My Big, Fat, Multi-Ethnic Wedding

Posted by Dave

Ethnic weddings are terrific!

They are filled with Old World charm and unique traditions. Food, decor, and music combine with centuries-old customs to create a direct, tangible connection to the participants’ rich cultural heritage. Such gatherings are the closest those in attendance will ever come to time-travel, as the sights, sounds, and aromas (of exotic dishes) transport them to distant eras and places. They also imprint a sense of ethnic identity and pride in those youngest guests who are otherwise “all-American.” As such, they perform an important sociological function.

Besides all that, they are really, really fun!

But – what if only one of the families is of a particular ethnic and cultural persuasion? What if the other is White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant? Do we serve both Wonder and rye breads? To complicate matters further, what if the marriage unites representatives of two very distinct groups (like Italian and Korean, for instance)?

My suggestion is simple, yet observes proper wedding protocol. Since the groom’s mom and dad give the rehearsal dinner, while the bride’s parents host the wedding ceremony and reception, let each family follow their own traditions at the gathering for which they are personally responsible. In this way, all bases are fully covered.

One further option is possible: let the ceremony combine elements of both cultures (with a rabbi and a priest or minister officiating, for example.) However, please note that I only say this option is possible. The bride can choose to do this, but she is in no way obligated to do so (please see my entry for March 14th, “Whose Party Is This?” for more on this topic.) With regard to the ceremony and reception, the bride’s decision is final.

Lastly, be assured that your guests will be enchanted by the unique elements of your cross-cultural wedding. This is one occasion when your “Roots” should be showing! Don’t hesitate to grab your “white bread” friends by the hands and lead them onto the dance floor for a polka, hora, or tarantella. Opa!! L’chaim!! Congratulations, y’all!!


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