As most engaged and married couples know, weddings can be incredibly stressful to plan. From managing warring family members to spiralling budgets, there is a lot to take into consideration. When the bride and groom come from two different cultural backgrounds, trying to accommodate everyone can be pretty difficult. This is particularly true if one culture is more dominant than the other.
If you are marrying a man of another culture, the chances are he won’t know much about wedding traditions or etiquette of his own culture. Why would he, he’s a man! If he has a relationship with his mother, arrange to sit down with her and find out about wedding traditions in her culture. It’s a great way to get information first hand whilst also getting in some valuable bonding time with your soon to be mother in law. She will respect you for taking the initiative and showing and interest. It will also enable you to ensure that you get it right and are able to pick and choose the elements of your fiancés culture that you both want to incorporate. If your fiancé doesn’t have a mother, speak to someone else in his family, a grandmother, an aunty or a sister should also have the same information. Additionally, if you want to represent your own culture but not entirely sure how, then do the same with your own mother and family.
If you are still struggling, consider the following six tips:
- Incorporate Food
Food plays a major role in a vast proportion of cultures and therefore incorporating cultural food into your big day is a great way of representing your cultures. If you can find a self-catering venue why not combine the two cultures into your dinner. Alternatively have his for dinner and yours for your evening buffet, or vice versa. However, with a large majority of venues not allowing outside catering it can make this difficult. Another option can be to negotiate with your venue to bring in outside catering for your evening buffet and have their food for your sit down meal.
- Get a versatile DJ
Music is a great way to express your varying cultures. Try and find a DJ (or a combination of DJ’s) that can accommodate both of your musical tastes as well as your cultural music. Sit down with your fiancé and create a selection of your top ten favourite tracks from both of your cultures. Get both of your families to recommend tracks to be featured if you really want to get everyone involved.
- Have Traditional Music or performances
Sometimes your cultural music isn’t DJ appropriate. Instead, why not get a live musician or band to perform traditional music. This can be a great way to really bring your cultures to life whilst also adding a bit of fun and flavour to your wedding. We attended a fantastic wedding recently with an Irish groom and an Antiguan bride. After the church they had a live Irish band playing in the courtyard. During the cocktail hour we were served Caribbean punch with entertainment by Steel Pan players. During the evening reception there was a soca line followed by traditional Irish dancing. It was an excellent combination of the two cultures. Traditional dancers can also work really well.
- Incorporate your flags or cultural prints
From invites to guest favours there are lots of opportunities to include the colours from your respective flags into your wedding. If you do not like the colours from your flags, utilise symbols or prints to represent your cultures. If you are a Bajan marrying a Ghanaian why not use an Ankara print on your wedding stationary with traditional Bajan sayings printed on your favours?
- Wear Cultural Attire
Wearing traditional attire can be really visual and impactful. Some people opt to change into traditional attire in the evening after wearing formal wear and the white dress during the day allowing the best of both worlds. If you don’t want to wear traditional you can request that your guests wear traditional wear which is guaranteed to look beautiful in your pictures. A less obvious way could be to incorporate elements of traditional fabric into your outfits. This could include traditional print ties and/or handkerchiefs for the groomsmen with traditional print head wraps or scarves for the bridesmaids.
- Have a traditional ceremony
In various cultures the wedding is not just the day of exchanging vows and partying but there are a number of additional ceremonies that precede the main event. Ranging from one day to two week long affairs, traditional ceremonies can be a great way to appease families. If you want your day your way then why not let your fiancés family organise a traditional ceremony for you as well. That way, they get what they want and you get another day to dress up and be the centre of attention.
If you can include all 6 of the above then you will definitely have a fabulous cross cultural wedding!
Don’t forget, if you need help give us a call.