Since becoming a Celebrant, I tend to watch wedding scenes from movies and television more closely. Whether it’s the Royal Wedding, the latest pairing from the Bachelor, or the recent wedding of Lady Mary on Dowton Abbey, I’m all in!
A couple of weeks ago, there was a much delayed wedding of Miranda and Ben on Grey’s Anatomy. Like other viewers I wasn’t sure that it would actually happen, as Dr. Bailey was sporting some serious cold feet. But it did, amidst friends and plenty of twinkle lights and Christmas greenery. And at the end, I was pleasantly surprised to see the couple “Jump the Broom.”
To my understanding, this custom is most usually connected with the African American community, partly in recognition of traditions connected to antebellum slave holding. Slaves were not able to enter in to legal unions, such as marriage. And so as part of their public ceremony, they chose to “Jump the Broom.” The broom no doubt is a crossing of an important threshold and a sweeping a way of the past. The ritual was popularized again during Alex Haley’s Roots miniseries during the 1970s chronicling the generations of his own family from Africa forward. And while this ritual is most closely connected to those with African ties, it is also noted in other cultures, most especially the Romani (“Gypsy”) culture in Europe.
I must confess that I have only officiated at a single wedding where the couple jumped the broom. As life would have it was two gentlemen from the Deep South, Louisiana to be exact. One fellow was Caucasian and the other was African American, who came to New York to marry shortly after the Marriage Equality Law passed. We had a sweet, simple—but very moving ceremony—at Wagner Cove in Central Park. Surrounded by a handful of loving friends an d family members, they jumped the broom after the ceremony (but before we opened the champagne and cut the cake!). I shopped diligently to find the most authentic broom possible, and it was one of my favorite wedding moments of all time.