Couples Who Honored Their Heritage

Meet six real-life couples who chose to honor their cultural heritage in their wedding ceremony. Get useful tips for honoring your unique cultural traditions on your big day.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionThe Couple: Anita Paryani and Michael Rice; The Location: Casa del Mar hotel, Santa Monica, CA

All About

Anita's story: "Our goal was to make our wedding fun and unique. We wanted the food to be great and the entertainment even better. We weren't afraid of color, we used oranges and hot pink. Our ceremony honored both my Indian heritage (Indian ceremony and attire) and my husband's Italian heritage (Italian food station and singing at the reception) to create a truly memorable event."


Her tips:

Have fun!: "We started the festivities by hosting a traditional henna party the day before at a local restaurant, the women all got henna tattoos, while the men sat at the bar and had drinks. The wedding itself began with a parade of sorts, with traditional bangra dancers and the priest followed by the groom on a horse and all of the wedding guests following behind, dancing. As Michael made his way around the hotel to the beach-side, strangers started joining in the procession. One of my cousins stole his shoe (Indian tradition) and in order to get it back Michael had to pay up, so we made sure he had lots of cash with him."

Ensure that guests from different backgrounds feel included and understand the traditional elements of the ceremony: "We provided each guest with a scroll that outlined the ceremony so they could follow along. The groom's Italian family all wore traditional Indian clothing, some bought their own and others borrowed from my family and they all got henna tattoos. The groom's mother and father were included in the ceremony by sitting alongside the bride’s parents on the mandap. The bridesmaids all had a great time dressing in traditional Indian saris, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The groomsmen also wore Indian outfits, they loved them because they are almost as comfortable as pajamas — beats wearing a tux! During the reception, we served a variety of food, Indian, Asian and Italian, so our guests had a choice. We also had belly dancers perform after dinner and before dancing. Because they were so attractive they managed to get the guys out on the dance floor!"

Don't forget to honor your spouse's heritage: "To make the wedding a truly memorable experience, we also incorporated traditions from the groom’s side, such as playing Italian music during the dinner hour, having his father sing 'The Wedding Song' during the ceremony, and doing a traditional cutting of the cake — of course I smashed the cake in the groom's face. We made sure the priest conducted the ceremony in both English and Sanskrit and kept the ceremony reasonably short, no more than hour, which is short by Indian standards. For the reception, I changed into a white dress. We also had all the children in the family walk down the aisle, so the kids felt really involved. By including both heritages, we had a wedding our guests will not forget!"