While each religion and nationality tends to have its own well-established traditions, it’s become increasingly common for couples of mixed backgrounds and ancestry to marry, even in countries that consider themselves conservative. Indeed, interracial marriages are on the rise, which leads to a growing desire for weddings with a multicultural feel.
Chances are at any multicultural wedding that each family’s traditions are both wonderful in themselves and hold a great deal of importance, so it’s important to plan a wedding that celebrates both rather than spotlighting one culture and neglecting the other.
Even if the couple themselves has no strong feelings about having their heritage represented, it’s important to consider the feelings of family members. Yes, it’s true that the wedding is for the couple and should be planned according to their preferences, but not at the risk of hurting or even alienating family members who might be taken aback to see their cultural traditions missing from the ceremony and reception.
One of the easiest way to approach a multicultural wedding is to let one culture and dominate the ceremony, and the other take over the reception. For example, if the bride’s culture takes pride of place at the ceremony, you could give the groom’s culture equal weight by selecting food, entertainment, toasts and traditions at the reception to honor his cultural background.
Still, at the ceremony, it’s a good idea to ensure that the wedding attire, vows, music, décor and procedures stick as closely as they can to the cultures of both bride and groom whenever possible. When the two cultures are extremely different, it’s not uncommon to see couples holding two separate ceremonies.
While the preceding idea of having one culture control the ceremony and the other the reception is one way of handling a multicultural wedding, many couples choose to blend both traditions together instead. While this can be difficult and sometimes lead to excess family input, it may ultimately work best, because neither family feels left out of a major ceremonial event.
There are innumerable ways to blend to two different traditions into one wedding ceremony. For example, you could have the bride and groom don the traditional attire of one heritage, while proceeding down the aisle to traditional music from the other. Another take on this idea is to have the bride dress according to her heritage, and the groom according to his, symbolizing the union of two cultures as well as that of two individuals. In fact, you can take this even farther by having the bride and groom dress in each other’s cultural attire, symbolizing their total willingness to embrace the other’s traditions.
Naturally, you can also blend cultures at the reception in many simple ways. The most obvious is to mix traditions in the food and entertainment, serving a buffet-style dinner that’s sure to please both families. If you have a big budget for entertainment, you could even hire two bands, one that specializes in the bride’s ethnic music and one to honor the groom. This can not only bring the families together in a visceral way, but also ensure that the music never stops. Many live bands take a number of breaks between sets, whereas two live bands can alternate sets so the entertainment never dies down.
If the budget doesn’t stretch that far, though, you might want to hire a band that plays the music of one culture, then hire dancers to represent the other.
Although they’re never simple, multicultural weddings are on the rise. As interracial couples marry in increasing numbers, they find an increasing need for thoughtful ways of blending two cultures in a way that their guests can cherish and enjoy. Although the wedding is ultimately for the couple, each couples should nonetheless take care that neither family takes offense from the festivities, and that both cultures receive the respect and honor they’re due.