FOLKLORE & FANFARE: A Southern Girl’s Guide to Wedding Traditions | 10 Sweet Sentiments + Superstitions

Photos: KMarwitzPhotography

When it comes to southern wedding traditions, there are many. From the superstitious act of burying bourbon to the art of giving gifts, we are giving you the scoop on some of our favorite traditions perfected by generations of couples through time.


1 {Lavaliering} Fraternities and sororities pride themselves on tradition. For undergraduate fraternity men in the south, the first step toward marriage is often the process of lavaliering. This semi-public ceremonial tradition takes place when a young man presents his fraternity’s letters to his girlfriend in front of his fraternity brothers. The letters are often worn on a necklace or sometimes a pin and symbolize taking the next step in a relationship, a sort of pre-engagement, if you will.
2 {Candle Pass} I will never forget the electricity in the room when our sorority chapter president would announce that a candle pass would be taking place during our weekly chapter meeting. A beautiful tradition now carried on by several generations of sorority women, the candle pass is a time for sisters to gather in a circle, passing a candle until it reaches the newly engaged woman who blows out the candle. Many tears and squeals of delight typically follow.
3 {Davie Poplar Bench at UNC} Named for General William R. Davie, the bench sits below a tulip poplar on the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Legend has it that those who kiss while sitting together on the bench will one day marry. It’s no wonder this has become a very popular perch for Tar Heel engagements.



4 {Burying the Bourbon} While some maintain that rain on your wedding day bodes good fortune for your marriage, southern couples wishing to dodge showers on their wedding day need look no further than a bottle of bourbon. Dating all the way back to England’s Victorian Era, legend says that burying a bottle of bourbon upside down 30 days before “I do” will keep the rain away on your wedding day.
Pictured above are our real bride and groom, Kristina Hargett and Daniel Stroud, whose sunny lakeside nuptials on October 15, 2016 were blissful as could be. Serendipity or superstition? We’ll let our brides decide!
5 {Bridal Portraits} Every good southern bride knows a trial run with hair and makeup is essential to perfecting your wedding-day look, and there’s no use in letting the hair and makeup go to waste. Bridal portraits, better known in the south as “bridals,” typically take place a month or two prior to the wedding day and are a chance for the photographer to capture solo pictures of the bride. In days gone by these sessions usually took place in a studio with a standard grey or blue background, but much like the entirety of the wedding industry, this tradition has evolved, with brides seeking unique settings where they can be playful in capturing those wistful days leading up to the impending nuptials. While not as common today, a bridal portrait is often used by the bride’s parents to make an announcement of engagement in the local newspaper.

6 {Bridal Luncheon} Traditionally hosted by the mother of the bride, southern women have long enjoyed this tradition on the afternoon before the wedding. A sweet occasion for the bride to thank her bridesmaids with lunch, fellowship and gifts, the bridal luncheon is one of the sweetest traditions on our list, as a bride-to-be is only as good as the company she keeps.
7 {Cake Ribbon Pull} Another tradition that we can attribute to the Victorian Era, the cake ribbon pull is a playful opportunity for the bride’s best girlfriends to get involved. Ribbons that are attached to a variety of charms are baked into a cake to be presented at a bridal shower or the bridal luncheon. When the time comes, the women each grab a ribbon and pull, revealing the different charms, which range from a four-leaf clover for good luck to a tiger for wisdom.



8 {Pearls} These cultivated baubles are practically synonymous with southern women. While it’s not certain where and how the tradition actually originated, being presented with pearls on your wedding day has become commonplace in the south. Most often given by the mother of the bride or groom (or sometimes the groom himself), a strand of pearls is said to bring happiness and no tears to the marriage.
9 {Fans/Parasol} June is the first month to fill up at wedding venues all across the southern states, but summer in the south can be sweltering. Ever considerate to their guests, southern brides never forget the details necessary to keep loved ones comfortable, handing out fans and parasols to keep cool during the ceremony.
10 {Groom’s Cake} We all remember that shockingly red armadillo groom’s cake made popular by the classic “Steel Magnolias.” Billed as a masculine alternative to the more femininely designed wedding cake, the groom’s cake is consistently a favorite among wedding guests. Once just a basic chocolate cake, this is another southern wedding staple that has become something so much more. Whether his favorite sports team or type of beer, a rendering of his preferred takeout meal or his laborador retriever, the groom’s cake is an opportunity for the bride to recognize her new husband and his importance in the day.

If you’re hoping to bring southern tradition to your big day, now you know where to start. And while we’re sure these traditions don’t live solely in the south, we like to think this is where they’ve been perfected.

PHOTOGRAPHER: KMarwitzPhotography | | @kmarwitzphotography
VIDEOGRAPHER: Big Red Giraffe Productions | | @thebigredgiraffe
CATERER: Kate Clyde’s Catered Creations | | @kateclydes
PLANNER: Love & Honey Weddings | | @loveandhoneywed





View All