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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
20 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 […]

  17. avatar Emily reply

    Hello! I am from northern Missouri, so I had never heard of this house party tradition until recently. I am getting married this summer and have six bridesmaids. There are so many other girls I wanted to ask to stand up with me, so I heard about this tradition and thought it was the perfect idea. BUT, now I need help asking my girls to join my house party. I want a cute idea that explains the tradition, since it’s not common up here. Any ideas?!?

    • avatar Kaylee Hobbs reply

      Hi Emily!!

      Hooray! We would suggest printing out our explanation of what a house party is on a card and pairing it with a small gift!

    • avatar Elyse reply

      Hi there! I found some really cute cards on Etsy and wrote them all a personal note. The cards had printed “Will you be in my house party? ” on them. I also had personalized makeup mirrors (found on etsy) made with thier name. Wasn’t terribly expensive and they loved it!

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Happy New Year, y’all! I hope you’re ready for 2013, and welcomed it with open arms (and some black-eyed peas!).

If you’re looking for a fun and festive meal for your home today, we’ve got one for you! Hoppin’ John is a traditional Southern delicacy consisting of black-eyed peas and rice, with chopped onion and sliced bacon, and seasoned with a bit of salt.

Eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and fun fact: a coin is sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls when serving! Want added luck? Serve the beans as leftovers tomorrow as “Skippin’ Jenny” to further demonstrate your frugality and bring an even better chance of prosperity in the New Year!

Photo and recipe from The Pioneer Woman

Wondering where this tradition comes from? During the late Middle Ages, it was traditional in parts of France and Spain to eat beans on New Year’s Day for good luck. When settlers arrived in the United States, this European custom combined with an African food staple to create what we think of now as a uniquely Southern tradition!

What’s your New Year’s tradition? Will you be eating any black-eyed peas or Hoppin’ John?

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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    Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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    Y’all know we love sparkly diamonds and gorgeous bling around these parts! Emily and I in particular are a little ring-obsessed, and from the looks of the comment section in our past engagement ring posts, y’all are, too!

    Naturally, we love every sort of tradition and story involving sparkly things, so when Lauren, one of our dear readers, sent us the loveliest of stories about the estate diamond in her engagement ring, we knew we had to share. Take it away, Lauren!

    “The center diamond in my engagement ring belonged to my great grandmother. She was given it as a gift from my great grandfather on their 50th Wedding anniversary. On the day I was born, my grandmother set aside that ring to give to me one day. My grandparents have been married for almost 60 years, and their marriage is one that I admire and look up to. It is an honor to me to wear an heirloom diamond with a history of love from two faithful and long lasting marriages.”

    Now that y’all have wiped your tears, let’s talk about the Southern tradition of the estate diamond!

    Tec Petaja

    Estate jewelry is defined as “previously owned jewelry that is of a vintage and/or antique nature.” I’m sold already! Tradition dictates that women in the South pass their engagement ring diamond, or their entire engagement ring, onto their first born son to be given to his future bride. Once she becomes a mother, the tradition continues as the diamond or ring is passed from generation to generation.

    According to my mother in law, many women in the South are given an additional band on their tenth (or more) anniversary as a sort of replacement for the ring given away.

    Don’t have an estate ring in your family? These days, there are great sources online for authentic vintage rings (one of our favorites is EraGem!)

    Now it’s time to talk about your pretty, pretty sparklers, ladies! If you have a diamond engagement ring, is it an estate piece? Or did your beau (or you and your beau!) pick out something entirely new? Share, share, share away!

    P.S. We love these Southern traditions, too:
    A moment of prayer before the ceremony
    Carrying a white Bible in lieu of a bouquet
    The sorority sing

    EraGem is a delightful member of the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory and an SW sponsor!

    marissa Written with love by Marissa
    17 Comments
    1. avatar Ali reply

      My engagement ring is also an estate ring. It was my fiance’s great grandmother’s ring, given to her by his great grandfather. It is an aquamarine set in a white gold band. His mom had been holding it in her jewelry box for just the right girl…and it ended up being me! I love the ring itself very much, but I love the history behind it and what it represents so much more.

      • avatar Marissa reply

        Oh Ali, that sounds gorgeous! Even if you’re a Gator! ; ) I am obsessed with vintage jewelry and the stories behind them! Hopefully you’re able to continue the tradition! xx, Marissa

    2. avatar Brittany R reply

      My ring is not an estate ring, but I love it just the same! It’s a 2 ct. emerald cut in a cathedral (very high) setting. My band is super thin, as is my wedding band (that I will get on April 14! eek!) I really do love this tradition, though. My fiance’ and I have talked about starting that tradition for our family…I would be honored to know that my diamond is treasured long after I am gone!

      • avatar Marissa reply

        Hi Brittany! That is such a sweet idea to start the tradition with your ring! I’m sure that your daughter in law would absolutely LOVE a 2 ct. sparkler! xx, Marissa

    3. avatar Erin reply

      I know I’ve shared this story before but probably over 1 1/2 years ago. My engagement ring is an estate piece–it was my man’s mother’s, grandmother’s, AND great grandmother’s ring. It’s an antique setting with a single band but the top has two rows of five diamonds each (I don’t know all of the correct terminology, sorry!). Since I’ve always thought it looks more like a wedding ring than an engagement ring we’re going to actually use my grandmother’s diamonds to design an engagement-looking wedding band! This way my hand is full of his family AND my family’s history, as well as our own ideas!

    4. avatar Anitaa reply

      I have always loved estate jewelery. Sadly no one in our families had rings to pass on thus I decided to start this tradition.
      I picked an authentic 1920s Art Deco ring for our engagement. 2.14 ct old mine cut in a square detailed filigree platinum setting. I love it so much I picked a plain wedding band to wear on my right hand as we did not want anything to “steal” from the beauty.

    5. avatar Angela Alpaugh reply

      My engagement ring is a three-stone diamond ring that has been in my now-husband’s family since the Civil War era, beginning with his great-great-great-great grandparents. When I tried on the ring for the first time, there was no re-sizing needed. It fit my ring finger perfectly. I remember the joy and sense of wonder in my heart that day as I tried on the ring for the first time, knowing that a proposal was soon to come. I am so honored to carry on this family tradition and wear this beautiful piece of history that I will one day pass down and continue the family tradition.

    6. avatar Katie reply

      Neither one of us had an estate ring in our families; however, many have commented on the ring Matt picked out as looking very vintage and very much like an heirloom! It’s a round cut with sidestones, and a halo surrounding all three diamonds. The band is very thin and has diamonds as well–in short, it is very sparkly, which is exactly what I wanted! Matt and I definitely want this ring to stay in our family, passed down from generation to generation.

    7. avatar Kelly reply

      While my engagement ring is new {pear-shaped with a halo and pave-diamond band}, I will definitely be incorporating estate jewelry from my fiance’s and my family’s lines on our wedding day! With my wedding dress, I’m going to wear my grandmother’s engagement diamond on a pendant around my neck, and Drew’s late mother’s and grandmother’s engagement rings on my right hand. It’ll be a lovely way to have a little piece of them with us on our special day.

    8. avatar Becca reply

      My ring is also an estate ring. My great-grandmother was given the ring in 1923 and was happily married for 56 years. When my grandmother died I got it from her estate. It is a beautiful solitaire set in white gold and was the perfect fit! My fiance got a ring wrap custom made to make it even more beautiful without having to change my great-grandmother’s ring at all. I am so happy to continue the legacy because all of my fiance’s grandparents were married over 50 years as was mine. I’m planning a beautiful June wedding here in NC. : )

    9. avatar Emily reply

      My fiance’s sister has always wanted the “family ring,” which belonged to their grandmother, so I insisted that it was hers to have when the time came. My fiance proposed last July, and gave me a ring that he “built.” Rather than using the family ring, he took his grandmother’s diamond watch to our jeweler and had the main stones removed. He then purchased my center stone, and added the remaining family watch diamonds to create an absolutely beautiful “new heirloom.” The three stone, pave set engagement ring that he created specifically for me is a perfect combination of family and future! Gee do I love that man :)

    10. avatar kristin reply

      I’m not sure mine is quite old enough to qualify as an estate diamond, however, it is the same stone that my fiancé’s father proposed to his mother with about thirty years ago. Matt, my fiancé, had a new band designed to hold the solitaire diamond for me. He actually carried it around in his pocket for a month before finding just the right moment to propose! I just love it and it really is that much more special knowing the love stories behind it.

    Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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