Incorporating wedding traditions into your wedding day makes your day uniquely you, which is why I encourage everyone to do something that is special to them.
First, I am going to go over some really sweet traditions that are relatively common at American weddings. Many of these have to do with dancing.
The first dance, of course, between the new husband and wife.
The parent dances, traditional between the bride and her father and the groom and his mother.
One that I see often now is the “Anniversary Dance.” Caleb and I did this one at our wedding too! Usually the DJ will tell couples to sit down in order of who has been married the shortest length of time. So, for example, the new bride and groom are off the dance floor first! However, one variation of this I have seen is asking couples to be added to the dance floor, so that the newlyweds are dancing the longest. This way, at the end of the song, the dance floor is packed and it is a good transition to kick off that open dance floor party!
Now, for some lesser known, more culture-specific traditions…oh gosh, these get me every time! I love not only learning about other cultures and their traditions, but I also love photographing them! I am going to venture into trying to explain the significance of these traditions, but forgive me if I don’t express the magnitude they possess.
Nigerian Kola Nut Ceremony
The kola nut is a symbol of hospitality and respect. Kola nuts are broken at major events, like weddings or funerals. It is my understanding that the kola nut is to be broken into small pieces because those pieces symbolize the number of years of happiness the recipients will receive. During this ceremony, the father of the bride passed out some pieces of the kola nut to the guests at his daughter’s wedding as a symbol of hospitality and welcoming.
Polish Bridal Dance
In this Polish tradition (which also appears in other cultures–the Nigerian couple also did a variation of this!), the guests pay to dance with the bride. In this case, the bride’s sister was collecting money as each guest came up to dance with the bride in a very fast-paced song. The guests were equally as fast-paced. I am not sure I have ever taken as many photos as I did that night! The money is supposed to be a send-off to the bride and groom to help them get a good start on married life together.
Chinese Lion Dance
The Chinese Lion Dance is a tradition in which dancers dress up in an ornate lion costume to bring the honorees fortune and good luck. It is often performed at large events, like weddings or other celebrations. Anne & Brandon had this dance performed at their wedding. The lion traveled to each table to gather favors or envelopes. At the end of the dance, Anne and Brandon were presented with the scroll as a keepsake. It was such an upbeat experience getting to follow the lion around to the tables and seeing them interact with him! And of course, we hope for fortune and good luck for Anne and Brandon in their marriage!
My biggest recommendation that I can give you if you plan on incorporating any tradition into your wedding day, whether it’s in the ceremony, reception, or other portion of the day, make sure your photographer knows! It is always our goal to capture the moments that are most important to you on your wedding day, and that tradition wouldn’t be included if it wasn’t important to you. If you keep your photographer in the loop, they can capture that tradition adequately so that you can re-live it for years to come!
Embrace your culture and those traditions–it is always special to witness on a wedding day!