Combining different traditions, cultures, and religions into a single wedding can sometimes be a difficult and complicated task. This is true for couples who wish to combine Indian and Western traditions into their big day. However, it is not impossible. Keep in mind these suggestions as you plan your “fusion” wedding:
- Focus on what’s important to you. You may not be able to incorporate every single aspect of each matrimonial tradition into your celebration. As you begin the process of deciding how your wedding day and ceremony will look, remember to prioritize your and your fiancee’s preferences first. You will hear from lots of family and friends about how to do things, and while their input is valuable, in the end it is YOUR wedding.
- We’re not so different, you and me. When you first begin planning, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by how different your two cultures and religions can seem. But if you look closely, you’ll see that there are many similarities and analogs between the two that you can take advantage of to create a unique fusion. For example, three of the main elements of both Indian and Western wedding ceremonies are largely the same: the blessing of the ceremony and the couple by god; the exchange of promises by the couple; and the exchange of objects (garlands, rings) by the couple to memorialize the marriage.
- Let’s get together. It’s common practice among most cultures to separate the “bride’s side” and the “groom’s side” during events, e.g., seating during the ceremony. While well-intentioned, this can create some awkwardness for guests and diminish the festive atmosphere. For “combined culture” weddings, we suggest disposing of this tradition and mixing guests of each family together. We’ve noticed that this is a great way to “break the ice” for guests who might otherwise spend the entire reception on separate sides of the dancefloor!
- Share the mic. As cross-cultural marriages first began to become more common, couples often solved the problem by essentially getting married twice: separate days and ceremonies for each wedding. This is time-consuming, expensive, and detracts from the message of a “merging of families” that every wedding should be. We’ve seen couples have beautiful, combined ceremonies by having officiant’s from each religion perform the ceremony together. It may sound difficult, but if you start planning early and initiate a good dialogue between the officiants, you will see that it can actually be quite seamless (see #2 above)!
- Watch your language. Consider hiring or asking family members to provide translations of significant parts of the ceremony or ceremonies so that all guests can understand. You have invited your guests to bear witness to your wedding ceremony–make sure they understand what they’re witnessing!