21 Famous American Wedding Traditions You Should Know

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There are some American wedding traditions that are famous and iconic all over the world. This includes the wearing of a white or ivory gown to signify purity, and a white veil to signify virginity. While these would seem to some like ancient wedding traditions, they are still in use in many weddings today. These wedding rules are not hard and fast, this is why some American weddings choose otherwise.


Another popular feature of American wedding culture is the superstition that the groom should not see the bride in her wedding gown before the wedding. People believe that this can be capable of bringing bad luck to the couple who does the opposite. Lots of couples still uphold these ancient wedding traditions and keep them alive.

Find out about 21 American wedding traditions almost everyone follows below.

Why American Wedding Traditions Outstand Among Others?

In fact, the popularity of American wedding traditions owes to Hollywood and its exportation of the American culture. This high demand doesn’t stop at weddings customs alone. In particular, many couples look to the US for wedding inspiration these days.

What are some American traditions, you would ask? Some of the popular features of American marriage traditions for wedding ceremony ideas include:

  1. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. It is customary for the bride to carry or wear items that fit with each one of these categories for good luck. While for some this might fall into the category of funny wedding traditions, it certainly makes for a more interesting experience. Especially since these customs are quite significant. Something old signifies the family and friends at the wedding. Something new signifies the couple, something borrowed is a veil or other item from mother or aunt. And something blue signifies the bride’s purity or virginity.
  2. The bridal bouquet. This age-old tradition of carrying a bouquet of flowers used to signify the emotions of the bride during the wedding. Although this significance might be missing, it goes to show that wedding traditions in America still have meaning.


Shocking History Behind Wedding Customs In USA

This list of some wedding traditions and meanings might prove shocking to people who did not know them. The bridal bouquet used to be a lovely bunch of herbs and spices. Their strong aroma would off bad spirits from possessing the bride. In addition, each of these American wedding traditions has a unique story behind it.

Some other wedding ritual ideas include the wedding ring which signifies eternity or a never-ending marriage due to its circular shape. For example, the flowers strewn by the flower girls symbolize fertility and hope. While in the early days the couple would wear these flowers to ward off evil spirits from their marriage.


Which Wedding Styles Americans Do The Most

In general, there are many different wedding styles in America, each with its own list of wedding traditions. Therefore, before to begin outing together ideas for wedding registry, you need to figure out what type of wedding you’ll have first.

  1. Traditional: Though not religious, the traditional wedding follows certain norms that are common to the religious wedding. This includes the presence of groomsmen, a best man, a maid of honor, bridesmaids, and others.
  2. Religious: American wedding culture still rings true in religious weddings, although the processes for each wedding will rely heavily on religion. There are Jewish weddings, Christian weddings, Hindu weddings, and more.
  3. Destination: Destination weddings are fully described by their name. The destination wedding takes place in a separate location from the home of the bride and groom. In these types of weddings, the theme will have a lot of features from the culture of the location. However, at the same time, it’s an opportunity to take wedding traditions in the USA to other destinations.
  4. Military: This formal wedding is usually held where either the bride or groom is a member of the armed forces. They get to wear their uniform and have certain military traditions displayed at the wedding.
  5. Online: An online wedding is void of a lot of the usual wedding customs. This is mostly a cyber event that takes place over the Internet.
  6. Same-sex: Same-sex marriages are where a couple of the same sex get married. Although not legally recognized in certain places, many same-sex marriages still follow the norms of American wedding culture.
  7. Double wedding: In a double wedding, two couples get married at the same time. Usually, a double wedding is appropriate when siblings or close friends decide to marry on the same day.
  8. Elopement: An elopement wedding also usually skips most of the ancient wedding traditions. This wedding is usually held in secret with only a few available witnesses. Here couples can have many different reasons to elope, some of which family members could not approve.

Check our infographic about top wedding traditions:


America’s Very Own Traditional Wedding Timeline

An average American wedding usually takes about 6 hours from start to finish, depending on the program.

  1. Before the wedding: Many brides have a bridal shower or a bachelorette party before saying their traditional wedding vows. And the grooms have a bachelor’s party.
  2. At the wedding: At the wedding, there’s usually the wedding ceremony for the joining of the bride and groom. In general, this will involve the guests and the bridal party including the couple, the groomsmen, bridesmaids, best man, maid of honor, flower girl, and ring bearer. The officiant as well, who is a part of all wedding customs. And the wedding reception starts after a couple says their vows to each other.
  3. After the wedding: After the wedding, the bride and groom traditionally leave for their honeymoon which could last for a few days or even weeks. This period is significant for the consummation of the marriage and in most American wedding culture, the groom carries the bride over the threshold.


American Versus British Wedding

While somewhat similar, there are certain differences between American wedding traditions and those of the British.

  1. Before the wedding: In America, the bride has a bachelorette party with her friends and the groom – a bachelor’s party with his fellows. While in Britain, the bride has a Hen party with her friends and the groom – a Stag do.
  2. During the wedding: In American wedding culture, the bride walks in after her bridesmaids. But in a British wedding, the bride walks down the aisle before her bridesmaids. Also, in an American wedding, the groom faces the guests to watch his bride walk down the aisle and toward him. However, in a British wedding, the groom stands with his back to the guests and doesn’t watch the bride walk down the aisle. In American wedding culture, the guests stand with the bride and groom during the marriage ceremony. In a British wedding, the guests are sitting during the wedding ceremony.
  3. The reception: There is more time spent on the dance floor at American weddings, so meals are shorter. However, at British weddings, the meal is usually the main point in the reception. British tradition usually offers fruit cakes ordered for the wedding cakes and displayed with pillars in between the tiers of it. On the other hand, in American wedding customs, the wedding cake is usually a sponge cake. These tiers for the cake are usually stacked one on top of the other. In the American wedding reception, lots of guests get up to dance in-between dinner courses. While at British weddings, dancing doesn’t begin until after dinner.

A lot of these differences exist between American wedding customs and those of other countries, including Britain. However, over time, some of these customs are beginning to blend as couples from all over the world adopt certain American wedding traditions in addition to their own.