Marrying Wedding Traditions from Different Backgrounds
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
If you are marrying someone who grew up in a different culture than your own, you know how important it is to represent both sides of your new family on your big day. We are seeing more and more multicultural weddings, and wow—the results of blending traditions couldn’t be more gorgeous.
Even if you think you’re from a pretty “standard, generic” family, doing a deep dive into your heritage may yield some exciting results. Bringing modern or antiquated cultural traditions offers an opportunity to make your wedding day even more unique and meaningful. Everyone is from somewhere. We say, embrace it!
These amazing floral garlands, called Varmala, are a standard of Indian weddings. Not only does the garland represent unity, beauty, happiness, excitement, and acceptance (perfect qualities for enduring marital bliss), but the exchange of Varmala create a wonderfully playful moment in the ceremony.
Tradition says whoever bows their head first in the exchange of varmala, will be the more obedient party throughout the marriage. Squirming away from these floral garlands is the perfect icebreaker for nervous brides and grooms, and offers plenty of laughs for wedding guests.
Traditional Oromo Weddings are likely longer than any wedding you’ve been to. They typically last three consecutive days. While many modern Ethiopians have cut the festivities short, some traditions do remain. One is the traditional dress, called Habesha Kemis.
Cotton has long been an integral crop to Ethiopian culture. Traditionally, some women would grow the cotton for their own dresses, and even make their own yarn. This yarn would be given to weavers who would create long, narrow strips of handmade cotton fabric. These strips would be attached to one another using shimmery threads, and the finished dress would be accented by brightly-colored embroidered fabric around the lower hem, neckline, or cuffs. Modern designers are still embracing the Habesha Kemis style, but with diverse fabrics such as silk, and satin, to complement the traditional cotton.
In Vietnam, brides don’t traditionally wear white dresses. Instead, these beautiful brides wear red—a color that is said to bring luck.
Another tradition of Vietnamese weddings are table visits. The bride (dressed in red), and the groom (dressed in blue), visit each table to welcome their guests and make toasts. While they’re making the rounds, wedding guests customarily give the newly-weds envelopes of money to celebrate the couple, and ensure a secure start to their life together. Only after the bride and groom have made their rounds does the party officially begin!
Forget rice, and throw something much sweeter. Jewish weddings often begin with a custom called Aufruf.
Aufruf translates to “calling up,” and in this ceremony, the groom, (or, in more modern practices, the bride and groom) are literally called up before their families and friends to read a portion of the Torah.
Once the reading is done, guests shout blessings and shower the couple with candies. Usually the candies are soft and brightly colored, adding to the festive atmosphere.
You might think you’ve seen a cake cutting, but you probably haven’t seen one quite like the Muslim celebration.
At Muslim weddings, multi-tiered cakes are cut using a large sword that has been passed down to the groom from his family. Often, this sword is a family heirloom that has been reserved especially for this big day.
No matter what corner of the world your families herald from, incorporating traditions—ancient or modern, is an incredible way to honor your different pasts while beginning your joined future.
Your ancestors would be proud, and your special day will be that much more memorable.