Resources for Black Brides

African American Wedding Traditions

I cannot let this month end without paying homage to the rich history of African American culture and specifically, all the amazing African American wedding traditions.  February, though much too short, is Black History month. It also happens to be the month of love. So, it made sense that I finish this month off with a post that celebrates “Black Love” or more specifically the ways in which that love is celebrated during weddings.

These Black wedding traditions are both fun and have deep historical significance. Some are just for kicks and some trigger moments of honest inner reflection.  By integrating these traditions into our ceremonies, we create more memorable wedding experiences which knit together the hearts of those in our community and bring us back to the ties that bind, the feeling of family and of home that are sometimes drowned in a sea of majority culture.  Here is a quick list of some of the most popular.

African American wedding traditions

Jumping the Broom

Probably one of the most recognizable traditions in black weddings is the tradition of “jumping the broom.” In pre-slave trade Africa jumping the broom represented the symbolic sweeping away of all past problems.  During the era of slavery African Americans were forbidden to marry and often couldn’t live together, so jumping over a broom at the end of a wedding ceremony was one of the only ways for them to publicly declare their union. 

Today many African American couples decide to make this tradition a part of their wedding. It is very popular to have a beautiful broom handcrafted to use during the wedding, and then keeping it afterwards to display in their new home together.

African American wedding traditions

Sorority and Fraternity Strolls

Black couples who are members of a Black Greek organization are familiar with the Greek “stroll.” Greek organizations have historically and continue to be a medium to create bonds and social involvement in the black community. Members of these organizations take pride in being a part of such an effort and often decide to include their Sorority Sisters or Fraternity Brothers in their wedding ceremonies.  The most popular way to do this is for members of the organizations to participate in their particular “stroll.”

African American Wedding Traditions

The Stroll has evolved from the African tradition of “Stepping.” Though stepping can be traced back to African tribal dance, the more modern versions began in the early African American slave communities.  The slaves used “stepping” along with “call and response” chants and songs as a means of communicating important information.  Around the late 1960’s historically black sororities and fraternities embraced stepping and strolling. 

Black couples usually include this rich tradition during the wedding reception where sorority sisters or fraternity brothers dance in a synchronized way or “stroll” in a circular pattern around the room.

Though its origins are in the Black community, stepping has spread to Latino, Asian and multicultural fraternities and sororities as well.

Resources for Black Brides

The Electric Slide/Cha Cha Slide/ Cupid Shuffle, etc.

Okay, we talked about the historical stroll, now let’s jump into a tradition that is all fun.  If you have ever been to a single black barbeque, family reunion or heck even sometimes a funeral, then you have been prompted to get up to dance along to one of these line dances.

Soul line dancing in the black community essentially has a similar history to the Greek strolls, but to be honest, we just kind of love it.  Don’t ask me how we learn these so fast, there must be a specific gene that is passed on or likely we grew up watching our elders do it.  Either way these dances make their way into most black family events.  It’s a great way to get everyone on the dance floor and having a good time. Yes, I know African Americans are not the only ones who do line dances, however I’ve never been to a Black event where one of these songs was not played and people of all ages did not get their fancy feet to the dance floor. If you want some incredibly fun memories be sure to throw those into the DJ’s mix.

Resources for Black Brides

A Way to Celebrate our Uniqueness

Ceremonies of all kinds are a way to bring communities back together.  They are a way to celebrate our shared history, struggles, and triumphs.  Adding traditions into those ceremonies remind us of our past and unite us in all the things we have in common. These traditions give us a break from trying to blend in– and allow us to celebrate what makes our specific communities unique and valuable.  Oh, and some of them are just plain fun. When planning your ceremony take a minute to think about what makes your family unique and special and try to include those elements into your wedding.  Keep them going for the next generation so that in years to come they can share in that pride and pass it on. Do it for the future.  Do it for the culture.

Resources for Black Brides

Big thanks to my writer, the amazing Tashara Mitchell of Austin, TX, who has been working hard to help me craft posts that are inclusive and diverse.  It’s important to me to make sure that everyone is represented in my work and she’s the badass who is helping.  If you need marketing and ghost writing services, I can’t recommend her enough.

Lucie Sterns Wedding

9 Creative Ways to Add Intimacy to a Large Wedding

This is a guest post by Wendy Dessler for Lauren Lindley Photography.  Read more about Wendy at the bottom of the post.

Adding Intimacy to large weddings

Large weddings can seem overwhelming and impersonal, unless you make specific efforts to combat those impressions. From staffing up to help ease crowding to enlisting the help of attendants recognizable in their bridesmaid dresses, here are nine creative ways to add intimacy to a large wedding:

1. Treat every arriving guest like a valued VIP. Have servers tray-pass non-alcoholic refreshments before the ceremony (and collect the containers – please!), and have many greeters and ushers who can help find seats and pass programs.

Fresh Coconut water

Fresh coconut water passed out as guests arrive to a island beach wedding hits the spot!

2.  Spread out services so guests don’t feel like cattle waiting in long lines. Have many smaller bars for beverage service, stations throughout the room that repeat so there is always somewhere to go to get quick service. You will never regret going overboard on the number of servers you have, and you may have to make a special request to increase the staffing, but be firm. The least intimate feeling originates when your guests feel like their needs are not being managed well. Long lines lead to wasted time and isolation. Demand the service you need to make every guest feel special and loved.

Taco Bar

3.  Create vignettes – these small scenes will allow you to celebrate many different things about your relationship, whether they gel well into a theme or not. In a large venue, you can create smaller rooms and scenes. Incorporate some aspect of your personalities – his love of baseball or her love of the ballet – and theme the food, music and décor in that area on that aspect.

4.  Seat guests at tables of six to eight. Tables of ten can be overwhelming and don’t create a sense of camaraderie. There is always someone at some end of the table who doesn’t know what is going on at the other. It will cost you more in linens and centerpieces, but it will create a feeling that the wedding is smaller and more intimate.

Wedding reception

5.  Don’t choose enormous centerpieces that block conversation. Intimacy is created through interactions and relationships. Choose low centerpieces that allow visibility across tables.

Wedding Table Decor
6.  Enlist the help of your attendants to make guests feel at home. Your guests will recognize their role from their matching grey bridesmaid dresses and will naturally be more inclined to talk to them.

Greeting wedding guests

7.  Schedule a five-hour reception instead of four, and plan to spend a significant amount of that time greeting guests. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat – if your meal is seated, you could use a bit of extra time at the cocktail hour to have a small private meal, just the two of you, then circulate while your guests eat. Or, follow a stations model of food service instead of seated, then between small, freshly-prepared portions you can roam the room.

8.  Stay organized! It’s difficult to keep track of all of the details of a large wedding, but if you make the extra effort to keep your seating chart, guest meal preferences, escort card list and other such details organized, your guests will never suffer while your staff tries to “sort things out” at the last minute. Be conscientious and know that the more detail you can provide your servers about special dietary requests and guest needs, the better they can perform their jobs.

Wedding Favors

10.  Personalize the details throughout your wedding so every guest feels like they are part of your love story. Take the time before the wedding to handwrite tiny personal thank you notes on each guest favor, for example. You’ll have to start early, but your guests will surely appreciate your efforts.

 

Author Spotlight: Wendy Dessler is a super-connector with Outreachmama.com and Toweringseo.com who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.