May 1, 2020
Growing up, I would find myself drawn to what made people different. I wanted to know everything about their culture and even their family traditions. So, it is no shocker to my friends that I would end up majoring in history. Learning about the beautiful customs passed down for generations really made me want to lean in even more. It is no wonder my friends list is a complete melting pot! So as a wedding photographer, I am drawn to these same things, and I love seeing how couples choose to include culture in their wedding celebrations.
Before we dig deeper into this, let’s make sure we understand the difference between tradition and culture, because things can get a little blurred. Tradition is something passed down through generations of a family. For example, in my family, we make a whole boatload of cookies for Christmas. We also get together on Christmas eve and sleep over at my sisters house, like, every single year! These are family traditions!
Culture, on the other hand, is normally something that an entire social group practices. It is unchanged and practiced over many generations. For example, Latin quinceaneras or Chinese tea ceremonies are cultural celebrations.
As I’m sure you know, the United States was built on immigrants. Our melting pot culture is important and there’s a lot of value in honoring our culture through our own family traditions. For example, in our African American culture, it is customary to eat certain dishes on the holidays. However, how each family does that is their family tradition. Sweet potato pie is a staple in our family for Thanksgiving, however some have it on Christmas. Here, the pie is the culture, but the tradition is in how and when the pie is served.
Couples that choose to infuse culture into their wedding day are giving a big huge nod to their ancestors and allowing guests to see how they celebrate their heritage. I love witnessing this and learning about other cultures and traditions.
So, if you want to include culture in your wedding, here are a few fun ways you can choose to infuse culture into your day.
You can choose to add an additional special ceremony or replace your western ceremony all together. I have seen brides add tea ceremonies, Hindu ceremonies, or even do a little of everything if it is an interracial marriage. Jumping the broom is common amongst African Americans, as well as the money dance during the reception.
In the Western world, it is customary to wear white. However, adding some culture to your day could mean that you wear rich vibrant colors. Even the fabric type can be representative of your culture. I had a bride who wore a sari for her Hindu ceremony and for her Western ceremony wore a white gown. Also, placing bridesmaids in a cultural gown while you wear a Western gown is another fun twist.
Can I just say, this can be a huge way to share your culture with your guests. Recipes that have been passed down for centuries are always a win! There is nothing like some yummy soul food after a full day of wedding preparations. Maybe if you don’t want to change your whole menu, you can add a few fun cocktails to the bar menu. Maybe a little German Schnaps? Or how about a traditional dessert?
I once had a bride hand out little mini hot sauces because she said Latinos like it hot! It was such a great idea and a fun way to celebrate her Latina roots. I also had a wedding where the couple handed out miniature elephants, which are symbols of luck and wealth in many cultures. Your wedding favors are a great way to visually tell people about your culture.
This one is easy and shouldn’t cost you a thing! Handing your DJ a playlist of your favorite cultural songs will definitely get your guests onto the dance floor. You know why?? Because you will be out on that dance floor as soon as that beat drops! Let me tell you, it is never a dull moment when the hora starts. I have been caught in the middle and didn’t get out until the dance was done. Let’s just say that out of 200 guests, I think they were all dancing!!
So friend, my advice is just do it! Our culture is just another thing that makes us who we are. Whether it is a respectful nod to our elders, or we are ourselves engrossed in it, it is such a fun way to include guests in our cultural experiences. Trust me, they won’t remember your vows, but come strutting down the aisle in a traditional Chinese gown and they will definitely remember that! Do you have ideas on how to include culture in your wedding celebrations? Drop a comment below to share with us!