Wedding Traditions of North America

NicoleMaui Photography

Wedding Traditions of North America

There are many different wedding traditions throughout the world and really that is no different in North America. Despite differences or similarities, wedding traditions in North America is still about the legalized union of two people.

United States of America

America is made up of many cultures from the millions of immigrants that have made the U.S. their home. Therefore, as time has progressed, Americans have taken much of these different traditions and have shaped them into their own.

Going back to the earliest of days in America, the Native Americans each had their own styles and traditions. For example, on the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reservation, it was customary that if a younger sibling were to get married before older ones, the older siblings were required to perform a traditional dance, while standing in a pig trough.

With the arrival of settlers from overseas, came new styles such as the Victorian Bride. They often wore gloves, which symbolized romance and modesty. After all, if you removed the first letter in gloves, the ‘g’, you are left with ‘loves’.

Current American traditions include:

– Personal Wedding Vows: Couples today are more likely to write their own vows. It is their way to express their feelings to their new mate with a verbal commitment in front of guests in their own special way.

– Wedding Rings: Since there is no end on a ring and is circular, the exchanging of rings marks a never ending love and commitment to your mate.

– The Kiss: The kiss symbolizes the end of the ceremony and shows commitment to their guests.

– The Rice Toss: The rice being tossed at the couple after the ceremony works as a symbol of fertility. Today, many forego the rice toss for other items, such as bubbles, confetti or none at all.


Canadian weddings can be just as formal as any other wedding, but as the years have gone by, many Canadian weddings have become less formal and more laid back.

Three notable traditions of a Canadian wedding include:

– The Toast: At the reception, it is customary to have the couple toasted by four members, the best man, the maid or matron of honor, the father of the bride and the brother of the groom.

– Trousseau Tea: This event takes place prior to the wedding day and is hosted by the mother of the bride. This event is attended by those acquaintances that were not able to be invited to the actual wedding due to lack of space, without the feeling of being left out.

– Wedding Wheel: Basically it is Canada’s version of the money dance. Monies collected are generally used for both the honeymoon and to go towards the couple’s first home.


Mexican weddings can be quite the party. Many ceremonies and receptions are similar to other countries. However, like other countries, Mexico has a few traditions of their own:

– The Lasso: As the vows are being made during the ceremony, it’s custom for a white ribbon or rosary to be placed around their necks, representing the coming together as one. The ribbon is known as a Lasso.

– Red Bead Toss: Much like the rice toss in America, Mexicans generally toss red beads as the couple leaves the ceremony. The beads represent wishing good luck to the new couple.

– Heart Shapes: Another tradition at the reception includes a heart shaped piñata filled with candy to be broken and enjoyed. In addition, the guests form a heart shape around the couple as they share their first husband and wife dance together.

– Padrinos: Padrinos are those who sponsor the wedding. Generally it is the Godparents that serve this position. In doing so, they generally sponsor the financial aspect of the wedding and become mentors to the couple before and after the wedding.

Puerto Rico

A couple of traditions in Puerto Rico that is different than other countries include the plate of coins and the bride doll.

– Plate of Coins: During the ceremony it is custom for the priest to bless a plate of coins, which he then gives to the groom. Once the wedding vows are complete, the groom then hands the plate of coins to the bride. The coins serve as his wedding gift to her, as well as it symbolizing prosperity and good luck for the new couple.

– The Bride Doll: Another tradition that takes place at the reception is a bride doll, which sits at the head on the main table. The doll, which is covered with small charms, which are then handed as gifts to their guests.