Brides Reveal Family & Cultural Traditions from Their Nuptials

Special elements of the wedding that were close to these brides' hearts .

Brides Reveal Family & Cultural Traditions from Their Nuptials

Photo: Lin & Jirsa Photography

Photo by Jin & Jirsa Photography

Customized aspects are what truly make a wedding special and unique to each couple. Following certain traditions – whether they may include religious and cultural elements or more simple practices that hold a sentimental meaning to you and your family – is a great way to give a nod to your past as you move forward to start this new chapter in your life. 

No matter your background, you can find substance in a number of customs passed on through generations – after all, it’s a day to celebrate love, so why not pay homage to all the love in your life? Below, nine of our real brides, featured on and Inside Weddings magazine, talk about the meaningful cultural and familial concepts they included in their “I dos,” and why they decided to add them to their ceremony or reception. 

Photo by Ira Lippke Studios

“We had a large Gullah gospel choir perform at our ceremony, as they had performed at my mother’s wedding ceremony. Our reverend, Nancy, was a family friend and spiritual mentor to my husband’s family.” – Page

“The table of our family members' photographs that we put out near the ballroom entrance was a great, small detail. We loved sharing pictures and memories of our parents, grandparents, and relatives, especially those who were celebrating with us from up above, including David's father, Rick. Additionally, we served steak au poivre for the reception because David loves cooking, and for our first date, he invited me over for dinner and cooked me the most delicious steak au poivre in the world. I thought he almost lit the ceiling on fire when he lit the cognac in the pan, but he maintains the fire was under control the whole time.” – Nina

“Our wedding was co-officiated by my Buddhist godmother and our rabbi, who is also a close family friend. For us, it was a perfect combination of spirituality and tradition. David and I wrote vows with my godmother that were read during the ceremony.” – Aarin

“We had a Jewish ceremony led by one of the rabbis who worked at the temple that we both went to when we were in high school. It was important for us to have someone marry us who knew our unique past and our families. Although we didn’t write our own vows, we wanted our guests to get a feel for our relationship and what brought us together. Our rabbi had us write love letters to one another and although she promised to just read excerpts, she was so moved by what we wrote that she incorporated our letters into the ceremony.” – Jessica

“My mom and I have a tradition that started back when I was in college: we write each other poems for special occasions (birthdays, Mother’s Day, job promotions, final exams, etc.). She surprised Josh and I with a poem as part of my parents’ wedding speech, which couldn’t have been more special.” – Jordanna

“I wore my great-grandmother’s wedding ring during the ceremony, which every family member in my family has worn on their wedding day.” – Whitney

“I was completely in awe of my father’s surprise performance of ‘My Girl’ by The Temptations that he sang with his three brothers (my uncles). It is a tradition on my dad’s side of the family for the four brothers and my grandfather, when he was alive, to sing a song at big family events. I had no idea this was going to continue at my wedding, and when I saw him onstage after he had already made his speech, I had no clue what was coming. In fact, Kelly was the only person in the room who knew. My dad and uncles changed into matching royal blue blazers, think Motown, for the performance. It was such a big hit with the whole room, and one of the most memorable moments of the night. I was honored they carried on this family tradition for me.” – Jenna

“We asked my older brother, RJ, to officiate. RJ and I have been best friends our whole lives and I couldn't imagine asking anyone else to share this special moment with us. He asked if we had any specific requests for the ceremony, and we said no, just that we wanted it to be short and sweet. I didn't put much more thought into it – I knew RJ would do a great job – but I was absolutely blown away by his speech and how much thought and care he took in personalizing such a beautiful (and funny) ceremony. It was, hands down, one of my favorite parts of the whole weekend.” – Kate

“I’ve loved Van Morrison for as long as I can remember, and both Doug and I have older taste in music, so when it came time to choose a song for our first dance, the band was at the top of our list. We decided on ‘Into the Mystic,’ which I was so happy about because not only is it one of my favorite songs, but Van Morrison had become a bit of a tradition in my family – my parents and my older sister and her husband both chose Van Morrison songs for their first dances – so I was happy to keep the tradition alive.” – Elyse

Read up on advice from real grooms, see the best planning tips former brides received while engaged, and discover the wedding regrets some of our couples have shared.