Of all the wedding trends that come and go, personalization has remained number one in weddings year after year… and it’s definitely not going anywhere. Brides and grooms are finding creative ways to reflect their personalities, their loves, their careers and hobbies within their choices in wedding day venues, entertainment, cuisine and décor. They’re sure to celebrate their history together and what makes them unique as a couple. And part of that personalization absolutely includes incorporating their ancestry and cultural heritage as well.
When it comes including your heritage, couples have so many options! Those who are very closely connected to their cultural heritage often center their wedding event around it. Almost every aspect of their wedding day, from their morning preparations to their reception, places its foundation on cultural institutions and traditions.
Many couples, however, want to celebrate their heritage in smaller ways, choosing to incorporate just a few traditions into either their typical American/Western ceremony or reception. This is especially common for couples who are not as connected to their cultural roots, but who feel it’s important to honor their ancestry, their family and their heritage in their big day. And hand-selecting just a few customs is very popular for couples of different cultural backgrounds blending the two on their wedding day.
If you want to include traditions and customs that reflect your heritage but are not very knowledgeable about them, be sure to talk with someone who is closely familiar with your culture for advice, such as relative or a community or religious leader. And don’t forget, there are tons of online resources out there for you to research your family’s cultural traditions too!
If you’re planning your wedding and are eager to honor your heritage in your traditional American wedding day, here are great ways to add touches that reflect the beauty of your culture:
Your wedding attire is a wonderful place to display your heritage! Why not wear customary ceremonial clothing for your ceremony and change into traditional American wedding attire for the reception? In the Korean culture, hanbok is worn by both the bride and groom on their wedding day. This consists of a jeogori, a blouse or jacket and a chima, a full, wrap-around skirt for women and a jeogori and loose-fitting pants called baji for men. Indian wedding attire is based on region. One traditional Indian wedding outfit for women consists of a long skirt and blouse, called lehenga choli, and are usually worn in red or pink. They’re heavily embroidered and embellished and are often accompanied by a coordinating dupatta (shawl-like scarf). Other regions prefer a silk saree or sari, an unstitched draped dress. And all of the wedding guests dress to the nines!
Be sure to adorn your ceremony and/or reception venue with traditional wedding patterns, colors, flowers or decorations. Red and gold are the standard colors for a traditional Chinese wedding, as they symbolize fortune, honor and fertility, and lotuses and red roses are the flowers of choice. Roses and jasmine are the most popular flowers found at an Indian wedding. And Dutch weddings usually include a “wish tree” at the reception as a substitute for the guest book. Paper leaves attached to colorful strips of ribbon are placed at each guest’s table setting. After guests write their wish for the couple on the leaves, the bride and groom read and place them on the tree.
Consider participating in one or two wedding rituals that are traditionally performed in weddings within your nationality. Celtic handfasting (Irish), Tambiko and kola nuts (many African countries, especially in West Africa), and the dollar dance (Mexican… and many other nationalities!) are some wonderful examples of time-honored wedding rituals. For a traditional, yet modernized Korean wedding event, a PaeBaek ceremony, a ritual celebrating the joining of two families and bestowing blessings on the bride and groom, is performed. In this ceremony, bowing rituals are observed and tea is offered to the elders who then give blessings to the bride and groom. Dates and chestnuts are tossed to the bride (or to both the bride and groom) by the groom’s parents, symbolizing how many children they will have, and the groom carries the bride, and then often her mother and his mother in turn, on his back!
Along with more traditional fare, include cultural or national/regional favorites to please your family and friends. Think Polish pierogi, Chinese tang yuan (sweet rice ball soup), Jamaican rum cake or English fruitcake. To celebrate your Ukrainian heritage, you’re sure to have Korovai, the Ukrainian traditional wedding bread that’s beautifully crafted and filled with symbolism. The sweet braided bread is blessed before baking and decorated with dough birds. Two birds represent the newlywed couple while the other birds represent family and friends. Other embellishments include wheat stalks, fruit, herbs, nuts and flowers. The top part of the cake symbolizes the moon and is divided in half and given to the couple while the bottom is shared with wedding guests, a sign of good luck and future prosperity.
If you’d like to see a wedding that fully incorporated culture and tradition throughout the whole day, lose yourself in Stamatina and Minos’s wedding event, overflowing with wonderful Greek traditions.
And for a wedding that blended beautiful Filipino and Korean traditions into a classic, tented American wedding, check out Roxanne and Philip’s lovely wedding day!
August 19th, 2020
by Kristi Chapman
in Tips & Ideas