Black American Wedding Traditions

Black American Wedding Traditions

I am always filled with a sense of immense pride, profound joy and deep reverence when I weave rich cultural displays into a couple’s special day. What makes Black American wedding traditions such a significant experience for me, I get to bring forth traditions of my own culture, secondly comes from knowing that I am ushering forward cultural expressions that have been passed down, like treasured heirlooms, from generation to generation.

For many of the couples I’ve had the distinction of working with, their wedding day is not only a celebration of the love that unites them, it is also a deep demonstration of their inherited sense of ethnic, cultural, national identity and/or spirituality. 

From “Jumping the Broom” to the “Money Dance”, I’m sharing time-honored Black American wedding traditions that you can embrace on your wedding day to strengthen ties to lineage and legacy – with a wink to the belief that commemorating these traditions will bestow you with a successful marriage.

JUMPING THE BROOM

Jumping The Broom is one of the most commonly known Black American wedding traditions, with deeply rooted origins that extend back to 1897 in West Africa/Ghana. 

Conducted at the end of the ceremony (just after the pronouncement of the couple and right before they head down the aisle), the jumping of the broom represents a spiritual value of warding off evil spirits and past wrongs – sweeping away the old and bringing in the new. And for the humor in it all, it is said the person that jumps the highest will be the proverbial ruler in the household. 

The broom is beautifully fashioned with natural bristles and adorned with flowers, jewels, or familial trinkets. After the ceremony, the “jumping broom” becomes a memento of the wedding day. The hope is that it will continue to be passed down through future generations with each couple adding their own personalization. 

(photo credit:  Susie Hadeed Photgraphy, Darling Photographers; Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events) 

HONORING GREEK FRATERNITY OR SORORITY

Black fraternities and sororities are deeply rooted in the Black culture – dating back to 1906 when 9 Greek organizations were first established by a small group of Black students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) – now referred to as the “Divine Nine”.

⁠These organizations were created to foster sisterhood and brotherhood, with a primary focus to serve and uplift the Black community. Their unbreakable bonds are compared to none – and being a member of any of these organizations is held in high respect and great esteem.⁠

Couples who are members of a Black Greek fraternity or sorority love to incorporate their extended family of brothers and sisters into their wedding day. Here are 2 of the most iconic examples:

  • The “stroll”: fraternity brothers circle a room, with a powerful penetrating chant accompanied by their theme song. The stroll electrifies the festivities, hypes up the energy in the room, and motivates guests to the dance floor.
  • The “serenade”: In a celebration of sisterhood, sorority sisters embrace hands and gather around to encircle the Bride with harmonizing melodies. 

 Honoring fraternities and sororities during your reception will unite generations of college students and alum, by bringing everyone together as one beating heart. It is a sight to behold when it is captured in heartfelt wedding images and video.

(photo credit:  Procopio Photography; Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events)

COMMUNION

Church and religion serve as purpose, hope, and the guiding light of the daily walk of life for Black people. Over the years with evolving trends with weddings, Black couples still incorporate a part of their religion/spirituality into their wedding ceremony. Communion, a ritual laden with spiritual meaning where bread and wine are consecrated and shared, is one such tradition. 

During the ceremony, bread and wine is displayed on fine China or crystal on a table at the altar, and blessed by the officiant as a representation of the last supper. This sacrament provides the couple with peace of mind that they are in one accord in the guidance of their marriage and future while publicly acknowledging before family and friends of their commitment to Christ. 

(photo credit:  Joshua Dwain Photography; Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events)

MONEY DANCE

During the reception, showering money on the happy couple as they dance is a popular Black American wedding tradition. It symbolizes wishing the couple good fortune and happiness in their matrimony.⁠ 

It is always a thrilling moment for the couple and guests alike. The bride and groom are paraded in, dancing amid the wedding party. Guests encircle the couple on the dance floor tossing bills to “rain down” as they cheer on. What better way to signify a prosperous future than with money, like confetti, falling from the sky. 

With your newfound knowledge of the history and meaning behind these beloved Black American wedding traditions, perhaps you will be inspired to incorporate a cultural custom on your wedding day, to honor your personal values and the legacies of those who came before.

Discover more time-honored traditions in a publication by BRIDES magazine in which I had the honor to add my advice (advice #4 and #6 in the article) regarding Black-American wedding traditions.

(photo credit:  Joshua Dwain Photography; Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events)