Whether you’re combining multiple cultures with your union or just want ideas on how to embrace yours, there are many ways to incorporate culture into weddings. Reena Maheshwari, Owner of Kahani Events & Design, tells us how to get started, “When you want to add in certain cultural elements or want to blend two cultures into one ceremony, start with the questions of what about your culture(s) do you want to share, what aspects of your culture(s) are most meaningful to you, and what is significant in your culture(s) for a wedding day.”
How do you incorporate cultural traditions? We have suggestions that range from what you wear, to what you carry, even to the décor on your tables. With a little creativity, you can tie your culture in big or small ways, it’s really up to you.
Incorporate Culture into Weddings through Paper Elements
There are many ways you can use your paper elements to touch upon your heritage. You can infuse your culture or heritage pre-ceremony through your save-the-dates or invitations, with emblems or symbolic color choices. You can also do this on ceremony programs, which is the perfect place to provide explanations for cultural traditions that you have implemented. This is especially helpful to guests from other cultures, who might not know what a prayer or a tradition means when seeing it at the ceremony.
Incorporate Your Culture Through Fashion
A Hindu bride might don a sari for her entire wedding or maybe change into a white wedding gown for the reception. An Asian bride might wear what is traditionally thought of as a Western gown that is white for her ceremony and change into a red gown, which is the more traditional color for an Asian wedding, for her reception. These are just some examples of how brides can integrate fashion choices to incorporate culture into weddings.
When we designed Kay and Matt’s wedding, she knew she wanted to hold a traditional Laotian ceremony followed by a Western one. See her two looks below.
If you want to wear just one outfit, you can express your culture through your accessories, which can include anything from jewelry to the flowers you carry. One Indian bride that married her Nigerian groom fused their cultural traditions throughout her affair. Calling it a “tradition remix,” one example was through their accessories. The bride explains, “we added a coral mangalsutra. In an Indian wedding, the groom gives the bride a necklace called a mangalsutra – basically signifying marriage the same way a ring does in Western culture. In Nigerian weddings, both men and women wear coral jewelry and it signifies wealth and power. Instead of giving me a black beaded and gold mangalsutra during the Hindu ceremony, John gave me a coral necklace and bracelet.”
Remember, cultural references don’t have to be glaringly obvious to everyone around you. They can be personal, and if you want to explain them, you can include a brief explanation of the symbolism in your ceremony program about what you have incorporated and why. Older generations of your family in particular will most likely appreciate this gesture.
Reflecting Heritage Through Food
During the reception, making an edible (or drinkable) reference to your culture is quite common. You can have a signature cocktail that is a nod to your culture, have select hors d’oeves that reflect your native country, or make one of your dinner options an homage to your home country or culture.
Reflecting Heritage Through Décor & Music
Ways to incorporate culture into weddings can be as simple as infusing colors that are popular within your culture, and this can be seen in tablescapes and other décor throughout the wedding. One example is that at Dutch weddings, there is often a tree branch near the couple’s table in lieu of a guest book. Paper leaves with colorful ribbons attached adorn the guests’ place settings, for the attendees to write on. Guests write a wish on their leaf, and then the couple has all of them to hang on the tree branch at the end of the reception. This tradition can make for beautiful décor while also serving to represent well wishes to the new couple.
And music choices can also pay homage to your heritage, whether it be through your mother-son dance, or a special dance for the new couple, or in the song choice for the couple’s first entrance.
It’s the personal touches at a wedding, the details that reflect you as a couple, that will make it memorable to guests for years to come. If that means embracing your culture(s), or where you’ve come from, do so in special ways that have meaning to you, and you can’t go wrong.