January 17

Multi-Cultural or Cross Denominational Weddings Explained


While many different religions, nationalities and denominations have their own well established traditions, it is becoming increasingly common for couples of mixed ancestry to marry.  Inter-racial couples are marrying more and more often. With this increase in inter-racial marriages comes a need for weddings that have a multi-cultural and cross denominational feel.

Celebrate Diversity

There are so many wonderful traditions that hold a great deal of importance to many families. It is important to plan a wedding to celebrate the cultural diversity rather than spotlight one of the cultures while neglecting the other.  Even if the couple themselves do not feel strongly about having their heritage represented, it is important to consider the feelings of family members as well.  While the wedding is for the couple and in general they should plan it as they see fit. This should not be done at the risk of hurting the feelings of family members by neglecting their culture in the ceremony and reception.

The Jewish faith is one that is deeply ensconced in tradition. A traditional Jewish wedding follows a number of beautiful traditions that date back for thousands of years. The traditions include the signing of the Ketubah, the use of the chuppah as well as traditional dances that are performed at the wedding. The rings exchanged during a Jewish wedding also have traditional connotations.

One Culture at the Ceremony ... Another at the Reception

One of the easiest ways to handle a multi-cultural wedding is to allow one culture to dominate the wedding ceremony while the other culture dominates the wedding reception. At the ceremony care could be used to ensure that the attire, words, music, decorations and procedures adhere to the culture of either the bride or the groom. If the culture of the bride dominates the ceremony then you could allow the culture of the groom to dominate the reception. This could be done by providing food, entertainment and toasts that reflect on the time-honored traditions of the groom’s cultural background.

The above solution of having one culture control the ceremony and another culture control the reception is one way to plan a multi-cultural wedding. Many couples choose to blend both of the components of the wedding instead. While this can be more difficult, it may be a better solution because neither family feels left out of any part of the wedding.

To Follow Tradition or Not?

After the couple exchanges their wedding vows, a rabbi reads 7 traditional blessings. After the blessings the groom steps on a wine glass to break the glass. It's a symbol of human frailty and the suffering that members of the Jewish faith have endured. This with a final blessing from the rabbi concludes the ceremony.

Unlike other traditional weddings, there is usually not a receiving line at the conclusion of a Jewish wedding. Tradition holds that the couple spends a few minutes alone immediately following the wedding. Many members of the Jewish faith honor this tradition by leaving the ceremony immediately. They wait until the reception to offer their well wishes to the couple. This togetherness time was traditionally an opportunity for the couple to consummate the marriage. However, in modern times it is more of chance for the couple to reflect on their wedding ceremony and the start of their life together before the chaos of the wedding.

At the Reception

Cultural weddings can also be blended at the reception in a number of ways. A simple way to do this is to serve foods that relate to one culture and provide entertainment that relates to the other culture. This separation may seem too harsh for some couples and they may want to blend their cultures in a more subtle way. One way is to serve a buffet style dinner that serves cultural favorites of both heritages. If your budget has a significant amount of money for entertainment, you could consider hiring two bands. One band that specializes in the cultural heritage of the bride and one to represent the groom’s heritage.

This could serve to unite the families and ensure that the entertainment never ceases. Many live bands play for only about 20 minutes at a time and then take a break. The two bands could alternate playing their music so that there is never a dull moment at the reception. If budget does not allow hiring two separate bands, you might want to consider hiring a band to play the music of one culture and hiring dancers to represent the other.

Honour Tradition

The Jewish faith is a faith that is full of history and tradition. Many couples and their guests choose to honor these traditions by incorporating them into their wedding ceremony and reception. Many of these traditions are the defining moments of the celebration and they lend an atmosphere of historical significance to the wedding.

Final Thoughts

No matter the culture of each of the couple’s families, your wedding ceremony and reception can be a beautiful blend that celebrates and honours their respective cultural backgrounds. You may even consider adding something uniquely your own to enhance your special day.


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