You've received your invitation to a New England wedding and feel stoked! But before you start packing your bags and practicing your dance moves, you should know what to expect at a New England wedding.
A New England wedding, in any season, promises a charming and memorable experience for the couple and their guests. In the spring and summer, the lush greenery and colorful blooms create a romantic backdrop for the ceremony and reception. Fall weddings feature breathtaking autumn foliage, adding a warm and cozy feel to the event. The winter season brings a snowy wonderland, perfect for a magical and intimate celebration. Expect hearty and delicious cuisine, warm and welcoming hospitality, and the sense of traditional charm that encompasses the New England spirit. From historic venues to breathtaking natural landscapes, New England weddings offer a unique and unforgettable experience for all.
What Should a Wedding Guest Wear in New England?
First things first, what should you wear? Well, it depends on the season. In the spring, summer, and early fall, you can expect a lot of outdoor weddings, so bring your sunglasses and a light jacket just in case. For men, a nice suit or sport coat will do the trick, while women can go for a pretty sundress or a chic jumpsuit. Fall and winter weddings are often more formal, so you'll want to step up your game with a tuxedo or a fancy gown. Layers are your friend during these colder months, so accessorize with a scarf or a shawl.
Gifts to Give a New England Couple
Now, let's talk about gifts. Suppose you're a guest at a New England wedding, in that case, giving a gift that reflects the couple's interests and personality is customary. Many couples in New England appreciate unique, artisanal items, or locally-made goods, such as handcrafted pottery, artisanal chocolate, or homemade preserves. A good rule of thumb is to avoid generic wedding gifts and opt for something that shows you gave the gift thought.
If you need gift ideas for your New England newlyweds, choose a local piece from the city where the couple are getting married. You already know they love the local vibe so a small piece of New England art or jewelry, or a local candle, will always make them remember both you and their wedding. Win. Win.
What to Expect at a New England Wedding?
New England weddings are known for their charm and sophistication, with many taking place in historic venues, seaside resorts, and rustic taverns. You can expect New England fare on the menu, from salmon or cod to locally-brewed beer. The music is likely to mix classic rock, jazz, and more recent hits, with plenty of opportunities to get up and dance.
The most important thing to remember about attending a New England wedding is to relax, have fun, and enjoy the company of the happy couple and their friends and family. Whether you're basking in the summer sun or snuggled up by the fire on a winter night, a New England wedding is a celebration of love, tradition, and all the good things life has to offer.
A guide to New England Wedding Traditions
Ah, New England weddings can be as classic as a lobster roll and a dunk in the Atlantic, or set a new scene and establish fresh traditions. From rustic soirees to regal affairs in historical venues, there's a whole world of traditions specific to the region. Here are a few of our favorites - some common, some not so much.
First up, the "clambake" rehearsal dinner. This is a classic New England tradition, especially popular in coastal areas. A clambake involves steaming up a bounty of seafood - clams, mussels, lobster, and corn on the cob, usually served with plenty of butter and a cold beer. It's a great way to bring people together and create a laid-back atmosphere ahead of their big day.
Next on our list is the "penny in the shoe." This is a lesser-known New England wedding tradition, but it's sweet. The bride places a penny in her shoe (usually on the left) for good luck. The idea is that the penny will bring financial security and prosperity to the newlyweds as they start their life together.
Another local tradition is the "handfasting" ceremony. This ancient Celtic practice involves literally tying the knot between the couple's hands as a symbol of their commitment. It's a beautiful, symbolic way to honor the region's roots, especially if one or both members of the couple have Irish, Scottish, or Welsh ancestry.
For a sweet and sentimental touch, many New England brides wear "something blue." This tradition comes from an old English rhyme that says a bride should wear "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" for good luck. In New England, the "something blue" often takes the form of a blue ribbon or charm on the bride's bouquet or garter. Modern brides often opt for a sapphire or blue manicure accents.
Now let's talk about something you wouldn't expect, the "second line" parade. This New Orleans tradition has made its way up to the Northeast in recent years, especially in the Boston area. During the reception, the bride and groom lead a procession of guests with umbrellas or handkerchiefs, waving and dancing as they go. It's a great way to start the party and bring some Mardi Gras-style fun to the New England nuptials.
Whether the East Coast wedding theme is classic or quirky, rustic or regal, there's sure to be a beautiful wedding tradition that fits the bill and feels right. Want to get even more local? We've found more traditions that have become popular in specific East Coast States.
Local Wedding Traditions by State
Did you know that wedding traditions often vary by state? Suppose you're attending a wedding in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, or Rhode Island. In that case, there are some unique customs you should be aware of. Here's what you can expect at each state's wedding.
Massachusetts has a rich history and local couples have a deep appreciation for tradition. Weddings in Massachusetts often occur in historic venues, such as mansions, museums, and colonial-era churches. Many couples incorporate New England's seafood into their wedding menus, with tasty Atlantic cod and local scallops being popular choices.
New Hampshire Weddings
New Hampshire weddings are known for their stunning natural beauty, with many taking place in picturesque locations such as the White Mountains, Lake Winnipesaukee, and the seacoast. Couples in New Hampshire often incorporate outdoor activities into their wedding weekend or bachelor(ette) weekends, such as hiking, skiing, or boating.
Connecticut is a state with a strong maritime heritage, and this is often reflected in wedding traditions. Many couples choose to get married on the coast, with beachside venues and nautical décor. Guests can expect to see plenty of seafood on the menu and classic New England fares like apple pie and maple syrup. Connecticut weddings are also formal, with guests expected to dress in their finest attire.
Rhode Island Weddings
Rhode Island is the smallest state in the US, but it's big on wedding traditions. Many couples in Rhode Island choose to get married in seaside venues, such as Newport's famous mansions or beachside resorts. Couples in Rhode Island also tend to have a strong sense of family tradition, with many incorporating family heirlooms or customs into their wedding celebrations.
Each state's wedding traditions have their roots in the state's history, geography, and cultural heritage. For example, Massachusetts strongly connects to the sea, reflected in its seafood cuisine and nautical décor. New Hampshire is a state with a deep appreciation for nature, and this is reflected in the outdoor activities and farm-to-table cuisine at weddings. Connecticut has a long maritime history, reflected in its beachside venues and formal attire. Rhode Island is a state with a strong sense of family tradition, which is often incorporated into wedding ceremonies and receptions.
Attending a wedding in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, or Rhode Island is a unique experience that offers a glimpse into each state's history and culture. New England wedding traditions are influenced by the states' unique histories, geography, and cultural heritage. You'll find that Maine's connection to the sea and natural beauty is reflected in its laid-back and rustic weddings, while Vermont's strong connection to the land and emphasis on community shines through in its low-key events. New York's trend-setting quest for culture and diversity means you'll often see more spent on entertainment with big bands and higher-profile DJs, while New Jersey's long history of grandeur and opulence means larger quest counts and extended menus.
The Unique Charm of a New England Wedding
New England weddings are a special breed, unlike any other wedding experience you'll find in the US. The region's rich history and natural beauty provide a gorgeous backdrop for a romantic and unforgettable wedding. From the stunning autumn foliage to the rocky shores and historic venues, New England has everything you need to create a one-of-a-kind celebration.
If you're a local planning your New England wedding, you'll have the chance to incorporate some of the region's unique cultural traditions into your big day. From classic event venues with picturesque gardens to colonial-era venues and quaint seaside beaches, there are plenty of ways to make your New England wedding feel authentic and memorable. Plus, the region's unpredictable weather means you'll need to plan for all eventualities, which only adds to the excitement and anticipation of the big day.
For out-of-town guests, a New England wedding is a great opportunity to explore one of the prettiest regions of the US. From the rocky coastline to the charming streets of Boston, there are endless opportunities for sightseeing and adventure. Whether you're taking a romantic stroll through historic Salem or sampling the local craft beer scene, a New England wedding is an invitation to immerse yourself in the region's rich culture and history.
If you're considering a destination wedding on the Atlantic Coast, New England is the ideal choice. With its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and unique cultural traditions, a New England wedding is sure to be an memorable experience for you and your guests. So pack your bags, prepare to embrace the charm and beauty of the region, and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime.