wedding traditions in the United States


Many of the wedding traditions celebrated in the United States had their origins in other cultures.

As immigrants flocked to the new world, they brought their ceremonies, popular traditions and superstitions with them.

A wedding marks the beginning of a couple's life together, and many of the customs associated with this ceremony were originally intended to ensure prosperity, good luck, and fertility.

the wedding dress

It has always been thought of as bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her dress before the ceremony. Older traditions held that the bride should not make her own dress, this brought bad luck. White wedding dresses appeared during the sixteenth century. Before that, the bride wore her best dress, whatever color. White represents the purity and the maiden status of the bride. The bridal veil originated in Rome, as a disguise to thwart evil spirits seeking the bride. Later, in England, the veil symbolized modesty and chastity.

something old, something new

Every bride knows' something old, "something new, something borrowed, something blue." Originating in Victorian England, this tradition helps the bride prosper in her new life. Something old signifies the bride's family and the past. Something new symbolizes prosperity and good fortune. The borrowed item reminds the bride that her family will be there to help her. Blue is the ancient color of loyalty and faithfulness.

garter toss

In the United States, the removal of the garter is often a highlight of the wedding reception, with the single men gathering to get a glimpse of leg and hopefully catch the garter (or not, as this means he will be the next to get married.) This tradition started in France, where clothing worn in weddings was considered very lucky. Similarly, today the bouquet is caught by a woman who can expect to be the next to marry. This tradition evolved from the garlands and wreaths worn by the bride and groom to bring them happiness. The flowers were tossed to onlookers, spreading the happiness around.

cutting the cake

Cutting the wedding cake represents the beginning of the couple's life together. The first wedding cakes featured nuts and berries, symbols of fertility, and often part of the cake was crumbled over the bride's head as a fertility aid.

Many of the wedding traditions and customs in the United States had their origins in other countries, but have now become part of the fabric of American traditions.