditions and Customs > American Wedding Customs and Traditions
American Wedding Customs & Traditions

American Wedding Customs & Traditions Summary:

Weddings in America are just as diverse as the couple who comes together to share their lives forever. American Traditional weddings take place in a church with family and friends in attendance to help celebrate the joyous occasion. Weddings in America also take place in chapels scattered throughout the U.S., most renowned in Las Vegas. Some couples choose a wedding ceremony on a beach or in a garden. Whatever location you choose for your wedding ceremony, here is a look at some of the customs and traditions that seem to stay with couples no matter where they are. I have gone to weddings held in a back yard to huge wedding held in a church. They were all beautiful, and right for that couple.

Something Old, Something New Means?

Something Old, Something New
You have probably heard the saying:

Something Old,
Something New,
Something Borrowed,
Something Blue,
A Silver Sixpence Inside Your Shoe.
'

No one is really sure when this custom started. It is believed by many to have begun during the Victorian era, while others argue that it started much earlier than that. Nevertheless, couples have honored this custom through the centuries, and even today. Something old represents the guests in attendance at the ceremony who are already married. Something new represents the newlyweds and the beginning of their new life together. Something borrowed signifies something that the bride must give back, such as her veil or her mother's own wedding dress. Something blue is associated with the bride's virginity and purity. Something silver is any type of silver coin that is tucked into one of the bride's shoes to represent wealth and prosperity.

Why a White Wedding Dress?


The wedding dress trend currently is white or ivory, as this symbolizes purity. This is a newer superstition because white was started to be worn as a wedding dress only during the Victorian age over a hundred years ago that. And that time, white was worn as an announcement of affluence because white dresses then were only worn once.


A black wedding gown was considered taboo in the last decades, but recently, this is also becoming an option for brides. Black flatters a woman's figure and skin tone, and this flattery appreciated on a bride's wedding day. When I was in Santa Barbara from the Courthouse Tower, I saw a wedding where who's color was black.

A common superstition is that the groom is not supposed to see the bride in her wedding dress before the wedding day. There is also the superstition for the bride to avoid wearing the dress before the day and see herself in the mirror, because something that prevents the wedding may happen. This is a headache for the brides who want to make sure everything should be perfect on the day. All brides deserve a perfectly-fitting dress. Some who still want to follow this superstition fit the lining of the dress, and leave all trust to the dress maker. Some dress makers leave some stitches unfinished and only do the last finishing stitches before the bride leaves for the wedding.

A common rhyme regarding European Wedding dress superstition goes :

Married in white, you will have chosen right.
Married in gray, you will go far away.
Married in black, you will wish yourself back.
Married in red, you wish yourself dead.
Married in green, ashamed to be seen.
Married in blue, you will always be true.
Married in pearl, you will live in a whirl.
Married in yellow, ashamed of your fellow.
Married in brown, you will live out of town.
Married in pink, your fortune will sink.

Red is a lucky color in Chinese, so in a traditional Chinese wedding the bride wore a Red Dress. Now, European White dresses have become the norm for Chinese weddings, with the traditional Chinese dress worn at the banquet.

Bridal Bouquet

Bridal Bouquet

The type of flowers the bride clutches during the wedding ceremony signify her emotions towards the marriage.

In olden times, the bridal bouquet has herbs and spices instead of flowers. It was believed that these strongly aromatic plants will ward off evil spirits intent on possessing the bride.

At present there are a lot of designs of bouquet the bride may decide to clutch throughout the ceremony. Some bouquets are cascading, others are pomander balls, some wrapped in delicate fabric. The designs are endless.

Some brides decide to carry a bouquet of other significant thing for her, such as rice stalks or small branches of a special plant. Here is more information on the Flowers Symbolism.

The Veil and the Bridesmaids

The Veil and the Bridesmaids

The purpose of the bride wearing a veil dates back to when people believed evil spirits were around to try and ruin the wedding ceremony. The bride wore a veil to cover her face so evil spirits would not know she was the bride. Likewise, bridesmaid were made part of the ceremony to surround the bride, so evil spirits would be confused about who the actual bride was, and leave. Many couples today still honor these customs, but use the veil to hide the bride's face until it is first revealed to her groom. The bridesmaids are chosen to help the bride celebrate her happy day. This is also true for the ushers to celebrate with the groom.

Bridesmaid Dress Color

Bridesmaid Dress Color

The bride can choose what color that the bridesmaids will wear. The color usually coordinates with the other themes of the wedding, such as similar to the color of the flowers chosen. The bride should also think what color flatters the bridesmaids. These days, it is customary for the bride to decide what color and fabric the bridesmaids will wear, and the bridesmaid will then choose the most flattering style for herself. Some brides choose the other way around, they choose what style the bridesmaids will wear, and the bridesmaids wear different colors of the same style dress. More on AmericanColor Symbolism.

Rings

Rings

Rings, because of its circular shape, symbolize eternity, endlessness… thus a never-ending marriage. Rings can be made of gold, platinum and other metals. Some are encrusted with jewels to signify the value of a couple’s love. Some couples have their names or messages engraved on the rings before the wedding. During the wedding ceremony, the Ring Boy (also often called the Ring Bearer) takes the rings up on a pillow so the bride and groom can exchange rings.

Flower Girls

 Flower Girls
Flower girls are the cute girls at the head of the wedding procession. They spread petals down the aisle for the bride to walk on flowers. The flowers the girls carry or strew about symbolize fertility and hope. Others say that in the early times the bride and groom were made to wear flowers to ward off evil spirits. Either way, the beauty of flowers and the cuteness of flower girls add cheer to the wedding festivities.

Nowadays, one will see the changing face of the flower girl. Some girls do not strew flower petals on the way to altar. Some flower girls carry a mall bouquet or a basket of flowers instead.

Some flower girls cannot be technically called flower girls because they don't have flowers. Some strew confetti down the aisle. Some blow bubbles. I've seen a wedding where the flower girls carried teddy bears.

Choosing a Flower Girl is an important decision. Some couples choose a bigger girl instead of a smaller one, but substitutes as a junior bridesmaid instead of being a flower girl. There are weddings when smaller girls are put into wagons and these are rolled down the aisle. Other couples with significant (trained) pets in their lives may also be included in the entourage as a flower pet or ring bearer pet.

There is also an Etiquette for Flower Girls.

Here are articles with information on and Flower Girl Tips, Flower Girl Dresses, and Flower Girl Responsibilities.

Ring Bearer

Ring Bearer

The Ring Boy or Ring Bearer is a young boy who is special to the couple and is tasked to carry a pillow with the wedding rings on it during the procession. During the exchange of vows, the ring boy hands the pillow to the couple for them to exchange the rings.

Nowadays, it's perfectly acceptable to tie in fake rings to the pillow to wisely avoid any untoward incidents. If the couple's favorite boy is more than one, it is acceptable to have two ring bearers. If the couple has no favorite boy in mind, they can skip having a ring boy and have the best man hand over the rings during the exchange of vows.

Other couples choose to have a favorite girl to be Ring Bearer instead.

It is also becoming common for highly regarded pets to carry the pillow with the rings.

Receiving Line

The reception line is where the Bridge's Parents, Grooms Parents, and Bride and Groom, and may include the maid of honor and best man. The receiving line is where guests can be introduced to the other side of the family

After the wedding ceremony a receiving line of the Bride and Groom along with their Mothers and it may include the maid of honor traditionally, but often includes the entire wedding party.

Throwing Rice

Throwing Rice

The act of attendants throwing rice at the new couple after their wedding ceremony signifies that they wish the couple happiness and prosperity. In recent years rice has been replaced with things such as birdseed and even blowing bubbles. It has been thought that rice is hard to clean up, and birds could just eat the birdseed. Bubbles are festive, so they have become quite popular over the years as well.

Wedding Car

Wedding Car

The wedding car is just as important in the wedding rites. The wedding car is the first venue for a couple to be alone and have privacy after they leave the church or the reception. In older times, it is considered good luck to have the wedding carriage drawn by gray horses. It is also a good omen if the wedding carriage meets a gray horse on the way to reception. It is considered bad luck if a horse refuses to move or walk to or after the ceremony.

These days, it is considered ill luck when the car won't start or breaks down. It is also believed that after the bride is set at the church door the car should travel for a short distance before going back. Not doing so would cause the bride or groom bad luck.

Wedding cars are usually decorated with flowers, or a sign that says Just Married, or hung with tin cans. These tin cans clank along the pavement as the car moves. The noise it makes is believed to ward off evil spirits.

Throwing the Bouquet

Throwing the Bouquet

Single ladies in attendance at the wedding reception are invited to come up and try to catch the bride's bouquet. This is a custom that represents which lady will be the next to be married. As the custom goes, she is to take a small piece of the wedding cake home and slip it under her pillow that very night. She will then have a dream about the man she will soon marry.

Catching the Garter

Catching the Garter

Garters are a fertility symbol and the man who catches it will be married next per tradition. The garter is worn just above the knee. The bride throws it in back of her to the single men. There is a funny story about the garter at my wedding, but I am too embarrassed to tell it. Another story at my wedding was a girl friend of a high school friend lunged in front of everyone, and got the bouquet. The comment was she was super aggressive from some other friends. The high school friend was very careful when the garter was thrown, to keep his hands absolutely at his side so there was zero chance he would get the garter. I wonder what ever happened to them.

Wedding Reception

Wedding Receptions

The reception that follows the wedding and is often a sit down dinner, but some have a buffet. There is often games that are played during the reception and some receptions include a dance. I have been to receptions that varied from a small dinner at a Chinese restaurant, where the wedding was attended only by close family, to a very expensive American Steak Dinner that I don't even want to know the bill. Chinese and Vietnamese receptions I have found to be the most fun. Getting the couples to kiss by banging glasses with chopsticks is a fun tradition. As is the part of where the groom has to share a toast at each table. The important part is doing what is right for your family, and matches your budget.

Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes are not just dessert to be served to guests during reception. The wedding cake is cut together by the couple during the wedding reception. Then the husband and wife exchange bites of the cake. This is the first act the couple does together as husband and wife.

The sweet wedding cake symbolizes caring and nurturance between the couple. Wedding cakes are also usually white, to symbolize purity. In ancient Rome, the wedding cake is a loaf of bread. This cake is broken over the bride's head. The guests would then scramble for the crumbs.

There are also numerous superstitions about good luck for those who can bring home the crumbs of the wedding cake. Putting crumbs of a wedding cake under one's pillow will make a guest dream of the future spouse. Crumbs are also believed to enhance fertility.

Wedding cakes nowadays have a variety of designs, layers and flavors. Besides choosing a cake in one's favorite flavor, couples also have to choose the cake according to practical reasons.

  • Fruit cakes stand up better because of the volume added by the fruit. Fruit cakes are especially great for multi-layered tiers as it can hold the weight of the tiers.
  • Chocolate cakes can present a problem. Couples are expected to exchange bites of the cake and smile for the photographer right after. Brown smears on the teeth or face will not be flattering on pictures.
  • Fondant cakes also hold up better, even during warm weather.
  • Three-tiered cakes can be practical. Bottom layer can be eaten at the reception, middle layer can be distributed for give-aways, and the top layer can be saved and frozen for the next big occasion, such as the first wedding anniversary or the baptism of the couple's first child.

My wedding cake was a carrot cake with real Butter Cream Frosting. It was a bit nontraditional at the time, but it was so delicious! If you have more than one type of cake at a wedding, everyone will take a sample of both cakes. Our wedding planner mentioned that, and I saw that later at a neighbors wedding who had a chocolate and white cake. We did save the top layer of our cake, but we forgot about it and when we found it again in my in-laws freezer, nobody had the courage to eat it.

Wedding Location

Wedding Location

Weddings are traditionally held in places of worship. Churches, chapels and temples are usual venues to get married. Often a wedding venue is chosen because of its significance to the bride or groom. It could be a church where one attended growing up, etc. Or a parish church officiated by a favorite priest. Some couples pick a place of worship because of its excellent artistic or historical attributes.

Some couples choose to get married where marriage licenses are easier to acquire, such as Las Vegas or a country with easy application process. Some couples choose to get married in their homes.

Other couples are more adventurous and pick an assortment of venues to exchange their "I Dos". Some want to hold their wedding outdoors. A pretty garden, the sea, a public park are beautiful places that will make a wedding memorable. Other couples go all out with their creativity to make their wedding unique. Sometimes, a hobby or interest will naturally dictate what wedding location is most ideal for a couple. Some couples have gotten married airborne, under the sea or up the mountains.

There is no limit to where a wedding can be held. As long as a place is special for both the bride and groom, any place is the perfect place to hold a wedding.

Wedding Order of Events

  • Engagement

  • Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

  • Wedding

  • Reception Line in church

  • Reception

  • Grand Entrance of Wedding Party

  • Meal

  • Cutting of Cake (sometimes this is done after the dance, since some people believe when the cake is cut the reception is over).

  • Throwing of the Garter

  • Throwing the bouquet

  • Father Daughter Dance

Wedding Rehearsal

Wedding Rehearsal

Practice makes perfect, so there is a full rehearsal usually the night before the actually wedding. Rehearsals are so important! I went to one wedding recently that did not have a rehearsal, and you could tell. It was a beautiful location, but a lot of small things could have been done that would have made it so much nicer.

Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is given as a thanksgiving meal to the entourage who have come to practice the wedding march. This is done very near to the wedding date. It is often sponsored by the groom's family and a good time for the two families to eat to know each other. Especially since many times some members of the wedding party have traveled quite a distance. My family flew to NY twice for two cousin's weddings from California. The location is determined by who pays for the dinner. With more and more couples paying for everything, this does change the style a bit.

Other American Wedding Customs

  • Gift registration. Couples today can window shop around favorite specialty stores and sign up with the bridal registry. In the registry, they can specify what they need or want. The stores where the couple is registered can be announced during the engagement, or written in the wedding invitation. This way, well-wishers can check out from the store most convenient to buy from and decide on a gift that will surely be used and liked by the couple.
  • Bridal Shower and Groom's Stag Party. These parties are organized by the maid of honor for the bride, and the Best Man for the groom. It is also done days before the wedding, sometimes the day before. The ladies and gentlemen enjoy the night with activities they consider enjoyable. It is the party that signifies farewell to the bride's and groom's carefree, single life.

Additional Wedding Customs Information

While once believed to be totally true by those given in to superstition, the custom is just an act of fun and tradition these days, as no one really believes this anymore. The same is true with the garter thrown by the groom to all of the single men hoping to catch the keepsake.

It seems that American wedd
ing customs have deep-seeded beginnings in superstition. Nowadays, couples use these Wedding traditions and customs for entertainment and for the sake of tradition. The truth is, the couple has all the power they need to make their marriage last through the love that they have for each other. But, it never hurts to throw in a little luck just because it is so much fun. Weddings are becoming more multi-cultural, as people from different cultures marry.

Let us help with your wedding! We have helped give smiles to over 20,000 Little Girls and Wedding Wire rated us in the top 5% of all wedding retailers. Please check out our large selection of Flower girl dresses with fast shipping and a 100% money back guarantee.

by:


---***---

Copyright
The entire content included in this page, including but not limited to text, graphics or code is copyrighted as a collective work under the United States and other copyright laws, and is the property of EliteDresses.com. The collective work includes works that are licensed to EliteDresses.com. Copyright 2013, EliteDresses.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Permission is granted to repost as long as the links are kept and proper credit should be given to Elitedresses.com

Sort By:
Page of 1
Girls Beautiful White Sleeveless Formal Dress With Colorful Sash And Flower Girls beautiful Ivory sleeveless formal dress with colorful sash and flower Girl's Lime Green Sequined Bodice with Layered Mesh Skirt
Girl's Beautiful White Sleeveless Formal Dress With Colorful Sash And Flower
Retail Price: $84.99
Our Price: $49.99
You Save: $35.00
Girl's beautiful Ivory sleeveless formal dress with colorful sash and flower
Retail Price: $84.99
Our Price: $49.99
You Save: $35.00
Girl's Lime Green Sequined Bodice with Layered Mesh Skirt
Retail Price: $84.99
Our Price: $49.99
Sale Price: $44.99
You Save: $40.00
  • Choose one out of 22 organza sashes featuring 2 rosettes for that floral and formal look
  • This white raw silk dress has a light and elegant feel your daughter will love to wear
  • Available in Baby Sizes and Girl's Sizes 2-14, big sister and little sister will love matching each other
Which color sash do you and your girl want for this white dress?
  • Choose one out of 22 organza sashes featuring 2 rosettes for that floral and formal look
  • This Ivory Poly-Silk dress has a light and elegant feel your daughter will love to wear
  • Available in Baby Sizes and Girl's Sizes 2-14, big sister and little sister will love matching each other
Which color sash do you and your girl want for this ivory dress?
  • She'll dazzle everyone at the event in this sparkly dress
  • Tea length keeps this dress formal but is still fun to move in
  • In sizes 2-14, girls of any age will love this!
Your daughter will turn heads in this. Click details to order!
Black Flower Girls Dress Sleeveless Formal Dress Girls White Dupioni Silk Flower Girl Dress with Flower Accents Pink Sleeveless Lace Accented  Waistline w/ Tulle Skirt Flower Girl Dress
Girl's Beautiful Black Sleeveless Formal Dress
Retail Price: $49.99
Our Price: $39.99
You Save: $10.00
Girl's White Dupioni Silk Flower Girl Dress with Flower Accents
Retail Price: $91.99
Our Price: $54.99
You Save: $37.00
Pink Sleeveless Lace Accented Waistline w/ Tulle Skirt Flower Girl Dress
Retail Price: $91.99
Our Price: $54.99
You Save: $37.00
  • Your girl will love this simple, stunning gown
  • Organza overlays the soft satin tea-length skirt for an elegant touch
  • Available in baby sizes and girls sizes 2-12; baby can match her big sister!

Click to see details on this beautiful classic dress in black!

  • Your little girl will love this beautiful dress with white textured silk top
  • A princess-like skirt with elegant rose petals spread inside
  • Girls sizes 2-12
19 beautiful colors to choose from; which color is right for her event?
  • Your little girl will look and feel like a princess in this dress
  • Beautifully crafted dress with designer quality
  • Available in sizes 2-12

See details to order this stunning classic dress for your little girl!

Girls Eggplant Chiffon Tent Dress with Satin bib neckline Girls Pink Poly Dupioni Flower girl Dress Baby Girl's Pink Pink Dupioni Flower girl Dress
Girl's Eggplant Chiffon Tent Dress with Satin bib neckline
Retail Price: $59.99
Our Price: $34.99
You Save: $25.00
Girl's Pink Poly Dupioni Flower girl Dress
Retail Price: $84.99
Our Price: $49.99
You Save: $35.00
Baby Girl's Pink Pink Dupioni Flower girl Dress
Retail Price: $84.99
Our Price: $44.99
You Save: $40.00
  • This adorable chiffon dress is the perfect dress for your daughter
  • This knee-length dress is great for warm days, then add tights for cooler days
  • In sizes 2-14, little girls of any age will love it!
Your little girl will love attending parties and special occasions with this dress!
  • The subtle glow of dupioni material will make your daughter shine in this dress
  • Adjustable waist with ribbon sash tied at the back
  • Girls sizes - size 2-8, girls of any age will love this

Order this outstanding pink dress for her and get it in just 1-3* days.

  • The subtle glow of dupioni material will make your baby girl shine in this dress
  • Ribbon sash tied at the back
  • Baby Girls sizes - size XS-XL, you will adore this dress

Order this outstanding pink dress for her and get it in just 1-3* days.

Girls White Satin Bodice and Tulle Skirt Ballerina Dress
Girls White Satin Bodice and Tulle Skirt Ballerina Dress
Retail Price: $74.99
Our Price: $44.99
Sale Price: $34.99
You Save: $40.00
  • Your daughter will shine in this sparkly tulle and satin dress
  • She'll look and feel like a little princess
  • Sizes 2-12 little girls of any age will love it
Get the dress your daughter will love in just 2-3* days!