(Closed) Help! North v. South Wedding Culture? Economic differences? Other?

posted 7 years ago in Intercultural
Post # 3
584 posts
Busy bee

Catholic ceremonies often take place earlier in the day due to church restrictions and mass times, so if a dinner reception is planned, there’s naturally a large gap in time.

I was raised Baptist and have been to quite a few daytime ceremonies followed by a brief reception at the church; if the bride/groom/family doesn’t want alcohol or dancing at the wedding (which isn’t the case for everyone but also isn’t uncommon), a short and sweet reception makes a lot of sense. My sister and I both married in Baptist churches and dancing wasn’t allowed whatsoever. I’ve also been to weddings at Baptist churches with simple dinner/dancing receptions following elsewhere and more elaborate affairs with booze and dancing into the night. If a DJ or band isn’t hired, generally there aren’t many events other than cake cutting and bouquet/garter since you may not someone to facilitate a timeline.

I think the differences you’re experiencing might have to do more with your individual circles of friends/family than with the areas you’re from–the Bible belt definitely has more conservatives, but we have quite a few fancy weddings as well.

Post # 5
584 posts
Busy bee

@brittaful: I didn’t take it that way, no worries! When dealing with your fiance or his family, always remember: being from the South does not necessarily mean someone is informal or rural or a hick. I know you already know that–you didn’t say that it was and I’m not accusing you of doing so, but the idea that you think weddings where you’re from are usually more cosmopolitan could potentially come across offensive to the Mississippi peeps. I don’t think the differences in formality are mainly due to geography.

Post # 6
1916 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

It’s absolutely a regional difference.  I had never been to a wedding with a seated dinner until well after I got out of college.  I thought only wealthy people had them or they did them on TV.

Traditionally in New Orleans, where I am having my wedding, after the ceremony, you go to the reception, the band is playing, the food is served buffet style and the bar is open.  There is no long sit down dinner, speeches, etc.  There are pros/cons to both types of weddings, but I am happy to have a wedding that will incorporate some of the unique traditions of New Orleans and the South.  FWIW-I did send out save the dates, but will not be doing escort cards, table numbers, etc.  Also most weddings in New Orleans are only three hours long and are priced as such by every venue and caterer.

Check out Southern Weddings Magazine’s website.  There are tons of weddings that have all of the cosmopolitan flair that you are looking for, but are uniquely Southern.

Post # 7
1916 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

I would definitely recommend that you visit the knot’s New Orleans board as there are several brides that actively post and can help you with some of your questions.  

Post # 9
1749 posts
Bumble bee

@brittaful: I know exactly what you are talking about, let me try to explain. In the south, I live in Tennessee there is sometimes a huge economic gap with the generations. I will use my family and the family of a really close friend as an example. My close friend and I are friends from college, we are sorority sisters, we bought our cars together, dated similar types of men, lived down the street from each other blah blah blah…we are a lot alike, like sisters. She lived in Chicago and met an attorney got engaged and planned a wedding in TN. Her mom was confused on why we she wanted a 30-40k wedding. She said she could get married at the family church, we can cook the food and have the reception in the fellowship hall. Of course, to us that was a bit extreme and out of the question. My mom is the same way. She does not understand my friends and I taking vacations several times a year, driving expensive cars, having 15-20k wedding rings…. they think we are nuts! Sometimes my mom jokes and says her daughter is rich. We both come from very ole school families and they don’t understand our lifestyle…. at all! Growing up our family income was under 50k. My income combined my ex finance’s income was about 220k and my friend’s income with her fiancée at the time was about the same. It’s just a different life, in the south everything is about family. Your family loves you regardless and thinks the big show is not needed. OMG that was a lot to type. Basically, what’s nice to us (our generation) is over the top lavish to them. My friend’s mom asked her if she thought she was Beyonce? lol That comment came from us talking about ice sculptures.

Post # 11
1749 posts
Bumble bee

@brittaful: You will never be able to please everyone. But you can have a wedding that mixes both cultures and have a fabulous time. I’m sure that everything will work out fine. Sometimes people nag just because its different. There is no defined “right way” its about doing what you love. People are going to show up and have a great time. Trust me they will eat and drink whatever you have (if its not too fancy.) lol 

Post # 12
4 posts
  • Wedding: May 2013

I had to laugh a bit when I read your post as A, it’s hard NOT to stereotype the North/South divide and B, know where you are coming from (my lovely Fiance is British). Sorry this ran a little long but there are many ways to make this a beautiful day, blend both sides of tradition and maybe learn a little bit more abotu your fiance.

Here’s the thing about Southern weddings.  His sound a bit more Baptist and old school.  You are correct in your summations.  I’ve been to that wedding.  Then there are Texas weddings with 600 people, blakc tie and more money than God. Been to that.  The plantation/garden wedding, church wedding, lakes etc.  My point is, just like the North, Southern weddings have a lot of flavors. So I wouldn’t assume that ALL Southerners have the same expectations.

The hallmark, I might say, for a simpler Southern wedding, could be that it is slightly traditional, focuses on the families coming together and meeting.  It can be a bit more laid back (sometimes disorganized!) or less ‘fancy’ but everyone should feel a part of the day. There may be less focus on designer shoes, extravagant looking displays or certain decor elements but it’s not all plastic sheets and fried chicken, I promise.

Do you both drink and/or dance? Some Baptists can be a bit sticky on this but a friend’s mother solved this once by holding a ‘reception’ on a riverboat after the church hall reception for the ‘sinners among us’. All were happy and the bride’s family didn’t pay for booze and dancing. 

As to time of day, the midday wedding isn’t UNCOMMON (esp if a smaller affair) but evening events are pretty common, if for no other reason than because it’s not as hot! For the dress code, well, need I say Jersey Shore, Real Houswives of Anything, GCB…list goes on?  People can (and will) dress appropriately and the opposite of good taste as they please.  Unfortunately that’s people.  Maybe be sensitive if his mother (or female family) asks about what to wear and have some good suggestions on hand. Do NOT rely on your fiance to spread the word about fashion.

The thing I tend to see more at ‘Yankee’ weddings than Southern (sorry, couldn’t resist) is the DJ annoncements, sparkly things for decoration, and bigger cocktail hours. Southerners definitely have the first dance, father/daughter dance, cake cutting, etc. so just include things that you BOTH want there.  This is a wedding blending two families so include what you like!

As for making people feel comfortable that’s easy – WANT them to be there πŸ™‚ Just worrying about making them being happy means you’re on the right track.  If there are any b*tches, North or South, who want to sit there and take notes and say ‘well that’s not done HERE’, then that’s their issue. Okay, a few tips to help trim a cost here and there but keep up the ‘tone’ of the event.

Make a little booklet about the city for out of town guests (can do this easily online) to help introduce the area. Not expensive, give maps, numbers, names of places etc. and activities.

One fun thing might be to write up little notes in the ceremony program, menu or around the reception that may help explain certain traditions, poke fun at the differences, and just have fun with it. Put it in the booklet too!

You will have a LOVELY day with your budget. DON’T WASTE MONEY ON STUFF YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT (I don’t, for example, really care about a videographer or favors). Pick a things you both find important and concentrate more budget there – avoid ‘spreading it out’ very thinkly because you’ll wind up disappointed with more cheap looking things than fewer elegant things. 

Buy a gauzy material for an overlay to dress up boring white linens (hot glue guns or an aunt with a Singer are your friends).

Use one or two expensive flowers in the midst of less expensive or in-season blooms. Or use nice blooms in your bouquet but less expensive elsewhere (I’ve never heard a guest say ‘well, there were no roses in the centerpiece; I’m leaving!’ but have heard ‘cheap of them to have no booze and plastic cutlery and fake ferns for centerpieces but yet have a monogrammed dance floor and I can’t see around this massive arrangement with glo sticks’  – ok, the last is an exaggeration)

Serve 1 main course rather than a selection. Or choose one red or white wine to serve rather than a selection. A simple elegant choice or 3 courses is better than 4 cheap looking things.

Do beer and wine without liquor if you don’t care about liquor. Maybe serve 1 alcoholic drink at cocktail hour but lemonade or tea etc. for other choices.

Don’t waste money trying to make a reception ‘look’ expensive. You will make it lovely and personal on your own merit and by thinking about the people attending, not because you paid 3000 extra for a personalized ice sculpture or helicopter escape.

Not sure if this helps at all but good luck! Let me know if you have any more questions about Southern weddings. 

Post # 13
1774 posts
Buzzing bee

I wouldn’t worry too much about the culture shock. People will just enjoy celebrating the day with you regardless.


I have to say, neither of the weddings you described are anything like the weddings I’ve been to here! I’ve noticed that people here tend to sit on the border of formal and casual. They’ll spend a lot of money (oh em gee, wedding venues are murder here) but then it’s usually kind of rustic with a HUGE emphasis on food. HUGE. High. Quality. FOOD. Oh, and wine!


It wasn’t until a few years ago I really realized that people do get married in a church and have a reception there. It’s still really really odd to me.


The concept of no dancing is totally freaky to me too. I can’t even wrap my mind around it! It just isn’t the culture here for the most part.

Post # 14
17 posts
  • Wedding: November 2013


I’m originally from Southern Mississippi myself; I hope that my reflection on this helps you in some way.  He’s a bit from the old school…although it is true that normally, ceremonies do take place in the church and the reception either takes place in the church dining hall or at a separate place altogether.  I have seen receptions where there’s only focus on the bride and groom dancing as opposed to everyone else dancing.

I, for one, feel it is strange to not dance at the reception.  It’s a merry time and people are supposed to be having fun…you didn’t know any better, you would think people would come just for the food and drink.

It’s all about finding a common ground which makes you and him happy.

As far as the cost, the only way anyone should be saying anything about the cost is if they are contributing to it…if they aren’t, then their opinions aren’t important.  

I’m not planning on spending that much, not necessarily because it is a cultural thing but because I don’t have that type of money to invest.  I would rather use the money towards setting aside money for the honeymoon, a home (since I don’t quite have that yet) and for future children (since I don’t have any kids).  If you both have that amount to invest, then it is indeed a blessing.  It is a day for both of you to remember…it is about the two of you, not everyone else.  As long as the both of you are happy at the end, that is all that matters. Smile

The wedding is just one day.  The marriage should be for a lifetime.

Let us know how everything goes. 

The topic ‘Help! North v. South Wedding Culture? Economic differences? Other?’ is closed to new replies.

Find Amazing Vendors