10 Tips for Planning a Cross Cultural Wedding

We love the San Francisco Bay Area’s diversity. More and more couples today are multicultural – one in 10 married couples are now interracial, an increase of nearly 30% since 2000!

Courtesy of Tim Sohn Studios
A cross cultural wedding requires more planning and finesse than a single-culture wedding. Not only is it important to blend customs and traditions – it also requires a deeper understanding of cultural nuances such as family dynamics and what is considered appropriate (and inappropriate) behavior at weddings.


Here are our top 10 tips!

Know that this is your wedding. Be confident in your decisions! You may not be able to make everyone 100% happy, but your families will appreciate your efforts and intentions. At the end of the day, they’ll be thrilled when they see you walking down the aisle!

Educate each other and your families on important cultural traditions, customs and what is considered appropriate behavior at weddings. Discuss expectations; communicate openly, respectfully and often. You may even want to consider pre-marital counseling to help you dive into this important area of your lives.

Make a short-list of customs and traditions that are meaningful to you, or that you think your family and guests would enjoy. Once this is done, it’s easier to think about how and when to incorporate them into your wedding.

Don’t try to incorporate too much at once. You don’t need to include every tradition from all the cultures in your family. If the cultures you’re combining are drastically different, consider incorporating one or the other into different parts of your wedding. To honor both South Asian and Hispanic cultures, for example, you could host a mehndi party after your rehearsal dinner and incorporate the lasso tradition in your ceremony.

Courtesy of  Capturing the Light
Photography (Toronto)
Consider honoring both ethnic and religious customs in your ceremony. Some officiants and religious leaders are open to conducting joint ceremonies. They can also work with you to incorporate ethnic customs. To honor Korean culture in a Catholic ceremony, for example, you could discuss incorporating elements of a kunbere, like sipping wine poured by the mother of the bride, with your priest.

Be creative in incorporating culture into your attire and food as these are two of the strongest sensory elements your guests will experience. To incorporate Japanese and Italian cultures, for example, a bride or groom may choose to wear a traditional wedding kimono during the ceremony and serve a family style Italian meal of their favorite dishes at the reception.

Consider a modern twist on old traditions to make it truly yours. A Chinese tea pouring ceremony is traditionally held at the home of the bride and groom’s parents prior to the ceremony. However, if it’s important for your guests to experience this tradition, why not incorporate it into your reception as an extension of your cake cutting?

Choose venues that will allow for the customs you’ve chosen to honor. You’ll want to ensure your venue can accommodate structures like a mandap or huppah if required for your ceremony. And if a traditional Greek Kalamatianos dance is a must at your reception, you’ll want to ensure the venue allows amplified music. Don’t forget that religious centers may even have specific rules and/or required classes.

Explain cultural traditions to your guests. If you’re having a multicultural wedding, chances are you’ll have guests who are familiar with one culture, but not the other, and guests who are not familiar with either culture. Consider explaining the significance of traditions in your programs, on your menus, or by asking your MC to make an announcement. Your guests will appreciate it and feel more involved.

Be yourself. Cultural traditions and customs are important, but don’t forget to let your personalities shine through. Wedding location, colors, specific food dishes, song selection and stationery are just a few of the simple ways you can personalize your wedding. It’s your big day so make sure it reflects you!

Happy planning!
Hannah & Tria / Honey & Twine