As the world we live in becomes more culturally diverse so do the weddings we plan. Weddings that combine two or more religions and/or ethnic traditions are increasingly popular. So it goes without saying that the tact and consideration necessary in planning such an event can create a great deal of stress for engaged couples. There are a few steps you can take to insure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Communication is Key
Planning any type of wedding requires a lot of compromise so discuss with both sides of the family early in the planning process what traditions you would like to incorporate. It is essential to have a clear vision of how you would like the day to look and feel. The goal is to host an event in which both families feel comfortable and included. Try to and keep an open mind about your family’s ideas and concerns. Educate them on what would be considered appropriate behavior. You will definitely want to avoid any potentially embarrassing situations.
Keep it Personal
Many officiants from differing faiths are open to conducting the ceremony jointly. Let them know while this is your wedding you also want to honor your families’ customs and traditions as part of your day. While different cultures have different wedding customs, often the underlying meaning and purpose of these traditions are similar. If you plan to include unfamiliar elements in your ceremony, such as the Filipino custom of wrapping the couple with a cord and veil, provide brief explanations of the significance in your wedding program. This way your guests can appreciate the symbolism.
Don’t feel that you need to incorporate every custom and ritual into your wedding. If it is not possible to equally represent both the bride and groom’s backgrounds into the ceremony there are other ways to honor each family’s traditions. For example, you can feature the bride’s heritage during the ceremony and the groom’s during the reception. Offering a multi-cultural menu or including ethnic music can be great ways to incorporate the traditions of each family.
Timing Is Everything
One of the biggest challenges of a multi-cultural wedding is to make sure you allot the appropriate time for all the different religious and cultural ceremonies. For example, there may be multiple wardrobe changes throughout the day. Some religious ceremonies are much longer than others. For instance, if you plan on having an Indian wedding you may have to allow time for the groom’s procession called a Baraat. Or if you are planning a Jewish ceremony you will need to schedule the Katubah signing before the ceremony begins. If you are working from the perspective of a typical American wedding day timeline, you will need to allow for extra time to address these customs.
Even though a wedding is full of logistical complexities, ultimately the day is really about celebrating the love two people share. During planning process it’s easy to lose sight of this. In the end, the bride and the groom should mutually agree upon which religious and cultural traditions are most important for them to include.