Southern Stories
Jan 27/17

Bury the Bourbon and Other Wedding Traditions Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments

This was the spring of weddings for us. We were part of the nuptials of three couples in three states over three months. That’s not counting showers and parties. We have been thoroughly immersed in “I do” and “Oh no, you don’t” when it comes to Southern bridal traditions and superstitions. As a couple who eloped almost 17 years ago, it’s been a bit overwhelming.

The thing about weddings is, you really shouldn’t think about them too much because it’s hard to tell the difference between a wedding tradition and a superstition. It’s tempting to attach meaning to things that don’t have any and skip over what really does matter.

It’s weird to think about a bride being “given away” by her father in the 21st Century, as if there were four goats and 60 acres in the exchange. Despite the well-intentioned claims of Sunday School teachers everywhere that the bridal gown should be white to indicate the “purity” of the bride, it’s really nothing more than a fashion decision made after Queen Victoria wore a white gown in 1842. Americans’ love affair with the monarchy’s fashion began long before Diana.

If you can count on Southerners for anything, it’s that we can take any tradition or superstition up a notch. That’s why we throw the best weddings (and funerals, but that’s another story).  Here’s a few of our kookier traditions — both new and old. 

1. Bury the Bourbon:
Before the big day, exactly one month before the fates tell us, a couple should bury a full, unopened bottle of bourbon at the site of the ceremony to ward off rain on their wedding day. After the ceremony, the couple digs up the bottle to share with the wedding party.

This is a fabulous idea, particularly for an outdoor wedding … unless you believe the superstition that rain on your wedding day is good luck because it means the couple will have children. These superstitions can be so confusing.

2. The House Party:
Speaking of the wedding party, if the bride is like many Southern women, she’s been collecting friends since pre-school and promising them all a spot in her future wedding. And while I have attended a wedding with 13 bridesmaids, typically, it’s best to keep the count lower than that.

This is where the House Party comes in, or as we called it in college: the JV team of bridesmaids. Rather than pay the caterer for servers, you round up all the friends you feel deserve some kind of job, and therefore mention in the program and corsage, and call them the House Party. They cut cake, man the guest book and serve punch. If you’re lucky, as a member of the House Party, the bride won’t make you buy a particular dress, but she will let you participate in the cake pull.

3. Take the Cake Pull:
The cake pull is usually reserved for bridesmaids, but can include whomever the bride chooses. It’s typically for unmarried ladies. The baker puts pewter charms in the cake attached to ribbons, which extend out of the lowest level.

Before the bride and groom cut the cake, the chosen women each select a ribbon and pull out their charm. Each charm has some sort of meaning. For instance, the hot air balloon can predict adventure and travel, while the butterfly can mean eternal beauty. Whoever pulls the ring charm is predicted to be the next to marry.

4. A Bridal Portrait is Forever:
Hard as it is to believe these days, there was a time when there wasn’t an entire camera crew hired to document 4,000 images of every wedding. But no self-respecting Southern bride would get herself made up perfectly and not document that moment in time. Thus, the bridal portrait came into vogue.

Next to every china cabinet, in every dining room in every Southern woman’s home is an ENORMOUS portrait of her in all her bridal glory. Preferably, there should spotlight on this photo to call as much attention to it as possible.

5. Married to the Monogram:
Nothing Southern is going to happen until someone slaps a monogram on something. For the Southern bride, the reception is the first time she can show off her new married monogram. This typically means receptions take on the look of Sesame Street. Letters are everywhere: cake, napkins, cookies, in a spotlight on the floor for the first dance, on the necklace the bride puts on between the ceremony and the reception, the ice bucket chilling the beer or any other place that would stand still long enough to be monogrammed. It’s just required.

If you can keep yourself from getting bogged down in the wackiness of the superstitions, Southern weddings can be quite delightful. There is often a signature drink and the best music you’ll ever hear. If nothing else, there is always cake.

Photo courtesy of Southern Weddings Magazine.

Kerri Jackson Case is physically incapable of parking legally. She lives in Little Rock with her husband, son and two smelly dogs. If you’re around at suppertime, she’ll feed you. You can follow her unremarkable but thoroughly entertaining life at



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