America has a long-standing reputation as a “melting pot” of different cultures, religions, and nationalities. It is no surprise that couples throughout the country incorporate their culture, traditions, and preferences in their weddings.
There is no definitive “American wedding,” thanks to the country’s vast amount of different peoples and lifestyles. However, there are American wedding traditions that many couples incorporate into their nuptials.
According to San Francisco’s city hall marriage experts, these are some of the most popular American wedding trends to consider for your upcoming nuptials.
Top 8 American Wedding Traditions to Consider
Printed wedding invitations
Most couples share the details of their upcoming nuptials with family and friends by inviting them to the wedding using lovely printed invitations. While the invitation communicates vital information about the ceremony, such as the date and location, the choice of stationary shows guests what to expect with the couple’s event.
Before 1447 and the invention of the printing press, the town crier would announce weddings and invite whoever was near. However, English aristocrats who could read would have monks hand-write invitations using calligraphy.
“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”
Chances are you may have heard of the line “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” when it comes to brides preparing for their wedding day. It is part of an Old English rhyme, where each item represents a good-luck totem that brides should have on themselves as they marry.
“Something old” refers to the couple’s life before marriage, and “something new” symbolizes their blessed future together. “Something borrowed” is a gifted item from a happy couple to bring good luck to the newlyweds. “Something blue” refers to the color blue’s representation of love and fidelity.
White wedding dress
When women dream about their wedding dress, they often visualize a beautiful white gown. The image of a white wedding dress is synonymous with American weddings because it is one of the country’s most practiced wedding traditions. Most brides wear a white wedding dress, gown, or a modernized tailored suit.
Queen Victoria is responsible for the white wedding dress trend. When she married in the mid-1880s, she wore a British silk and lace dress with a long train carried by 12 attendants. Her gown was so popular at the time that other women drew inspiration from the dress to design or purchase garments for their wedding day.
Today, the tradition continues. Though white is still the most popular bridal gown color, some brides personalize their outfits by wearing off-white or adding a colorful accessory to their ensemble.
Most couples have wedding parties consisting of bridesmaids and groomsmen. They select a particular group of people to participate in their wedding ceremony and support them on their journey toward their big day. Bridal parties usually include close friends and family members.
Members of the wedding parties are essential for helping the bride and groom plan their big day. They also plan and participate in bachelor and bachelorette parties which celebrate the groom and bride individually. On the wedding day, bridesmaids and groomsmen will be part of the processional and stand with the bride and groom as they say their wedding vows.
Today, couples can choose who to include in their wedding party and how many people to have on either side. However, the tradition began because ancient Roman law required 10 witnesses for all weddings, even if they didn’t know the bride. The purpose of the witnesses was to protect the couple by warding off evil spirits.
Bridal ensembles often include a sheer veil that brides use to cover their face or flow down the back of their gown from their heads. Ancient Rome is responsible for this wedding tradition. During that period, brides used a veil to shield their faces from evil spirits as they walked down the aisle.
Today, women don’t disguise themselves to trick evil spirits. Veils are more of a fashion item that completes the bridal look. They come in many styles, from the short blusher veil that reaches the bustline to the cathedral style that could be 25 feet long.
Part of many American weddings is the processional. A wedding processional occurs at the beginning of the ceremony. The bridal party walks down the aisle and leads up to when the bride makes her appearance.
The officiant leads the processional, followed by the wedding party, flower girl, ring bearer, and the couple’s parents. This American wedding tradition also comes from Queen Victoria and her oldest child’s royal wedding, which included a processional.
Newlywed’s first dance
After the ceremony, the reception begins. One of the most common American wedding traditions for the reception is the couple’s first dance as husband and wife. The newlyweds head to the dancefloor alone during the event and share a romantic or choreographed routine while the guests watch.
The roots of the first dance come from Europe. Noblemen of the 1700s would routinely host elaborate balls of celebration. The ball’s guest of honor will start the party by participating in its first dance. After the first dance, the party would officially begin.
Another popular trend for American weddings is the wedding cake. Today, some couples modernize their reception’s dessert options by having fancy cupcakes, donuts, or ice cream sundaes. However, the wedding cake is still a prominent feature at most wedding celebrations.
The cutting of the cake is a reception event. The newlyweds will cut the first slice together and feed each other a bite.
The idea of incorporating a wedding cake festivity as part of a wedding celebration comes from ancient Rome. Wedding guests would crumble a barley or wheat pastry over the bride’s head during that time. The crumbled cake or scone represented the couple’s fertility and good fortune.
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