Photo Credit: NDTV
The early days of last December were dominated by a singular event fashion followers and celebrity tabloid readers alike were unable to miss: the long anticipated nuptials of Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra. The five day extravaganza that launched a thousand Vogue articles shed light on a rarely visited topic that is proving to be a complication for more and more young couples (Vogue). In our modern world of globalization, differing religions and cultures are increasingly being brought together in the weddings of a globally connected generation. Knowing how to navigate the union of two seemingly different cultures, religions, or identities should be a reality for planners and hopefuls alike.
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The matrimonial union of two people is one of the most personal and intimate experiences a person can have in their lifetime. However, it is typically not just the coming together of two people, but also the identities, families, cultures, and beliefs they bring with them. The greater the difference in any of these factors, the more complicated ceremony planning can become. Following are a few tips to consider when planning interfaith or intercultural weddings.
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Time is your friend
Marriage in all forms is one of life’s largest commitments and should receive thorough consideration. Wedding ceremonies reflect this in the months long planning process they typically call for. For couples of differing faiths this time can be a crucial tool towards ensuring a ceremony that reflects your relationship. Deciding the best course of action should come from numerous and in depth conversations with each other, family, as well as spiritual and marital advisors. Both individuals in the couple should feel represented in the ceremony and taking the time to thoroughly examine what is important to you and your partner. The Knot suggests this time take the form of a long engagement, stretching to a year or longer. However it may look, be sure that adequate time is taken to have those important conversations.
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An important factor in achieving a ceremony that reflects the values of both individuals is being sure those values are understood and respected by both parties. It is important to have a thorough understanding of the belief system and culture of your partner and their family. Enroll in courses on each other’s religion and culture, meet with spiritual leaders, and spend time with family familiarizing yourselves with traditions and values (The Knot). Understand the stories and beliefs behind your partner’s traditions and customs so that you can assist in your own family’s understanding as well as truly appreciate the meaning they hold. Being as educated as you can about each other’s beliefs and customs will bring a respectful tone to the planning.
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Be open minded and unafraid to get creative
The solution that ensures a successful and happy ceremony might be an unconventional one. In fact, it probably will be. New and creative approaches can help ensure that everyone’s values and customs are addressed. Not everyone is able to swing a five day event, but many couples opt for two separate ceremonies in the traditions of each religion or culture (Brides). Alternatively, incorporating different traditions into one ceremony can create a unique and touching experience for everyone. Being open minded to swaying from a singular idea of tradition is crucial to ensuring everyone’s values are honored.
Photo Credit: India Today
Utilize family relations
Family is an important part of all weddings, as two come together to form a new one. In interfaith or intercultural marriages, this new family might be the single common interest the other two share. That is why it is important to capitalize upon this familial relation, so as to facilitate genuine relations between the two. Visit each other’s families early and often, incorporating the in-law into the family dynamic and customs (The Knot). Bring both families together early and often. Encourage social interaction and cultural exchange. This can assist in keeping the inevitable decisions and compromises that will have to be made, smooth and civil. Allowing everyone’s voice and expectations to be heard ensures that ceremony will best honor both parties.
Photo Credit: The Cut
Begin considering officiation early
Of all the details that go into weddings, nothing is perhaps more religious than the officiation of the ceremony. Who officiates the exchanging of the vows often depends on the religion and culture the wedding is taking place in. When a wedding is uniting two religious or cultural groups, this position is often the hardest to fill. Common responses range from having two officiators, one for each religion, to having a mutually admired friend or family member officiate a spiritually ambiguous ceremony. Religious leaders who specialize in interfaith ceremonies are available as well as secular officiants (The Tablet).
Photo Credit: The Indian Express
Keep it personal
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, in all the effort towards honoring religious belief, cultural tradition, and pleasing expectant parents do not let the ceremony lose its most important aspect: the couple (The Knot). At the end of the day a wedding should reflect the identity of the couple first, and everything else second. Do not let your values be subjugated to the expectations of others, and be honest and forthcoming about your desires for the ceremony. Honoring religious and cultural tradition is a beautiful and important part of matrimony, but celebrating love is a wedding’s chief purpose. Reflecting this love in the ceremony is the most important goal in planning a wedding, and should remain a priority of all involved.
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