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Jumping the Broom

Wedding Traditions: Jumping the Broom

This tradition was so important to this couple that they incorporated it in to their wedding ceremony. My job as their wedding photographer was to capture this moment mid-jump and that is exactly what I did.

What exactly is jumping the broom? It is a tradition in black America where the bride and groom jump over a broom to seal their union as husband and wife. It is often decorated with ribbon, it can be passed down through generations or the couple may purchase their own, making it their first family heirloom. There is no specific person places the broom on the ground however the couple is most likely to designate someone special to them. On this particular wedding day the couple chose the bride's brother to do the honors.

Where did this tradition come from? The oldest record we have of someone "jumping the broom" is around 1700 in Wales as a way for gypsies to be married without the church's involvement.

There is some dark history in America to the tradition of jumping the broom. In early America slave marriages were not often legally recognized, slave owners would sometimes force slaves to marry each other by having them jump over a broom. There is also debate that slaves were actually given more elaborate weddings and that having them jump the broom was a form of mockery. By the late 1800's, regardless of what the tradition had meant, slaves recognized the tradition as their own.

This tradition made a come back in the United States in 1976 with the novel Roots by Alex Haley which was followed by a miniseries in 1977.

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