To begin, become familiar with the wedding traditions of the bride-to- be. Even if neither of you are traditionalists, chances are some in the family will be. The more you know, the easier it will be to put them at ease and bypass potential toe stepping. It’s rather nice to include both cultures’ traditions in a kind of marital show-and-tell—guests should sharing their heritage whilst satiating their curiosity for new cultures. Wedding planner Benita Kam of BNT Event Management has the lowdown.
It’s important to consider the degrees of religious observance amongst guests, especially when creating a culturally sensitive menu. Should the food be Hallal? Are certain food combinations religiously prohibited? If there is any chance of an issue, err on the conservative side. In a Jewish wedding, a vegetarian meal prepared in a kosher kitchen is the safest bet.
It’s possible to offer separate buffets so guests can take the food that they feel comfortable with, without having to announce their choice to a waiter. Alternating the food as it’s served may work, depending on seating arrangements. Providing options is essential.
Music and Dance
When guests start jiving, the question is how to incorporate traditional dances of both cultures.
Consider hiring two bands—it may be easier than finding one performer that knows the nuances of both styles of music. If possible, seamlessly tie different dances together. “For example, the Jewish Hora circle dance has similarities to the traditional Greek wedding dance, and can easily be played one after the other,” Kam says.
While there may not be strict rules for the reception, there are important customs to follow in the ceremony. Whether you are planning one wedding or, as may happen, two (one in each place of worship), it’s best to prepare guests for an unfamiliar experience.
“These days, religious leaders are accustomed to cross-cultural marriages, and will often explain the customary requirements to guests on the day,” Kam says. To prevent pre-wedding guest stress it may be useful to explain key elements sooner. In a Jewish wedding, for example, it is common for every male to cover their head with a skull cap, or kippah, regardless of their faith. At a Hindu wedding, guests are often seated on the floor. If this is the case, advise guests to wear appropriate attire.
Once guests know when to stand, how to dress and when to clap, it’s smooth sailing.
Story by Monique Friedlander