Multicultural weddings is the norm in this day and age. It is always a beautiful thing to see families and friends from different cultures celebrating together for their loved ones. Multicultural weddings aren’t only limited to couples with different ethnic backgrounds, many couples of the same ethnicity celebrate their day of happily-ever-after the western way, while incorporating traditions in order to honor their cultural background. However, a multicultural wedding also means more preparations, headaches, and compromises. Susan recently had her Persian Chinese wedding, both are cultures with deep rooted traditions, needless to say she can definitely speak from experience. In this post she will share with you 6 things to keep in mind when planning a multicultural wedding.
We mentioned in our 7 Wedding Planning Tips post that communication is key to a smooth wedding planning process, and this is even more important especially with the family members. The last thing you want is to make either side of the family feel left out. Some cultures’ wedding traditions are more flashy and exuberant than others, so it is a fine balance to ensure both cultures are represented equally, and that all parties feel comfortable, including the guests! Even if your parents say “no we really don’t care, just do whatever you want honey”, they secretly still care. Plus it is always nice to honor your cultural traditions.
What are the two C’s? Communicate and Compromise! A wedding is hopefully a once in a lifetime event so of course you want it to be as perfect as possible. Every girl envisions her wedding to be a certain way, so communicating with your significant other is the best key advice to ensure that you are both constantly on the same page, especially when it comes to two different cultures, trying to cater to both families. It is even more important to communicate with your family members to understand what their expectations are from a cultural perspective. There will be times where you change your mind last minute on something and that’s absolutely ok as long as you’re both aware and work together to bring it to fruition. I personally changed my mind more than a few times on flowers, lighting, décor, music and food up to the last minute; so I’m sure I drove my fiancé up the wall and crazy; but thankfully he was able to put up with my ridiculous requests and worked individually with each vendor to ensure that my vision was fulfilled. And it was! Literally the best and happiest day of my life!!
Compromise to either stick with one ceremony or to include elements from both cultures (in my case Persian/Jewish and Chinese) to make it personal so family members on both sides do not feel left out. Initially we were thinking of proceeding with just a Persian/Jewish ceremony since he has a much larger religious family; and it was only towards the last month prior to the wedding that we decided to incorporate a Chinese tea ceremony into it. In doing so, my mom was so appreciative despite it being with close friends and family only prior to the actual wedding ceremony.
Don’t make either mom feel underdressed or overshadowed. As we mentioned, some cultures are flashier than others, especially when it comes to attire. For dads it is easy as most just wear a suit or tux, but when it comes to moms it may get tricky. In the Chinese culture, it is customary for the bride’s mom not to be over or better dressed than the groom’s mom. It was difficult for my mom to pick an outfit as the traditional Chinese colors are quite flashy. Chinese are very superstitious, and family members are expected to wear “lucky” colors for celebrations, such as red, purple, and pink, so it was hard for my mom to decide what color dress and style to wear. My mom and my mother-in-law actually went shopping together for several weeks without any luck in finding something. Finally towards the end, I suggested they wear the same color. Both a deep plum shade. My mom’s dress ended up being a little more conservative than his mom’s (even though his mom wanted the more conservative dress due to religious reasons); but ultimately his mom had more bling and sequins on the dress than my mom’s and they were both happy!
A multicultural wedding is a great opportunity to get creative with your food options. Since it was a mix of cultures, we had to be inventive and merge the two together for options for the guests. We also had to consider vegetarians and Kosher meat as well. It was difficult at first because a lot of hotels have plated dishes and we wanted a variety; so towards the end we decided to use a caterer to provide different food stations at the wedding from Japanese, to Italian, to American, to Kosher Persian food, to exotic fruits, and dessert. We tried to cover all types which was great because everyone had something to eat; but I think we covered way too much because there was a ton of leftover food, fruit, pastries. Advice here is to choose your caterer wisely because it sure does make a difference. Our caterer was just so awesome! Everything was so worth it from presentation to taste and variety; we received numerous compliments as our caterer just performed way beyond our expectations!!!
Great music is the key to an awesome wedding, so make sure they resonate with your families and guests. All music from the ceremony to the reception had to be planned out due to the mixed crowd. For the ceremony we decided to have every pair from family to bridesmaids, groomsmen, ring bearers and flower girls to walk down to a song choice of their liking to make it more fun. Therefore this music ranged from Persian, hip hop, dance to classical during the wedding ceremony. We also had to decide the music for the reception so on our invitations we allowed guests to write down a song choice they would dance to; however, I’m not sure if the DJ played every single request because it was a wide spread. I’m sure the DJ played according to how the crowd reacted and dance to the music. Since majority of the guests were Persians, Persian music was the overall theme. Just decide if you want a band, a DJ, or both to be at the wedding. Regardless, as long as there’s music and a dance floor, people will dance the night away!
Make sure guests are aware of unexpected and unfamiliar cultural customs ahead of time. Specifically on my end; since it is not a traditional western wedding, I had to let my side of the guests know certain details, such as timing for dinner as Persians eat late, just so they are aware. We had a cocktail hour which occurred before the wedding ceremony so guests had a chance to eat beforehand. Plus guests with kids were also aware ahead of time it would be a late wedding so they could plan out their schedules accordingly.
Ultimately, it’s what the bride and groom want! If you envision your big day to be a certain way, by all means, make it happen regardless of culture and traditions! Not everything will be perfect and go smoothly, so just make sure that no matter what happens, you do not stress out about it and just enjoy the day as it unfolds into your happily ever after! It will be the best day of your life!