Introducing ‘that’ unknown culture on your wedding day



Or should I say: ‘How to talk with your guests, -family and friends- about your partner’s culture, wedding traditions that they have no clue about?’

If you are with your partner for a while, you may have experienced that not everybody is as excited about your origin, culture and traditions as your partner is. Some friends and family members may even be against it. People are often so attached to their habits and believing in stereotypes, that they start to get afraid. The thought of somebody coming and changing everything scares them. Even if this resentment is toward more specific things like, following a tradition or ritual, can get frustrating.

Maybe there is a family member who doesn’t want to participate in a holiday tradition with you. (Or the reverse situation; when your family doesn’t want to adopt your partner’s traditions.) For example, Christmas traditions are slightly different in every culture. So when it comes to blending them together, is your new family willing to participate in it, or do they distance themselves? Not to mention other holidays that are very country and nationality specific. Thanksgiving and 4th of July for example are holidays that were foreign to me, but now I celebrate them like my own.

Weddings are a bit different than holidays!

Your wedding is an event that’s packed with traditions, rituals, religion. But at the same time, it’s very personal. You have the freedom to change it, modify it however you want. (Well, we can change Christmas traditions too, but in weddings you decide how to celebrate this new chapter of your life. Decide how you want to get married. Which is a pretty big deal!)

Anyway, it’s normal that some of the guests you want to invite may not be so involved or interested in your (or your partner’s) culture. Especially if they’ve never had the opportunity to experience new cultures on they own. Are they invited to a new country for your wedding? Now that may stress them out even more. Although I have to give them a credit for fighting their resentment, and going to support you on the big day anyway.

I think there are three types of guests who can potentially attend on your multicultural wedding: Those who love it and are very interested in this new experience, those who just don’t care as much, and those who are agents mixing wedding traditions.

What are some of the wedding traditions that could be unknown for the guests?

1, Cultural music and dance.

2, Traditional food and drinks.

3, Wedding outfits, dress, jewelry and accessories. 

4, Gift giving is a big one. For example, money receiving traditions can get awkward and uncomfortable. Raise your hand if you agree! But in some cultures giving money to the freshly married couple is not about the cash. It comes with words of wisdom and marriage advice from older members of the family.

5, Changing your name after the wedding doesn’t involve wedding guests, but some of them may feel like expressing their opinion anyways. 

It’s important to make expectations clear! What traditions are you keeping and which ones are you ditching? In some cultures, guests are not expected to RSVP. In others, everybody in the town is invited! Don’t make assumptions, and you’ll avoid all the hurt feelings and misunderstandings. What is the dress code? Which ceremony ritual are you doing? How long is it going to be? Should everybody bring cash for money dance? 

Set up those expectations to your guests ahead of time, and trust me, they will feel respected and honored.

How to introduce the cultural traditions before the wedding?

1, Add them to your wedding website.

Wedding websites used to be just for some extra fun. But for us in a multicultural relationship -having a place where you can collect important details- can be really useful! Write down all the information about the traditions you’ll be following, and also those that you won’t. You can add links to Youtube videos that shows the full ceremony, outfits, gifting traditions and etiquette. It doesn’t have to be perfect at first. You can update it as the date gets closer. AND don’t forget to add the wedding website link to your invitation!

Zola – The best place to set up your wedding website

If you are looking for the best option to set up your wedding website and gift registry, you have to check out ZOLA. They make it so easy to put everything together, and I love how much info you’re able to add to the pages! I even created a tutorial to help multicultural couples set up a bilingual website on this platform.

And their registry? That’s the best part! Beside all the beautiful gifts and brands, you can also register for experiences (like classes or dates), cash funds (like house downpayment), or charity donations. For example, you can ask your guests to fund your wedding vendors, or support your traveling expenses. And let’s be honest, we have plenty of those!

Check out what Zola is all about here: 

Plus when you register at Zola using this link, I get an affiliate commission which is a great way to support the Getting Married Multiculturally community and all the resources, so I can keep sharing them with you!with you! 🙂

There is more! If you receive $500 in gifts, you get $50 towards your Zola registry. Woohoo!

2, Introduce the new wedding traditions by talking to your family personally.

3, Send your guests personalized emails, video or voice messages. This extra effort makes everything so much more personal. You may even get them interested and curious.

4, Send them videos from Youtube, inspirational board from Pinterest, or fun articles from Facebook. Some people like to read, others like to watch videos, or connect on social media. Fyi, a short film is especially good if they don’t speak the language.

5, Host a small pre wedding party or rehearsal dinner where you can talk about the cultural differences you two are bringing into the family. You could even ask some of your guests if they would be interested in participating in your wedding planning.

How to introduce the cultural traditions on the wedding day?

1, Make sign 

Put the information out to as many places as possible… Ok, but don’t overdo it either. It’s a great reminder to your guests that this is a multicultural wedding.

2, Make the program book bilingual, and put some fun facts in it.

3, Your guests can play games about the new culture and country they’ve got introduced to.

4, Decorate the room.

Think about decorating the venue with art pieces from your culture. Displayed photos and books can also be a good conversation starter.

6, Choose a venue that shows off your culture.

Or have about a destination wedding in your or your partner’s home country?

7, Have an officiant and DJ/MC who can announce or talk about some rituals and traditions that are about to happen throughout the day.

I’ve previously talked about what is considered ‘normal’ when it comes to wedding traditions, and it really depends which culture are you asking this question from? However, us, in a multicultural relationship will never be ‘traditional’. No matter how hard we try. So just accept that even after talking with all of your guests, there may still be somebody who refuses to go along with your wedding wishes. Because they don’t want to change what weddings should look like in their mind.

But as soon as the wedding day comes, everybody is going to feel so happy and excited, that many of them will forget about all the complaints. Especially when they see other guests participating and having fun. Nobody wants to be left out! People like to feel that they belong. And what better occasion to do that, than your wedding?!

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Although I was born in Serbia, graduated in Italy and have been living overseas for 14+ years, I'm very proud of my Hungarian heritage.
I love documenting my life adventures, trying out healthy recipes and herbal remedies, or going on family trips in our new home, Canada.

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