6 Popular Black American Wedding Traditions to Include in Your Celebration

6 Popular Black American Wedding Traditions to Include in Your Celebration

The origins of these Black American wedding traditions are complex, but they all stem from a common root: the African American tradition of passing on the family name and legacy.

Like myself, the majority of Black Americans don’t know our precise ancestry. Although we are aware that we are a member of the African diaspora, we are unsure of what tribe or geographic area links us to the continent. Nevertheless, despite everything we lost as a result of our captivity, we created new customs that are worthwhile to preserve and celebrate, especially at weddings.

Consider spending some time learning about the background, significance, and meaning of a few popular Black American wedding customs before beginning to organize your own special day.

Jumping the Broom 

Jumping the Broom
Jumping the Broom

Jumping the broom is the most well-known Black American wedding custom. Toria, a real bride, was certain that it had to be a part of her wedding and said of her celebration, “Without a doubt, I jumped the broom! There was no way I was getting married if some of our customs weren’t included.”

The custom stems back to a time when slaves were unable to officially marry. The pair would jump over a broom to symbolize their union with their community, which is meant to reflect sweeping away the past and heading into the future as one. The officiant describes the custom while a close family member or friend sets the broom in front of the couple toward the end of the ceremony. That moment when they all “jump” together is so joyful because it marks the beginning of the celebration and all the fantastic possibilities that lie ahead for them.

The actual broom has grown to be equally as significant as the custom. It is often constructed to order and may contain priceless family treasures or other items that are particular to the couple and their wedding theme. The creation of unique brooms that may be passed down through the generations is a speciality of certain wedding planners. Additionally, they enjoy adding unique details to our clients’ weddings since it helps them remember them.

Tasting Ceremony (Four Elements) 

Tasting Ceremony - Four Element
Tasting Ceremony – Four Element

The tasting of the four components is becoming increasingly prevalent at Black American festivities while not being quite as widespread as leaping the broom. The Yoruba people of West Africa are the originators of the custom, in which four distinct flavors—sour, bitter, spicy, and sweets—are offered to newlyweds to symbolize the many facets of wedded life. The ingredients may change, but they often include lemon (sour), vinegar or unsweetened chocolate (bitter), cayenne or chilli pepper (spicy), honey or grapes, and (sweet).

As the couple shares each taste together throughout the ceremony, the officiant speaks to the guests about the significance of each component. In the same way that the vows “for better or worse, for richer or poorer” is symbolic of a commitment to love one another during good times and bad, so are these words. The custom serves as a reminder to the couple that, despite the ups and downs of marriage, they should endure everything together and stay devoted to one another.

Tying the Knot 

Tying the Knot
Tying the Knot

More than just a slang term for marriage, “tying the knot” refers to a cultural tradition with roots in Africa. The couple’s wrists would be bound with a rope before their vows, and as they made their declarations of love and devotion, the officiant would make a knot to symbolize their enduring connection.

There are several modern variations of this tradition. Some couples use kente cloth, a vibrantly patterned Ghanaian fabric, or cowrie shells strung together for rope. Before having a chain placed around their wrists, religious couples may decide to weave it. The braid’s strands would then stand in for the couple and God.

The pastor quotes Ecclesiastes 4:12: “Though one may be overcome, two can defend themselves,” leaning on faith and guidance from God. Three-stranded cords are difficult to break easily. The concept that God and marriage form an unbreakable relationship is taught to couples.

Communion 

Communion
Communion

The Black community has long placed a high value on religion and church. For Black people, church and religion provided meaning, hope, and a light to follow in their everyday lives. Black couples still include elements of their faith or spirituality in their wedding ceremony despite changing wedding patterns.

One such custom is the celebration of communion, which honors Christ’s death. The officiant blesses the bread and wine (which stand for the flesh and blood of Christ) before giving them to the couple. They are then placed on a table next to the altar or on the altar itself. The sacrament of communion assures the couple that they are on the same page regarding the direction of their marriage and future while publicly declaring their commitment to Christ in front of family and friends.

Money Dance 

Money dance
Money dance

Couples should take advantage of the reception as a chance to integrate guests into ethnic traditions and openly recognize their ancestry. The money dance is our favorite to see! It stands for the happiness the couple wishes to have during their marriage.

Different nations and cultures have different traditions for the money dance; in the Nigerian tradition, visitors will either throw money at the newlyweds or pin cash to the couples’ clothing on the dance floor. The bridesmaids will collect money after the dance if money is thrown in the couple’s direction. Some couples even put out money jars for visitors to place their cash in to make things simple.

Honoring Greek Fraternities or Sororities

Honoring Greek Fraternities or Sororities
Honoring Greek Fraternities or Sororities

The pair may decide to perform their organization’s walk or serenade, inviting other fraternity or sorority members present to participate if one or both couples are members of a Black Greek fraternity or sorority (known as the Divine Nine). Presently quite common is the Greek strolling at the reception.

The stroll dates back to the early 1900s and blends chanting, stepping, and dances unique to the organization. It frequently has theme music, such as “Atomic Dog” for Omega Psi Phi fraternity or “Set It Off” for Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. The serenade is a little different this time; sorority sisters will sing while around the bride in a lovely display of their camaraderie.

These customs are lovely for families with numerous generations of members of the same organization because both young and senior guests can participate. All generations engage in the two customs as mentioned above. So, everyone may take part in this brotherhood and sisterhood togetherness, from a college student to your great grandma or grandfather. One of the most lovely aspects of watching so many generations dancing together at one time is how emotional it looks in wedding photos.

Similar procedures are used at certain historically Black institutions and universities. Her spouse and his fellow Morehouse alumni recited the school’s hymn while holding hands during their wedding celebration. We’ve witnessed similar, equally heartwarming moments at other weddings we’ve been to.

Black culture is known for its unique wedding traditions. In some African-American traditions, for example, a bride’s parents may walk her down the aisle. In other traditions, guests may carry her over the threshold. These traditions have deep roots in black culture and are a major source of inspiration for contemporary wedding planners.

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