Google+ Southern Traditions: Cotillion - Southern Weddings Magazine

Southern Weddings Magazine

As y’all know, I normally talk about Southern wedding traditions – from the sweet to the kind of wacky! Well, today’s tradition is not necessarily associated with weddings, but it still features a lovely lady (ies) in a gorgeous white gown, so we thought y’all might be interested!

Photos by Beatrice de Gea for the New York Times

That’s right, today we’re discussing the Debutante Cotillion. Also known as the Deb Ball, this Southern tradition is a formal presentation of young ladies – debutantes – to society. During the ball, the young ladies are to be wearing white gowns with satin gloves. Each is formally introduced individually to the audience in standard way: her full name is announced, she is walked around the stage by her father for the official presentation, and then her younger male escort joins her and escorts her away.

Recognize that gorgeous redhead? That’s our Editor in Chief Ms. Lara Casey at her own Debutante Cotillion! Isn’t she stunning?

Back to business! A debutante is a young lady, traditionally from an aristocratic family, who has reached the age of maturity. Now that she is an adult, she is introduced to society at a formal “debut” presentation. Interesting to note, while doing my homework, I found that Wikipedia offers Southern Belle as the synonym for a debutante!  In another fun fact, the Christmas Cotillion in Savannah, Georgia, is the oldest debutante ball in the United States, beginning in 1817.

Photos by Beatrice de Gea for the New York Times

I’m a bit partial to cotillions, not because I was a debutante (I’m still sad I was never able to be an Azalea Trail Maid!), but because my sister in law’s debutante ball was my husband’s and my first official outing as a couple! And yes, my husband rocked a pink bow tie and cummerbund set!

Were you a debutante? Did you have a cotillion, or have you ever attended one? 

P.S. Looking for a laugh? Take a gander at what my beloved Azalea Trail Maids wear! Yes, they wear those to this day! SO awesome! :)

marissa Written with love by Marissa
22 Comments
  1. avatar molly stillman reply

    LOVE it. i was never a debutante, sadly… but kinda always dreamed of being one (my 17-year-old self would not have admitted that at the time…)

    but OH MYLANTA those Azalea Trail Maids are out. of. control. hahahaha i want that dress. to wear. all over town.

    just kidding.

    sort of.

  2. avatar Katie O’Keefe reply

    I was born in Mobile and as I little girl I always wanted to be an Azalea Trail Maid. However, due to my father’s military service we moved out of the country when I was eight. Such a shame…I always wanted the “Gone with the Wind” gown!

  3. avatar Andi reply

    Marissa~ Are you from Mobile?? I am from Fairhope and always wanted to be a Dogwood Trail Maid but didn’t quite make it! I was in the Nutcracker Charity Deb Ball in Mobile a few years back! Great fun!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Andi! Yes, I am from Mobile!! I moved before I was old enough to be an ATM! SO sad! I was actually one for Halloween for like 3 years in a row! I never went to the Nutcracker Ball, but I WAS in the Nutcracker for the Mobile Ballet!! xx

  4. avatar Patti reply

    I’m sorry you were never an Azalea Trail Maid, Marissa – but I do remember you rocking an Azalea Trail Maid costume for Halloween one year!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      It’s okay, Mom! I’ve come to terms with it! : ) I loved that costume – such a great thrift store find! I love you!

  5. avatar Lara reply

    Oh my! HAHA! Yes, that is me in a wedding gown at the age of 17 (I think). It was fun!

  6. avatar Ashley reply

    My best friend’s little sister was an Azalea Trail Maid a couple years ago…so adorable!

  7. avatar Courtney {pizzazzerie} reply

    So cool! I was a deb in North Carolina during sophomore year of college. Very hilarious to put on a wedding dress then. Excited to wear my real one in a few months, but at least the days of “debbing” got me prepared! haha

  8. avatar Desiree reply

    True Story – I was kicked out of debs!! And I later came to find out that my mother was kicked out as well when she was a teenager! Completely different reasons but it’s still our own “family tradition” :) The secret’s in the sauce y’all! wink wink LOL

  9. avatar Holly Gardner reply

    Oh, dear heavens this made me laugh. I have to confess that I was an Azalea Trail girl! It was horrible, but I’ll probably make my daughter do it when she gets to that age too. Hilarious! :)

  10. avatar Ashley Daniell {Ashley Daniell Photography} reply

    OMG, how embarrassing is this picture?!? I’m mortified it’s on the world wide web! Hahaha Ahh, memories Lara!

  11. avatar Wendy Robinson reply

    Ah…the memories! I was a deb in 19**…ahem…and I remember my dress was exquisite! My mother took me to the best bridal shop in town and let me choose my favorite. I’ll always remember the look on the salon owners face when I told her how old I was. When I told her that I was 17, her jaw dropped! She looked quite shocked that we were there for a wedding gown! Mom explained that it was for my cotillion, but I couldn’t resist a good laugh! LOL

  12. avatar Wendy Robinson reply

    Oh and practicing that curtsy for so many weeks prior!! Yeesh!!

  13. avatar Sierra reply

    You would never guess it, but I was in Cotillion until we moved from Tennessee to rural Ohio in middle school. I remember my mom taking me to Hallmark to pick out the nicest formal stationery they had to learn the etiquette of writing thank you letters and addressing envelopes (this was in third or fourth grade!). We also had timed place-setting competitions, a topic in which I need a refresher course for sure. In high school, I was often other people’s date for the Cotillion dances, but I never officially rejoined. Being a Deb is certainly an important Southern tradition for many girls I’m friends with. Thanks, M!

  14. avatar Kelly Cummings reply

    Oh my, those dresses for the Azalea Trail Maids make me thing of Rainbow Row in Charleston! Also, how gorgeous is Lara?!

  15. avatar Kim Ross reply

    Yes, I was a deb back in 19??! It was a great experience!

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