Recently, I stumbled across a TV show called Four Weddings on the TLC network. The premise of the show is four brides enter their wedding day in a competition to win their dream honeymoon.
All of the brides vote on each other’s weddings in the following categories, Food, Venue, Dress, and Overall Experience. This particular episode caught my attention because all four brides were from different racial backgrounds and three of the brides were marrying men from different racial/cultural backgrounds from their own.
There was a Puerto Rican and Dominican couple, a Jamaican and Thailand couple and an Egyptian and American couple. All three bride/groom couple incorporated pieces of cultural tradition into their weddings. I immediately thought of my own wedding and how important it was for me to incorporate a little bit of tradition from both of our cultures.
A wedding like any other major family event can be an exciting yet stressful time for the bride and groom. For some, it is a celebration in honor of two individuals who have come together to pledge their everlasting love to each other. For others it can mean the fusion of two tribes, the combining of two villages or the uniting of two prestigious families.
Whatever the case, a wedding is often a family affair, so when the bride and groom’s families do not share the same racial, cultural or religious backgrounds this can sometimes lead to additional quandaries other than the more common overbearing mother of the bride or the pushy mother of the groom. Often times, both families can be very vocal about wanting their own customs and cultural traditions to be represented at the special occasion. The dynamics may be even more complex if either family is not totally accepting of the “blended union”.
However, the number of interracial and interfaith marriages is on the rise, and planning celebrations that include traditions from both cultures and/or faiths is also on the rise. These traditions can include religious requirements during the ceremony, cultural attire for the bride and groom, a specific menu, cultural entertainment and the carrying out of customs passed down from generation to generation.
Interfaith marriages may pose dilemmas around specific rules of the differing religions, churches or other places of worship. These rules and requirements should be discussed as soon as possible so they can be addressed well in advance. This may be the area with the least amount of flexibility. However, if the subject is approached with love and respect a compromise can often be found that allows for honoring both religions.
Traditional attire is very important in many cultures. This can range from a whole ensemble, a specific type of headdress, an accessory or special jewelry. Often times, the clothing has different meanings and may even be handmade by elders. One option of compromise here may be to have ceremony attire and then a wardrobe change for the reception.
Food is a key part of most cultures. Putting together a menu that has a sampling of both cultures is a way to represent everyone. Be sure to work with your caterer to choose dishes that work well together. Also, be aware of providing options for everyone when extremely spicy dishes, specific preparation requirements or foods that may not be consumed by some religious groups are part of one family’s culture.
The entertainment at a wedding is a nice way to bring everyone together at the reception. This can be done by hiring a band or DJ that can play a mix of music from both cultures, enticing everyone to take a spin on the dance floor. Another option is to hire entertainers that can perform traditional dance routines or sing songs in a native language.
It is often said that you do not marry a person but a family. Planning a wedding that incorporates some of each of your cultures and or religions will go a long way in showing both families that you are taking from each of who you are and uniting as one. Just remember as you go through the process that wedding planning often requires communication, compromise and staying focused on the main reason for the wedding, your love for one another. Isn’t it ironic that these things are also important in a marriage. Tell us how you celebrated your interracial, interfaith, multicultural wedding.
Planning an interracial, interfaith, multicultural wedding. Here are some resources you may find helpful.