We all know about something old and something new, but here’s what I’m interested in… the food! If you’re looking to spice up your wedding day fare beyond the usual ‘chicken, fish, or veg’ options, read on for new takes on old regional traditions from the United States!
Burying the Bourbon
This tradition has all my favorite elements: folklore, weather, gardening (kinda), and really good bourbon. In some parts of the South, it’s traditional for the marrying couple to bury a bottle of full, sealed bourbon upside down exactly one month before their wedding day, as close as possible to the spot where they’ll be exchanging vows. If they follow the tradition to the letter, it won’t rain on their wedding day (sorry Alanis). The couple then digs up the bottle post-ceremony, and shares it with the bridal party.
Backyard bash? Bury that bourbon! Museum wedding? Please don’t dig a hole there. If your wedding is indoors or outside at a venue that doesn’t belong to you, you can still participate in this cute tradition. Have a bourbon tasting bar at your reception, or incorporate bourbon into a signature punch!
Anyone who’s had a wedding or been in a wedding party knows that post-ceremony photographs can take up a big chunk of the day. In Wisconsin, the bridal party doesn’t just wait around… they go bar hopping! Often times, there’s a built-in gap between the ceremony and reception so the happy couple can join in on the fun, too. It’s like an after-party, before the party, and a great way to see people you know and love to hang with who might not have made it on your invite list.
If you’re getting married in a venue where your fave watering holes are close by, consider building time in between the ceremony and reception and go for a walking bar crawl! If you’re driving, a DD is a must, so make sure that person is richly rewarded with thanks and all the bar food she can eat. When you’re on a tight timeline but want to capture the free-wheeling spirit of a bar hop, you could establish different drink stations around your venue.
The Cookie Table
Here in Pittsburgh, the cookie table is everything. Alongside or sometimes in lieu of the cake, Pittsburgh weddings feature dozens, sometimes hundreds, of cookies including pizzelles, buckeyes, peanut blossoms, and more! No one is quite sure how the tradition started, but locals speculate that the large Italian and Eastern European immigrant population of Pittsburgh and Western PA wanted to share a taste of their homelands, and save a bit on catering costs. Most PA families make their own cookies and freeze them in batches for the big day, providing bags for guests to take some (or a lot!) home.
I love a cookie table, maybe even more than a wedding cake, because you get to try so many different things! It’s also a great way to involve relatives who want to contribute but might not fully comprehend your vision for your wedding day. If you’ve just got to have cake but love cookies, combine them! Have cookie-themed cupcakes like Oreo or chocolate chip, or decorate your big cake with tuiles and other pretty cookies.
The Groom’s Cake
Groom’s cakes got their start during Victorian England, when weddings had three cakes: one for the wedding guests, one for the bride and bridesmaids, and one for the groom and groomsmen. The American South adopted that practice, and started serving groom’s cakes as an alternative flavor to the larger wedding cake. The groom’s cake is usually smaller than the main wedding cake, often chocolate or red velvet, and decorated to express the groom’s hobbies. I’ve seen some wild ones in the shape of football helmets, big mouth bass, and some less-than-woman-positive cake toppers where the bride is literally dragging the groom to the altar. Cute.
This tradition is the most obviously heteronormative of the bunch, and ripe for personalization. Why not have two cakes of equal size that reflect both partners’ personalities (and, IDK, celebrate the willing union of two equals)? Back in the day, women would take a piece of the groom’s cake and put it under their pillows in the hopes they’d dream of their future husbands. I am not advocating smashing a piece of cake into your bed just to dream of some dude, but I love the idea of a dessert that gives oracular insight. Couples could put out a bowl of homemade fortune cookies instead, or provide sweet-smelling (and non-sticky) sachets arranged around the dessert table.
+ Do you have a regional tradition you’re excited to incorporate into your wedding? Tell us in the comments!