Nearly 60 percent of couples marry someone from a different background, region, or religion.While all couples are unique, the blending of these backgrounds is something that couples often highlight in their weddings to honor their heritage.
From authentically traditional ceremonies to small details at the reception, we’ve seen many couples find ways to seamlessly blend cultural, religious, and geographic traditions into their modern-day wedding. Here’s a few tips for how you can do it, too.
Gain a good understanding of your own roots
To make your wedding authentic to your culture(s), you and your fiancé must have a good understanding of your own backgrounds. Start by talking with your families. Parents, grandparents, and siblings are great resources for cultural customs and family traditions. Use the internet to research even more about your culture and what traditional weddings are like. Find books, websites, and blogs that speak directly to your background.
Decide what you want to incorporate and how
After you’ve researched traditions, sit down together and choose the ones you want to include in your multicultural wedding ceremony and/or reception, and how you want to unite them. If you wish to unite Nigerian and Irish cultures, for example, select elements of both and incorporate them into things like your attire and decor: wear traditional Nigerian jewelry but have centerpieces and bouquets made with symbolic Irish flowers, like Gardenias and Bells of Ireland. Your culture doesn’t have to be the entire theme of your wedding, but the elements you include should complement the wedding’s overall look and feel.
Consider having split ceremonies
Perhaps you want to celebrate each culture in its individuality—that’s not uncommon. Some couples do that in a one-day celebration by reserving the ceremony for the bride’s culture and turning the rehearsal dinner into a celebration of the groom’s. Or, you can have two completely separate ceremonies. For example, if your family is from India, you can plan a separate Indian wedding ceremony to focus the celebration on those traditions. They can both be held on the same day and in the same place, or one could be held at another location on a different day, perhaps closer to the home roots of the family.
Showcase your cultural traditions through your attire
Attire can be one of the most powerful and beautiful ways to honor your heritage at your wedding. Some couples prepare a second wedding-day look that includes “traditional” dress. Mongolian brides and grooms can wear a Deel, Indian brides an elaborate saree, or Scottish grooms can wear the kilt of their clan. If you do decide to wear two looks, tell your photographer so he/she can schedule time to photograph you in the cultural dress, too.
Find the right person (or people) to officiate your ceremony
Some officiants of differing religions are open to collaborating ahead of time and performing the ceremony together, honoring both ethnic and religious traditions. Just make sure the ceremony doesn’t try to incorporate too much and run too long.
Make sure your guests understand and feel included in the traditions
For some people, your wedding may be their first multicultural wedding experience. Your guests are there to honor your marriage, so you want them to understand the customs and feel included in the celebration. For example, there is a Hispanic custom of wrapping the couple in a lasso, and Armenian brides take their veils and circle it over the heads of their single friends. Create a mini-program to provide brief explanations of the significance of these customs so your guests can understand and appreciate the symbolism.
Get creative and authentic with your food and drinks
Create a menu that blends the flavors of each background—from hor d’oeurves and formal meals to cocktails and dessert. Communicate with your caterer and explain your vision for the menu by sharing your favorite dishes, recipes, and spices. They will work with you to conceptualize the menu and include a variety of foods from both cultures.
Highlight music and special dances
Most cultures have particular songs or dances traditionally included in the ceremony and/or reception. Make sure your band or DJ is familiar with these. There are some group dances many people may already know, such as a Hora—a traditional and common Jewish circle dance. Teaching the wedding party and both sides of the family a few key steps of the Hora (or whatever special dance you’ll have at your wedding) will make them more likely to participate—and to have fun!
Most importantly—stay true to you
Honoring your families’ cultures is a special part of this celebration, but don’t forget to showcase your own personalities—it’s your day, after all! Put your favorite songs on the playlist, personalize the wedding favors, or teach both guests from both cultures your favorite dances. Whatever you decide to do, make your day all about reflecting who you are.
If you’re planning your own multi-cultural wedding, Crystal Gardens can help make it seamless and fun. Get in touch with us today, by email or phone at 877-545-1002.