If you’re a fan of schmaltzy ’50s romance movies, you may believe that love is a many splendored thing. And if you’re engaged to someone who was raised in a culture or religion different from your own, you know that love can also be quite a confusing thing — especially when it comes to wedding arrangements.
If you’re not sure whether to step on the glass or jump the broom, or you’re pulling your hair out trying to decide between pad Thai or paella, we’re here to help. Here are some ways you and your to-be can combine your pasts on the day you officially combine your futures.
Respect between you and your partner may seem like a given, but it’s not uncommon to lose a few marbles (or hair) when planning for the biggest day of your life. You are going to have to take that every-day respect you feel for your betrothed and turn it up a couple notches — like to 11.
For instance, it may seem silly to say “I do” while performing a hand stand, but if that’s what your future husband’s father and grandfather did before him, and their fathers before them, you need to hear him out and consider why it’s important.
Most likely your fiancé ’s family’s traditions won’t call for elaborate displays of physical prowess (that can wait ’till the honeymoon), but whatever he wants to include should be taken seriously regardless of whether or not you “get it.” That doesn’t matter. But your partner’s feelings do.
Open the floodgates
You’ve been dying to shatter that glass to bits with the heel of your foot since your bar mitzvah and your partner may love “The Electric Slide” (and really, who doesn’t?). Yet you may despise group dancing (you, you hate “The Electric Slide”) and your partner has had issues inflicting harm upon inanimate objects ever since he saw “Beauty and the Beast” as a kid (don’t chip Chip!)
Talk things over with your partner and determine what traditions are a must, which ones are bust, and if there’s conflicting values, agree on a compromise — like one round of the Cupid Shuffle (it’s a little more modern, at least) in exchange for the breaking of the first bottle of wine the two of you shared (an object you’re certain wasn’t a character in a Disney cartoon).
It’s simply a matter of having an open conversation and then creatively incorporating those conventions into your ceremony. Your friends and relatives will understand that they are attending a personalized wedding, one that celebrates what is most important to both halves of the happy couple.
Make that a combo, please
Unlike the compromising method, combining both of your backgrounds is a bit more complicated. Here you’re practically holding two weddings – you don’t get to pick and choose what traditions to follow and which to toss aside.
Some couples choose to integrate the ceremonies, like one in which a rabbi does his bit, then the priest does his, and the couple exchanges vows only afterwards, followed by the breaking of the glass. Other couples, on the other hand, may have two complete ceremonies, one right after the other. Whether you combine the two or have each one performed separately, you may want to go with a nondenominational location that you both agree on.
The best part of combining your cultural backgrounds is deciding what food to serve or what music to play. Marrying someone who’s from the Netherlands? Serve some gouda cheese! Like kissing a Canadian? Play some Arcade Fire, or Rush, or Nickelback (no, actually, never ever do that). Have fun and go wild blending your cultures — serve edamame and escargot! Tell the DJ to play both sangeet and salsa! Having two types of food and two types of music is double the fun.
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