American and Laos wedding

My fiance is Laos and I am American. He says that he knows his Mother will want us to have a Laos wedding. I don’t really want to have a Laos wedding as my main ceremony, but I don’t want to offend anyone in his family. I really want to pick out my own wedding dress and have for the most part, a tradional American Wedding. I thought that maybe we could incorporate some of the Laos tradition without the entire ceremony being Laos. I really don’t think I would want to wear a Laos wedding dress, as I am not a Laos woman. I guess I always thought that the wedding is pretty much based on the bride. I don’t know what to do. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated!

Reverend Susanna Stefanachi Macomb
Author of Wedding Celebrations, A Practical Guide for Couples

Ah, these issues usually come up when people of two different cultures wed. I work with hundreds of couples like yourselves. Fear not! Where there is love, there is always a way. There is not enough room here to explain everything pertaining to Laotian rituals. In JHH, I have taken each ritual, explained it’s significance and scripted the language for your officiant so that it would be completely appropriate for an intercultural assembly of people. Laotian rituals: There is the binding of the wrists (or hands) with an auspicious Red Thread. The couple’s wrists are loosely bound by a red thread or cord dipped in holy water, symbolizing their union. This can be done just before or after the vows. There is the passing of the candle among the guests. You can do this just with the family members if you wish, each bestowing a personal blessing. There is the ptem, a bracelet created by the parents and grandparents. Each knot on the bracelet symbolizes a good wish for the bride and groom. It is given to the bride and groom as a keepsake. Both your families can participate in these rituals. You can change into Laotian dress for the cutting of the cake if you wish. Are your future In-Laws Buddhist? If so, Buddhist rituals apply here as well. Some are really quite beautiful. You could read the Buddha’s words on loving kindness. It is lovely and universal. It reminds me in some ways of Corinthians 1, Chapter 13!

Intercultural weddings take work, but it is worth the effort.

Afterall, this is the birthday of your marriage! You are showing the world how you will relate in your marriage.

I tell my couples: With two traditons, you are twice blessed! Rejoice in your differences!

Done properly, it will be an enlightening, enriching and unifying experience for all.

The other option is to have two ceremonies. Some of my couples do this as well.

Wishing you joy,



Thanks so much for your reply! I did find some info on the web with some pictures of another couple similiar to us. They had the Lao ceremony in the morning at home with immediate family and then had the American traditional ceremony and reception later on that evening.

Thanks again,