There are so many components that come together to create the perfect wedding day, from a venue that speaks to the couple’s individuality and uniqueness to menu items that represent some of their shared tastes and preferences. However, one of the most important elements for many couples —as well as their families—is honoring their heritage, be it their religion, culture, ethnicity or nation of origin.
Weddings, by nature, are entrenched in history and tradition. “Like the coming of age, the birth of a child, or a death, weddings mark a big life change,” says Jamie Chang, owner and destination wedding planner at Mango Muse Events in Los Altos, California. “How a wedding operates and what is included is a function of these traditions and the culture of the people in an area—and that culture and tradition is mostly centered around ethnicity and religion.” These traditions get passed down from generation to generation and often serve as the foundation upon which members of the family say “I do.”
There are plenty of benefits of honoring your heritage on your wedding day—not only for your immediate and extended families, but also for you as a couple. For starters, it can add meaning and context to your wedding day, explains Diane Kolanović-Šolaja, Creative Director and owner of Dee Kay Events in Manalapan, New Jersey. “When you incorporate elements of your heritage into your wedding, it can give the day more meaning and context,” she says. “For example, if you’re of Irish descent and you choose to have a Celtic knot as part of your ceremony, it will add meaning to the day for both you and your guests.”
‘Celtic Love Knot’ Wedding Invites by Minted
Planning on having a Celtic knot as part of your ceremony? Think about incorporating it throughout your wedding invitations as well! Adorned with a real gold foil Celtic knot, this wedding invitation design by Kerry Doyle will give your guests a little “luck of the Irish.”
Honoring your heritage in your wedding is a way to pay homage to your culture, notes Anna Noriega, Miami-based planner and owner of Alorè Event Firm, and allow future generations to not lose those aspects of what made their culture and weddings unique. “Honoring family traditions pays respect to your ancestors and, in many cases, the parents who are paying for the wedding,” she says. “These traditions can be unique to you and your family and aside from being something to look forward to, it also creates a foundation for values and experiences.”
Another benefit of incorporating your heritage in your wedding is that it allows you to carry a little bit of history with you into your future marriage, notes Chang. “There is something special about including and honoring a tradition that generations of your family have done and in turn, will hopefully bless your union and give you good luck,” she says. “The tradition still should mean something to you personally, but incorporating it helps speak to where you came from and as that’s a part of who you are, it gets brought into your marriage and your future.”
Lastly, an unsuspecting perk of honoring your heritage on your wedding day is that it can make your wedding unique and special to you as a couple. “With so many couples opting for more modern weddings, incorporating your heritage into your wedding day can make it stand out from the rest,” adds Kolanović-Šolaja.
Needless to say, honoring your heritage is important to most couples getting married—even today by modern standards. If this is something you’re hoping to do on your big day, check out these expert suggestions for how to honor your heritage in every aspect of your wedding.
Your wedding invites will be the first introduction guests have to your big day, so it’s important to choose one that reflects not only your design aesthetic, but your heritage. Minted’s new line of cultural invitations has beautiful options for Chinese, Indian, Sangeet, and Mehndi weddings, as well as for tea ceremonies and more.
Perhaps the most traditional and time-honored way to infuse your heritage into your wedding day is during your ceremony. Of course, your entire ceremony doesn’t have to be centered around it—or even be religious, per se, but you can choose to include one or two elements that are, notes Chang. “You can even adapt or modernize it to fit your tastes,” she says. “Including an element of cultural significance in your ceremony is a nice way to both appease parents, but also honor your heritage—and doing it in your purposeful way (in whatever way that means to you), will also give it more meaning as you do it.”
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One simple way to honor your heritage on your wedding day is to incorporate traditional décor that is central to your culture. “This could include everything from the type of flowers you use in your centerpieces to the fabric you drape around your ceremony space,” says Kolanović-Šolaja. If at all possible, she encourages brides and grooms to try to attend a wedding of their culture and recommends taking note of the small details and then asking your own family and elders about each portion and the symbolism it represents. “Not only will you learn to incorporate these details in your wedding you’ll be on a journey through the stories of your ancestors.”
‘Beautiful Chuppah’ Wedding Invites by Minted
Minted’s new collection of cultural wedding invites features so many beautiful options that will help you honor your heritage, like the ‘Beautiful Chuppah’ design by Ana de Sousa.
Most cultures have certain elements of tradition that circle around what one typically wears to a wedding, be it the bride, groom, family members or guests. “If you’re Indian, for example, you might wear a sari; if you’re Chinese, you might wear a qipao,” says Kolanović-Šolaja. A great way to incorporate these symbolic elements of dress into your wedding is to coordinate a portrait session with you and your fiance in traditional garb to create photos to display around cocktail hour. “Your guests will love the ode to your culture and this will create a buzz and talking points at your wedding,” she says.
One of the most fun and creative ways to honor your heritage in your wedding is in your food menu. Every culture has certain spices and recipes that are unique—but one thing most of them share is that they are food for the soul, notes Chang. “Incorporating food items (or drinks too) that you love, that reminds you of home and family, is a great way to honor your heritage, because a big part of heritage is home and family and the cultural things you grew up with,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be the focus of your entire meal (or it can be) if that doesn’t make sense for you, it could just be an appetizer, a starter, a dessert or a late night snack—just don’t forget to include both of your cultures in some way so that you’re both represented.”
‘Amor’ Wedding Invites by Minted
This bold and beautiful design comes with matching menu cards that you can display at each guest’s seat to elevate their dining experience.
Whether it’s cultural music or a special song that’s played at an important moment, there are plenty of ways to bring a little heritage to the party. “It could be a special dance or dances that you perform or it could be bringing someone in to perform for you and your guests—or it could be a part of your photobooth,” says Chang. “The entertainment can be many things in many forms, but if it’s not something your guests are familiar with, explaining the significance to them so they understand and are included is a nice touch.”
Wedding favors are common across many cultures, including American, and they serve as an easy way to honor heritage. Not only is it a fun way to spread love, but it’s a great teaching opportunity, as it can serve to educate guests about a facet of your heritage, notes Chang. “If you’re from two different cultures, find a way to combine them or spread out your gifts so guests receive each item at a different time during the wedding,” she says.
Of course, it’s important to remember that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to incorporating heritage into your wedding day. A great expert tip for doing so, as recommended by Noriega, is to first figure out what means the most to you and then enlisting the help of good vendors who will work hard to find a way to make sure it’s incorporated into your special day.