Cross-cultural wedding celebrations: our guide to getting it right

The marriage of a couple brings together two families, two sets of ideas and traditions, and two diverse ways of life. But what if your marriage also marks the union of two cultures? Instead of a being source of added stress, we take the headache out of planning a cross-cultural wedding and show you how a few simple ideas can see you host a truly spectacular cross-cultural celebration.

Ceremonial rights

Straight off the mark: decide whether you are going to have two distinct ceremonies or a combined ceremony that includes elements of both cultures. If your cultures are distinctly different and one of you wouldn't feel satisfied without a full traditional ceremony, then two ceremonies may be the only way to go. Just remember, this will have an impact on your budget and logistics. Various cultures also have additional ceremonies around marriage that don't involve exchanging of vows. If two ceremonies sound too much, investigate opportunities to be a part of other rituals that play a role in the tradition of marriage, as a compromise.

Cultural attire

A beautiful and visual way to combine cultures on your wedding day is to dress in cultural attire. If this isn't appropriate for the entire event, some brides choose to wear an outfit representative of each culture at various parts. For a more subtle approach, incorporate accessories such as traditional fabrics or prints, headdresses or scarves, across your bridal party. You can also involve your guests in the cross-cultural theming by requesting they wear a specific colour or piece, as a nod to a cultural tradition or heritage.

Music without borders

Bring everyone together in a fun and festive way by featuring music from both cultures in your ceremony and reception. To show your true commitment -- perform two traditional wedding dances - one from either culture. If double dances are your worst nightmare come true, take the pressure off by hiring professional entertainers representative of either cultural heritage. Ideas include a Mariachi band, Italian opera singer, Greek dancers or Irish entertainers. Get your guests involved with traditional musical celebrations to increase the fun factor.

Global food

Food plays a leading role in most cultural celebrations, so incorporating culinary delicacies into your big day is an ideal way of bringing the best of both worlds together. The key to success is utilising a venue that is flexible on catering or allows you to bring your own, so that you can adequately showcase both side's fare. Ideas include buffet stations themed to each culture to allow guests to select their preferences, or different courses designed to highlight each cultural palette.

Symbolic stationery and diverse decorations

Your wedding invites should signify if you're planning a cross-cultural celebration. This can be done by incorporating colours, flags or symbols from either culture, as well as stating the wedding will be staged as a cross-cultural celebration, so guests know what to expect. Personalised invites are the best way to go, as they can be as individual as your wedding celebration. Incorporate symbolic colours from each culture into your decorations and theme, as well as sourcing original, customised wedding favours to offer unique gifts that represent both worlds.

Communication and organisation

Like any successful wedding celebration, communication and organisation are key. Possibly even more so for a cross-cultural event. Decide on your plan and parameters from the start - and while it's nice to incorporate traditional elements from both cultures, it's important for your wedding to also reflect your unique identity as a couple, as you embark on your future together. Communicating your intentions clearly to one another, your families, wedding staff and guests will help your cross-cultural celebration run smoothly and embracing one another's cultural heritage in a way that suits your personal style, will ensure your cross-cultural wedding is a resounding success.

Secrets of wedding success

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