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3 Tips for Your Fun Multicultural Wedding (from a Multicultural Married Man)

The San Francisco-San Jose, CA Bay Area is one of the most diverse regions in the United States.  People come from all over to work in technology, real estate and several other big industries. You know, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Apple have made the Silicon Valley the Mecca for technology development.  Growing up in the San Jose area, over two decades ago it was common to connect with people from Mexican, African-American, Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipino, European, Multi-racial (like me) and countless number of people from all over the world.

Now, let’s look at the numbers… (and see why this is important, our Bay Area World…and this might apply in your part of the world too) …In April 2019, Wallet Hub, in their national study of diversity and commerce confirms what we see; noting Oakland as Number 1 for Racial and Ethnic Diversity, San Jose Number 2 in Linguistic Diversity and Number 8 in Cultural Diversity.  Looking back, in 2015 Daly City ranked Number 2, and Sunnyvale Number 5 in place of birth diversity and Hayward Number 3, San Jose Number 6 and Santa Clara Number 9 in Ethno-Racial Diversity.  Living in a diverse area it is highly likely that we may find a life-partner, a wife or husband who is not like you.  I did, and I’m amazed by her (in a very happy way). If/when this happens to you how do you intertwine cultures together not only in life, but in a wedding and reception?  How do you create a celebration that considers your cultural differences and makes your family and friends comfortable?  Yes, pleasing everyone is almost unachievable, but you can set the scene for a beautiful, fun and memorable wedding reception that you and your guests will love.  Let me give you a few answers to this question you may be asking…  What an amazing opportunity to embrace the unending variety of cultures, food, language, music and celebration styles!

How do you celebrate differently? 

Discuss your cultural difference.  

Consider holidays. Make time to discuss and describe your differences. Better yet, attend each other’s family and/or cultural celebrations to get a firsthand experience of the difference.  Chat about what to expect before you and your future spouse attend your family and friends’ celebration and describe how the holiday and/or cultural party is celebrated.  Be curious and ask questions to get the best understanding.  Ask why this celebration is significant and understand the history of the celebration.  Ask what behaviors, jokes and/or gestures are acceptable and what to avoid.  Understand what customs are expected and understand, through chatting with you future spouse, if some of the behaviors, gestures and customs you do already (being yourself) would be embraced by you future in-laws.  Yes, you’re probably doing something awesome, right now, consider this confirmation and a reason why you were chosen as a life partner and I want you confirm it by asking.  After the event reflect on the celebration and talk openly about your experiences.  Consider attending local cultural events.  There’re several opportunities to attend local cultural events such as: San Jose’s Cherry Blossom Festival in San Jose’s Japantown (which has some great restaurants) or the annual Silicon Valley Irish Fleadh in downtown Mountain View or the Mountain View Portuguese Celebrate Holy Ghost Festival, which has been an 87-year custom in the Silicon Valley.  Even if the event is not from either or your cultures these events can break the ice for a cultural discussion (because both of you may not be familiar with the customs you’ll see…yes, it’ll give you a chance to be curious).

What type of customs and traditions would you like at your wedding?

Be genuine and open to compromise.  

Perhaps certain flowers are needed at the ceremony or a song in a native language.  Your family and friends might be looking for non-alcoholic drinks such as Jamaica or Horchata and the names of these drinks are a mystery to you (I just knew about Horchata…I didn’t know anything about Jamaica until my wedding reception…when I took just one drink I knew I’d been missing out).  There may be a mix of a western traditional wedding dress with a change into a Qipao, also known as a Cheongsam (one-piece red dress that often details an elaborate gold or silver design https://weddedwonderland.com/why-chinese-brides-wear-red-dresses/).  If you hadn’t realized how much influence your cultural background has on you, you’ll find out during the wedding preparation process.  

Perhaps, your family is expecting to celebrate for at least three days like in the Indian wedding tradition (https://www.theknot.com/content/hindu-wedding-guest-qa).  Your future spouses’ family and friends maybe expecting to hear a mix of Latin music from genres like Cumbia, Reggaeton, Bachata and Salsa (and the only style you’re used to is Salsa, which was about all I knew before marriage).  Perhaps there’s a Thai dance song that you don’ yet know about (because you haven’t chatted about it) that will draw people to the dance floor?  Yes, you both need to talk.  I can testify from my experience that you and your guests will benefit from your conversation.  I’ll go even further and say; your vendors will benefit from your conversations about your rich diverse backgrounds.  You will be more likely to know what you want because you have opened up and shared what’s important to you and what your family is used to seeing when they attend family events/weddings.  

Is there more I need to find in a vendor than just a product?  

Select Vendors Who are Curious to Your Needs.  

Get a Master of Ceremonies who is understanding and listens to the differences in your lives (okay, I’m hoping that’s me).  S/he should be able to make suggestions that would be appropriate for an intercultural event.  Don’t be alarmed if s/he wants to develop one of your ideas a bit more.  If your MC/DJ disagrees with an element of your vision, be curious and ask what s/he see that you might be missing.  When you’re looking for a caterer find one who is sensitive and actively remembers dietary restrictions and requests.  Your caterer should have some suggestions the make developing a dinner menu easy.   

Now, let’s talk about Entertainment again, (also know as DJs or Masters of Ceremonies).  Appropriate and well-timed announcements are one thing, music is an important element of the night.  Music can keep the crowd going or it can make your friends and family politely sneak out earlier than expected.  A critical question to ask is how this MC/DJ will keep a diverse room of my friends and family engaged and having fun.  It’s not an easy task, yet, it is doable.  You need to know how the MC/DJ will bring your personality out, understand your needs and help you understand what your guests will experience.  Get beyond the lowest price.   Ask questions that make you feel you have a great match with your caterer, florist, MC/DJ and venue.  I know you have a budget, but I want to make sure you have a great party, and a great party doesn't just happen; it's about skills and experience if you want a personable and memorable reception. I’ve heard numerous sad stories which people say, “I wish I hired you! I wish I knew what I needed and that I could have had a personalized event.”  There’re countless resources that can help you such as my blog Beyond Prices.  I want you to have an awesome celebration.  Yes, I’d love to work for you as your Wedding MC/DJ and if I sound like a potential match for your multicultural reception contact me today.

Becoming a couple means bringing two very different cultures together.  It begins with the challenge of compromising and yet experiencing a dynamic and unique wedding day.  Your wedding is the start of a new live together in a multicultural family.  I know it firsthand!  My wife and I live the experience every day and treat each moment as an opportunity to learn (even when were looking back on our frustrating moments which we didn’t understand).  If you took a guess, my wife comes from a Mexican American background…and I really love her family’s culture. I am Black, White and Native American.  I grew up with my mom’s family which is white, and learned about my African-American culture mostly from my church.   

 

It is my hope that my tips will help you set you both up for success with one of the most important parties in your lifetime journey together.  If you have any questions feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll get back with you. Share this blog with anyone it’d benefit.   

Blessings on your future together!  Sean 

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