FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS | 10 WEDDING TRADITIONS Wedding Photographers Should Know About

October 6, 2020

After more than a decade as a wedding photographer, I’ve captured hundreds of weddings and seen tons of different traditions — some regional, some cultural — and today I’m sharing the top 10 unique wedding traditions that you as a wedding photographer should be aware of and how to best capture them on the wedding day!

  1. The Dollar Dance – Also known as the money dance, the dollar dance is a special dance that takes place at the wedding reception in some cultures. During the dance, guests pay to briefly dance with the couple (typically the opposite gender in bride/groom couples, but with same-sex couples, anything goes!) The tradition originated in Poland and is said to give the couple a bit of extra cash for their honeymoon or new household fund.

  2. La Hora Loca – “the crazy hour” typically takes place near the end of the wedding reception and is popular among Latin cultures. This amped up party hour can feature anything from professional entertainment (dancers, stiltwalkers, etc) to Mardi Gras-style props and confetti cannons and is often followed by a late-night snack for guests before they make their way home.

  3. Washing of the Feet – the feet washing ceremony is a Christian wedding tradition that takes place during the marriage ceremony. As the couple washes each other’s feet, it signifies that neither is above the other in the relationship and is representative of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.

  4. Breaking of the Glass – the breaking of a glass during a Jewish wedding ceremony recalls the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. It’s a way of remembering the tragedy, even in your happiest hour.

  5. Jumping the Broom – a practice used as a wedding ceremony for slaves in the 1840s-1850s when they were unable to legally wed, this tradition may be used today by black couples to honor their heritage or as a signifier of sweeping away the past to start anew.

  6. Handfasting – the tying of the couple’s hands together comes from an ancient Celtic ritual which symbolizes the binding of two lives. Often seen in Wiccan or Pagan ceremonies, handfasting has become more mainstream and can be found in both religious and secular ceremonies.

  7. The Hora – a circle dance performed at the wedding reception to the traditional Jewish song, Hava Nagila. The Hora is a lively group dance in which the guests hoist the wedding couple up on chairs in celebratory fashion.

  8. Ring Warming – the couple’s wedding rings are passed among the guests in attendance to bless them. As they’re passed from hand to hand, they become warm by the time they reach the couple, hence the name.

  9. Sabre Arch – a military wedding tradition where uniformed officers form an arch for the couple to exit under during the wedding recessional. The arch is symbolic of the military offering shelter to the new spouse and often ends with the bride receiving a playful swat on the backside.

  10. Crowning – the crowning of the couple in Eastern Orthodox weddings with Stefana symbolizes the unity of the couple and the presence of Christ who joins them. The crowns establish the couple as King and Queen of their home.