Everything You Need to Know About the Jumping the Broom Tradition

Including tips on how to incorporate the ritual in your wedding.
couple jumping the broom wedding ceremony
Illustration: Aurélia Durand
Hannah Nowack The Knot Senior Weddings Editor
by
Hannah Nowack
Hannah Nowack The Knot Senior Weddings Editor
Hannah Nowack
Senior Editor, Weddings
  • Hannah writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a focus on real wedding coverage.
  • Hannah has a passion for DE&I and plays an integral role in ensuring The Knot content highlights all voices and all love stories.
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Hannah was the Social Media Editor at Martha Stewart Weddings.
Updated Nov 06, 2023

Before we dive into the meaning, history and details of jumping the broom, it's important to talk with your partner, wedding planner and wedding officiant while considering your priorities and vision for the nuptials. Many couples choose to include meaningful rituals and traditions into the wedding ceremony For many Black and African-American couples, jumping the broom is one such tradition that is often worth considering as part of the wedding ceremony. After all, the tradition is so popular that director Salim Akil even made a movie titled Jumping the Broom in 2011 staring Paula Patton, Angela Bassett, Laz Alonso and Loretta Devine.

To better understand the jumping the broom ceremony, we tapped two wedding experts to get their professional insight on why people jump the broom. We spoke with New Jersey-based wedding photography Petronella Lugemwa, owner of Petronella Photography for more than 12 years, and Chicago-based wedding planner Desireé Dent, owner of Dejanae Events for more than two decades. The seasoned pros open up about the jumping the broom tradition, including the meaning and origin of this wedding ceremony ritual.

What Is Jumping the Broom?

For many Black and African American couples, jumping the broom serves as the culmination of the ceremony and solidifies their union. As the name suggests, during the jumping the broom wedding tradition, the couple jumps over a broom that is placed on the floor at the front of the wedding ceremony.

According to wedding expert Lugemwa, the jumping the broom ceremony is something that is "done at the very end of the wedding ceremony after couple has been pronounced married." However, including the ritual isn't for everyone. To help you decide whether or not the ritual is right for you, we're taking a deep-dive into the history and meaning of jumping the broom, plus tips to keep in mind should you choose to jump the broom. Even if you're not planning the include the jumping the broom, but know that it will be practiced at a wedding you're attending in the near future, this information is extremely valuable in making sure you understand the significance of the tradition and how to honor its inclusion respectfully.

Jumping the Broom Meaning

What does it mean to jump the broom? According to Dent, "It not only symbolizes the sweeping away of evil, past loves and the old you, but it also represents jumping into a new life together and setting up your household."

As with many other wedding ceremony rituals, choosing to include the tradition should only be done with a deep understanding of the meaning and significance it holds. Not only is it important for the couple getting married to understand the jumping the broom meaning before they make a decision about jumping the broom, but it's also paramount that guests know the ins and outs of the jumping the broom ceremony so they're able to pay the ritual it's proper respect when it's practiced at the wedding. The last thing you want is guests wondering "What does jumping the broom mean?" instead of being able to fully enjoy and appreciate the moment. "To help guests understand your cultural traditions, I highly suggest offering a program to your wedding guests that explains the rituals that will take place during the ceremony," says Dent. "I also suggest asking the marriage celebrant to explain the traditions while performing the wedding ceremony."

Jumping the Broom History & Origin

Why do people jump over a broom at a wedding? Where did the jumping the broom tradition come from? Unfortunately, the jumping the broom tradition's history is both fraught and disputed. Some say the jumping the broom origin dates back to Wales in the 1700s, when the Roma community practiced broomstick weddings. Another theory is that the history of jumping the broom originated in West Africa as a means of cleansing the marriage ceremony of evil spirits. Though it's unclear which region began the practice, most people identify it with African Americans in the antebellum South. According to Desireé Dent of Dejanae Events, "jumping the broom is an African tradition created during the days of slavery." Many enslaved people practiced broom-jumping to symbolize their union, since they didn't have the legal right to marry. Today, the practice continues at many African American weddings to pay tribute to the struggles of their ancestors. It also celebrates Black love and reclaims ownership of a ritual that has its origin in oppression. As with many other wedding rituals, couples should only include the tradition if they understand its meaning and significance.

Jumping the Broom Ceremony

After deciding whether or not to include the tradition of jumping the broom as part of your wedding ceremony program, it's important to figure out the minutiae and all the details for actually participating in the ritual on the wedding day. Here are all the steps to follow if you plan to jump the broom in a wedding.

Source a Keepsake Broom

Because of the meaning associated with the ceremony, couples should think about sourcing a broom that can become a keepsake to share with family members for years to come. "Many times broom might be an heirloom passed down through the family, although you there are companies that specialize in the creation of these ornate brooms," explains Dent. "The jumping broom is not your ordinary 'kitchen' variety used to sweep floors. The jumping broom is elaborately decorated with flowers, ribbon, and sometimes Cowry shells. The shells symbolize health and fertility. After the wedding ceremony has taken place, the broom is then displayed in the married couples home to remind them of their new life together."

Ceremony Order for Jumping the Broom

The jumping the broom will take place at the very end of the wedding ceremony. According to Dent, "The broom is placed in front of the couple, typically by a weddng party member, after they have been pronounced as married. Many times you will hear guests counting...1, 2, 3...and then the couple will proceed to jump and exit the ceremony."

Jumping the Broom Ceremony Wording

Some guests might be wondering, "Why do people jump the broom? What does it mean to jump the broom?" To start the jumping the broom ceremony, it is helpful for your officiant to provide a brief explanation to the audience about what is going to take place.

  • "[partner] and [partner] have decided to conclude their ceremony with the jumping of the broom. As the couple jumps, they cross the threshold into matrimony, making the start of their new life together. Their action symbolizes the sweeping away of the old, welcoming in the new."

From there, they will invite you to partake and may use some of the following wording examples as prompts.

  • "Every count…'1, 2, 3, jump' together with me: '1 ,2, 3, jump!'"
  • "Everyone, please count '1 2, 3, jump' together with with me now, and shout for joy as the couple performs their first act as newlyweds."
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