6 Common American Wedding Traditions

Every culture has their own nuanced wedding traditions—and American weddings are no exception to that rule! Learn what some of the most common of these are below so that you can decide which you want to include in your upcoming wedding.

1. A Bride in White

A bride holding her veil in the wind outside.

Brides wearing white wedding dresses is one of the longest held traditions of an American wedding. A huge amount of women in this country opt to follow this tradition, which actually comes from England. Queen Victoria had a fancy and public wedding in the mid-1800s. There, she wore a white dress made of British silk and lace. This gown captured the eyes of the public, and ever since brides across the world have been dressing in white for their walk down the aisle. Although now women tend to put their own spin on the look and dress tends have come and gone, the heart of this tradition has stood the test of time.

2. The First Dance

A bride and groom at their first dance.

Another beloved and long-held wedding tradition in America is the first dance. This is one of the most exciting parts of a reception for many couples! This is where newlyweds share a special dance as husband and wife in front of their guests to the song of their choice. This is another tradition that originated in Europe. During the 1700s, noblemen would throw lavish balls and whoever was in attendance with the highest rank or social standing would kick off the party with a first dance. Along the way, that became a tradition for newly married couples at their reception.

3. The Bridal Bouquet

A bride holding a large bouquet of white flowers.

Bridal bouquets are more than a beautiful arrangement! They signify a long-standing American wedding tradition. The bouquet is meant to signify the emotions of the bride during the wedding. This tradition has been around for a long time and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon!

4. Matching Bridesmaid Dresses

Bridesmaids in pink dresses walking with the bride.

This tradition dates back to Roman times. When it began, matching outfits meant good luck and were common at weddings. This was because people then believed that evil spirits would attend the wedding in an attempt to curse the bride and groom. In order to confuse these intruding spirits, bridesmaids would dress identically to the bride. Although the tradition and the reasons behind it has changed a bit over time, it’s still a common American wedding occurrence for bridesmaids to wear the same, or similar, dresses.

5. Tossing Rice

A bride and groom being showered in rice by their wedding guests.

We all know about the tradition of tossing rice at the bride and groom after their wedding ceremony. This originated because marriage was symbolic of an expansion, meaning that the newlywed couple was going to start a family. Rice symbolized fertility and prosperity. It was believed that tossing it at newlyweds conveyed best wishes and good luck. While this tradition has been modified by many couples in today’s world, the heart of it stays the same. Couples today opt to have different things—like dried lavender, confetti, or even blown bubbles—tossed towards them, or some go with the trusty original rice!

6. The Wedding Poem

A bride holding a bouquet with blue flowers and a groom in a blue suit.

A very common American wedding tradition that brides still practice today follows a famous wedding poem of sorts. It dictates that brides must have, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue” for their big day. The something old represents the couple’s past lives. To contrast, the something new symbolizes the couple’s upcoming happy future. The something borrowed means that something from a happily married couple should be incorporated into the look of the bride in the hopes that their good fortune will rub off on the newly married couple. Finally, the something blue is to represent fidelity.

It’s fun to incorporate long-held American wedding traditions into your big day. It’s even more fun to put your unique and modern twist on them, so feel free to shake them up while still honoring their special meaning in the wedding world.

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