Think back to the first time you visited your significant other’s parent’s house for a family gathering or holiday. You picked out a perfectly conservative yet trendy outfit, and maybe even did a quick Google search to see what was customary to bring. You decided on their mom’s favorite flowers and went across town for a specific imported bottle of wine for their dad. You mentally went over some talking points and had answers for all the uncomfortable or hard questions. But, all that planning went right out the door as soon as you opened it, because all eyes were on you. There was laughing, drinking, and fun, but it all stopped to give enough time for everyone to turn their head and look at you.
If this scenario seems familiar, chances are, when you met your significant other, you were also introduced to an entirely new culture. This might have been overwhelming at first, but now, maybe it’s one of your favorite things about your partner. So when the question has been popped and you’re planning your big day, consider how to make sure each one of your cultures is represented perfectly. Put yourself in your guest’s shoes, and keep in mind throughout the planning process the initial shock you felt walking into that new environment. It can be very simple to make everyone feel included, entertained, and loved at a dual culture wedding and it starts with just keeping everyone in the loop.
There may be a little bit of a language barrier, or a big bit. But, if you start out by sending bilingual invitations, it sets the tone for the guests that you want them to feel comfortable the day of the ceremony. A tip for this is to have your significant other be the one to write the message since Google Translate is not reliable and you don’t want anything misconstrued or—heaven forbid—a typo. If the language isn’t as common, your wedding planner or the person printing the invites may not catch the mistake.
To keep the bilingual vibe alive, continue with your programs. Either have both to choose from with a sign above each pile at a table, have a person passing them out ask which is the preferred, or place them on each side’s chairs or aisles. This is a thoughtful gesture to ensure each guest can enjoy the ceremony without ever thinking twice.
Wardrobes that Wow
Yes, there will most likely be a white dress and tux, then a wardrobe change into something more comfortable to break it down in. This wardrobe change is the perfect opportunity to instead incorporate the two cultures by dressing the part. Change into your culture’s garb to really wow the crowd and make everyone feel at home. Or, the bride and groom can remain traditional and the bridal party and groomsmen can wear the cultural garb to create a beautiful contrast. For instance, the Scottish groom might wear a tux while his groomsmen wear traditional kilts, or a Japanese bride might wear a white gown while her bridesmaids wear formal kimonos.
Dance the Night Away
After your wardrobe change, you and your guests will be ready to let loose. But imagine surprising your bride or groom with a traditional dance that you planned with the wedding party. Or inviting your parents to the dance floor to start a traditional dance that encourages everyone to join in. This is the great way to bring everyone together and learn some new moves.
Your wedding DJ playlist or band can also be “bilingual.” Have your favorite couple songs on the list as well as songs you love to sing and dance to with your parents, no matter the language. Switch it up so that each song is a special surprise from the next.
Being Informed is Fun
Remember those bilingual programs? This is the perfect tool for cluing in guests about what may be going on during the wedding ceremony. Certain traditions that they will see being played out can be highlighted in the program with the meaning and a short explanation. This will create more meaningful memories and a more meaningful experience for guests. It is also fun to let guests know before the ceremony how you will incorporate both cultures’ traditions since they might not get to see like the wedding party will during rehearsals.
And don’t worry; you rocked that outfit and the flowers ended up being a huge hit. That intimidating first gathering was just the first introduction to your new family.