Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Folklore

June = The Month for Weddings

wedding customs from Appalachia
June is one of the most popular months for weddings. Appalachia has many interesting customs and sayings surrounding matrimony one of which is a shivaree.

A shivaree is a loud greeting given to newlyweds on their wedding night and includes 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 and I don’t know anyone personally who still observes the custom.

Pap and Granny dated a short three 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 four years before we took the plunge. We tease about how if feels like we’ve been married 40 years. It’s actually been closer to 25. Our wedding was small and inexpensive. All these years later my favorite part of the wedding was using his grandparents rings as our wedding bands.

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.
  • The word courtin was used to describe a couple who were serious in their relationship and most likely headed for matrimony. 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 each held a piece of the quilt and someone threw a cat onto the quilt. Whoever the cat jumped off closest to was the next girl to be married.

Drop back by in a few days and I’ll share what the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English has to say about shivarees and if you’ll hop over and visit Beth at Tennessee Mountain Stories you can read a great post about weddings in Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    August 31, 2021 at 11:04 am

    I read somewhere why people have traditionally married in the month of June. It has to do with the weather and the desire to take a bath, be clean on that special day. Makes sense, especially when you steam a tub of water and put it outside for the big event

  • Reply
    Debbie Nixon
    August 21, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Tipper–Shivaree-I remember my grandma telling me when she got married that night they came beating on wash pans or whatever else they could find to make noise. I guess back then most people couldn’t afford to go far off for a honeymoon. I don’t think I would mind that tradition of shivarees if I finally take the plunge one day. I to have my grandma’s wedding band and would like to use it if I ever did marry.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    June 15, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    The first time I ever heard of a shivaree was when they had one on the TV show, The Waltons. But there is a couple I go to church with that had one when they were married. I think they said they had to get candy to give to the people shivareeing them. And Charley and I have you beat, we ‘courted’ for 7 years before we got married

  • Reply
    June 15, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    When I lived in Georgia I read that couples, years ago, would occasionally have to “Jump The Broom”, as it were, due to the fact that both preachers and judges were ‘Circuit riders’ and it may be as long as six months between visits from either of them. These common-law marriages were recognized by the local folks, at least until the couple were officially wed.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    My Wife and I married in November the same year I graduated, I got a job at the ship yard and we were set, Well, that was what we thought, I got laid off a few weeks before the wedding, any way we were paying for it ( very low budget ), already put down payment for our apt. rent, so we went through it any way, we laugh now because for several months she was the only one with a steady job, and eating out once a week was sharing a chillydog at the sonic drive in, I sold my truck and bought a 1963 volkswagon, now if that ain’t love I’ve never seen it. Especally, when it comes to a young man having to part ways with his truck.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    I been listening to our radio today and they announced Vacation Bible Schools startin’ soon.
    That reminds me of our Vacation Bible Schools when I was just a little feller, maybe 8 years old. And we had Training Union at Church on Sunday nights. My mama taught us boys (that
    were still at home) the Books of the Bible. I can still recite all 66 books. There are 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New. At the end of the Training Union, we’d have a Commencement Exercise. There were about 13 in my Group, and the Instructor would say “Attention, Draw Swords, Charge.” We’d take our Bibles and see who could find the verse the Instructor would say. Well, since my two brothers and I knew the Books so well, we were usually first at stepping forward. My mama taught us well. …Ken

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    June 15, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    The’ word of the day’ from just happens to be “trothplight”
    noun [trawth-plahyt, trohth-]
    1. engagement to be married; betrothal.
    verb 1. to betroth.
    “a dangerous, difficult, or otherwise unfortunate situation.”
    “but, before his real character was discovered, he engaged the affections and received the
    troth-plight of a young lady, possessed of some property.”
    Sir Walter Scott, “The Pirate,
    Ive never heard it but it made me laugh.
    Sounds to me like a MAN word. -)

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 15, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Our wedding was also simple and inexpensive. It was at her Dad’s. There were no presents or reception or dancing. There was a wedding cake. We married Saturday morning and I went to work as usual on Monday. That was a bit over 43 years ago and she has stayed with me through thick and thin.
    My Grandma and step-Grandpa were on their way to get married when they met the preacher. He married them beside KY 92 on Bon Jellico Mountain. That is the most no-frills wedding I ever heard of.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I didn’t know about some of the Appalachian customs but I recon they exist. My divorce was in ’80 or ’81, but we still get along good. I’m sure our girls appreciate that. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 15, 2017 at 10:56 am

    The term “courtin” might have come from the law in some states called the marriage bond. When a couple decided to get married, the groom to be had to go to the courthouse in the county where he lived and post a bond. If he failed to carry through with his promise the bond would be forfeited to the state. Oftentimes the young man didn’t have assets to put up so he would ask a prominent man in the community to go his bond. This practice in North Carolina lasted up until at least 1868. The NC marriage bond index is from 1741 to 1868.
    Marriage back then wasn’t just between a man and a woman. It involved the whole community. People were serious about marriage. Serious enough that a man could lose his property as well reputation if he left his bride at the alter. Maybe even be jailed if his bondsman had to pay his bond in his stead and he was caught.
    I have always thought this was the reason for the “courtin” terminology. It was only flirtation until you when to the court and declared your intentions to the whole world.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2017 at 9:29 am

    i grew up hearing if someone sweeps under your feet, you won’t get married that year. I heard courting as well from older relatives.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 15, 2017 at 7:05 am

    Tip, I remember your wedding very well. It was the sweetest and most sincere wedding I have ever attended. You and the Deer Hunter were so beautiful, like something out of a dream. I still have your wedding picture hanging in my living room to remind me. You two remain the happiest and most loving couple I’ve ever known!

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