Wedding planning is already overwhelming, but it can become even more so when cultures clash. Navigating the rough waters of planning a multicultural wedding seems daunting at first, but you can certainly put on your dream event with a little bit of guidance and help! Read below to find out the dos and don’ts of planning a multicultural wedding!
DO Your Homework and Communicate
When planning a multicultural wedding, be sure to research and educate yourself on the other culture’s traditions beforehand. Wedding traditions vary across different regions and cultures, and what is common in your country may be frowned upon in another culture.
For example, what is included in wedding vows may vary across cultures. There may also be differences in the exchanging of wedding rings from culture to culture. Some cultures use multiple wedding rings and bands during the ceremony, and others use a “faux” band for the exchange. Doing your research beforehand will help avoid any mixups and confusion during the ceremony and reception.
One of the best ways to learn about the other culture is by talking to your significant other and their family. Open communication is key to any long-lasting relationship, and showing an interest in learning about their cultural traditions is an excellent place to start.
By openly discussing each of your culture’s wedding traditions, you will decide what to include in the ceremony and what to leave out. There are some wedding aspects that are not as culturally important as others. You can use this as a learning experience that helps the big day go as smoothly as possible.
DON’T Feel Pressured to Do Everything Yourself
Couples are always looking for ways to alleviate stress during the wedding planning process. Hiring a professional wedding planner is one of the best ways to make the process less stressful. Wedding planners coordinate most aspects of the wedding and their organization skills help ensure your big day will go on without a hitch.
There are wedding planners that specialize in planning multicultural weddings, so they know how to plan the perfect ceremony where both of your cultures are on full display. You are likely not the first couple to experience the planning headaches of a multicultural wedding, and your planner can use their guidance to help fix any problem!
DO Inform the Guests
Guests may be unfamiliar with the wedding traditions and customs of the other culture. Be sure to inform them before and during the ceremony and reception. The guests will have much more fun if they are able to follow what is going on and be actively involved in the event.
The wedding website, invitations, and program can be used to educate guests of wedding events, customs, traditions, and any other necessary information. Before the wedding, you can include any necessary cultural information on the invitation and/or website. Wedding websites are pretty customary in today’s digital age, and this allows guests to easily access any information and answer any of their questions.
Many also use the wedding website as the invitation to eliminate the hassle of sending and receiving physical paper copies. The website can include information about food and drinks, dances, entertainment, and more. This helps guests be more prepared for the traditional dances and songs that they may be unfamiliar with. You could also include a brief description or provide links to thorough explanations of each tradition and its importance, as certain guests will enjoy learning about a different culture.
The program will serve as a guide for the events of the wedding day, such as the ceremony and reception. It can include an itinerary of the events and briefly describe any cultural traditions and occurrences throughout the day. You can also design the wedding documents with both cultures in mind. Using fonts, colors, phrases, images, and anything else from both cultures can symbolically show the merging of two different cultures in marriage.
If there is a language barrier between some guests, make sure the program and website are available in the other language(s). You may also consider having a translator present at the ceremony and reception, so all guests can follow the happenings.
DON’T Have Limited Options
Present your guests with options from both cultures at the reception. Combining the entertainment, food, drink, and decorations from different cultures can create a wonderfully unique and memorable experience.
Regardless of the culture, music and dancing are a staple at any wedding. However, each culture has different traditional songs and dances. Be sure to include both at the ceremony, and it may help to use the program or website to describe them to guests beforehand. This will make them feel more comfortable partaking and letting loose on the dance floor. You should also be sure the act hired, whether it is a live band or a DJ, can handle the different music. If not, you may need to hire two separate acts.
You should also present guests with food options. The wedding is an excellent place to showcase the delicious cuisines of both cultures, but do not let one culture dominate the table or bar. Many choose to utilize a fusion menu, but you can also give guests the choice of choosing between various appetizers, entrees, desserts, and drinks.
DO Consider Having Two Ceremonies
If you find yourself overwhelmed with decisions and struggling how to fit all the important cultural elements into one event, consider having two different ceremonies. This allows you to showcase each culture separately, and this way nothing will get excluded. It is also more convenient if your friends and family are geographically spread out, as this can eliminate the financial stress of traveling for some guests.
Multicultural weddings are wonderful events that allow both you and your significant other to proudly display your heritage for all friends and family in attendance. But the most important “do” of planning the ceremony? Enjoying and relishing the experience, as it truly is once in a lifetime!
This piece was guest-written by Stephanie Bregman, who is the CMO of Manly Bands, where they create unique men's wedding bands and rings.