Wedding traditions in the U.S., Wedding customs in North America

Wedding traditions in the U.S. are a unique blend of old and new, drawing from various cultural influences. Do you know which ones you want to include, update, or skip? From the bride’s father walking her down the aisle to tossing rice at the wedding send-off, these wedding customs in North America have been around for decades. But just because other couples partake in them doesn’t mean you have to! Keep reading to learn more about wedding traditions history and tips for choosing which customs you want to include in your celebration.

Wedding Traditions Explained

Wedding traditions in the U.S. are diverse and deeply rooted in history. One common tradition is the wedding processional, where the wedding party walks down the aisle at the beginning of the ceremony. It’s also customary for the bride and groom to not see each other before the ceremony begins.

Symbolizing marriage with rings remains a popular tradition, though some couples are now choosing to forgo them or opt for alternatives like tattoos on their fingers, bracelets, or other types of jewelry.

Traditionally, the bride’s family hosts and pays for the wedding and reception, while the groom’s family takes care of the rehearsal dinner costs. However, this is changing as more couples choose to share the financial responsibility.

In terms of attire, it’s traditional for the bride to wear white, and she is typically given away by her father or another significant person in her life. Some unique North American wedding traditions include Burying the Bourbon to ward off rain on the wedding day, Jumping the Broom as a symbol of sweeping away the old and welcoming the new, and the Pittsburgh Cookie Table, a local custom offering a variety of cookies at the wedding reception.

Overall, while these traditions continue to shape American weddings, couples today often incorporate their unique twists or create new traditions that reflect their personal values and relationships.

Wedding Traditions Guide for Your Tahoe Wedding

Some of the most common wedding traditions in the U.S. might not match your vibe. And that’s okay! Many couples don’t resonate with these age-old traditions and want to consider other options. In this wedding traditions guide, we’ll help you sort out which North American wedding traditions to keep, update, and skip altogether to make your dream Tahoe wedding come to life.

Ceremony Wedding Traditions to Keep, Upgrade, or Skip

There are quite a few wedding traditions couples generally adhere to for the wedding ceremony. While you may love some, there may be others that just don’t fit the vibe of your ideal wedding. Here are some of the most popular traditions for wedding ceremonies and ideas for keeping them, skipping them, or upgrading them to suit your style better. 

Wedding Party

During most wedding ceremonies, the couple getting married will be accompanied by their wedding party. While this wedding tradition is quite common and has many benefits, some couples are foregoing this custom and finding other ways to incorporate VIP guests into their wedding ceremonies. 

  • Keep: If you and your partner have a core group of friends who you want to stand by your side as you say “I do,” this tradition may be for you.
  • Upgrade: If you have a large group of people you care about but don’t want all of them in the wedding, include them in other events like the bachelor and bachelorette weekend. Then, only have one or two people, such as siblings, in your ceremony. 
  • Skip: For those who would rather bypass the planning and coordination that goes into arranging a bridal party, consider involving your close friends in the getting-ready process. You can also ask them to take on meaningful roles before and during the ceremony but not necessarily be part of the procession.

Dad Walking the Bride Down the Aisle

Maybe you’ve dreamed of your dad walking you down the aisle since you were a little girl. Or maybe this wedding tradition makes you want to elope. The good news is that you get to choose if you incorporate it into your wedding processional!

  • Keep: If you want your dad to give you away, this is a very special wedding tradition to keep, and a moment you will share for the rest of your lives.
  • Upgrade: Your dad isn’t the only one who can give you away! Upgrade this wedding tradition by asking someone else special in your life to walk you down the aisle. Or walk down with your husband or wife to be!
  • Skip: Or, you can skip this wedding tradition altogether and walk yourself down the aisle. All eyes on you!

Matching Bridesmaids Dresses

If you’re having a bridal party, determining what everyone will wear can be stressful and time-consuming. While the matching look can be very pleasing to the eye and look great in photos, others are branching out and getting creative with their bridesmaids’ dresses. If you’re unsure about following this wedding tradition, there are a couple of options to consider.

  • Keep: If you feel committed to the cohesiveness that comes from having everything match, keeping this tradition will definitely provide you with the look you want for your wedding photos.
  • Upgrade: One way to upgrade this tradition is to give your bridal party a color swatch, but then allow them to pick the style of dress they feel most comfortable wearing. This allows for the colors to still match perfectly but also creates a bit of variety in style.
  • Skip: If you’re not hooked on the match look, many brides will provide the desired color range and then allow their bridal party to choose their dress style and color. 

Reception Wedding Traditions to Keep, Upgrade, or Skip

Now let’s talk about the wedding reception! While there are many wedding ceremony traditions, there are even more wedding reception traditions. Here are the top wedding customs in North America you will typically see during the reception and ideas on how you can update or skip them when it comes to your wedding.

Wedding traditions in the U.S., Wedding customs in North America

Wedding Cake

Big and beautiful wedding cakes are one of the most popular wedding traditions in the United States, followed closely by capturing photos of the cake being cut and the couple feeding each other bites of it. But if you’re not big on having a cake or wondering what your other options are, you may want to consider upgrading or skipping this wedding tradition.

  • Keep: If you’ve always dreamed of a magnificent, multi-tiered cake being a part of your special day, this may be a wedding tradition you want to partake in.
  • Upgrade: An upgrade to this age-old tradition could be having a traditional cake for the newlyweds to cut but offering another dessert, such as cupcakes, for the guests.
  • Skip: If you want to skip the cake altogether, you really can’t go wrong with a dessert table, offering a variety of treats and goodies for you, your love, and your guests to indulge in!

First Dance

A very common reception wedding tradition is the first dance between the newlyweds. This is a beautiful moment shared between the couple, but it can also feel quite intimidating for some. If this tradition isn’t for you, there are a few ways you can change it up to make you and your partner feel more comfortable while also getting the dance party started!

  • Keep: This sweet moment with your partner may be very special to you and a great way to solidify a significant “first” in this new stage of your relationship.
  • Upgrade: A great option for couples is to start the first song dancing alone and then invite friends and family to join halfway through! You can plan this in advance with people close to you, so they know to look for your signal to join in.
  • Skip: If this tradition really doesn’t speak to you, you can invite all your guests to join you on the dance floor and dance together for the first song. That way, all the pressure doesn’t fall on you and your partner.

Tossing Rice at the Send-Off

This sentimental wedding tradition has been around for decades. Wedding guests toss rice at the newlyweds to symbolize good luck and a wish for a prosperous life together. While this wedding tradition is filled with deep sentiment, it may not be a custom you want to include on your wedding day. 

  • Keep: If the symbolism of this tradition speaks deeply to you and your partner, it only makes sense to include it in your big day and have those you love partake in it. 
  • Upgrade: If you want some sort of send-off but aren’t particularly interested in rice, upgrade this tradition by giving your guests bubbles, party poppers, or sparklers to use at that moment instead.
  • Skip: Many couples are foregoing the send-off altogether and dancing into the night until the DJ or venue coordinator says it’s time to go home!

Wedding traditions in the U.S., Wedding customs in North America

Plan Your Dream Tahoe Wedding at North Tahoe Event Center

One thing that makes weddings so unique is how they reflect the couple’s relationship. If, for you, this means holding tight to some traditions while forgoing others, go for it. It will be a day to remember as long as it feels like you. Whatever wedding traditions you choose, we’re here to provide you with the most beautiful space to share them with your friends and family on your wedding day! Learn more about booking North Tahoe Event Center as your wedding venue and working with our incredible staff to create the wedding of your dreams.