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​A Groom’s Cheat Sheet for Wedding Day Traditions

Posted by Katherine Konrad on

Gentlemen (and ladies who like to read about groom stuff): Load your Pinterest pages, for wedding season is upon us. The bride has said “yes” to the dress, and “no” to Cousin Eddie’s grunge band playing the reception. The groom has smiled and nodded in agreement to these decisions, along with the napkin colors, floral arrangements and centerpiece designs, but what about their day-of duties? Read on for some wedding-day traditions to which we still say “I do,” and others that would have Julia Roberts lacing up her Nikes.

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING BLUE AND A GIFT BEFORE “I DO”
Rings? Check. Tux? Check. A heartfelt gift for the bride? Ah, will she take a check? Leave the IOUs to Harry and Lloyd’s shopping sprees, and come prepared on weddin’ day with a thoughtful symbol of adoration—like a romantic love letter, your great-great-grandmother Marguerite’s bracelet or a collage of souvenirs from your first date. (Because of course you saved those, RIGHT?) When marriages were treated as a business transaction and not a union of love, an emotionally-charged scrapbook wouldn’t get a groom off the hook. A groom’s gift to the bride was for economic welfare in case she become widowed. So, on second thought, go ahead and make that check out to CASH.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD FOR A LIFETIME…MOVIE
It’s a little-known fact that in the fine print of the marriage certificate, the groom is agreeing to never put an empty milk carton back in the fridge and to protect his betrothed from evil spirits. Protection from evil spirits was one origin of the tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold. Other roots of this tradition, dating back to the establishment of Rome, say it evolved from an unwilling bride that had to be carried (*cough* dragged) into the home of her groom against her will. Yikes. So basically, a groom carrying his bride over the threshold today is symbolic of bridal kidnappings of yore—how romantic.

YOU’RE THE BEST, MAN
The word “best” in best man originally referred to the quality of a man’s swordsmanship. When weddings were used as business transactions, the groom required the aid of a skilled swordsman to either retrieve a run-away bride or fight off a bride’s angry family against the union. Talk about a bigger decision than picking between two college buddies who were equally skilled at beer pong. Today, best men are traditionally responsible for holding on to the rings and the marriage certificate, in addition to having their tuxes, and knowing where to be, and when.

DRUNK ON LOVE
One tradition commonly practiced in the south is to bury a bottle of bourbon upside down at the ceremony’s location exactly one month before the wedding day. On the day of the wedding, the bottle is dug up and enjoyed with family and friends. The tradition is believed to prevent rain, and to potentially lose a perfectly good bottle of bourbon. If you’re not the type to buy into the southern charm, give your groomsmen personalized rocksglasses as a token of your appreciation. This great gift for groomsmen is guaranteed to keep everyone in good spirits, whether the weather is ideal, or not.

IT’S A MARRIAGE, NOT A SPRINT
Russians have a tradition of setting up obstacles for the groom on his wedding day. The groom must complete physical tasks, answer questions about the bride and unveil his hidden fiancée before they can make the marriage official. Throw in a free t-shirt and medal and it sounds like a hot idea for a new novelty 5k race—we call dibs. Most American day-of hurdles for the groom only include a race down the aisle and against the clock. We advise giving yourself plenty of time so you’re not Russian to the ceremony.

EAT, DRINK AND BE MARRIED
On the day of the wedding, don’t forget a hearty breakfast, snacks and a perpetually filled bottle of H2O. It may seem simple, but in an emotional and jam-packed day, hydration and satiation will be key to a solid execution of your “Total Eclipse of the Heart” choreography at the end of the night. Because you are good at dancing, and we don’t care what anyone else says.

PRACTICE VOWS AND SPEECH
Picturing Great Grandma Pearl in her underwear might work for some, but for others a flawless public speech is the result of another P word: Practice. The day of the wedding, practicing vows or speeches will help keep butterflies, and sudden on-set amnesia, at bay. If nerves are blocking the name of the person you’re marrying, that’s an entirely different blog to check out.

YOU’RE NEVER FULLY DRESSED WITHOUT A SMILE—AND A SUIT COAT
Don’t forget your smile and your suit coat. Your smile is good all day, especially for pictures; the stoic look is so 1800s, and pictures always turn out better with a little personality. Your coat, however, should only be worn in front of a camera, and the actual ceremony. Keeping it on its hanger while traveling, or during downtime, will help to keep it pristine and wrinkle-free-ish.

TIP, TIP, HOORAY!
No historical origin to adding gratuity to a check other than common courtesy. Before the dance floor empties at the end of the night, and you drag—er, carry—your bride across the bedroom’s threshold, make sure you bid your vendors adieu with a bill or two, in their hands.