It’s no secret that Southerners love their traditions. Whether it’s in the form of a family recipe passed down through generations or our haint blue porch ceilings, the South holds tightly to its rich culture and long-held traditions.
Our weddings are no different in this regard. From historic venues to our delicious comfort food, Southern weddings are unlike any other in the country.
Whether you’re attending a Southern wedding or want to incorporate a few traditions into your own upcoming nuptials, here are a few wedding traditions that are unique to the South:
Traditional and Historic Venues
Want to add a bit of old-world charm to your wedding? The South is packed with magnificent churches and historic mansions to consider as your wedding venue.
Some of the South’s best wedding venues are on historic plantations in Charleston, S.C., such as Lowndes Grove Plantation and Boone Hall. Surrounded by breathtaking gardens and fresh seasonal flowers, it truly can’t get more Southern than an outdoor wedding in bloom.
Southern Comfort Food
One tradition that everyone looks forward to at a Southern wedding is the food. From Louisiana to Georgia, the Deep South is well known for its savory comfort foods.
Even the fanciest of weddings will no doubt serve delicious Southern staples to their guests. Gourmet pork sliders, shrimp and grits, savory barbecue and other traditional regional eats are common, much to the delight of guests who love food.
You’ll find tasty delicacies in each region of the South. For instance, pimento cheese sandwiches, oysters and homemade pralines are classic wedding food choices throughout the Lowcountry. Don’t forget the sweet tea and lemonade!
Burying the Bourbon
If you don’t want it to rain on your Southern wedding, you better grab the bourbon. It’s not to drink — not yet anyway.
According to Southern folklore, burying a bottle of bourbon upside-down at the ceremony site a month before the big day is said to bring good luck. Specifically, it’s supposed to ward off rain on the day of the wedding.
If the wedding venue folks aren’t keen on you digging into their property, consider burying the bourbon in a pot and placing it at the wedding venue instead. On the big day, you can dig up the bourbon — if you haven’t forgotten where you buried it — and share it with everyone.
In Victorian England, it was common for both the bride and the groom to each have a cake of their own. This tradition made its way over to the states, and the South has kept it ever since.
Because weddings are more often centered around the bride, a cake just for the groom seems fair. From simple chocolate cakes to alma mater and sports team themed confections, grooms can have a lot of fun designing their own cake for the big day.
Another sweet tradition brought over from England is the cake pull. In a wedding cake pull, ribbons are carefully threaded with tiny charms and baked into the cake.
Before the cake is cut, members of the bridal party gather around to pull the charms from the cake. Each charm signifies a wish for the person pulling it — for example, a ring charm can signify that this person will be next to get married.
Wedding cake pulls are especially common in New Orleans, where a fondness for sugary confections is apparent in their many bakeries. Some charms in Louisiana have New Orleans themes, and many use Mardi Gras colors in their cake pulls.
Pre-Wedding Bridal Lunch
A few days before the big event, many Southern brides host a pre-wedding luncheon with their bridal party. Often called a bridal luncheon, this is an opportunity for the bride to share tokens of appreciation with her bridal party and spend one special moment together before she officially becomes a married lady.
In addition to the bridesmaids, it’s a nice gesture to invite the bride’s mother and the groom’s mother. If you’d rather not do a luncheon, consider hosting a brunch or cocktail party at your home.
While we’re on the topic of cocktails, let’s talk about Southern wedding drink menus. In addition to the standard beer and wine, many newlyweds choose a signature cocktail that guests can order at the bar.
In fact, some couples create a his-and-hers cocktail menu where the bride and groom each choose a signature cocktail to offer their guests. These cocktails can be as unique or traditional as you like — just be sure to give your cocktails a memorable name!
Choosing light colors for the groomsmen has long been a Southern tradition. Even in the winter, you’ll find the groomsmen in baby blue, tan, white or light grey suits.
In the summer, seersucker is a classic suit choice for men. The humidity in the South can be unbearable at times, making this light material a stylish and practical choice for a Southern gentleman’s wardrobe.
Southern brides love incorporating fresh-cut flowers into their bouquets and floral arrangements. Depending on the season, you’ll often see pretty camelias and soft, pastel hydrangeas in the bride’s bouquet.
For décor, gardenias and magnolias are not only beautiful but add a pleasant fragrance to the air. From peonies and garden roses to bold calla lilies, Southerners are passionate about their greenery and love to incorporate this natural element into their weddings.
Experience a Southern Wedding in Charleston, S.C.
There is nothing like a beautiful, Southern wedding to make your big day memorable. If you’re considering one of the historic mansions or stately homes in Charleston, why not make a vacation out of the planning visit?
Come stay in one of our many vacation rentals while you scope out Charleston wedding venues and sample Southern cuisine. With easy access to downtown Charleston and excellent beach activities, you can get the best of both worlds while you plan your Southern wedding.
Traci Magnus is the director of marketing for Dunes Properties located in Charleston, SC. She lives on the coast with her husband, Glenn, and their son, Max. When she’s not working or writing, you can find her at the beach or taking walks down the historic cobblestone streets.