With the universality of love paving the way, families today are quickly becoming more and more blended. Couples are now twice as likely to be in a mixed race relationship. Whether your parents, grandparents or your great-grandparents emigrated from another country, getting married is a wonderful opportunity to reflect that heritage. Celebrate your union by not only fusing your two families but their cultures as well.
Eggwhites Catering has worked with countless multicultural couples. We thought it would be enlightening to share how some of them added cultural nods to their wedding day. Some couples choose to incorporate a few subtle finer details into their wedding while others have opted for elaborate cultural themes and celebrations.
“The beauty of a multicultural wedding is when your respective cultures are woven into the fabric of a wedding from the dress, the rituals, the vows, the decorations, the favors, the entertainment and the rest,” says Nicola Maharjan. Nicola is co-founder of Love Has No Borders, a project that helps couples from different countries and cultures navigate roadblocks with intentional thinking and communication regarding what is important to them in the context of their relationships. “Guests at the wedding have the fortune of experiencing what could be seen as the ‘best of both’ and will leave with a greater understanding for the couple’s heritage.”
PLANNING A MULTICULTURAL WEDDING
Use your wedding planning process to explore each other’s cultural traditions and discover new ones too. Educate yourself on their meaning so you can authentically incorporate them into your wedding celebration. Then together determine your cultural wish list and be sure to educate each other regarding what elements from your own culture that you would like to see at your wedding. Finally, find a balance between both of your cultures and make sure your choices are inclusionary of both families. After all, a multicultural wedding is the start of a life together that will incorporate many different customs and traditions along the way.
IDEAS FOR A MULTICULTURAL WEDDING CEREMONY
Mixing cultures sometimes means mixing religious traditions. Be as inclusive as possible and bring a bit of both religions into your ceremony. Infuse a second language into the ceremony by doing a special reading or speech in both first languages. If English is not the first language for some of your attendees, consider using a bilingual officiant or incorporate translators.
Shrija and Alex exchanged the Varmala at their Delray Beach wedding. The flower garland exchange accompanies their vows to be united forever.
“Jumping the Broom” has become a popular African tradition at weddings. The broom ceremony represents the joining of two families. It shows respect and pays homage to those who came before us and paved the way. It is also a symbol of sweeping away the old and welcoming the new, or a symbol of new beginnings. Back in the 1840s and 1850s, African American slaves were not permitted to marry legally. The literal jumping over a broomstick is symbolic of freeing themselves from slavery.
The tea ceremony is the quintessential Chinese wedding tradition. Many couples honor both sets of families in a pre-wedding ceremony tea service. First, the groom’s parents are honored and then the rest of family in order of seniority. Then the bride’s family is honored. After each elder takes a sip of tea, they place a lai see (lucky red envelope) on the platter which usually contains money or jewelry. Traditionally, the tea ceremony is the time when the Chinese wedding contract is witnessed and signed with a traditional signature seal or personalized stamp.
Releasing doves is a Philippine tradition. A pair of doves are released to symbolize harmony and peace.
For some couples, one wedding ceremony simply won’t suffice. Molly and Raj celebrated their union twice. They performed a Hindu ceremony in traditional Hindu attire followed by a luncheon at their hotel. Not only did the couple wear traditional Hindi wedding attire but the bride gifted each of her bridesmaids a traditional sari.
They celebrated their union on the following day with a more traditional ceremony and reception at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
Shrija and Alex celebrated her Indian Hindu heritage in a traditional Hindu ceremony in Delray Beach. Shrija’s attire comes from the prescribed set of 16 pieces every Hindu bride must wear. The bridal dress, the lengha, is traditionally red with jewel-toned embellishments and gold embroidery.
Alex donned the traditional Hindu attire for the groom. The groom has four required pieces which are the safa, or wedding turban, the sherwani – a long sleeved dress-like top that extends beyond the knees and worn over skinny churidar pants and the Aladdin-type Mojari shoes.
Many couples celebrate their cultures by having a mix of foods at their multi-cultural wedding. Food is a wonderful way to represent the couple individually and as a couple, combining two distinct backgrounds with a contemporary point of view. Molly and Raj incorporated favorite childhood snacks into their hors d’oeuvres menu. Guests enjoyed traditional aromatic Zucchini Pakoras with Tamarind Dipping Sauce. Mango Lassis were served as a non-alcoholic specialty drink alongside a full premium bar. You can also use menu selections to celebrate the state or region your family is from. We served fried Cheese Curds as a nod to Molly’s childhood home in Wisconsin.
Make sure to choose a caterer who offers cultural options on their menu. Eggwhites Catering is able to take a couple's stories and incorporate them into hors d'oeuvres to desserts. We put a lot of time and effort into researching appropriate spices and specialty ingredients.
They offered a traditional Indian Korma with Aloo Gobi and Naan alongside traditional American chicken and seafood entrées. In addition to a Funfetti wedding cake with Buttercream Filling, a vegan chocolate groom’s cake was served for the Hindu guests who don’t eat eggs.
Food stations are another easy way to include ethnic favorites. Included in Eggwhites Catering’s standard menu of Specialty Stations are favorites from the Mediterranean to Asia to Spain and France. Serving small plates is another great way to highlight different flavors and cuisines.
Our South to East BBQ and Buns station is an example of a fusion menu which includes selections from Korea to Memphis, TN. Spanish Style Paella can be served as small plates or as a main course dish. The possibilities are endless. We are able to take a couple’s stories and incorporate them into any type of dish!
Specialty cocktails can also elevate an ethnic themed menu. Sparkling sake is a great accompaniment to an Asian station just as Mojitos nicely complement Cuban cuisine.
Communication is key. Couples should not presume that their assumptions about a cuisine are the same as their caterer’s. For example, Italy’s sauces vary in sweetness based on the region they come from. Feel free to share recipes or thoughts on ingredients and spices. A food tasting is a great way to make sure all parties are on the same page.
MULTICULTURAL WEDDING FLOWERS
Choose floral arrangements that give a nod to your heritage. Here are some popular wedding flowers by country: