10 Tips for Planning an Interfaith or Multicultural Wedding

10 Tips for Planning an Interfaith or Multicultural Wedding

Navigating Religion, Cultural Traditions, & Marriage in the Modern Age

There’s an essence of beauty and power in the union of religions and cultures in the name of love. Together you’re creating something unique and new. When it comes to saying “I do,” addressing religion and culture should happen before the big day. Whether you’re blending religions, cultures, or both, understanding each other's faith and culture will be the foundation of your marriage.

Your wedding day is a bite-size sample of the rest of your life. What will compromise look like? How will you encourage and celebrate each other's faith and culture? What kind of traditions will your family have? It can be tricky to navigate this unknown territory, so we’ve got 10 tips to help you plan your interfaith and multicultural wedding as a team.

1. Navigate the role of religion/culture in your marriage. 

First and foremost, have an open conversation with each other about beliefs and traditions that are important to each of you. What do you both expect to incorporate into your daily lives? What religious and cultural practices will you continue to observe when you have a family? Are both partners going to be attending religious events and actively practicing? What do you expect from each other as spouses and as parents? It’s good to identify these values early on so you can discuss possible issues, compromises, and non-negotiables, and most of all, plan your future together. 

Jewish Wedding Traditions
Photo courtesy of Gianni di Natale (Left), Andrew & Jade (Right)


2. Choose what’s important to each of you.

Your wedding should be a reflection of your common values as a couple. This is just one of the many areas that you and your significant other will have to talk through. Two different people committing to each other are bound to have different life experiences, but together you can find the space where you both exist and want to grow. Your union is about you. Get comfortable with voicing what matters to you. Think about what you want, not what your parents want. Of course, for many, parental and familial expectations are important. Figure out how you and your partner can honor your roots, while still being authentic to yourselves and your marriage. Maybe that means incorporating some absolute must-have traditions from each culture/religion but not all. It will look different for everyone, and that’s okay.

3. Be transparent with parents and family.

Start an open dialogue with family early on. Share what your partner's religion is and what cultural traditions they practice. If you or your partner is converting to the other’s religion, let your family know as soon as you can to alleviate possible problems and awkwardness later. Spend time with both families and learn what’s important to them. Let both families know what traditions you’re thinking about doing for your wedding, even if it's intimidating. Having this open conversation will allow both families to learn about each other and become more open to the idea of new traditions.  

Cultural Wedding Ceremony
Photo courtesy of Heather Kincaid


4. Have one blended ceremony.

Consider having the best of both worlds! Fusion weddings are so special and really showcase cultural and religious celebrations. Depending on the venue, you can include officiants of both faiths. Incorporate multiple outfit changes that celebrate both cultures. You may pick and choose the most important traditions of each faith and culture and organize them into one unified reception and ceremony so each can have a moment to shine. This will be a great way to represent each of you and your families. 

Pro Tip: Although weddings can vary depending on religion and culture, a wedding is a wedding, and across all cultures, there are similar traditions, simply done differently. So with this in mind, find similarities in tradition, and organize your traditions to coincide.

5. Or, have two ceremonies.

If having a completely traditional wedding is important for both of you, choosing two ceremonies and receptions can be a great fit. Identity and tradition can remain strong and each person and their family get to celebrate in the way they always envisioned. Ceremonies can last several days, be in different countries, or follow any format that works to best exemplify your cultures. 

6. Pick a venue that aligns with your fusion wedding.

Oftentimes, religious venues have restrictions based on faith. For example, most Mormon temples only allow Mormon people to enter. While some places of worship won’t allow readings or officiants from other religions. You’ll want to choose a venue that respects your marital vision and allows for the union of two different religions, or non-traditional ceremonies

Traditional Indian Wedding
Photo courtesy of Jessica Kettle Photography


7. Pick one or multiple officiants.

If you’re having one combined wedding, choosing two officiants may be the perfect way to reflect both religious practices. Whether it’s a monk, a rabbi, a priest, a minister, a close family member, or a friend, make sure that they're aware of the interfaith and multicultural aspects of the wedding ceremony. There are many progressive religious officiants that help modern-day couples, you just have to find the right ones. For example, for those that are Jewish, Rabbi Barry Tuchman does interfaith, non-denominational, LQBTQ, and alternative wedding ceremonies. Rabbi David S. Grubber is also committed to interfaith weddings and bringing Jewish traditions alive while incorporating other faiths and traditions. He's open to co-officiating with a priest, minister, etc.  

8. Incorporate cultural traditions.

Attire, traditional activities, and food can be the easiest way to incorporate your religion and culture. If you’re unsure about certain traditions, do your research. Educating ourselves is a big part of multiculturalism. Consider including some of the traditions below.

Traditional Dress & Accessories: Kippah, Yarmulkas, Native headdresses, leis, henna, bindis, kimonos, rosaries, the color red, Phoenix wax candles, Aso- Ebi, etc. 

Scripture & Readings: Quran and Hadith scripts, hymns, Torah readings, Christian Bible verses, poems, Buddhist Sutras, chants, Hindu Vedas, etc. 

  • Signing the ketubah
  • Challah Blessing
  • Vows under the chuppah
  • Breaking the glass
  • Dancing the Hora
  • Sapthapadi 
  • Jumping the broom
  • Exchanging Hindu mangalya
  • Puja
  • Blowing the Pū
  • Exchanging and eating kola nuts 
  • Exchanging leis
  • Mass
  • Wedding lasso rosary 
  • The sand ceremony 
  • Hair combing ceremony 
The Hora
Photo courtesy of Light Walkers


9. Make your own traditions!

Who's to say you can’t have it all? You can have traditional elements from your religions and cultures incorporated into a modern-day wedding. Maybe you want modern elements with hints of cultural significance. You may wear a traditional white wedding gown, but also wear your grandmother’s native jewelry. Maybe you want modern vows with a traditional ring exchange. There are so many combinations that you can respectfully explore. You and your significant other can create new traditions together. You don’t have to go by the book. Be creative and have fun with making your wedding day your own. You could create a completely new tradition that incorporates both people that will be passed on for generations! 

10. Communicate ceremony and reception expectations to all vendors and planners.

Once you’ve decided what traditions to incorporate, make sure everyone that's a part of the planning and execution process is aware of every tradition you are and aren’t including. This will minimize issues and ensure everyone feels seen and respected. Are there specific foods that certain guests can’t eat due to religious or cultural reasons? Will there be a release of doves or lanterns? Does the DJ or band know when you’re doing a traditional dance? 

Gospel Choir
Photo courtesy of Patrick Moyer


Although an interfaith and multicultural wedding may have its challenges, it’s certainly worth it. Your perfect union will be one to remember!


 

Hero photo courtesy of Annie Elizabeth Photography

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