African American Wedding Traditions

Jumping Over The Broom

Jumping the broom originated during the time of slavery in the United States. Slaves, not having rights as citizens, were denied the legal or religious rite of marriage. The tradition of jumping the broom was the slaves way to recognize the commitment of two people to one another. It was commonly accepted by both the slaves and the salve owners, who would sometimes participate in this celebration. Jumping the broom signified leaving single life and the transition into a new life together. Jumping over the broom together has been part of weddings for Black couples who want to honor that tradition. At the conclusion of the ceremony, after the kiss and the presentation of the couple to their guests, one of the attendants or a special person brings the broom from the audience and places it in the path of the wedding couple. They then jump over the broom on their way out. An alternative would be for the couple to jump over the broom just prior to the pronouncement that they are husband and wife. The kiss would follow; then the recessional. The broom used in the wedding ceremony is often beautifully handmade and kept by the couple as a wedding memento.

Tips for Adding Cultural Touches to Your Wedding

1. Coordinate your entire wedding with African inspired accessories from wedding brooms to Kente cloth garters, pillows and guest books and wedding stationery.
2. Walk down the aisle with your hair braided instead of wearing a separate headpiece.
3. Place a basket of ribbons at the entrance of your ceremony site and invite guests to tie a ribbon to the broom before the ceremony. As you jump the broom you will have each guest’s good wishes attached.
4. Select a favorite hymn for guests to sing as you jump the broom after the ceremony.
5. You may also cross sticks. Slaves used to cross sticks as a symbol of marriage

Symbols Of Life

In recognition of African culture, during the wedding ceremony the officiant may administer the twelve symbols of life, each representing the love and strength that brings two families together

Wine – The mixing of the blood of the two families
Wheat – Fertility, and the giving of life and land
Pepper – Heated times the families will have
Salt – Healing and preservation of marriage
Bitter Herbs – Growing pains of married life
Water – Purity, dissolution of bitterness
Spoon, Pot – Healthy food that builds strong families
Broom – Cleanliness of health and well-being
Honey – Sweet love between a black man and woman
Spear – Protection of the sanctity of home and community
Shield – Honor and pride of the home
Bible or Koran – Symbol of Gods truth and power