Folklore Heritage

June Is The Time For A Shivaree

bonnie and curtis

June is one of the most popular months for weddings. Appalachia has many interesting customs and sayings surrounding matrimony-one being a Shivaree (also called a Serenade). A Shivaree is a loud greeting given to newlyweds on their first night home. The Shivaree starts just after dark and includes loud banging, hollering, and serenading. Putting the couple in a wheel barrel and pushing them around is sometimes part of the fun as well. Over the years many of the traditions have fallen by the way.

Pap and Granny dated a short 3 months before they ran off and got married. Granny tells that she was all for getting married-but after it was over she was deathly afraid to go home and face her mother. When they told her mother, Gazzie, she warned Pap to be good to her daughter or else. He followed through on his promise to treat her right all the years they were married.

The Deer Hunter and I dated for 4 years before we took the plunge. We tease about how if feels like we’ve been married 40 years-its actually been closer to 20 years. Our wedding was small and inexpensive. My favorite detail of our marriage-we used his grandparent’s rings (the first picture on this post is of them Bonnie and Curtis).

A few other Appalachian customs or sayings concerning weddings:

*If someone sweeps under your feet you’ll never marry-I heard this one my whole life.

*The couple jumps the broom after the service to signify crossing over from single life to married life.

*In the past many marriages were conducted at the local Court House-hence the term going courtin. When I was a teenager someone was always asking me if I was “courtin” yet.

*This last one is for all you quilters. When young ladies gathered to put the finishing touches on a new quilt they would each hold a piece of the quilt and someone would throw a cat on the quilt- whoever the cat jumped off by-was the next girl headed for marriage.

Have you ever been to a Shivaree/Serenade? Are there any wedding customs in your area?



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    July 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I’ve heard of a shivaree. My mom and dad told of people doing that to them. They went to the courthouse in Georgia and got married, a lot less red tape the way they talked. We lived next to the Georgia line, matter of fact you could walk about a couple hundred steps and be in Georgia and My parents told of how people used to walk by our house and step across the line into Georgia to get married. I’ve been married for 40 years and we didn’t get a shivaree but plenty of tin cans. Just a simple wedding. We only went together 4 times because my husband was in the army. It was a hurried wedding also since he had to be back on base in ten days…Susie

  • Reply
    delores (Rusty) ellis
    April 9, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Oh, what fun we had in Indiana
    at wedding time. We were among
    most of those who married in the
    early 50’s and those before, when
    we got into our run away car,
    a string of tin cans were tied
    to the back of the car so everyone
    in town could hear the sound and
    wave and clap. A gand of noodle
    heads followed us and we wickedly
    drove out of town and pulled into
    a nearby motel that had a reputation for ill reputed couples. The cars pulled in behind us and hubby gunned the
    petal and we disappeared and
    lost our perfectly stunned group.
    1952…..but we also did shivarlees in Fort Wayne, Indiana, usually country side folk.
    Scared alot of cows and horses!

  • Reply
    Mary L. Grabski, Wisconsin
    June 13, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I forgot to say that the money, collected in the shoe at a Polish wedding, is supposed to be used to pay for the first baby’s crib. We never did get THAT money, but we had a huge baby shower with a Polish band and dance and everything, and we got tons of money and presents for the baby. The Polish traditions and foods are wonderful, but they’re fading out.

  • Reply
    Mary L. Grabski, Wisconsin
    June 13, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I remember going to “shivaree” at the wedding reception homes. We’d take old kettle covers and a big metal spoon and just clang away till someone came out. Most of the time they gave us money. My mother was Bohemian and my Dad, mostly German, so it came from one of those nationalities.
    I married a 100% Polish guy and we had a traditional Polish wedding where they pass the bride’s shoe around at the dance, and people put money in it. We were just leaving the wedding, so my new husband went back in to get my shoe full of money (first locked me in the car so I wouldn’t get “stolen”), and came back out to tell me somebody had stolen the shoe with all the money in it. We never found the shoe or the money.

  • Reply
    Oklahoma Weddings
    June 2, 2010 at 7:35 am

    It was the lovely traditions !
    I really appreciate your blog !
    Thanks for sharing ..

  • Reply
    June 20, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I forgot what I was going to say after reading all those great comments….great picture of the rings

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy - Black Mountain, NC
    June 18, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    What a wonderful post. The rings are beautiful!!

  • Reply
    June 15, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Terrific story and interesting
    back round info!
    I’ve never heard of a Shivaree,
    but it sounds a lot like fun!

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    June 12, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I love everyone’s stories! We used to tie tin cans or soda cans to the bumper of the car the couple would drive away in. And sometimes fill the car with balloons or rice or something. And the pranks at the location of the couple’s first night together – short sheeting the bed, etc.
    The ancient traditions mentioned by Sarah were fascinating. Lovely post.
    The first picture of the grandparents is precious. That little lady has the tiniest waist I’ve ever seen!

  • Reply
    June 11, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    I have never heard it called a shivaree but my dad, and both brothers wheeled their brides around the block in a wheelbarrow. Tradition is that someone goes into the newlyweds home and short sheets the bed, mixes up the sugar and salt (I don’t know why) and just general pranks.
    In all of our weddings (my sisters and I) our father after walking us down the isle would tell the priest that both my mother and he were giving the bride away and then he would give us a kiss and take a rose from our boquet and give it to our mother.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    That is a sweet custom. I can’t think of any unique here.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    I think Oklahoma must share some of your Appalachian customs. I recall my mom telling me she and my dad had a shivaree when they were married (about 1952, I think).
    I love the stories you share! 🙂

  • Reply
    June 10, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    I was one of those that went a courtin 33 years ago. I think we courted about 3 or 4 months, I graduated high school and we eloped to the court house across the state line to South Carolina.
    Boy, was my family surprised!
    I love the pictures you have up.
    and I been meaning to tell you I added you to my blogroll, is that alright??
    Have a good day.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    I’ve heard of a shivaree! We don’t do them around here though… The first time I heard of one was the first time I saw the musical “Oklahoma!!!” It is one of my favorite movies… and I just introduced it to my daughter, who was intranced by it.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    What great traditions. What lucky people you were to have antique rings. I carried my grandmother’s blue handkerchief for something old and something blue.

  • Reply
    kari & kijsa
    June 10, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Loved reading about these customs-always wonderful sayings and customs in the South!
    kari & kijsa

  • Reply
    June 10, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Tipper, I have been reading but not commenting because I don’t want to be in the drawing. I have no wall space anywhere. In fact, I have tried to figure a way to invent some to hang up somethings of mine that are not on the wall. =)
    Great post. My son is getting married in October, so wedding is on our mind. He is using my Mom’s wedding and engagement rings. My parents received some beautiful etched glass goblets for their wedding. Michael and I used them at our wedding, and Joshua and Brittany used them at the betrothal dinner. I don’t know if they will use them at the wedding or not.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    June 10, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Tipper: Very nice posts and I have enjoyed the trip through your sight. You have great stories and pictures. I like the sound of the old country sound. I’ve been into country music for many years.
    Thanks for the visit with me and the comments.

  • Reply
    Razor Family Farms
    June 10, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    No wedding customs to report. Josh and I broke all the rules and saw a movie together the day of our wedding!
    But— I’m back! I posted!

  • Reply
    June 10, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Heck yeah, I’ve heard of a shivaree! Even been to one (when I lived in North Carolina)!
    Love the rings. By the way…Pap looks like a ‘rocker’ in the pic! Bet he was a pistol!

  • Reply
    The Texican
    June 10, 2008 at 8:01 am

    I live in the lower Texas Rio Grande Valley. Our daughter’s wedding included the exchange of coins, having the couple joined inside a lasso, and the presentation of a bible. All of the symbolic rites were performed by aunts and uncles of the bride and groom. Each rite symbolized the move from a single life to one shared with another. Jumping the broom is also used in this area.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2008 at 7:24 am

    I hadn’t heard of a Shivaree either! Maybe that’s why we like to blow our carhorns at newlyweds right after the wedding. Even if you don’t know them, if they have the car decorations, you blow!
    I’ve always wondered about the sweeping thing. I bet it was a way of saying – if you were too lazy to get up and help work when someone else was sweeping then you were too lazy to make a good mate.
    I’ve also heard that it was Roman tradition that a couple’s marriage was consumated (not as it is today) but when they ate their first meal together as a couple…thus the tradition of eating cake together after the ceremony! I guess I’d better research that before stating it as true….

  • Reply
    June 9, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Here’s another quilting/wedding wives tale. I’ve always heard that an unmarried girl should not quilt a heart design or she’d never get married.

  • Reply
    Stacy A
    June 9, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    What an amazing story Carolyn. It would be so neat to find that picture. It is amazing all the different customs around weddings. Our wedding experience was very interesting because we come from such different backgrounds. I was raised in the Mormon West where courtships are very short and only small receptions are held. Doug is a New England boy through and through. It’s funny but he was the one that always had ideas of how he wanted his wedding. Luckily for me, he and his mom helped me every step of the way, or I would have thrown in the towel and marched us right down to the courthouse. It turned out to be a perfect fall New England wedding. We just made sure there was plenty of fixings for Shirley Temples and even all of my Mormon side had a great time.
    I also wear my grandmothers ring. My aunt gave it to me shortly before our wedding. My grandma had worn it so much the bands had worn too thin and were melded together. The family part of weddings is what is really important to me, and the ring made it very special.
    I have never heard of a Shivaree, but it sounds like a blast, and may need to start implementing it into my family. Thanks for sharing Tipper. And…I got my angel!!! I love it, it is perfect. And the beautiful cards! I can’t thank you enough. She will hang next me and bring me happiness for many days to come. Have a great week. Love Stacy

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    June 9, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    I think that’s so sweet that you used his grandparents rings for your wedding.
    I’ve been to one shivaree … was a teenager at the time. It was awesome!
    My Grandad, the Scottsman, and my Grandma, the Indian maid, were married in Harrisonburg, VA. He came to her house every weekend from Orange County, VA just to sit on her porch with her and her family. After about a year, he finally asked her if she would marry him when the preacher came through town. She said she didn’t want to just be married, she wanted a church wedding. So, Grandad and his brothers built the church they were married in.
    I’ve seen the picture once, of them outside the church and the Indian side of the family at the top of the steps in buckskins and Grandad’s side of the family in their Sunday best. My Aunt who had it passed away and her boys say they can’t find it. I keep bugging them about it though, cause I would really like a copy. xxoo

  • Reply
    June 9, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    At my aunt’s wedding they passed her mom’s (my grandma’s) shoe around for cash to be used for a honeymoon. I’m not sure if that’s common or not, but it was the first (and only) time I’ve seen it done.

  • Reply
    noble pig
    June 9, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    What lovely traditions. I love old wives tales like sweepin under the feet…so interesting.

  • Reply
    City Mouse/Country House
    June 9, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    I don’t know of a whole lot of local wedding customs (other than getting married in catering halls!), but I know that first picture of Bonnie and Curtis is incredible! The composition and character in it is terrific. You have so many neat pics!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    I love that you used his grandparents’ rings. What a wonderful symbol of love through the generations.
    Here are some interesting wedding tidbits:
    Most people got married in June in the 1500s because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today, of carrying a bouquet when getting married.
    It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month we know today as the honeymoon.

  • Reply
    June 9, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    I’ve never heard of a Shivaree. I was always told if someone sweeps around you, you’ll never get married.
    How about crackers in the marriage bed? My Mom done that to me.

  • Leave a Reply