There is nothing like two cultures coming together to celebrate one unified cause. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, it happens during one of the most special occasions … a wedding!
After initially shocking my family with the news that a) I was not going to marry someone from the same region of India as me b) He was not the same religion as me and c) (I mentioned this part last) He was not Indian! … I set off to plan my interracial, intercultural wedding extravaganza!
So how do you plan a wedding which involves the blending of two cultures and/or two religions? It may seem like an impossible task at first, but don’t shy away from your intentions. These types of weddings have been occurring for a long time. In fact, the first recorded interracial wedding in North American history took place between Pocahontas and John Rolfe in 1614. How did they do it then? How can you plan yours now?
Tips for Celebrating a Wedding with Different Cultures
1) Decide which ceremonies you want to have: My husband and I decided to only do the Hindu ceremony. However, you do have options. Inter-religious weddings are so common now, that the last four weddings I have been to involved two different religious ceremonies!
2) Have a wedding website: This is a great way to educate both sides of the family about the various customs and traditions. We dedicated an entire page of our website to describe each step of the Hindu ceremony and the traditions that are followed. We did this so all of our guests would be prepared and would understand what was happening throughout the ceremony. In fact, several of our guests told us how helpful it was for them to read that.
3) Educate the families about the cultures: A huge part of Indian weddings is the dancing and the music. The days leading up to the wedding involved several get togethers where we played Indian beats and literally taught everyone how to ‘bhangra’ (a traditional Indian dance). When the reception came around, I was shocked to see my husband’s family outshining everyone else on the dance floor!
4) Get everyone involved: I wanted everyone to feel as if they were a part of the wedding, especially my husband’s family. We took them shopping for Indian outfits and made sure that they knew how special their role in our wedding was even though this may have been the first time they had ever seen such a ceremony!
5) Have programs at the wedding: Make sure there are programs that describe each part of the wedding process so your guests can follow along. The traditional Hindu ceremony can be up to three hours long! (although we had ours shortened to one and a half!) I asked the pandit (the priest) who conducted our wedding to translate everything in English. He was amazing! He even got the audience to participate in the vows and kept their attention for the entire time–a rarity in ceremonies that are that long!
In a world that can be filled with so much intolerance, it brought me pride to see my family and my new found family embrace each other in mutual love and respect. Love, in all it’s forms, is colorless, ageless and genderless. When you find such a rare treasure, celebrate it. Even if you have to fight for it. Because love … is worth it.