We are working on more and more multicultural weddings, which keeps us on our toes and constantly tests our learning, researching and development. There are so many opportunities in wedding styling, flowers, stationery, attire, music and food to incorporate cultures, and I say use them. They set the scene and help to create a wonderful atmosphere that is very personal to you as a couple.
In this post we’ll look at both the practical, planning side of a multicultural wedding, plus some examples of how you can incorporate different cultures into your big day.
Tips on Planning a Multicultural Wedding
Communicate early on with both families to discuss the wedding traditions of both sides and ensure you can incorporate the important/personal ones in the planning.
Let your families know that this is your wedding and, whilst you want to incorporate as much as possible into the day, it is about the celebration of your relationship and the start of you journey together. Whilst it is important to honour traditions at a multicultural wedding, it is equally important to put your own stamp on the day.
Educate each other’s families on the correct etiquette for celebrations so there are no mishaps on the day, everyone enjoys themselves equally whilst feeling special, and they can see you have thought about every aspect.
For weddings where specific rituals are part of the wedding ceremony it is a good idea to explain these rituals so everyone understand why they take place – this can be in the order of service. This increases the understanding on the day and therefore, with knowledge, people can relate much better.
There are lots of cultures where alcohol is not common. It is important to bare this in mind and ensure there is enough variety for everyone, with some delicious mocktails as well as cocktails. Equally there are cultures where they place bottles of vodka on the tables, which you would need to manage as half your guests may not be used to it! Drinks offer some great opportunities to bring in traditions.
Understand the Costs
It is important to set a realistic budget early on as this will allow you to know what you can and can’t do. A multicultural wedding can cost more if you either have two separate parties to honour each side of the relationship and their family, or you try to incorporate them into one day or weekend. There will then usually be two ceremonies to incorporate the traditions, two sets of outfits etc.
Ways to Incorporate Different Cultures Into Your Wedding
There is no right or wrong, but here are a few different examples of ways you can incorporate different cultures into a wedding.
Create an Inter-Faith Blessing Ceremony
One of our couples were American and Iraqi, with families in the USA and the Middle East respectively. What did they do? Brought them all to the UK (a middle ground was how they described it!), laid on a Persian blessing complete with sofreh aghd (ceremony stage), designed with them by an independent celebrant. They then treated everyone to the best of British with a summery marquee setting. There was a night-before rehearsal dinner, speeches by the Maid of Honour and other guests, and a father-daughter dance, which are American traditions.
Pick the Best of Both
The above is quite an extreme example, certainly in terms of distance covered by their guests. Another way of approaching a multicultural wedding is to think about what’s going to be popular and work with that.
At a recent wedding for an English and Indian couple, the compromise was an English country garden outdoor wedding, but with an Indian-size guest list. Naturally the catering was Indian, which, after all, is an incredibly popular and tasty style of food.
For other Persian and British weddings we’ve organised the day has run in quite a British format, but when it came to the music there were lots of Persian influences with dancers, the traditional knife dance and DJ selections.
It Can Be Subtle
Sometimes you might just want to nod to cultural heritage. You could do this with your wedding favours, drinks selection, the reading of a poem or playing of a piece of music. Or, you could compile a playlist for dancing that includes some relevant classics from a different country. Again, as per the point made with ceremony rituals, if you have guests attending who might not understand or “get” some of the things you’ve arranged, some nice, friendly explanation or translation somewhere would be really appreciated.
There are so many ways you can embrace different cultures at a wedding. It’s a perfect time to make this a fabulous showcase and create memories that merge not just cultures but families.
Bride and Groom: Photography by Bea
Dancing: Lily and Frank Photography