How to add a cultural touch to a traditional wedding

Tahsin Imam, event planner and owner of Snazzy Soiree in Ashburn, has a knack for incorporating cultural touches into today’s wedding styles. Here she spotlights a few ways to honor multicultural marriage while making your wedding a one-of-a-kind experience.

The Look: The beauty of multicultural weddings is the variety and multitude of colors that are incorporated into every aspect of the celebration. While most traditional brides do choose a white wedding gown, the sky is the limit when it comes to the color of the rest of your wedding day wardrobe. Be creative and choose whichever color best suits you and your wedding day theme. If you are comfortable wearing a gown, then chose red or any color that matches your theme.

 For over five thousand years henna has been a symbol of good luck, health and sensuality in the Arab world and South Asia. Generations of women have used a paste made primarily of dried ground henna leaves to cover their hands and feet with designs ranging from simple blobs to intricate geometric patterns to promote fertility and attract good energy. While South Asian brides wear henna with sarees, many traditional American brides wear it with their white gowns. The look is unique and a wonderful way to combine cultures.

Accessories and details in your makeup can go a long way in adding a South Asian touch to your Western wedding attire. Try a statement necklace or earrings that will add some bling to your white wedding gown, or add a glittery bindi (a design on the forehead) to your bridal makeup. A large veil over your wedding gown will look just like a traditional dupatta. And don’t be afraid to take a look at South Asian outfits that have a fusion touch. Long dresses and lenghas in white or shades of cream are perfect substitutes for the bride who wants a white wedding gown with some South Asian flair.

For Décor: Douse your reception space in shades of red and gold if you want to add a Chinese touch. Hang hundreds of large, round red paper lanterns from the ceiling. Mix in red rice-paper parasols hung upside-down (chandelier-style), and center the room by hanging an attention-grabbing dragon kite over the dance floor. Have red place cards, in the shape of fortune cookies, set on red rectangular napkins. For something less traditional, think buttery yellow centerpieces, creamy ivory tablecloths, and a spot of black chopsticks and black chair cushions. The look is regal and elegant. Or, go pretty with lavender. Integrate black ink-drawn Chinese characters and symbols onto pale purple place cards, menu cards, and favors.

South Asian wedding décor requires a stage/mandap with lots of colors in the back drop and fresh flowers. The mandap is the location and focus of Hindu wedding ceremonies.  Extravagantly decorated with flowers and tapestries, its four pillars represent the four holy Vedic scriptures and the parents whose love supports the newlyweds.  The groom and his family’s arrival (also called Baraat) to the wedding site is given a fanfare not normally seen in the stereotypical American wedding. Traditionally, the groom arrives on a white mare, led by his relatives dancing and singing to joyful music. A white limousine is sometimes supplemented in a modern wedding. When they arrive, the bride’s family may present the groom’s parents garlands of flowers and gifts. Turmeric is a recurring element in Indian weddings. Admired for its beautifying and cleansing qualities, tumeric is used in rituals.

Fusion weddings & food: A marriage of two cultures is not only seen in the event décor, it can also be found in the reception menu. After all, food is an integral part of any culture. Here are a few ways to fuse the traditional Hindu-Indian and Christian-Western wedding traditions.

 * Choose a wide variety of dishes with both local and Indian flavors.

* The idea is to offer all guests flavors they are comfortable with but also allow them to try something new.

* Your caterer can help you select a menu that is creative yet cohesive. For couples that want to offer traditional meals from both heritages, you might consider separate buffets.

To learn more about Snazzy Soiree and to schedule a consultation with Tahsin, call (571) 332-8135 or email her. And put her multi-cultural bridal open house on your calendar.


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