Wedding History Day — Jumping the Broom

One of the things I have enjoyed most about working so many weddings is learning all about different traditions and customs across cultures.  There is so much unique history that can be tied into your wedding day with everything from traditional ceremonies (i.e. Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, etc.) to wedding superstitions, and more.  I thought it would be fun every once in a while to research the history and discuss some of the different customs that I have been exposed to so far in my experience working at weddings!  Its fun to understand where some of these traditions originated and what the history is behind them.

One of the very first weddings I worked back in October was Adrienne and Sam’s with Events in the City.  They were such a fun couple and it was a BEAUTIFUL wedding!  Their ceremony was at the gorgeous Universalist National Memorial Church in Washington, DC.  Seriously, just look at how insanely beautiful this church is:

Yea, AMAZING.  Anyways, I attended the rehearsal Friday evening with Megan Pollard where I watched her run through the ceremony a few times with the bridal party.  They were finishing up the practice ceremony when Adrienne said “And then we JUMP over the broom!” and she and Sam jumped from the steps at the alter onto the floor.

The day of the wedding  I was a little confused as to whether they really were planning to have a broom on their alter to jump over.  The broom they had sitting there was not the kind we buy at Walmart to sweep our kitchen floor but more of a traditional, old broom that looked something like this (but of course with lots of decoration on it):

We set up the ceremony with candles down the aisle and broom at the alter.  At the end of the ceremony (which was so dramatically fabulous!), Adrienne’s father placed the broom at the center of the alter on the floor and Adrienne and Sam jumped from the stair onto the floor and over the broom.  Everyone cheered as the couple walked back down the aisle with huge smiles on their faces.

I never did ask Megan what the significance of that tradition was.  It was not until recently, when I decided to research wedding traditions and superstitions, that I stumbled upon the custom of “jumping the broom” and I remembered Adrienne & Sam.

It seems that “jumping the broom” is a custom that dates back to somewhere around the 1600s in Africa but has roots in Celtic cultures as well.  It has become a popular African-American wedding ceremony tradition and represents joining of the two families .  Some sources also say that it represents the “sweeping away” of the old to enter the new part of their lives with their spouse (or new beginnings).  Apparently, the custom originated during the time of slavery when slaves were not permitted to marry.  They would marry secretly within their community and the act of jumping the broom became a legal bonding act that legitimized the marriage in the community.  Many believe that today, jumping the broom is a ritual passed down to African-Americans from their ancestors to remind them of a time when their vows were not legally sanctioned.

Although there are many different beliefs on the true meeting of this custom, I think it is a beautiful tradition with so much history and background.  I truly enjoyed seeing Sam & Adrienne honor a part of their history and incorporate this awesome ritual into their own wedding ceremony!

What are some rituals that you have seen or performed at a wedding?  What other rituals would you like to learn more about?

Visit sites like for beautiful wedding brooms decorated in your wedding colors!


Event Coordinator:  Events in the City

Ceremony Venue:  Universalist National Memorial Church

Photographer:  Duhon Photography



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