This Is Why Southern Brides Bury a Bottle of Bourbon Before Their Wedding Day

In the South, burying good whiskey could mean a bright, sunny wedding day—but only if you follow these exact steps.

As the old saying goes, rain on your wedding day means good luck and a sign that your marriage will last. That may be so, but with the rising price of weddings, and the popularity of outdoor weddings, stormy skies are something brides and grooms would likely want to avoid at all costs.

In the South, there are plenty of regional wedding traditions, such as seersucker suits and cake pulls. But Southerners also have a traditional superstition of warding off the rain for outdoor weddings. Legend says that if the bride and groom bury a bottle of bourbon a month in advance, they’ll be rewarded with a rain-free wedding day.

But just like other lucky wedding traditions around world, there are very specific rules which couples must follow.

What are the rules for burying the bourbon?

First, it must be real bourbon, and not just cheap whiskey.

Next, the couple must bury the bourbon at the location of their wedding, exactly one month—to the minute—prior to your ceremony. If they miss this step by even a few moments, sorry, legend says it won’t work.

Also, the bottle needs to be sealed and full, and buried upside down.

When is the bottle dug up and opened?

After the ceremony, it’s time for the couple to unearth the bottle. This has become a great wedding day photo op, though it’s not for those afraid of getting muddy. Despite a messy layer of dirt on the bottle, it’s still quite a romantic gesture.

What happens to the bourbon?

Most couples that follow the practice splurge on a special bottle of bourbon, which is then shared with guests at the reception. If it’s a big wedding party, some even bury two bottles. Sometimes, the couple keeps one bottle to themselves for a special anniversary in years to come.

How did this tradition start?

No one really knows the origin. But since it calls for real bourbon, most sources guess that it began in Kentucky. (Some cynics also say it began as a marketing campaign in the early 21st century, but where’s the romance in that?)

Does burying the bourbon keep the rain away on your wedding day?

Just like all other time-honored wedding traditions based on superstitions—such as why you wear a wedding ring on the fourth finger—it’s anyone’s guess. Even if you’re not superstitious, or you’re not really worried about a little rain, burying the bourbon bottle is still a wonderful, lovely tradition, both for the couple and for the reception.

Jason Wilson
Jason Wilson is a Senior Writer at Reader’s Digest. He has covered travel, culture, food, and drinks for more than two decades, and is the author of three books on wine and spirits, including Godforsaken Grapes and Boozehound. He’s written for the Washington Post, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Travel + Leisure, and many other publications. He’s had a pizza, a breakfast sandwich, and a dessert named after him in three different countries.