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Modern Girlís Guide
to Wedding Traditions

Over 2 million weddings take place in the United States each year. Weddings can incorporate an inherited way of doing something or couples can start a new family tradition by personalizing the ceremony with a unique theme or location, adding ceremonies within ceremonies or including ethnic customs.

Wedding ceremonies are evolving to include the emergence of blended families and interest in reconnecting to family. With so many options and so little time to decipher them all, how does the modern bride decide on which traditions to continue and which new traditions to start?

Wedding experts Deborah Weckesser and Dawn McGrath, founders of Sapphire Solutions, the online Wedding Guides & Wedding Outlet, offer brides some trivia and tips on selecting which traditions might be right for them.

Some wedding traditions commonly used are:


The wedding toast is usually given by the best man immediately before the meal is served. The custom of drinking wine, a symbol of life and love, from a common cup represents the bride and groomís deep sharing.

Cutting the Cake

Developed as a wedding fertility tradition, the custom of a wedding cake or cutting the cake goes back to Roman times when a wheat cake was showered at the bride and groom. Today, the couple cuts the first piece together with their cake server.

Another cake tradition is to freeze the top of the wedding cake to eat on the coupleís first anniversary. Because of the loss of taste in freezing the cake, many couples opt to have the baker recreate the top of their wedding cake for their first anniversary.

Tossing the Garter

The wedding garter has been a wedding tradition since the 14th century and is still popular today. The traditional garter toss is meant to bring good luck to the man who catches it and he will be the next to marry.


Part of the Old English wedding tradition rhyme of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a silver sixpence in her shoe. Long ago, it was customary for the bride to place a shiny, silver sixpence in her slipper on the wedding day to ensure a life of fortune would then be hers. Today, brides may place a sixpence in their shoe for good luck.

Traditional customs can be used at your wedding celebration alone or in conjunction with an inherited family or cultural practice or you can personalize your ceremony or reception and start a wedding tradition of your own.

Some ideas include:

You may want your guests to sign a guest book as they enter the reception. The book may be left on a table with a wedding pen for guests to sign. In this age of computers, the guest book becomes a personal hand written document with well wishes from family members and friends to be passed on for years to come. You can also have guests "autograph" a signature frame or platter that can be displayed in the home after the wedding.

Have your names and wedding date engraved on your wedding cake server and when your children get married, pass it on to them. They can add their initials and wedding date and pass it down from generation to generation.

Celebrate your wedding during one of your favorite holidays or use a season as a theme. Summer or beach destination weddings, a trend gaining in popularity, can include decorating with seashells, sand dollars, and sand.

Websites like www.theweddingoutlet.com offer wedding accessories and products for many types of themed weddings.

Couples are increasingly including a custom that celebrates their heritage or cultural background like jumping the broom, breaking the glass, or the dollar dance. Young guests will enjoy seeing these customs for the first time and older guests will appreciate the keeping of those traditions alive.

Some ceremonies within ceremonies to consider for the big day might include:

The lighting of the unity candle which symbolizes the newly joined couple but also the two families. It may include two small candles lit by the bride and groom's parents that are then used by the bride and groom to light the larger unity candle.

This activity need not be limited to the bride and groom. The couple can have their parents, grandparents, friends, children, and any other special people join in the lighting of the unity candle. Save the unity candles from your wedding ceremony and relight them during a special occasion such as an anniversary or birth of a child.

If there is a remarriage, a family medallion ceremony may be used as a symbol of the importance of family in the wedding ceremony and of the two families uniting. During the wedding ceremony, the couple's children join them at the altar. The bride and groom place a sterling-silver medal around the neck of each child and pledge their love to them.

Todayís brides have many opportunities to include traditions in their weddings whether they are newly created or centuries old. Brides today can take advantage of on-line resources to aid in researching select customs and in purchasing the items and accessories needed for those rituals. Itís this combination of technology and new ideas that gives way to a personalized wedding for the modern bride.

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