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Along with our hair, our bridal parties tend to be a bit bigger here in the South. I can’t put my finger on exactly why (maybe the abundance of sororities?), but it’s definitely a fact of life.

But what to do when the bridal party grows and grows? Thanks to fellow Southern girl Jenna Bush Hager, the world was introduced to an old Southern solution when she opted for a “house party” of fourteen in addition to her one maid of honor — her sister, Barbara. As in Jenna’s situation, a house party is a great way to include your friends and family without having a ginormous bridal party.

Sketch of Jenna’s house party dresses, designed by Lela Rose in seven styles and colors inspired by Texas native wildflowers! (via Cliff Notes)

Similar to the standard ‘attendant’ title, members of a house party are often assigned wedding day tasks like manning the guest book, handing out programs, serving cake, reading during the ceremony, or just assisting the bride on her big day. They can also be involved in helping with the bachelorette party and bridal shower, or just attending.

Katy Hall Photography

Some house party members aren’t assigned any duties at all, but simply included because the bride wants to honor her relationships. The only thing a house party traditionally does not do is stand at the altar with the bride — that spot is reserved for bridesmaids. HP gals can be seated in the first or second row, just behind family, and can be included in the wedding program.

So who should be included in a house party? Maybe you have a large group of sorority sisters you want to include, like we mentioned above. Or maybe, like Jenna and our own Emily, you’ve chosen to include only family in your bridal party, but want to honor friends, as well. No matter who you choose or how you choose them, you’ll eventually have to figure out how to clothe them. We have some tips for that, too.

You could ask your house party gals to wear the same dress in the same color — one that corresponds with the bridesmaid dresses.

Our Labor of Love from Caroline + Tyler’s wedding

Or, we like the idea of asking your house party to wear a different shade of the color your bridesmaids are wearing, as Izzy did so beautifully with gray here.

The Schultzes from Izzy + Lane’s wedding

Mix and match dresses in a single color always look beautiful! Many brides ask their house parties to wear little black dresses, as that’s typically an item everyone will already have in their closets.

Green dresses photo by Tim Will from Kara + Tyler’s wedding, aqua dresses photo by Shea Christine from Grace + Daniel’s wedding, pink dresses photo by Morgan Trinker from Erin + Brian’s wedding

Finally, we like the idea of giving your house party the whole color scheme of your wedding, and asking them to wear something that coordinates. These ladies below prove it can look darling! If your gals are wearing LBDs or something else less-unified, we’d recommend giving them something to acknowledge their role, like a corsage, a matching necklace, or a gardenia or magnolia for their hair.

Pink and purple dresses photo by Melissa Schollaert from Valerie + Kevin’s wedding, spring dresses photo by Ali Harper from Mary + Austin’s wedding, purple and cream dresses photo by Stephen DeVries from Meredith + John’s wedding

To close, one more personal anecdote from our sweet summer intern, Sara. She had the honor of being in the house party for her boyfriend’s sister’s wedding, and piped right up when we started talking about this post! From Sara: “I had small duties like handing out programs, moving the guestbook from location to location, and handing out the bubbles to guests before her and her groom left the reception. Her bridesmaids all wore the same pink dress and shoes, and the other house party members and I got to choose our dress, as long as it was black and cocktail length. I felt like it was the perfect place for me, as I had been dating her brother long enough to be included in the wedding, but her brother and I were not married (and still have a ways to go before there’s a possibility of that!), so it would have been strange for her to designate a bridesmaid position for me at the time.”

Have you been in a house party, or are you planning on having one? We’d love to hear what you think about this tradition!

Melissa Schollaert and Ali Harper are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
17 Comments
  1. avatar Joanne Duong – Bravo Bride reply

    Aww LOVE that photo idea – chalk boards with how bride and bridesmaid met.

  2. avatar Bridal Party Troubles? | Brittany Jean Events reply

    […] all time!) discussing the Southern Tradition of a “House Party.” (visit the article by clicking here.) Simply put, it’s a group of girls separate from your Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids that still […]

  3. avatar House Parities | Wedding Dress | TheBridesRoomFW.com reply

    […] planning on having one? We’d love to hear what you think about this tradition!   Thanks to Southern Weddings Blog for this fabulous post! Posted in WEDDING TRENDS | Tags: | […]

  4. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze | Floridian Weddings reply

    […] love the idea of a house party to honor your […]

  5. avatar Fiona Hogwood reply

    What a fabulous idea!
    We don’t do anything like this in Scotland – it’s Bridesmaid or nothing.
    I shall certainly be suggesting it to any future bride we work with :)

  6. avatar Leigh Pearce Weddings Blog » Real Wedding at Greensboro Country Club {Joy + Hudson – Part 1} | Greensboro North Carolina Wedding Planner reply

    […] the Masters themed brunch, Joy and her house party spent the morning primping and prepping at Joy’s […]

  7. avatar Caroline reply

    I’m having a house party. But I’m looking for creative ways to ask the girls. Any idea?

    • avatar Claire reply

      @Caroline – did you ever find a fun way to ask them? I’m wondering the same thing.

  8. avatar Texas Wedding by Taylor Lord – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] We love that Kelsey included the house party tradition in her wedding! Not familiar with house parties? Learn about this oh-so-Southern tradition here. […]

  9. avatar Charleston Wedding by Ooh Events and Marissa Joy – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] love seeing that Mariana included friends in their house party. We love how they wore coordinating dresses in complimentary […]

  10. avatar Having Friends Is Sooooo [ugh] Hard. | reply

    […] the four girls around the bride are the bridesmaids, and all else are her house party. / Image via SouthernWeddings.com / Photo by The […]

  11. avatar Jean reply

    My daughter in Houston has been asked to be in a “house party”. She has been asked to bake cupcakes to bring to the wedding (bride evidently can’t afford a cake), to set up tables/chairs, replace food on the trays during the reception, and to take down tables/chairs. She feels like a laborer!!!! My advice to anyone who is asked to be in a house party – find out your duties BEFORE accepting.

  12. avatar Corissa reply

    I love the idea of a house party, and want to incorporate it in my upcoming wedding. Is there a special or classic SW way to ask your house party? I’ve seen bridesmaids asked via gift boxes or hankies, and I’d like to honor my ladies in a similar way!

  13. avatar 3 Things no one told me about bridesmaids | Feipi reply

    […] this issue later on to be honest. She and I have chilled out, and I’ve asked her to be in my House Party so that I can still show her that she’s important to me. But to be extremely honest about […]

  14. avatar House Party | reply

    […] It’s a great way to include more of your loved ones & dear friends in your big day. Read this article on Southern Weddings for more info! I love old, southern traditions & I wanted to include so many more girls than […]

  15. avatar The Perfect Blush Pink Dress | Snapshots & My Thoughts | A blog by Ailee Petrovic reply

    […] her house party (if you’re not familiar with this southern tradition, read this explanation here). Amanda asked all of the house party to wear blush pink dresses, which is also the bridesmaid […]

  16. avatar Having Friends Is Sooooo [ugh] Hard. – Weddingbee reply

    […] the four girls around the bride are the bridesmaids, and all else are her house party. / Image via SouthernWeddings.com / Photo by The […]

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Love Southern wedding traditions and want to include them in your wedding? We wrote our e-book just for you!

I was so excited when I saw a Southern Tradition feature on our calendar, as tradition in any form is one of my favorite things! I especially love how strong and deep tradition lies here in the South — it’s woven right into the fabric of our days.

When it comes to Southern wedding traditions, I find the groom’s cake to be an especially fun one! Groom’s cakes can be traced back to England’s Victorian era, when there were three cakes at a wedding — the wedding cake, which was served to the guests, the groom’s cake, which was served to the groomsmen, and the bride’s cake, which was served to the bridesmaids.

The earliest groom’s cakes were actually fruitcakes – ick! Thankfully, fruitcake no longer rules as the flavor of choice, but groom’s cakes are still usually made of dark chocolate with fruit and/or liqueur, maybe to contrast with the wedding cake, which as y’all know is usually white or light colored.

We’re happy to say that even after the popularlity of groom’s cakes lessened elsewhere in the U.S. after making the hop over from England, this sweet tradition is still going strong in the South. We like that it’s a special way to give recognition to the handsome beau on a day that can be a bit bride-centric.

Clockwise from top left: Chocolate and fruit cake photo by Picotte Weddings via Style Me Pretty, chocolate and peanut butter cake via Ashton Events, petite chocolate cake photo by Tanja Lippert via Southern Weddings, Guinness chocolate cake by Call Me Cupcake

Clearly, you can’t go wrong with a chocolate cake! These days, though, we’re seeing an influx of groom’s cakes customized to the gent of honor’s favorite hobbies and flavors. Think the red velvet armadillo (or armadilla, as we say around these parts) cake in Steel Magnolias. Alma maters and favorite teams are ripe for the picking, too!

Georgia cake photo by Scott Hopkins via Southern Weddings, Alabama cake photo by Spindle Photography via Southern Weddings, Texas cake photo by Dustin Meyer, Tennessee Titans cake photo by Kristyn Hogan via Southern Weddings

When researching this Southern tradition, we dug up this funny little fact: apparently, the groomsmen used to be responsible for decorating the groom’s cake the day of the wedding! Can you imagine?? I don’t know if they’d be able to replicate some of these fabulous designs…

Book cake photo by Jonathan Canlas via Southern Weddings, soccer cake photo by Ali Harper via Southern Weddings, sandwich cake photo by White Rabbit Studios via Southern Weddings, gator cake by Stephen DeVries via Southern Weddings, ham cake photo by Oh, Darling via Southern Weddings

Have a groom that doesn’t love cake? (My handsome hubby is in that camp!) We love these clever groom’s “cakes” that earn their quotation marks — a crepe “cake” on the left, and an Oreo “cake” on the right!

Crepe cake photo by Eric Kelley via Southern Weddings and Oreo cake from Martha Stewart

Like most traditions, the groom’s cake has evolved over the years, and sometimes, it’s not a cake at all! Try serving his favorite dessert, or ask his mom to whip up some of his childhood sweets, like MarLa and Sager did, below. I could definitely get on board with those Krispy Kremes!

Childhood sweets photo by White Rabbit Studios, mini banana puddings photo by Landon Jacob, and Krispy Kremes photo by The Schultzes

Wondering when the perfect time to serve the groom’s cake is? Many couples prefer to offer the groom’s cake at the rehearsal dinner, a fitting time, since the groom’s family often hosts that evening. That way, you also won’t have to worry about the aesthetic of the wedding and groom’s cake clashing, since they’re often very different!

Our final favorite, hilarious piece of lore surrounding the groom’s cake is this: Legend has it that if an unmarried woman sleeps with a slice of groom’s cake under her pillow, she’ll dream of her future husband. Not sure how your single friends would feel if they were singled out (haha) for a boxed slice of cake, but it could be cute to tie on a little tag explaining the tradition!

What’s the craziest groom’s cake (or groom’s sweet) you’ve seen? The last wedding I went to, the groom had a life-size guitar made of cinnamon roll cake – it was divine!

Landon Jacob, Scott Hopkins, Spindle Photography, Ali Harper, and Ashton Events are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
4 Comments
  1. avatar TIFFANY ABRUZZO reply

    My favorite print is the “Love Never Fails” print, mildly obsessed with it! :)

  2. avatar Groom's Cake | Hochzeitsblog – The Little Wedding Corner reply

    […] mehr Infos und auch ganz viele schöne Bilder, klickt doch mal zu South­ern Wed­dings […]

  3. avatar Let’s Cheer for Holly’s Favorite Cakes of the Year! | Custom Cakes – Holly’s Cakes Belton SC | Wedding Cakes & Birthday Cakes reply

    […] Click here for more history on the southern tradition of the grooms cake. […]

  4. avatar 9 Classic Wedding Traditions We Should Definitely Bring Back reply

    […] Fun fact: the groomsmen were supposed to be in charge of decorating their own cake on the day of the wedding. We're sure there would have been a lot of cakes gone un-decorated, back in the day… […]

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Love Southern wedding traditions and want to include them in your wedding? We wrote our e-book just for you!

Welcome to Fat Tuesday, y’all! Our longtime readers might remember me professing my unending love for all things Mardi Gras last year, but I’m so happy to be sharing the love with all of y’all joining us more recently, too!

Growing up in Mobile, Mardi Gras was a big part of our February (don’t tell, but I even like it better than Valentine’s Day!), and though I’ll be spending Fat Tuesday in Arizona, I’ll be doing my best to track down a king cake even in the dessert! Because of my far-from-NOLA current locale, I’m even more thankful I get to celebrate with you ladies on the blog! So grab a MoonPie (best served after a stint in the microwave for 7 seconds), and let’s go over a few Mardi Gras traditions you might never have heard of!

Source for first two; source for third

Let’s start with Krewes. Mardi Gras wouldn’t happen without them, as Krewes are the groups/organizations that put on the balls and parades. Each Krewe meets throughout the year to discuss and build their floats in secret, and on the day of their parade, they ride wearing masks. Some Krewes have been around since the 1800’s, while others have been in existence for just a few years; in some, membership is limited to only relatives of previous members, and in others, anyone who can pay the membership fee can join.

Each Krewe holds their own parade leading up to Mardi Gras, each with a unique theme, and two Krewes — Rex and Zulu — hold parades on Fat Tuesday itself. Aside from a captain, each Krewe has a royal party headed by a king and queen (which I’ve always wanted to be!) that preside over the parade and floats.

Source

Oh Mardi Gras colors, you’re so ugly and so fabulous all at the same time! Purple, green, and gold is the official Mardi Gras’ color palette, and can be seen on everything from costumes to beads. In true Southern form, even the colors themselves have symbolic meaning: purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

Source

Beads are still the most popular throw from floats, but doubloons have a history of their own, too! When we moved out of my childhood home, I can remember finding boxes full of these brightly colored coins – boy, did we have a collection. Originally used as currency, today’s doubloons are two-sided coins thrown from the parade floats (keep an eye out for them — these sucker can be dangerous!). They are imprinted with the Krewe’s name, emblem, and founding date on one side, and the current year and theme of the parade on the other.

Krewe doubloons are highly collectable and can create quite a ruckus in the crowd!

Source

I know quite a lot about Mardi Gras traditions, but The Golden Nugget is new to me! Originally thrown by the Zulu Krewe, these coconuts are thought to be the most sought-after throw in any Mardi Gras parade. In the early 1900’s, Zulu members threw coconuts (yep, just plain old coconuts) from their floats as a cheaper alternative to glass beads. Today, the coconuts are drained and hand painted either in gold or black and white.

Don’t be scared, my friends! In 1988, the City of New Orleans banned Zulu riders from throwing the coconuts from the floats and demanded the “throws” be handed to the crowds, making them even harder to catch and all the more valuable to spectators!

Source

Although I’ve never seen this next tradition in person, I can imagine it is a fantastic show! The Flambeaux tradition dates back to the 1800’s when New Orleans did not have electric street lights to light the night parades. Traditionally, the Flambeaux walked in front of the floats holding large torches, and put on their own show in front of the riders, dancing and doing tricks with the torches. Today, a few Krewes still roll out at night with the Flambeaux leading the way.

Source

Last, but certainly not least, we have Mardi Gras balls! Similar to my love for debutante cotillions, the Mardi Gras ball is one of my favorite aspects of Mardi Gras! Each year, Krewes host elaborate formal balls during Mardi Gras season. This is the time when kings and queens are first introduced, and the queens get to wear the most fabulous costumes! The queens’ stunning gowns, sparkling tiaras, and over-the-top collars are still my very favorite part of the Mobile Carnival Museum!

The original Mardi Gras balls were such important social affairs that Krewes had the invitations die cast in Paris and sent to New Orleans – fancy! Today, some Krewes still hold private invitation-only balls, while others have started allowing anyone to purchase tickets.

Well, now that I’m WAY too sad that I’m not spending today in Mobile (or Nola!), tell me: What’s your favorite Mardi Gras tradition? Have you ever caught a golden nugget?!

Want to learn more? Check out last year’s Traditions + Inspiration, Inspiration Board, and Color Palette Finds!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Liz reply

    Being from New Orleans, I have to say getting a coconut from the Krewe of Zulu would be amazing. I have yet to get my own coconut. The riders are such a tease! You may think they’re going to pass a highly coveted coconut to you, but they’ll quickly pull back and wait to pass it on to someone a few feet away. I’ve often seen them passed to the kiddos, and they get a kick out of it. Of course, no Mardi Gras would be complete without the king cake :) Happy Mardi Gras!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Oh, Liz! I can’t imagine – I have never received a coconut either and would die! Such a fun tradition! And yes, you MUST have a king cake! xx Happy Mardi Gras!

  2. avatar Patti reply

    What a great post! I too miss the excitement of celebrating Mardi Gras, although I did find a king cake in Publix last night. You did forget to mention some of the oddities we’ve caught in the past at parades – candy (sometimes full bags) toys, roses and even a giant toothbrush. There’s nothing like the excitement of a Mardi Gras parade1

  3. avatar Janna reply

    Sounds like fun! I follow a few blogs of girls who live in NOLA and it is definitely one of those events I have on my bucket list! Tonight I’ll be heading to a Mardi Grad party at a friend’s house- they had family mail them a king cake :) and for dinner it is crawfish and low country boil! :) I’m off to find a purple shirt to wear with my gold wedges- figured I could wear some of the colors- even if it is close to LSU wear! Go Gators! :)

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