The last thing you want to do when you are combining cultures or religions into one union is to disrespect one side of the family. Each side will want to see aspects of their traditional wedding ceremonies in your nuptials, and chances are the elders in the families will be the ones who these traditions mean the most to, so what do you do? The first thing that comes to mind would be to have two different wedding ceremonies and two different receptions. This will keep everyone happy and your family will know you’ve been ‘married properly’ according to their customs and traditions. Sounds great, right? Except when you think about how much cost would be involved. You’d have to have two different wedding gowns, the groom and groomsmen would have to rent not once, but twice their wedding garb. And then there are the bridesmaids. Do you ask the same people to stand up for you at both ceremonies? What about the receptions? Can you really afford to cater for two sets of guests at two different wedding venues? By the time you factor in the DJ, the bands, the food, the favors, the decorations and all those other little details that have a nasty habit of adding up you will find yourselves budgeted out. Sure your families will be happy, but at what cost?
Thankfully these days more and more bridal couples are opting to forget about having two distinct ceremonies and instead combine the important rituals of each culture or religion into one beautiful day full of memories. Successfully merging two very different cultures into one ceremony and one reception may seem a daunting task, but in reality, it can be a very rewarding experience for both families and it sets you up on a lifelong journey of love knowing that you were true to not just your roots, but to his as well.
The first thing that must be considered is what is the most important? That is which music, rituals, ceremonial elements or traditions just have to be included in the big day. This will involve a formal sit-down with the two of you alone and then with each other’s families, where they get to voice their opinions of what they would like to see. Once you have nailed down what must be present and have compromised to the full extent of your ability you will have a blueprint of what your wedding will be like. Of course you should be prepared for someone to suggest something that you are just not comfortable with, this is to be expected, but with a little understanding and again, compromise you should be able to work out the kinks and gain a little insight into the other family’s traditions in the process.
Knowledge is power. Once you know why a certain culture does a certain thing at their wedding ceremony you will probably be more likely to want to incorporate that idea into your affair. Remember that being unique is a good thing too, and taking the most interesting ideas from both cultures and bringing them together into one will make your day true to both of you while keeping everyone happy.
With two cultures coming together from two different language-speaking countries a nice touch is to print your invitations and wedding programs in both languages. In the programs, explain why each of the things that you have chosen to be in the wedding is there, with a brief history of why the other culture finds it significant. This way, no guest is in the dark and all can feel included during the ceremony. Alternate the music that is played as guests arrive to the service, some from one culture, and some from the other in a beautiful blending of melodies that isn’t offending any group but rather merging both into one. Same goes for décor and food at the reception. You can either have two distinct buffets or even better; blend the dishes from both sides into one lavish spread, allowing everyone to sample foods from both. As for seating, blend the families, but always make sure that there are at least two people at the same table who share the same language.
If everyone speaks the same language but practice two different religions, it is still a nice gesture to provide a brief history of the significance of what they are about to see at your service, right inside your programs. Combining your favorite elements from each traditional ceremony will give you a unique service that touches on both backgrounds but doesn’t rely too heavily on only one, thereby upsetting one family or the other.
The Avenue Banquet Hall in Vaughan has experience in managing and organizing mixed culture wedding receptions. The needs of all the families are satisfied.
If you have had the family discussion but there is still too much friction to make a mixed wedding work, there is always the option of abandoning all religious or cultural traditions and opting instead for a faith neutral service. You can have your wedding in a ballroom, in a public park, on the beach or in a historic house and presided over by a Justice of the Peace, which is a common ground for those who just can’t agree. This way the music, the décor, the dress and whatever else you choose are yours alone and you can start your own traditions with elements you wish to include in your big day.
Blending cultures can be a tricky thing, especially with overbearing family members bent on having things their way. Ultimately, as the bride and groom, it is your day and you should be free to choose what you want and to celebrate the union in a way you see fit. The big key is compromise, and with just a little give and take, you can have the wedding of your dreams, no matter where your partner hails from.