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Wedding Traditions

United States customs

A Christian or other mainstream wedding and reception in the United States follow a similar pattern to the Italian wedding. Customs and traditions vary but components include the following:
The bride wears “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.”
The bride usually wears a white dress.
A color scheme is often used so that the invitation matches the bridesmaids' dresses and the table settings.
Rice is sometimes thrown at the newlyweds as they leave the ceremony.
The bride's family sends engraved invitations to the wedding guests, addressed by hand to show the importance and personal meaning of the occasion.
Guests send or deliver wedding gifts to the bride's family home before the wedding day.
A wedding ceremony takes place at a church or other location, such as an outdoor venue.
At the wedding reception following the ceremony, sometimes at the same location but sometimes at a different venue:
The bridal party lines up in a receiving line and the wedding guests file past, introducing themselves.
Usually snacks or a meal are served while the guests and bridal party mingle.
Often the best man and/or maid of honor toast the bride and groom with personal thoughts, stories, and well-wishes; sometimes other guests follow with their own toasts. Champagne, sparkling cider, or nonalcoholic carbonated drinks are usually provided for this purpose.
Clinking silverware against glassware obliges the newlyweds to kiss.
If dancing is provided, the bride and groom first dance together. Often further protocol is followed, where they dance first with their respective mother and father, then possibly with the maid of honor and best man; then the bride and groom rejoin while the parents of the bride and groom join the dance and the best man and maid of honor dance together; then other attendants join in; then finally everyone is entitled to dance. Dancing continues throughout the reception. Music is sometimes provided by a live band or musical ensemble, sometimes by a disc jockey.
In some cultures, the money dance takes place, in which it is expected and encouraged for guests to pin money onto the young bride and groom to help them get started in their new lives.
The cake-cutting ceremony takes place; the bride and groom jointly hold a cake cutter--often a special silver keepsake cutter purchased or given as a gift for the occasion--and cut the first pieces of the wedding cake. They then entwine arms and feed each other a bite of cake.
In some social groups, the bride and groom smear cake on each other's faces at this time.
The bride tosses her bouquet over her shoulder to the assembled unmarried women; the woman who catches it, superstition has it, will be the next to marry. In some social groups, the process is repeated for unmarried men with the groom tossing the bride's garter for the same purpose.
Gifts are not opened at the reception; they are either opened ahead of time and sometimes displayed at the reception, or if guests could not deliver gifts ahead of time, they are placed on a table at the reception for the bride and groom to take home with them and open later.

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