Top 10 Southern Wedding Traditions

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wedding ceremony between a man and a woman under a live oak tree in South Carolina

The South is steeped in elegance, beauty, grace, and—the part your grandmother will never let you forget about—tradition. It should come as no surprise that a truly Southern wedding is one that reflects all of these things and allows a couple to honor the past while celebrating the future. Although there are so many to choose from, here are some of our favorite new-old Southern wedding traditions.

1. Outdoor Weddings

It’s hard to say no to an outdoor wedding below the Mason-Dixon line. From garden weddings to ceremonies on the lawns of beautiful estates, many couples uphold the Southern wedding tradition of celebrating marriage in the great outdoors, even if that means hot summer nights and threats of rain. The Spanish moss-covered live oaks dotting cities like Charleston and Savannah are not only to die for, but are undoubtedly one of the biggest draws for couples when choosing an outdoor Southern wedding venue.

brown chairs set up outdoors for wedding ceremony under live oak trees

Photo Credit || Aaron and Jillian Photography

bride and groom embracing under a live oak tree

Photo Credit || Aaron and Jillian Photography

2. Bury The Bourbon Bottle

Probably because so many Southern couples dream of an outdoor wedding, and so of course fear that it may be ruined by weather, this Southern wedding tradition is still going strong. Southern folklore says if you bury a full bottle of bourbon upside down at your wedding venue exactly one month before your wedding day, you will keep rain away. Although this tradition is a bit of a head-scratcher, it can’t hurt to give it a try… and makes for interesting engagement photos.

Bottle of Jefferson's Reserve bourbon

Photo Credit || Jen Fariello Photography

3. Parasols

Again, because of the hot-hot Southern sun, many brides opt for uber-feminine parasols for themselves and their bridesmaids to cary down the aisle. Bonus: this Southern wedding tradition provides many opportunities for cute photo compositions.

bride holding white parasol and bending over laughing

Photo Credit || Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay

Bride holding parasol and bouquet

Photo Credit || Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay

4. Southern-Style Beverages

Southern couples love to honor their heritage, and there’s no better way to do this at a wedding than by offering quintessential Southern beverages. From mint juleps and neat bourbon to sweet tea and Coca-Cola, there’s a Southern beverage to quench the thirst of young and old wedding guests alike.

Wedding specialty cocktail of mint Jim Bean bourbon tea in glass dispenser

Photo Credit || Jen Yuson Photography

Coca Cola bottles in a vintage crate on a white dresser with vintage straw dispenser

Photo Credit || McKenzie Stewart Weddings

5. Groom’s Cakes

Traditionally, a groom’s cake is a gift from the bride to her groom and is meant to showcase his talents, interest, or hobbies. It presents an opportunity for the bride to get creative and really “wow” her future husband. Cake designers can really show off their artistry through this sugar-sweet Southern wedding tradition.

superhero themed groom's wedding cake

Photo Credit || Amanda Mays Photography

groom's cake shaped like a cowboy boot with longhorn sybmol

Photo Credit || Jen Fariello Photography

6. Bridal Portraits

Bridal portraits are a big deal in the South. Back in the d-a-y, it was extremely rare to have a photographer at the wedding, so the bridal portrait was really all you had to remember what the bride looked like on that special day. Traditionally, Southern parents-of-the-bride display the portrait in their homes. This Southern wedding tradition makes a true keepsake, even if you don’t have it mounted over the fireplace.

bridal portrait of bride standing on a grassy lawn holding flowers

Photo Credit || April & Jay Photographers

bridal portrait of bride in white gown holding flowers in a garden

Photo Credit || Kelly Ginn Photography

7. Light-Colored Menswear

Is it any surprise that the most time-honored Southern wedding traditions have something to do it with beating the Southern heat? It’s just too darn hot to force men into stuffy tuxes, which is just fine with us. We love our dapper dudes in casual tan and light grey suits, and I expect they’re pretty grateful as well.

groom from neck down wearing gray suit jacket, blue and pink tie, blue pocket square and white rose boutonniere

Photo Credit || Sandi Rufo Photography

groom and groomsmen wearing light tan suits and pink ties

Photo Credit || Jason Hurst Photography

8. Pearls

What is a Southern bride without her pearls? From a bride’s ears, neck, and wrists, to her wedding cake, invitations, and bridesmaids’ attire, pearls rule when it comes to jewelry, and accessories in the heart of Dixie.

bride's tosro in white lace gown with long strand of pearls wrapped around her hand

Photo Credit || Jeannemarie Photography

close-up shot of bride walking with father down the aisle wearing pearl necklace and white gown

Photo Credit || Red Shutter Studio

9. Southern Cuisine

Serving sumptuous food has always been a Southern tradition, and your wedding day is no exception. Luckily for everyone, Southern fare makes for some of the most delicious and crowd-pleasing wedding menus. Shrimp and grits, pulled pork, roasted oysters, fried chicken, mac and cheese… who could complain? Southern couples usually like to serve dinner buffet-style, to ensure that the party never stops and guests are always mingling.

wooden tray of sweet potato biscuits with ham and honey mustard at a food buffet

Photo Credit || Click Chick Photography

close up of fried appetizer balls on wooden skewers on a passing tray

Photo Credit || Richard Bell Photography

10. Mason Jars Galore

We love how innovative our Southern couples get with these simple, upcycled decorations. Whether you use them as vases, hang them from trees as candle votives, or fill them with your signature cocktail, shabby chic décor has become a new Southern wedding tradition.

Mason jar filled with hydrangea hanging on a shepherd's hook as aisle decor at an outdoor wedding ceremony

Photo Credit || Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay

Bride holding mason jar filled with brown beverage and a striped straw with a tag tied to it reading the word " bride"

Photo Credit || Pictilio

Featured Photo Credit || Vitor Lindo Photography

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2 Comments

  1. I am quite a fan of wedding aesthetics and something classically vintage. I liked the idea of having specially designed themed cakes along with drinks galore. Bourbon and coke suit up every need on a southern wedding chart list. Parasol photography is the next Gen bridal dream! Kudos for efforts.

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