• How to Infuse Your Wedding with Culture and Family Traditions

    How to Infuse Your Wedding with Culture and Family Traditions

    Big-day ideas that highlight your heritage.

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With the rise in popularity of creatively customized weddings, many couples’ “big days” are beginning to look less and less traditional. However, that doesn’t mean you’re banned from incorporating classic and culture-filled elements into your modern wedding. Consider these ideas when deciding how to infuse your special day with languages, cultural elements and family traditions you love.

1. The Menu

One of the most obvious ways of building family traditions into your wedding is by serving culturally inspired dishes. Although this can be a challenge with venues that have set catering options, the drink menu paves a path to freedom you can taste and sip – e.g., ouzo, sake or sangria to showcase your Greek, Japanese or Spanish roots. Or, channel your inner mixologist and shake up a drink that combines the cultural backgrounds of the couple.

2. Creative Cakes

Customize a cake that reflects your culture with the appropriate frosting color, decoration and cake toppers. Your cake can be as simple as adding a few traditional flowers in frosting or as elaborate as a cake that reflects the architecture of your home country or town. Also consider the cake’s flavor. In Mexican culture, rum-soaked fruitcakes are a standard – and a much savored one at that. If you don’t want to give up having that tiered white wedding cake, the groom’s cake provides an opportunity to mix in cultural flavor in fresh, fun ways.

3. Traditional Accessories

If you’re looking to go a subtle route, accessories are the way to go. To showcase Scottish heritage, the bride might wear a Luckenbooth brooch and the groom a tartan pocket square. A classic for the Spanish and Latin American bride would be the mantilla veil. Then, there’s hairstyle. For Czech weddings, the bride traditionally wears a wreath of rosemary – a twist on which might be tucking a few sprigs of the herb into an updo.

Even if you prefer to wear a white dress during the wedding ceremony, there’s always the opportunity to have a reception dress that pays homage to your heritage.

4. Meaningful Decorations

There are many ways you can reflect your family traditions and culture through decorations, e.g., using fabric with traditional patterns to create table runners or placemats and designing centerpieces with traditional flowers and cultural symbols. Orchids, lotus blossoms and paper lanterns are beautifully eye-catching elements from Chinese culture, while heart-shaped piñatas are special to Mexican tradition (also doubling as entertainment for children who attend).

5. Bilingual Festivities

Language is inherently linked to culture. A multilingual element might manifest itself in the written pieces – the invitations, the program, signage and guest book – or during the ceremony and reception. A bilingual ceremony may be a practical means for ensuring all guests understand what’s going on when. But even if it isn’t essential, using multiple languages is a wonderful way to showcase how two cultures come together in marriage.

A few key points to consider when planning a bilingual ceremony: Are both the bride and groom fluent enough in the second language to perform the ceremony while nervous or excited? Is the officiant? If you’re not performing a bilingual ceremony out of necessity, will repeating everything in another language make the ceremony too long? Or is performing a single aspect of the ceremony, such as the vows, in two languages sufficient?

Lastly, the first dance and first dance song allow you to spotlight multiple languages with music, which, like love, is a language that can be appreciated and enjoyed by all.

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