Tag Archives: marriage

Ozark Courtship and Wedding Customs


Since June is the most popular month for weddings, I thought I’d post my collection of Ozark wedding and courtship folklore. Much of it is from the works of Vance Randolph, but perhaps equally as much of these are sayings and lore I got from my parents who were growing up during the generation that Randolph documented.

When to Marry
~June weddings at full moon are best.
~Never marry during a waning moon.
~Some say the best time to marry is when the sign is in the loins (Scorpio) and that nothing else matters.
~May weddings are considered unlucky, but May 1st is the best day of the year to choose a spouse.
~It’s bad luck to change a wedding date, once it’s been set.

Wedding Weather
~The wedding day is called the bride’s day, and the weather on that day will determine the bride’s happiness in marriage. Rainy or snowy weddings are unlucky. As the saying goes, ‘Happy is the bride that the sun shines on’.
~The day after the wedding is called the grooms day and the couple traditionally have dinner at the groom’s parent’s home. The weather on that day determines the groom’s happiness in marriage.

The Gown
~It is good luck to make your own wedding gown. In old times, a girl helping with the hemming or sewing of another girl’s gown might hide a few strands of her own hair in the hem of the dress. This was a conjure that in some way benefited the girl, but at the bride’s expense.
~The color of the dress is also important- note that white wasn’t always the automatic first choice. There are many rhymes about the meaning of the wedding gown color choice. Here are just a couple:  Blue is true, yellow’s jealous, green’s forsaken, red is brazen,
~White is love, and black is death.

Marry in white, you have chosen just right.
Marry in blue, your man will be true.
Marry in brown, live out of town.
Marry in green, ashamed to be seen.
Marry in red, you’ll wish yourself dead.
Marry in black, better turn back.
Marry in yellow, you’ve got the right fellow,
Marry in gray, you’ll be a widow some day.

After the wedding, the bride should not sell her dress, but pack it away to be handed down, or give it to a relative- it is to never leave the family. The gown may eventually end up in a patchwork quilt.

More Customs
~During the wedding, the couple’s feet should be parallel to the floor boards.
~When turning around after the ceremony, the first step should be on the right foot, to insure a right start to the marriage.
~It is a good omen for the couple to see a toad in their path after the ceremony.
~It is very bad luck for a bride to help cook her own wedding dinner.
~It is bad luck for a bride to look into a mirror after she is dressed for the ceremony.
~The bride’s bed should be bedecked with rosemary for luck.
~A girl will never marry is her feet are swept under or if she rides a mule.
~Marriage will come quickly to the girl who stumbles over a cat, gets a bee in her shoe, sees a bird after dark, absentmindedly sits on a table, or has a butterfly fly near her head.
~Valerian root tea brings love and harmony to married couples.
~In the days when women came together for quilting bees, one of them would wrap up a cat in a newly finished quilt while the unmarried women stood in a circle as the cat was released. The girl standing in the direction where the cat first jumped was predicted to be the first in the group to marry. Any engaged woman at the quilting bee was wrapped up in a newly made quilt and rolled under the bed.

Love and Marriage Signs
~If a dog who knows you well suddenly acts like you are a stranger, you will marry soon.
~If the first corn silk you see in the summer is red, you will attend more weddings than funerals that year.
~If coffee grounds in the bottom of your cup form a ring, someone in the family will marry soon.
~When a woman hears the first dove coo in spring, the next man who rides by will be her future husband.
~When sparks fly from a chimney at night, it is a sign of young people courting.
~When a butterfly lands on a girl’s head, she will marry before the snow flies.
~Skip flat stones across the surface of a stream, and the number of ripples in the water is the number of children you will have.
~Name two apple seeds for a couple on a hot shovel. If the seeds move closer together they will marry. If they move farther apart, they will not.
~A redbird or bluebird flying in a girl’s path means she will soon be kissed by her true love.
~If a man throws a cocklebur at a woman’s skirt and it sticks, their love will be true. If it falls, he should find another.
~Look sideways into a mirror upon first waking to glimpse an image of your true love.
~Eat an apple while looking into a mirror at midnight to see an image of your future spouse over your left shoulder.

Leave it to the Cat
When a girl has been proposed to and cannot decide if she wants to get married, she may enact this ritual to help her with her decision. Take three hairs from a cat’s tail, wrap them in white paper, and put this under your doorstep. The next morning, unfold the paper carefully. It the hairs are arranged in the shape of a letter Y, the answer is yes. If they are arranged in the shape of a letter N, the answer is no.

To Dream of One’s True Love…
~stare at a bright star and blink three times, or
~count nine stars for nine nights, or
~place a glass of water with a piece of wood in it next to your bed on Halloween night. This will induce a dream in which you are falling into water. The one who saves you in your dream will be the one you marry.