What do you do when you have two families coming together for a wedding with very different cultural traditions and/or religions?
We are fortunate in the United States to have many religious and cultural experiences throughout our country. These rich and varied experiences bring with it an opportunity for broadening our understanding of multi cultural traditions and sometimes can create challenges when trying to honor both cultures and or religions for wedding ceremonies and festivities.
A useful first step is to have the bride and groom talk through what is most important to them personally first. Once they have worked out between them what they can both feel comfortable including in their wedding day, then they can turn to their individual families and ask their parents what is most important to them to include in the wedding preparations and on the wedding day. Once the bride and groom have listened to what is important to each set of their parents, the next step is to tell their parents they will consider everything they have heard and get back to each other’s families as soon as possible.
It would be great if everyone could first come together to talk over everything, but it’s possible that there might be hurt feelings when unknowingly one side or the other might say something that would be perceived as insensitive or naïve and create a misunderstanding that could tarnish the good wishes and feeling of the impending nuptials.
Hopefully, once the bride and groom have a second opportunity to discuss what they learned from talking with their families, the bride and groom can select from all requests and honor the majority of the must haves from both families and themselves. There is bound to be some give and take, but hopefully with the bride and groom having worked out their preferences ahead of time, they can proceed as a congenial team.
It’s rare that everyone gets everything they want, but if the majority of what is important to all is honored then at least everyone feels they are not being slighted and their traditions will be shared with their nearest and dearest on the wedding day. This formula can be used when holidays and other celebrations come up in the future. If the bride and groom can create a united front to family members, it will go a long way to avoid feeling any pressure to compete for the favor of each other’s families and set a foundation for discussing important issues as they arise in the future.
Tobey Dodge, CSEP
The Wedding Connection