Wedding Traditions with Jean Neuhart – E117

Matthew Campbell of My Wedding Songs and Jean Neuhart of Weddings From The Heart chat about wedding traditions and incorporating them into your wedding day.

Jean Neuhart, the owner of Weddings From The Heart, is a wedding blogger, former planner, and author of 2 books, “Wedding Invitations, RSVPs, and More! Oh My!” and “From “I Will” to “I Do”. You can find her at



Show Notes:

  • Memorable Wedding Moments
  • Meet Jean
  • Wedding Traditions Creating Memories
  • Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue
  • Both Partners Involved
  • Common Traditions
  • Making Common Traditions You Own
  • Cultural Traditions
  • Unique and Original Traditions
  • Traditions into the Future
  • Do What Feels Right To You
  • Contact Jean

Welcome everybody to the Wedding Songs Podcast. I am Matt Campbell today. I have a very special guest, Jean Neuhart from Ohio. Welcome to the show. Jean. Thank you, Matt. Thank you for having me. You have so much experience in the wedding industry. I wanted to have you on the podcast and thanks for being on the show.

Memorable Wedding Moments

I’m going to start how I start. Most of my podcast is, can you share any heartwarming or memorable wedding moment? Looking back through the years, I have lots of little moments here and there. I have been in the wedding industry for 30 years and, retired from planning after 27.

So, really a lot of the little moments were just kind of these small moments. For instance, one bride had a disability where she needed a cane to walk. She made it a point where she was going to walk down that aisle with Dad without her cane and stand through this, her ceremony without it.

She did it. That was very heartwarming for everyone, who knew her. At another wedding, the bride’s sister, who was her maid of honor, also sang the bride’s processional song, which was very sweet. It was obviously it was expected by the couple because they had planned it, but the guests didn’t know that there was going to be as well.

So that was a nice touch. probably one of the moments that I really remember is, It was during the reception, all the formalities were done, the cake cutting and the bouquet toss and all that. And the party was just in full swing. The bride and groom were on the dance floor with their guests, dancing, with big smiles on their faces.

You could tell that they were just happy beyond, measure. And they have not stopped smiling since the first thing this morning. They have smiled all day. And I had that little aha moment, it’s like, that is why we do what we do. Not just the planner, but the DJ, the photographer. We do it because we want to make them happy not for the money not for this or that But that was our why. So that was kind of a nice aha moment I think it’s interesting as people in the wedding industry we can really pick out the people that are in love and see those moments at weddings.

I think makes for very special moments not only for them but for us as well. Oh, yes I started well, before Facebook, the Internet, that wasn’t even a thing, but now looking back on Facebook, I can see where, you know, couples are still together and sharing their, oh, their third child, or it’s like, it is so nice to look and go at the beginning of that, right?

I’m not trying to be a stalker or anything. I don’t want to come across like that. It just is so nice to see they’re still together. They’re still happy. Just a very, very nice feeling. I talked to Freddy in one of my first interviews and he was talking about my couples are my friends. I’m friends with them on Facebook. I’m following them. Talking to other wedding professionals that, those of us who’ve been in there a long time, of course, we’re DJing their kids weddings. It’s full circle. It’s great. Yep.

Meet Jean

So can you tell people a little bit about your background and about yourself? Sure will. What I do, as I said, I’m a retired wedding planner and coordinator. so I started with the training back in 1994, and I’ve seen a lot of, a lot of things through the years, a lot of changes behind the scenes, just from the way people approach weddings, way couples approach weddings, the dynamics behind the scenes, there’s just the changes in technology that have changed, but, my philosophy behind weddings was, you Okay, here are the quote-unquote rules.

How can we make them fit your wedding? Either use them as is, maybe adjust them a little bit, to fit your wedding, the personalities of the couple, or if it’s something that really doesn’t fit for what you’re wanting, maybe we omit it. I’ve always had that belief of what they want, how they want their wedding to be because no two couples are the same.

No, two weddings are the same and they shouldn’t have to feel like, Oh, the rule said we should do this or we should do that. Or we are expected to, well, do you want to, does it, is it meaningful for you? And with my blog, I just kind of want to still have that same philosophy of here’s what’s out there. Here are things that you can do. How will it work for you? Or if it doesn’t work, don’t feel like you have to.

Wedding Traditions Creating Memories

I think that’s a great transition into what we’re going to talk about today’s wedding traditions. In your opinion, how important are wedding traditions in creating a memorable and meaningful wedding?

They are very important. cause you have to stop and think about what is a wedding, but at its core, it is a ritualistic rite of passage. It is not just a party with some wedding stuff thrown in, but it is a Purpose, you are going from this state of two individual people who are coming together to form this union, is a right of passage from going from single to married, and there are rituals behind that too. I don’t want to say really to make it so, but they’re just different rituals and practices that go hand in hand. And those are the traditions. Even though the traditions, the reasons. Why have the traditions, the meaning of the traditions changed so much through the centuries? A lot of them were to ward off the evil spirits or to promote fertility because it’s like, we’re trying to scare out the evil spirits and make sure you have lots of babies. That’s what a lot of the meaning behind that, even, the dad walking the daughter down the aisle wasn’t a loving support, but a, Business transition of you are going from our house to his house and we don’t have to take care of you anymore.

Where today, the practices of cake cutting, dad walking daughter down the aisle, tossing the bouquet. The practices are still there, but the meanings that we now attach to them have changed to reflect our modern-day beliefs. That reminds me of so many couples I talked to, they want the, in the vows, the obey part removed because they’re like, I’m not going to obey me.

Yeah, I don’t think so, I don’t remember the last time I heard. Obey and vow.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

So talking about traditions then, I think in my mind one of the most famous traditions is the saying, Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Do you see this tradition carried on today? And if so, any tips for couples that want to incorporate this into their wedding?

Sure. yeah, I mean, I still see it a lot of times. Week of the wedding, a couple of weeks before the wedding, the brides still want to incorporate that, years ago, it used to be pretty much, it was the bride’s, I don’t want to say her duty, but it was all kind of like, it revolved around the bride and it was often something that she wore.

Like for something old is I’m wearing mom’s wedding gown or veil, something new, oh, I bought a new wedding dress, borrowed, often a piece of jewelry, a necklace or a bracelet, something, blue, it’s usually the garter and the lucky sixpence in your shoe.

But today it’s like, well, hey, they still want to do that, but. With a modern twist, not necessarily what they’re wearing, or also get their groom or their partner involved in the something old something, you know, where Bella can wear, borrow dad’s tie or grandpa’s cuff links.

If a bride wants something a little bit different for blue for her, instead of wearing a garter, it’s like, well, maybe some blue nail polish. Some pretty rhinestone hair accessories.

I think that’s a really important, fact that you’re making that it doesn’t have to be as an example, something blue, the whole dress doesn’t have to be blue or the whole, the whole bracelet doesn’t have to be blue. It could be, you mentioned the garter being blue doesn’t mean that the whole garter has to be blue, just maybe like you’re saying blue rhinestones in there or just a little, even just having your wedding date sewn into the hem of, you know, the lining of your wedding gown with some blue thread, just something simple or, but it doesn’t have to be in your face blue, but just even this little touches or if you want a lot of blue, go for it. And I love that you’re getting both partners involved with that.

If I was getting married, maybe it’s Grandpa’s, pocket watch. Exactly. Because something old. That is kind of like our heritage where we came from. And it is what it represents. That’s the perfect thing. Weddings aren’t just about the bride and they never should have been in the first place. I was like, it’s wonderful that couples are realizing it’s not, that’s not just about her. It’s about them. No one may have more of a preference. Over a certain aspect of the wedding than the other, which is fine, but the input from the both is very, very important.

Both Partners Involved

Some of my favorite weddings to plan were the ones where both the bride and the groom were involved with the planning and not just, oh, okay. The first time I met the groom was on the rehearse at the rehearsal. remember when I got married, just because I was in the wedding industry, I had, yes, a lot more say than the average person, but then my personality, like you’re saying, my personality gets into that wedding day as well.

Your wedding is the beginning of your marriage. A marriage is a partnership between two people. Why shouldn’t it start? With the wedding? Great tip.

Making Common Traditions You Own

So what are some of the most common wedding traditions that you have encountered? Really the more common ones are the cake cutting bouquet toss garter toss Having a wedding party your bridesmaids and your groomsmen things like that are just still very very popular. I’ve actually had a couple who had no wedding party And when it came time for the processional, they met at the back of the aisle and walked in together.

But still, most couples are still doing the traditional, father-daughter dance, mother-son, father-daughter, mother-son dance, and things of that nature. But it’s not always done with the same serious formality as it was maybe 30, 40 years ago, where it’s like they’re having fun. I was talking with, folks that teach, choreography with couples getting married, and they say they see a lot where the Father and daughter come in to get a little choreography routine for the wedding.

So, yeah, let’s have fun with it. I actually have a friend choreographer as well, and she says the same thing that, yeah, sometimes it’s the mother and the son, mother, and the groom, and Yeah, it’s not just stereotype, just for the choreographed dance, just for the wedding party, or just for the wedding couple. Right.

Making Common Traditions You Own

Going off of traditions to what we’re seeing it really depends on where you’re located where we’re seeing a lot of cake cutting being cut out of it. Because exactly what you’re saying. Couples want to have fun. So really, that time that it takes for the garter toss and the bouquet tosses, you’re talking half an hour, sometimes just to get everybody rounded up, that’s a half hour of your reception time. And a lot of couples are choosing to forgo those traditions. And really, guests, if you are having an event that is just kind of has a good flow to it, they’re not going to mind it being omitted. But if it’s a lot of stop and start and wait, then they’re going to notice, oh, wait a minute, they didn’t do a, and it doesn’t mean that you have to do each of these things. If it doesn’t, if it’s not important to you, don’t. I had one couple, that didn’t have a wedding cake. They had, their favorite dessert was, flan, kind of like a custard, and they served that. As their wedding dessert, and they had a local ice cream shop came in, and they had a little ice cream sundae bar.

So they didn’t have a cake. They didn’t have a cake cutting. nobody thought twice about it. And it’s like if you omit a tradition, or if you do a tradition differently if it’s done in a way that makes sense to you as a couple, Your guests are going to get it, not bad, and I, I had one couple where they didn’t have any little kids, so they didn’t have a flower girl, but they had a flower fairy, and it was a young lady, but similar age to the bride, one of her friends, and she wore a full-length vinyl, black vinyl dress, cobalt blue butterfly wings, and just kind of went down the aisle tossing petals.

And the guests weren’t like in the world, it made total sense to the guests. Nobody batted an eye in wondering what are they doing, but it was just part of who they were. And it just meant something. it made sense to everybody. Yeah. Those are the stories that I love to share because like you said, it brings in their personality and guests get it because that’s what they’re into.

Right. Exactly, exactly. But if they were to have a little girl in the white dress dropping the petals. It’d be like, well, that’s cute, but okay. And then the bride walks out with black pedals thrown throughout her wedding dress. It’s like, okay, the flower girl doesn’t really match the bride here. Did we borrow the flower girl from somebody else’s wedding? Yeah.

One thing that I am seeing less of, or I saw less of, which I was so grateful for, was the cake smashing. I could never understand why people did that. And at two different weddings, I have two perfect examples of why you shouldn’t. Because one, the groom smashed, the bride inhaled, the cake went up her nose so much where she, her eyes are watering just because she’s got a cake full of, nose full of cake. The maid of honor, who was the bride’s sister, thought the bride was crying and mad, so the maid of honor got mad at the groom.

It’s like, if he just had not done anything, we wouldn’t have spent, 20 minutes trying to rectify this. Always used forks in all of my planning documents just to try to prevent that. And they make the sweet little cute little dessert forks where it says I do, and I do too, or something like that.

Cute little saying on them. It’s like, yeah, because You’re not going to smash with a fork. I mean, that is a good point. Have you seen any other traditions that have kind of faded away? People are not doing the bouquet and garter toss as frequently as before. some of it is, well, were the last, of our friends and family to get married.

So they don’t really have the single folks to participate. Also they kind of want to get away from the people scrambling on the floor too. Get something. So they either just omit that or they change it to where, okay, instead of tossing the bouquet, I’m going to present it to my grandparents or have an anniversary dance and present it to the couple are the married the longest, or the garter is the idea of the groom tossing something, but they don’t like the idea of him going up her dress.

Which, I say when you do that, have the garter below the knee. He doesn’t have to go far if you choose to do the garter removal. However, if you don’t want to do a garter removal, but still want to do a garter toss, fine. It doesn’t have to be a two-part thing.

Just don’t do the removal, just toss it. Or, I didn’t see this personally, but I saw online that they called it a whiskey toss. Where they had an empty whiskey box and tossed it, and whoever caught the box won the bottle of whiskey. That’s a cute idea. And it doesn’t give that connotation of, oh, here’s the next one to get married.

Also, if we know our two friends in attendance are planning on getting married, let’s just present them with the tossed bouquet in the garter. Instead of going through this, spread, the luck spread, the love.

That reminds me of, I was watching a video where a bride had a bunch of long stem roses instead of tossing your bouquet. She handed out roses to all of the ladies that were there trying to catch them. Oh, that’s a nice idea too.

Cultural Traditions

Have you found particularly interesting cultural traditions? I have seen the bride’s heritage So during the ceremony, the ceremony itself was to more incorporate the Chinese tea ceremony into it, which was very nice. later on, she wore a white wedding gown for the ceremony, but later on, she changed into the traditional red gown for her Chinese heritage. Handfasting had a few couples do that which was very nice.

I like the tradition where they tie the knot. You know, the term originated. Had a couple who were originally from Ghana, but they lived here in the United States. They had gone to Ghana and gotten married, but they came back to the United States and had a ceremony and reception here.

The ceremony was more intertraditional Western ceremony, but they wore traditional Ghana attire, and they did have a photo album from their ceremony over in Ghana, so guests could see. Photos from that as well. So that was just nice. Being in Dayton, we’re Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, so we get a lot of military weddings.

So, it’s not necessarily a country culture, but a military culture of these arch of sabers, arch of swords. I’ve told this story before where somebody was in the military, pulled out a sword, and then cut the top of the champagne bottle off the sword.

Practice that really well. Yeah, exactly. You don’t want Dad cutting off his hand at the reception. Yeah, you want your wedding to be remembered for the right things.

Unique and Original Traditions

What are some of the unique or unusual wedding traditions that couples have incorporated into their weddings that you’ve seen? Some of the more unique, well, it was just a little different variation of the dollar dance where they put the dollar into a hat or a little pouch. But in the Polish heritage, they pinned it to the groom’s attire. So he was walking around with dollar bills The tradition is also to do it for the bride, but she didn’t want pinholes in her dress and it’s like, totally get that.

That was kind of, nice. So it was a nod back to his family and his heritage and something a little fun and different for the guests who weren’t familiar with that. That’s one thing that I did find different about me personally, because I grew up in Northern Ohio and at weddings, Seeing the dollar dance was more of a common thing, but, life brought me to, Southwest Ohio and down here.

It’s like, it’s not done quite as much. It’s like a difference of a maybe three, four-hour drive and it’s done. And people are going, well, what is that? Yeah, I DJed in Montana in the nineties and the dollar dance was very, very common. It’s interesting that couples today just think of it as asking for money and they’ve, and they’ve changed terminology being the honeymoon dance or whatever they term that. So it’s really fallen out of favor. But. It really depends on, like you said, where you’re at. If it’s commonly happening.

Your guests will expect it and they’ll know to bring a few fives and ones to have it. Tell your couples, okay, don’t have a cash bar, don’t make your guests pay for something at your wedding, but the dollar dance is different because it’s something that is a common tradition that they’re, the guests are familiar with.

You’re not making them pay for that. They are participating in a tradition that they are comfortable with. Or if they don’t want to participate, they can just stay in their seats and watch. Exactly. The one benefit that I love from it is the couple gets to see everybody that’s at their wedding and has a quick conversation and has time to say thank you.

Instead of running from table to table or, whatever. Right. Or doing a receiving line, which isn’t done as often. And it’s like, well, because it takes time. And a lot of times if your ceremony and reception are in two different venues. You are cutting into that time in between when you should be getting your after-ceremony photos done, delays the time that you get to your own reception or some churches where you have different functions going on in the afternoon after a wedding ceremony, you have to be off the premises by a certain time.

The flow of a wedding reception is so important. Like you’re saying. That hour of the receiving line is such a buzz kill. And it’s awkward. Because guests feel like, Oh, I have to chit chat with each one of these bridesmaids and I don’t really know them and don’t want to be rude.

And so I would tell couples if you like the idea of the receiving line because you get that face-to-face time instead of standing in the back and having your guests. File out past you go back in and release your own guests that way you you two are Controlling how fast it goes You’re guaranteeing that FaceTime to everybody and your guests aren’t feeling awkward because they’re just talking to you and not to a bridesmaid that They don’t really know. That’s a very important fact that you made.

Traditions into the Future

So as the wedding industry continues to evolve, do you foresee any significant changes in the wedding traditions going forward? think weddings have evolved, and they always will, but traditions, I don’t really see them falling away quite so much. Maybe not done. All the time at every wedding, maybe not done in the same way that they perhaps are done now, or were done 10 years ago.

But then again, you have to think of the term, everything old is new again. I think in time we’re going to see those traditions come back the way they were done before, and everybody’s going to be embracing that. What I’ve noticed now with wedding cakes, Is you’re starting to see a lot of wedding cake designs that were similar to what we saw in like the 60s, 70s, 80s with the scrolls and the swoops and the swirls and just that very ornate detail of the wedding design and it’s like, that’s a cake out of the 70s.

We’re starting to see that there. So it’s like, yeah, it’s not tradition is not going to go away. It will be done or not done due to each individual couple. Tastes and preferences, I think in some ways it’s eventually going to come back Well another statement that I want to make too about that is I said this in a recent newsletter where?

It’s up to the wedding pros to create something that’s different from something that’s always been done. An example would be the father-daughter dance instead of the DJ or MC announcing that, okay, ladies and gentlemen, we’re about to have the father-daughter dance. Why don’t you have the mother of the bride come up and, and invite her husband and her daughter to the dance floor? Just have something that’s a little bit different and that’s just going to make that moment stand out so much more. A little more personable that way. And it’s a lovely idea. Thanks.

Do What Feels Right To You

Is there anything else you wanted to cover today about wedding traditions that we haven’t talked about yet? not really. just, one thing I want to let couples know that when it comes to not just wedding traditions, any choice that you make for your wedding, do it because, not because, oh, we’re supposed to have a this, we’re supposed to have, do it because. You want to do it because it has some sort of meaning to you and by having meaning to you, it doesn’t have to be the.

Meaning that as wedding pros, we attach to that particular practice. But even if the has meaning to you is just like, I like it. If that’s the meaning that it has for you, perfect. Do it because you want to, and it makes sense for you and your partner to have it at your wedding.

Cheers to that. I totally agree. Don’t, don’t always do what mother-in-law wants you to do or your mother is one of my favorite quotes. The most damaging phrase in the language is it’s always been done that way and that quote was by I thought I had it written down because I have little quotes and stuff but the woman is actually, she was I think a physicist. Who said it, so it’s like, she’s not even speaking about it. Events or anything romantic, but just. a life statement. And it’s like, yes, don’t do it because it’s always been done that way.

Don’t do it because you should, quote-unquote, should. When it comes to a wedding, what should you do? Have a marriage license, and have somebody who can legally marry you. That’s it.

Exactly. The reason that you’re there is to get married and you want it to be done legally, right? Hopefully, everything else is what you want. Years ago I was meeting with the bride and she had commented to me that her best friend told her that she didn’t need a wedding planner. What do I think?

I said, honestly, you don’t need a wedding planner. You don’t need a photographer. You don’t need a caterer. You don’t need a DJ, you don’t need one, but do you want one?

What do you need? A marriage license and an officiant who can legally perform the ceremony. That’s what you need. Everything else, what do you want? Do you want your wedding day to go smoothly? Do you want to be able to relax? Then you might want a wedding planner. Do you want to have great food and people who are going to be behind the scenes making sure that The trays aren’t empty, you want a caterer.

Do you want music that is going to be playing, keeping people on the dance floor, someone making announcements at appropriate times, and just good on the microphone? Then you want that professional DJ. It’s funny, the three things you mentioned are the three most important things I always say.

Is a day of wedding planner just to make sure things go smoothly and people always remember how the food tasted and if they had a good time. So that’s the caterer and the DJ. Yep. That’s a great way to close it out here.

Contact Jean

So how can people follow along with you and contact you? Okay, they can find me on my website.

It is Sorry it’s so long, but that’s just how it ended up. They can also find me on Twitter, X, whatever you want to call it, Facebook, and Instagram. My handle is @wedbyjean.

Awesome. Thanks, Jean, for being on the show today. I really appreciate it. Thanks, Matt. I had a good time talking with you. I love weddings. When I retired, it’s like, I cannot step away completely from weddings, but I’m to the point where I’m ready to not have to deal with those 15-hour wedding days.

I don’t think anybody in the wedding industry can ever get out of it. Just that, that feeling of, bringing couples together for sure. Yeah. I remember when my son when he was little, he used to say, Mom, you’re obsessed with weddings. Yeah, maybe.

Well, thanks everybody for tuning in. Stay tuned for next week for another episode with an interview with another wedding pro. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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