Incorporating Cultural Traditions in Your Wedding

28 04 2010

We often work with brides and grooms that come from different cultural backgrounds and they want to incorporate their individual traditions into their wedding in some form. However, we have also seen the  challenges that this desire can create, sometimes resulting in undue stress and even friction between the families. Here are some tips and thoughts from what we have learned from our clients.

Determine which cultural wedding traditions you want to incorporate. If you are not familiar with the wedding traditions associated with your ethnic background, consult your relatives. While you can do some research on the internet to get an overview, it is best to ask your relatives because traditions can vary even amongst different regions of a country. For example, with Hindu weddings, there are subtle differences between northern and southern Indian ceremonies and even variations depending on the Hindu priest. When my husband and I got married, I was familiar with Chinese wedding traditions but did not know the details of each step. So, my Mom sent me a written translation of those steps, which really helped us decide which steps would be appropriate for us to incorporate.

Discuss with parents. This is one area that I feel can benefit from working in conjunction with your parents. Their input can be important. The cross generational understanding of what certain traditions are about and how they are to be perform may differ between you and your parents, especially if you and your fiance are of different ethnic or religious background and if you want to incorporate both sides, as well as some standard Western wedding elements. It’s best to talk about it openly in detail early on.  Is it acceptable to modify certain traditions? You might be surprised that it may not be acceptable to the families. After all, the wedding is suppose to be about the joining of families, so doing something that can be viewed as offensive to one side or the other because of religion or culture might not be a good way to start.

When and how will you incorporate the selected wedding traditions? Is it something that your guests would enjoy? Would it be better done in private or on another day? When my husband and I got married, we performed the Chinese tea ceremony after our Catholic ceremony – in private. We did it before all the guests arrived at the reception venue. I consulted with my Mom and she felt that it was more respectful to do it in private. On the other hand, my best friend from high school incorporated the tea ceremony into her reception so that all the guests may share in the experience [see photo below. I’m the bridesmaid on the right].

Chinese tea ceremony

Photo by Brett Matthews Photography

Will your guests understand what is happening? If not, you may consider having some written or have a MC describe what is happening. My husband and I attended an Afghani/Pakistani wedding not too long ago. The bride and groom performed wedding rituals which we had no idea what they were all about and it went on for a long time.  While it was interesting to observe, it would have been more enjoyable if we knew what was going on. A few weeks ago, our client had a Hindu ceremony. While a program was provided to the guests so they could follow along, for the first time, the Hindu priest actually explained each ceremonial step he performed, which made it so much more meaningful to the guests. Normally, the priest speaks in Hindi only.

How long with it take? How elaborate are the set up for the tradition?  One of our clients wanted to perform the traditional Korean Pae Bek ceremony during her reception. While we really enjoy having the guests participate and learn about the ritual, it took 30-45 minutes to set up all the items needed and for the bride and groom to change into their Korean outfits. The venue was also not ideal for such an elaborate set up, and would have worked out better if it could have been done in another larger room.

Korean pae bek ceremony

Photo by Love Life Images






Brides Against Breast Cancer Baltimore

12 04 2010

Brides Against Breast Cancer Charity Wedding Gown Sale is back in Baltimore!

Marriott Hunt Valley 245 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21031

VIP Night – Mini Bridal Show with Gown Sale

Thursday, May 6 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

$40 Bride Admission; $20 Guest Admission  Space is Limited Order Your Tickets Here Today!

General Sale – Free Admission
Friday, May 7 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 8 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Contact Allison Caudle for more information
We have volunteered at the DC/Northern Virginia ones in the past and this is a great cause! Check out photos here and here. Vicky




Real Wedding: Classic Fall in Arlington (Part 2)

7 04 2010
”]Gorgeous view from the Washington Golf & Country Club patio

Go back to Part 1.

Ceremony: Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Luckily, we were just at Holy Trinity earlier in the year so we have become familiar with the church. Funny moment: some Georgetown students were across the street from the church and saw the groom and groomsmen and invited them over to what seemed like a keg party. Fortunately, the guys knew better.

Reception Venue: Washington Golf and Country Club. [Molly Jones] We have not worked at Washington Golf and Country since 2006. You either need to be a member or be sponsored by a member to have your event here. Molly is great to work with and made our jobs very easy.

Photographer: Rob Holley.

Floral Designer: Growing Wild Floral Company (Barbara von Elm)

Band: BS&M (booked through Sam Hill) While this was not necessarily a huge dancing crowd, the band sounded great and had great energy without being cheesy. They apparently play at the Club a lot.

Baker: Fluffy Thoughts (Lara Stuckey) Beautiful and deliciously moist.

Rentals: Party Rental (linens) and A Grand Event (outdoor heaters). For a late fall wedding, it was a great idea to have the heaters on the back patio because the guests were able to spend much of the evening enjoying the view. A Grand Event was great to work with that I used them for both our November events.

Favors: Historical Chocolate Company. Chocolate version of the Capitol dome, appropriate for a groom who works on the Hill.

Invitations: Haute Papier. I wish I have a photo of it. It was a beautiful taupe color paper with a gold swirl pattern similar to the one on the wedding cake.

Videography: Thomas Bowen Films [Joe] A last minute decision to capture the day since one of the grandparents could not be there. Something to think about if you are in a similar situation.

Makeup artist: Tica Beauty [Marti] I thought all the makeup looked really great and I liked that Marti does a makeup chart for each of her clients so that she knows exactly the colors to use on the wedding day. See photo below.

”]Tica Beauty Makeup chart”]Vicky Choy DC Wedding planner





New Wedding Guest Tip: What to do with a Wedding Invitation

5 04 2010

Survive Wedding Season

Our third Expert Tips article on Survive Wedding Season is up! This time, we wrote about what to do when you receive an invitation. Follow these tips and your friends will think you are the best wedding guest ever!

Our other articles included:

To Bring A Date Or Not To Bring A Date That Is The Question That Is Not Up To You Wedding Guest,” addressing how to handle single wedding guests.

Hindu Wedding Rituals

What other topics would you like us to tackle? Email us with your ideas! — Vicky





Sticky Finger Bakery: Yummy Vegan & Gluten-Free Cakes

1 04 2010

Sticky Fingers Bakery is a great alternative for those looking for vegan (without eggs or dairy products) and gluten-free baked goods such as cake, cupcakes and cookies. In the name of research, I recently had the opportunity to sample their cakes to see what vegan and gluten-free cakes taste like and to meet Kamber Sherrod, the cake decorator.

While Kamber said that their most popular flavor is the vanilla cake with almond buttercream, my favorite was the Gluten Free chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. Apparently, the vegan chocolate cake recipe was a modification of one developed during wartime, when people couldn’t afford to get eggs and milk. The cakes are denser, tasted moist and I found them to be a perfect level of sweetness. The strawberry buttercream is made of freshly pureed strawberries and is to die for! Each layer of cake is made of 3 layers of cake and 2 layers of frosting. Kamber also make sugar flowers for the cakes that are just gorgeous.

Kamber explained that they use soy products to replace the dairy ingredients like soymilk and soy-based margarine. With baking being such a scientific process, she experimented with the various ratios of ingredients until the result was a cake that taste just as good a dairy-based cake. Sticky Fingers also strives to be environmentally conscious. They use a Zipcar to deliver their cakes, minimize packaging whenever possible, and use recycled materials for packaging.

Sticky Fingers Vegan Cakes Gluten Free Cakes

sticky fingers vegan and gluten free cakes

Above: The one on the right is the vanilla with almond buttercream – most popular flavor.

Sticky Fingers Vegan Cakes Gluten Free CakesAbove: The one on the left is the Gluten Free chocolate that was my favorite. See the sugar flowers surrounding the platter.

Sticky Fingers Vegan Cakes Gluten Free Cakes

Above: Far one is the pureed fresh strawberry frosting. So yummy.
Sticky Fingers Vegan Cakes Gluten Free Cakes sugar flowers
Kamber’s sugar flowers.
Check out their website for more photos! Enjoy, Vicky