This is to answer Christine's question on my last post. I forget that most people don't know what the heck a Jumping Broom is. So don't feel bad Christine.
Jumping the broom is a tradition that had it's origins in Africa and then came to the US during the days of slavery. Slave unions were not legally recognized and so the usual ceremonies were a little different. For the African slaves the broom was a symbol of the household and a symbol of sweeping away the past. So to announce to the community that they intended to live as man and wife from that point on they would jump hand in hand over a broom placed on the ground.
The tradition slumped a bit after slavery. But it gained popularity again after Alex Haley's Roots mini-series brought it back into the spotlight. However some families like mine have been doing it for generations. Incidentally the same tradition was common in Europe at one time. However to my knowledge the only people of European descent who still do it are practicioners of wicca. I don't know much about the traditions or ceremonies there so I defer to anyone who knows more.
African Americans who jump the broom will typically buy a very ornately decorated broom or decorate one of their own. I'm well known in my family for decorating brooms. I've done six or seven for different relatives. So I have the added pressure of doing something spectacular for my own. Originally I was going to actually try to MAKE the broom but that prooved a little too much. So I opted for the standard craft broom and I'm just going to decorate it. When I'm done, I'll post a picture.
The Jumping ceremony is done differently for different families. Some families do it in the church after the bride and groom have been pronounced husband and wife or just outside the church as they leave. A friend of mine whose husband is Jewish combined the broom jumping and the glass breaking in one ceremony which was cool. (I'd like to somehow combine traditions like that. If Michael's cousin Charlie follows through with his idea we could be jumping the broom to Scottish bagpipes. Charlie is coming all the way from Scotland and he's promised to wear a kilt at the very least.)
In my family we jump the broom at the start of the reception when the newlyweds are announced upon their entrance. One of my uncles usually gives a short speech explaining everything I just wrote here for the benefit of those who may not be familiar. And then it's 1-2-3... and over we go!!!
By the way we have saying in our family: "the first one to hit the ground rules the house." So far it's proved true. I told Michael about that and he just laughed and said, "don't worry honey you can be the first one over. It's okay by me."
Now did I pick a good one, or what!
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that I added a little something a few years ago to our family tradition. During the bridal shower I bring the broom and have all the women write a prayer or wish for the couple on tiny note cards that they tie to the broom. It looks amazing to have all those tiny whisps of white paper fluttering away on the broom. I did that for my friend a few years ago and the effect is really powerful.