Photo: Birds of a Feather
There are certain rituals you've come to expect at weddings — the white dress, a tiered cake, and heartfelt vows. But if you head to the South, you may also encounter a few of these beloved Southern wedding traditions.
Bury the Bourbon Bottle
If you spot a soon-to-be bride and groom sneaking up to their ceremony site with a bottle of bourbon, don't expect to see them carrying a couple glasses as well. Instead, look for a shovel. Tradition directs couples to bury a bottle of bourbon upside down at their ceremony site to ensure a rain-free event. Once the (dry) ceremony concludes, the married duo can dig up the bourbon and share it with their guests.
While bridal showers and rehearsal dinners are still the norm in the South, there's another event that allows brides to show off their well-learned Southern hospitality. At the bridesmaids' luncheon, the bride plays host for her maids and other important female friends and family, and offers gifts to those who have helped her prepare for her big day.
Wedding cakes in the New Orleans area come with an extra set of decorations: Silver charms attached to ribbons are baked into the bottom layer of cake. During the "ribbon pull," all the single ladies gather around to choose a string — and their fate. Each charm represents a particular destiny. Popular charms include a ring (next to marry), a heart (symbol of new love), and a four-leaf clover (good luck is on its way). Some brides choose to have the ribbon pull conducted at the bridesmaids' luncheon rather than at the wedding reception.
Another tradition popularized in New Orleans, the Second Line is a truly celebratory parade. Typically a marching band or jazz band leads the bride and groom and all of their guests in a music-filled parade following the ceremony. Brides often carry decked out umbrellas — think feathers, beads, and even fringe — during the rousing trek.
While groom's cakes are becoming an ever-more popular choice for weddings across the country, they have long been a standard Southern wedding tradition. At one time, groom's cakes were of the fruitcake variety, but these days you're more likely to find a chocolate cake decorated in a manner that the man of the hour would appreciate.