American Wedding Traditions

By Andrée Kosak

The backbone of the United States of America is built on a diversity of both cultural and religious wedding traditions from all over the world. Being that this country is still fairly young, most traditions can be easily traced to their origins.

The Engagement

America is the home of what Europeans regard as the “Hollywood” proposal… The groom on bended knee presenting his bride-to-be with a fabulous engagement ring. And nowadays the more onlookers, the better. Large, well planned, YouTube worthy proposals seem to have become the norm. English or Irish settlers brought the customary tradition of the groom seeking permission, or the blessing, from the bride’s father before proposing to the bride. Sadly, this tradition seems to be waning.

Engagement Party

The European tradition of an engagement party, hosted by the bride’s parents, is the event when the father of the bride announces the engagement of his daughter and his future son-in-law to the invited guests. It is not a traditional gift-giving occasion since no guests are supposed to be aware of the engagement until after their arrival.

The Wedding Attire

During 19th century America, weddings were usually small family gatherings at the home of either the parents of the bride or groom. The ceremonies were intimate and far from elaborate. Announcing of the newly wed couple usually took place at their church on Sunday following the wedding. Weddings did not become elaborate until the 1820s and 1830s. The bride usually wore the best dress she owned, so her dress was not typically white, as white dresses were impractical to own. White wedding gowns became a trend in when England’s Queen Victoria wore a white satin down for her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840.

Superstitious Wedding Accessories

The British began the tradition of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe,” dating back to the Victorian era. It requires the bride to accessorize her wedding attire in certain ways to promote good luck in her new marriage.
The “old” represents the past, particularly the bond between the bride and her family. The “new” represents the couple getting married and their future together. The “borrowed” item is supposed to come from a happily married woman in order to pass on marital happiness to the new couple. The blue represents the bride’s faithfulness. Last, a silver six pence (a British coin) in her shoe is meant to be tucked into the bride’s shoe and is supposed to bring the new couple wealth and love in their new life together.

Wedding Ceremony

Traditional, formal, religious wedding ceremonies are the most common in America. Many couples opt to marry in the church of their faith, but today many couples do not share the same faith. These inter-faith couples can also have a fairly traditional wedding ceremony. Today, religious officials have become much more cooperative with marrying couples that are not of the same faith.
Next time, I will get into the many types of wedding ceremonies and traditions, as well as the history of the Honeymoon. Until then!



Andrée Kosak has been with Trumps Catering since 1986 and now serves as President and Director of Catering. Andrée has been in the Athens area since 1968, when her father took a position with the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia and her mother took a position with then, Athens High School.  She’s a graduate of Clarke Central High School and attended the University of Georgia.