By Amy Frugoli, CWC
Question: My fiancé and I come from different cultures. How do I subtly incorporate both cultural elements into our American wedding without appearing too “themed” or looking like it doesn’t fit with the rest of the wedding?
The wonderful thing about American weddings is that the traditions allow for flexibility. Traditional elements are open to interpretation. Some are too time consuming or don’t fit with the “flow” of the day and can be eliminated or adjusted to keep the day on track. Others may be altered to suit the tastes of the couple. Here are a few simple ways to incorporate your different cultures into the wedding:
Use of color: If there are certain colors that are associated with your culture or represent luck or fortune, color is a great way to tie everything together.
Ceremony: Depending on the type of ceremony, a song or musical selection, a reading, or some other symbolic tradition can easily be incorporated.
Cocktail hour: This is a great chance to explore different cultures with specialty hors d’oeuvres or drinks that represent cuisine and libations from different countries. This timeframe is also another excellent opportunity to present some cultural music. Think mariachi band, steel drums, or Latin guitar.
Reception: Places to incorporate things from your specific culture include the table names, which can reflect cities, or even be words relating to love and marriage in the native language. It can also extend to cake décor, ethnic foods, cultural music, or party favors for your guests.
Centerpieces and flowers: These items can display subtle hints, but can also clearly be a tribute to a particular culture.
Dancers: An extra vendor or activity brought in, such as dancers or musicians for dinner entertainment, is always a fun crowd pleaser. I have worked with Bollywood dancers, Polynesian dancers, and African drummers, just to name a few.
Clothing: Of course, attire changes are always a great way to honor your heritage. Changing into a traditional garment, like a kimono, when coming into the reception or halfway through the reception is fun for all. Who doesn’t love a wardrobe change, and you may get to show off not just one, but several different outfits.
Different cultural elements add interest and unique touches to your wedding. Include all of your guests as well, by having the DJ make announcements in different languages, and serve a blend of foods. Cultural expressions can be great ways to show respect to the people and heritage that means so much to you.
Photos courtesy of Angie Realce, Lin & Jirsa, Nikki Khan, Avant Planners, and Gaylord National