Wedding Traditions:

There are specific rituals and traditions that some couples feel obligated to include in their wedding day. Most of them are ceremony or reception related. Are these traditions necessary? Are they right for you and your event? Let's dive into some of the most traditional rituals performed at weddings in the past and see how they fare with weddings being planned today.

First Dance

Greenhouse Two Rivers first Dance

The Origin

In the 17th century, it was common for the hosts of a large event to be the first to dance for their guests. It is a tradition that couples have continued for centuries after. These days, the first dance symbolizes the opening of the dance floor, or the beginning of the reception, indicating that the celebration has begun. First dances involving the parents of the couple are also steeped in tradition and symbolize the support from parents and their declaration of "giving" their child to the care of another.

Hot or Not

HOT. This tradition seems to be a favorite for couples at their reception. There are a number of ways you can present your first dance. Some choose to move into the ceremony space and immediately begin their first dance upon announcement. Some couples choose to wait until they are opening the floor for dancing. No matter when you decide to hold your first dance, make sure you have coordinated this with your photographer. We wouldn't want to miss any of those adorable dips and laughs.

Cutting the Cake

Wedding photography in Springfield MO
Wedding cake in Springfield MO
Springfield Wedding Photographer in Missouri

The Origin

To understand the ritual, we must first go back to why it is significant. The tradition of cake cutting came from Victorian times, and is seeded with symbolism, like so many other wedding traditions. The idea is that one partner places their hand over the others' hand and work as a team to cut the cake. This symbolizes support demonstrated by performing their first task as a married couple. The wedding cake, as we know it today, was originally known as the bride's cake. Feeding the cake to one another symbolizes the promise of taking care of each other for the remainder of their days. Cake smashing is a tradition that is hit or miss with couples, but I am always ready to capture it if it goes south.

Traditionally, the bride would then cut the cake into servings for each of the guests and distribute the cuttings herself.

Why do we not see this today? Weddings of the past were much smaller, most times only including family. These days, weddings are a large affair, with hundreds of guests invited. It is more common now for the bride and groom to cut the cake and select someone to distribute the cake for the guests.

Hot or Not

DEFINTELY HOT- While cutting the wedding cake is still a VERY hot tradition, so many new ideas have emerged regarding how to distribute the cake! Some couples choose a smaller cake to cut and distribute cupcakes or cinnamon rolls to the guests. I think this is such a neat way to handle distribution. It means not having to designate someone as a cake cutter and distributor. Some couples like to include multiple cake flavors and/or personalized treats, like professionally decorated cookies! There are so many unique ways to set up your "serve yourself" cake space.

Wedding photography Branson, MO
Cinnamon Rolls at a wedding Springfield MO
Wedding cake with Cupcakes at the Greenhouse Two Rivers
Fall wedding cake at The Loft at Keith Farms

Bouquet and/or Garter Toss

The Origin

So, this tradition is a little dirty. Dating back as far as the 14th century in France, the garter and bouquet toss symbolized the consummation of a marriage... meaning the couple had made it known through "physical affection" that they were legally bound. Other beliefs from England and France were that the bride's dress and bouquet were good luck. The idea was that guests would attempt to tear pieces from the dress or bouquet to bestow her good fortune on themselves.

These days, the groom removes the bride's garter and tosses it over his shoulder to a waiting mosh pit of men eager to catch it, symbolizing they will be next to wed. The bouquet toss is similar in that it is tossed to a mob of single ladies behind her. Whomever catches the coveted bouquet will be the next to wed.

Hot or Not

Warm. Some couples still choose to participate in this tradition, and most only know the most recent symbolism for the ritual. A number of couples only choose to do the bouquet toss and forego the garter tradition. 50% of couples still do both, while a majority of couples either choose the bouquet toss or neither ritual all together.

Speeches and Toasts

The Origin

Toasting and speeches date back as far as 6th century BC as far away as Greece. In ancient times, the host of an event or gathering would raise their beverage to wish health upon their guests, and then would sip their drink to prove the beverage was not poisoned. In those times, it was common for hosts to spike the drinks of their enemies. Wow. While this is a far cry from why we toast today, wishing the couple good health and happiness seems to be the common thread. In later times, it became traditional for the groom and the groom's father to give a speech showing their approval for the joining of their families, and a deal well-struck.

Hot or Not

This tradition is still very HOT. The reasoning behind speeches and toasts have changed quite a lot over the years, and couples are getting creative with people they choose to do them.

Most commonly, it is the job of the Best Man and Maid of Honor to deliver the speeches and toasts to the other guests. The idea seems to be a brief introduction, funny or interesting stories about the bride and groom, and well-wishes for their health and happiness. Speeches can be long or short, and some even have visual aids. In truth, most guests prefer the "short and sweet" approach mainly because some speakers get carried away trying to explain the circumstances surrounding a story.... droning on is not the best way to deliver a speech, and it's really easy to lose your audience. Remind your speech-givers to keep it short and sweet, and always make sure they come back to the subject of the speech, the couple themselves. Stories are great, but make sure they keep the number of stories narrowed to one or two.

In Conclusion

I think that you will find that wedding day traditions can be as unique as you are. Each couple must decide for themselves which rituals they will choose to take part in, and if it fits their special day. Some couples opt out of traditions and rituals all together, while others go all-in. The choice is uniquely yours. JUST MAKE SURE you tell your photographer which ones you are choosing to make a part of your day. We definitely do not want to miss anything you deem important.