Ethnic Fusion/Non-denominational Weddings

Courtney and Jamit Dhaliwal, courtesy of Winnipeg based LuckyGirl Photography

Perhaps a random topic to some, but I know this issue has come up more than once even amongst my girlfriends. I grew up with friends from a variety of cultures, some raised strictly traditional and other vibrantly liberal. Still, it didn’t stop us from mixing, and it was just one of those amazing miracles that, sixty years ago, would have been cause for socio-political alarm. But anywhere you go in the country, you have to accept (and, of course, love to death) that mixed-race couples have become an increasingly visible and normal aspect to the Canadian landscape.

However, even though the social perspective of it has shifted, it doesn’t make the ceremony planning any less difficult, especially if either family is very traditional or bride or groom puts a great deal of importance on their faith or culture. But it’s not just the type of religion that is put into question here—what if one of the partners is agnostic? Atheist? What if they are strictly against having a ceremony that is remotely religious or cultural whatsoever? Is there room to compromise? 

Hopefully, if it’s an important topic on either side, you’ve already discussed this wayyy before you decided to tie the knot. But I do know that, still, even if you have, it can continue to be a source of contention when it comes down to deciding the focal point of the day: the ceremony. 
Just take a deep breath. Relax. Here are a few tips to keep it together, and to do it prairie style.

1.       Whose wedding is it again?

       This wedding is about you and your future partner. Plain and simple. If either one of you does not feel comfortable having a traditional wedding, or if those around you are uncomfortable with a religious/cultural ceremony, do not feel pressured into ‘performing’ on the behalf of others. Whatever the case may be, remember to personalize your wedding and tailor it to what’s important to you. Live rock band taking you down the aisle to The Sweetest Thing by U2? Go for it. Having a reading or two from Corinthians during the mass? Do it. Going the fabulous route complete with henna and three day ceremony? Though I’m in no way trying to promote an ignorance to the wishes of family and close friends, always keep in mind the people whose beliefs the ceremony should always fit: yours.

2.       Take turns

       One of the easiest ways to handle a mixed union wedding is to focus on one culture or faith during the ceremony, and the other at the reception. Both are equally important, especially for involving your family and friends. 

3.       Inspiration

       Looking for inspiration to spice it up? Look to your unique culture for ideas and incorporate some tradition with some modern takes on certain aspects. Do you speak a different language? Maybe include it in your program or invite somehow. Hire a band specific to the culture or faith represented (choir singers, Celtic fiddlers, Indian folk singers—you name it, they exist!). Make the ceremony decor reflect the colours or even flowers of your cultures. Shake it up! Involve your family and guests too, and show them how proud you are of your cultural or faith-based identities.
1.       Plan it!
        And if it is getting extremely overwhelming, turning overjoyed into ordeal, help is close at hand with a variety of wedding planners at your disposal. My personal favourites in Winnipeg are Events by Emma or Bodas Savvy Weddings.

Above all of these though my lovely brides and grooms: enjoy. You’re fusing lives here, and culture, religion, or even the lack of it is an integral part of who you are. Always remember to make it yours, make it happy, and own it!

Now tell me all you out there in prairie blog-land: are you planning a mixed faith/culture ceremony? A non-denominational one? How are you going about planning and what kind of barriers are you facing? Suggestions for where to go to find officiants? Talk to us in the comments below!

♥ Miss Bee

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