Burying the Bourbon: A Southern Wedding Tradition

When talking about our wedding and the traditions we incorporated, I found that a surprising number of people had never heard of burying bourbon. I got a lot of blank looks…it’s almost as if digging a hole in the ground and dropping a bottle of bourbon in with the intention of drinking it later seemed odd to people…weird, right?! Well, for the uninitiated among us, I’m going walk you through this Southern tradition.

BURYING THE BOURBON

The tradition of burying the bourbon says that 1 month out before your wedding, you should bury a full bottle of bourbon, upside down, at the site of your wedding. That dirt-covered bourbon will ward off rain, bring good weather and, the morning of your wedding, the groom digs it up for all to enjoy throughout the day.

 

burying the bourbon - southern wedding traditions - farmhouse at veritas wedding

WHERE IT STARTED

I did a bit of digging (no pun intended…) online to try to find out where this tradition started, but the best answer I found was on Southern Weddings. Their conclusion? Inconclusive. Perhaps it started in Tennessee, maybe it was Virginia – we’ll go with Virginia.

BURYING OUR BOURBON

Conveniently, we happened to be in Charlottesville exactly a month before our wedding for a football game. So, I gave the wonderful manager at our venue, the Farmhouse at Veritas, a heads up that we’d like to bury the bourbon and, fortunately, she knew exactly what we were talking about. She let us know that they had a designated bourbon burial plot and a shovel waiting for us.

We picked up our bourbon en route, it took us just a few minutes to bury it, and that bottle did its job. A month later, on December 2, 2018, after a cold, rainy week, and immediately preceding a frigid arctic snap that brought highs in the 20’s and 9 inches of snow, we had an unbelievable 62-degree day in December.

 

burying the bourbon - southern wedding traditions - farmhouse at veritas wedding
burying the bourbon - southern wedding traditions - farmhouse at veritas wedding

THE BOURBON WE BURIED

So, full disclosure, the full-size bottle we buried was actually whiskey. We had intended to bury a bottle of Angel’s Envy, the bourbon we fell in love with while in Louisville, Kentucky, but the liquor store we went to didn’t carry it.

We debated over what to do – did we go with a classic? An offbeat local offering? Then, we spotted a bottle of Teeling’s Irish Whiskey – the small-batch distillery that we had stumbled upon during our road trip to Ireland. This was the perfect bourbon-alternative. Whiskey is close enough and it had meaning for us since Ireland has been one of our favorite trips together.

Of course, we didn’t want to chance it, so we did snag a small airplane bottle of Woodford Reserve. If we were going through with the tradition, might as well cover all our bases.

 

burying the bourbon - southern wedding traditions - farmhouse at veritas wedding

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE BOURBON AFTER YOU DIG IT UP?

Drink it, duh! We split the airplane bottle of Woodford Reserve right after we dug up our bourbon – that’s the good luck way to do it, right?! 

Adam and I both had a glass of the whiskey during cocktail hour, and then he proceeded to pour small glasses of it for everyone who cared to imbibe at the reception (another advantage of an intimate wedding!).

There was part of me that did want to keep the bottle for posterity’s sake, but, honestly, I think that would be too much pressure on when to drink it. Letting everyone partake added to the festivities and brought our loved ones into the tradition.

 

burying the bourbon - southern wedding traditions - farmhouse at veritas wedding

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR REGIONAL WEDDING TRADITIONS!

Since I now know that burying the bourbon is a solely Southern tradition (and perhaps an obscure Southern tradition, at that), I’m so curious what other regional wedding traditions are out there. The groom’s cake was another Southern tradition we incorporated and Adam hadn’t heard of the bourbon or the groom’s cake, so Southern must not make its way to Texas!

Let me know in the comments what regional traditions had a role in your wedding!

 

 

Photos by Lauren Miller of Lauren Louise Collective

2 Comments

  1. Bridget
    March 11, 2019 / 10:54 pm

    My dad and I danced to the Missouri Waltz which is one of the Mizzou fight songs and state song; weare both alumni. My husband and his mom danced the Charleston because they are from Charleston, SC. I had a horseshoe in my bouquet for good luck which is both Southern and Irish and pinned my sorority initiation ribbon in my dress. My husband surprised me with flags for SC, MO and DC (our home states and where we met and got married) that all the guests waved when dancing began. We had stations and more of a pastry atmosphere (no “schedule” with everyone watching”) which is a tradition in SC where my husband grew up. I’m catholic and we prayed in the wedding chapel at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in front of the Holy Family and left a bouquet for the Virgin Mary. My family has a special devotion to her and it’s common in the Midwest with Catholics.

    • hmbien
      Author
      March 12, 2019 / 6:41 am

      Y’all went all out with the traditions, I love it!! I hadn’t heard of several of those, so it really is amazing how regional/state-specific wedding traditions can be.

      Also, a husband from Charleston, SC – that’s a great city to marry into!

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