Real Wedding: Family Backyard Fun in Potomac, Maryland (Part 3)

28 10 2010

Yes, we’ve been MIA. This wedding season has been crazy but we wanted to finish the story of Jessica and Bill’s wedding. Go back to Part 1 for the intro and Part 2 for Style Overview.

I have to admit theirs was one of my favorite ceremonies. Working with officiant, they put together a ceremony that was very inclusive of both families, having them participate in many parts of the ceremony. To me, this represented more of the Asian cultures where a wedding is more about the joining of two families than of two people.

Chinese Tea Ceremony: Prior to beginning the ceremony, Bill and Jessica performed the Chinese tea ceremony, offering tea to the elders in their families as a sign of respect, in exchange for some words of wisdom.

Chinese tea ceremony backyard wedding Potomac

Photo: Kate Hauschka

Ringing of the Bells: Just prior to the processional, Bill and Jessica’s nephews and cousins rang bells to signal the beginning of the ceremony. It is a tradition in many cultures to make some noise at weddings.  The old traditions of noise at weddings are because it was said that the noise scared away any evil spirits that might do harm to the couple or to their marriage.

bell ringers  wedding ceremony children backyard Potomac

Photo: Kate Hauschka


Water & Fire:  As part of the processional, 2 of Bill and Jessica’s nieces and cousins, carried 2 small jugs of water. Then the two mothers poured from each of the small jugs into a larger vessel. Then the two fathers along with Jessica and Bill performed the Unity Candle ceremony. Both of these rituals symbolizing the joining of two families

unique water ceremony wedding backyard Potomac

Photo: Kate Hauschka

Bread, Salt & Wine: In Ukrainian tradition, the presentation of bread and salt is a traditional way of offering greetings on special occasions. Their parents presented Bill and Jessica with bread, salt, and wine. The bread represents the parents’ hope that their children will never experience hunger or need, and the salt reminds the couple that their life may be difficult at times and they must learn together to cope with life’s
struggles. With the wine, the parents hope that they will never thirst and that they will have a life of good health and cheer and share the company of many good friends.

Family Blessing: At the end of the ceremony, the officiant again invited both sets of parents and siblings to place their hands on the bride and groom to offer their blessings.

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

Real Wedding: Karen & David Part 2

12 05 2008

I though Karen did a great job personalizing her wedding. She did it in such a way that wasn’t about throwing a bunch of knickknacks together from bridal magazine. What she did took some introspection.

The more obvious, physical items reflected Karen’s Chinese heritage. The double happiness symbol was found on the invitations, ceremony programs and menus. Karen wore 3 different dresses (a white wedding gown, a Chinese qi pao, and a fuschia evening gown). Finally, the favors of chocolate covered fortune cookies were inside a mini bamboo steamers.

I thought the more thoughtful and more subtle touches reflected David’s German heritage. The ceremony music were all by German composers: Johann Pachebel’s Canon, Bridal Chorus by Wagner and Ode to Joy by Beethoven. Their first dance was a waltz. Finally, several dishes had German influences: potato pancakes with apple and braised red cabbage and the red beet bamboo steamers with chocolate covered fortune cookie; pink cherry blossom and double happiness on menu cards, ceremony programs, disposable camera, table marker

Real Wedding: Karen & David Part 1

9 05 2008

Karen & David's wedding collageVenue: Atrium at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Floral Design: Petals Edge. I *love* the work they do. They always bring their A game. Incorporating the pink color scheme and the Asian aesthetics, Gerry came up with two different arrangement for centerpieces (top row, left and center). One of the arrangements is a potted phalaenopsis orchid in a silver square pot which I’ve never seen used before in such a simple yet effective way. She also made the cutest flower girl basket I have ever seen (bottom row center)!

Catering: Fusions Cuisine is another one of my favorites, Fusions Cuisine did a masterful job of developing a vegetarian menu for the evening. Yes! A vegetarian menu as the mother of the bride is Buddhist and they all agreed that it would be a healthy and unique way to go. Although I was skeptical at first, I must say that the food was delicious and Chef Thompson prepared the best beet salad ever and I don’t even like beets.

Ceremony Music: Jeanne Calderon, pianist from Bialek’s Music (middle row right). Wonderful. She worked really well with the violinist and soloist who were both friends of the couple.

Reception Music: DJ Chris Roorda from ThePros. A neutral rating here. He kept the dance floor pretty packed and was amenable to playing some Chinese music. He did forget the mother/son dance and had to send his assistant out to buy a CD at the mall.

Videography: Crystal Video. David Chen was very professional and unobtrusive. Since he was only doing raw footage, I cannot attest to what finished videos look like.

Cake: Fluffy Thoughts. Lara did a beautiful 3-tiered square cake with a cherry blossom design (bottom row left). Lara stayed for quite a while after delivering the cake to do additional touch ups. The only issue I had with the cake was that it looked like David & Karen had trouble getting the knife through the fondant and the one layer I tasted was a bit crumbly.