The world is filled with different cultures and everyone is connected to their own heritages and backgrounds. These cultures and heritages also come with a variety of traditions and customs, and this is no less true when it comes to wedding ceremonies and celebrations. When a couple hailing from two different cultures or faith backgrounds sets out to plan their wedding, honoring their separate traditions for a perfect multicultural wedding can present a few unique hurdles. But, not to worry. In this article, we’ll cover how to plan an intercultural wedding that not only gets over these hurdles, but celebrates the special couple that you are.
Weddings of Different Cultures
A multicultural wedding is a marriage celebration of a couple from different cultural or religious backgrounds. This opens up the challenge of honoring important traditional elements from each member of the couple that may be quite different. Family and friends may also have certain expectations when it comes to the ceremony and reception based on their respective cultural traditions. This can make it more difficult to make everyone happy, especially parents who may have strong opinions relating to cultural customs or formalities. Let’s take a look at a few important ways to avoid the pitfalls and embrace the uniqueness as you set out to plan your mixed culture wedding.
Your Multicultural Wedding: Where to Start
Mixed weddings are becoming more and more common as our world becomes more and more interconnected. For planning to go smoothly though, it is important to figure out what is most important from each tradition and to identify areas where blending traditions makes sense. It is possible to include something from each culture, but also find ways to personalize the ceremony and reception in unique and meaningful ways.
Do Your Research
Your wedding is a great opportunity to learn about the traditions and customs that you and your fiancé bring to the celebration. What a wonderful time to learn more about each other. When you know more about your partner’s cultural traditions, it will be easier to decide what to include in the wedding and what to let go of. The first step in planning the perfect multicultural wedding is for you and your fiancé to be on the same page. Exchanging these ideas in open communication is an excellent place to start a long-lasting marriage.
Communicate with Your Families
Open and honest communication goes a long way with families too. Sit down with your families, especially your parents, and discuss the different customs that will be followed from each cultural tradition. Get everyone on the same page early in the planning process to avoid disappointment or hurt feelings down the road. Discussions are a time to discover what is the most important to parents and families and the specifics of what should not be missed. Also, approach this discussion with the understanding that not everything from each tradition can be included. Explain that the ceremony and reception will weave the two traditions together into something special and personal. Ultimately, it needs to be understood that it is your wedding and you will make decisions as a couple, just as you will once you are married.
Educate Your Guests
Educating your guests on the different customs and traditions they will experience during your wedding ceremony and reception will be the best way to avoid mix-ups, confusion, or inappropriate behavior. It is also the best way to get everyone involved in celebrating your special day.
You can educate your guests through your wedding website, invitations, and program. On your website you can inform them about unfamiliar customs and provide brief descriptions along with any necessary cultural information or symbolism. You can also include links with more information. Your invitation can express the blending of cultures through fonts, colors, phrases and images. Your wedding program can act as a guide through the customs and traditions you are honoring in your ceremony and reception. During the ceremony, your officiant can help out too. If a language barrier exists, consider making all communications with your guests multi-lingual, including the ceremony.
This is all a surefire way to ensure your guests will experience a deeper involvement and appreciation of the customs that will take place during your wedding.
Hire a planner
A wedding planner can help navigate the unique challenges of planning a multicultural wedding and advocate for what you envision. They can also be there to bounce ideas off and act as an intermediary with families. You do not need to do all the planning yourself. It can be a lot less stressful to have a professional hand to help coordinate and guide your planning.
Tips for Planning Your Multicultural Wedding
One question in planning a multicultural wedding is how to blend different religious and ceremonial traditions into one event. A multicultural wedding ceremony will often include an interfaith ceremony but this comes with a few extra considerations. Make sure to choose a ceremony site that will accommodate an interfaith union. There are different rules at different sites and classes may be required from the church or synagogue, and special guidelines may need to be followed.
The officiants from different religions may have strong opinions on interfaith ceremonies. A rabbi and priest or minister may perform the ceremony together with a blending of religious traditions, but other officiants or religions may require two separate ceremonies.
It is impossible to include all ethnic and religious traditions in one ceremony. It would run too long and much of the meaning would be lost. This is an opportunity to personalize the ceremony by highlighting specific cultural traditions and blending them into a distinctive expression. Skip what doesn’t resonate as meaningful for you. The best part of a multicultural wedding is the chance to do the things that are most important, instead of just what is always done.
Opt for a Sequel Wedding
If blending cultures and customs into one ceremony doesn’t ring true for you, there is the option of a sequel wedding. The idea of a sequel wedding is to have two ceremonies, instead of just one. Each separate ceremony can include the separate traditions or customs from each member of the couple. Often the first ceremony is a smaller, more intimate affair followed by a larger event and reception. It can be thought of as parts one and two of the wedding. This idea is becoming more and more common, especially for a multicultural wedding, as it can lend itself to a more purposeful and thoughtful wedding celebration.
Pick What to Wear
Wedding clothes are important and can especially express the ethnic heritage and customs of each member of the couple. If this expression is important to you, this is a great opportunity to showcase it. Wear what most comfortably expresses not only your cultural background, but who you are as an individual.
Choose the Right Venue
Pick a wedding venue that will accommodate your multicultural wedding and the specific traditions you have chosen to honor, blend, and enjoy during your celebration. Venues like the Lumber Exchange, that will work with you and not tie you to one type of wedding package can make your once in a lifetime event memorable and much easier to plan.
Hire a Caterer Specializing in Multicultural Wedding Food
Food often has cultural links that connect to familial traditions. Different dishes and flavors play a deep role in cultural identity. Wedding food is no different. Hire a caterer that will embrace the spirit of fusion cuisine and will get inventive with you. Blending different food cultures can be a lot of fun and bring people together like nothing else. Food is cultural, but it is also communal. It is one of the easiest ways to share your heritage and background. This is a part of your multicultural wedding where blending traditions can take center stage.
Incorporate Music and Dancing
Hire a DJ or band that can incorporate traditional music or dance customs into the wedding celebration. You can also consider dance lessons for family and friends as a fun ice-breaker and a special way to enjoy participating in this part of the reception.
Express Yourself through the Décor
This is another area of your wedding planning where blending different cultural traditions can be a lot of fun. Incorporate different elements and decorations that weave into the feel of your wedding and express not only cultural traditions, but also include those things that make you special as a couple.
The Biggest “To Do” for the Big “I Do”
When planning your multicultural wedding, make sure you stay true to you as a couple. Honor family and your cultural traditions, religions, and customs, but make it your own. It is your wedding and you can personalize it however you wish. Express what is special about you as a couple, outside of tradition, like where you met, what you did on your first date, places you traveled to, or hobbies you enjoy together.
Planning the perfect multicultural wedding is only the first step in living a multicultural marriage. Down the road there will be other things that will come up that will need to be considered from the perspective of your different cultures, including faith, finances, child rearing, and holiday celebrations. In the end, enjoy celebrating your wedding in your own unique and personal way.