by Janecia Britt
Culture is the invisible bond that ties people together. It’s only natural that our nuptials reflect that. When wedding planning commences, couples are often faced with the task of blending different backgrounds and traditions into one gorgeous wedding day.
It often starts with this critical question: What is important to us, and how can we incorporate that in a meaningful way on our wedding day?
From traditional outfits to your choice of food, there are plenty of ways to include you or your partner’s culture into your ceremony and reception.
Lauren LaRocque of LV Photography shared these sentiments: “I was invited to capture a small, traditional Ghanaian wedding about a year or so back, and it was far from your traditional white dress/black tux event. Typically, there is a traditional wedding like the one I attended, and then a Westernized version a year or so later — also known as a “white wedding” or a more traditional American wedding. The first thing to note at the event was the style of clothing. The bride and groom both wore traditional cloth of Ghana, composed of a variety of colors and patterns, each with a different meaning.”
You and your groom don’t have to be the only ones who can celebrate your marriage and the blending of cultures.
“The families also wore traditional outfits to complement the bride and groom. Even the bridesmaids who were not Ghanaian wore traditional headpieces as they walked down the aisle,” says LaRocque.
“My eyes were so pleased by all of the color my camera was capturing. The mother of the bride helped her daughter don a traditional Ghanaian headpiece before the ceremony began, and it was so incredibly precious. You could tell that they both were so in love with their heritage and excited to include it on that day.”
Food is arguably the most important choice when planning a wedding. Instead of chicken or steak, opt to bring in dishes that remind you and your spouse of your upbringing. Whether that’s your abuela’s tamales or traditional dim sum, there are so many caterers that can help bring in the spirit of your families.
“This is the biggest meal of their lives. We always meet with the bride and groom first and love to hear more about their families, where they are from, how they met, favorite meals or traditions and really incorporate all that into the menu. We want the menu to tell a story. We’ve done some really cool weddings in the past — a Brazilian and Southern fusion, a Sri Lankan and Lebanese fusion menu and even a Boston meets Argentina menu,” says Briana Edmunds, event manager for Liberty Bar and Restaurant.
Thinking of that dish that only your grandmother or favorite uncle can make? Get them involved in the planning. Collect recipes and share them with your caterer or even use them as wedding favors for your guests.
“We’ve had family members share recipes with us, such as a bride’s grandmother’s caramelized pineapple curry or a family recipe for Pão de queijo, a Brazilian cheese bread. When you have guests flying from all over the world, it’s like having a piece of their home here in Tallahassee,” says Edmunds.
And don’t forget the desert. “Uniqueness is what makes life so exciting. Your wedding day is about you and your boo, nothing else. I had an Italian bride and groom have a giant tower of cannoli instead of a cake — legendary,” says LaRocque.
Personalizing your wedding, celebrating your traditions and honoring your heritage are beautiful acts of love and respect, for both your spouse and your family.
The jewel of information in regard to all this? Your parents. Your grandparents. Talk to them. Ask them what they would like to see you highlight from their cultures and what memories of their wedding they would feel excited about including in yours.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate your big day, remember that there are so many ways to say “I do.” Just like your union, your wedding should reflect the best parts of you and your partner.