Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Mixed-culture culture shock at grand entrance

My fiance is first generation Armenian and I'm just run of the mill American. We are having a mixed cultural wedding. The ceremony itself will be more American than Armenian, but the reception will be about a 50/50 split. The thing I'm most worried about is our grand entrance and how my family will react. 

The plan is to start American, probably with Hall and Oats "You Make My Dreams Come True" when the parents and bridal party comes in. But then when it is our turn- it is going to turn full Armenian. Two musicians playing a wind instrument and drums will go in before us and we'll go out onto the dance floor dancing. There will be dancing for probably 10-20 minutes and then people will sit down and the party will start. 

It works kind of like this, but it usually goes for longer and more than just the bridal party jumps in (jump to 8:25 if it doesn't do it for you):

So anyways, I'm worried about how my family will react. I don't want them to feel alienated as my fiance's family jumps in. Additionally, most of my wedding party isn't Armenian, so we have to get them up to speed and I know it will be a little uncomfortable for them. That said, this is something that is very important to my fiance that we do, and his aunt has already booked the band. 

Are there any thoughts for how to cut back on the culture shock and encourage my family to take part? My thought was to have a quick dance lesson during the cocktail hour. Nothing too serious, just some sort of ice breaker. I'm also going to put a note on the program that we are marrying two cultures and that it will be reflected in the wedding.

As another note, 99% of my family has met Aren and they know about his culture so it's not like it is going to come out of left field, but they haven't been immersed in the culture beyond eating some Armenian food at our house. I think during the duration of the reception they'll get more comfortable and dance to the Armenian music, but I don't think they'll feel comfortable during the grand entrance. And maybe that is ok and I'm just overthinking this???
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Re: Mixed-culture culture shock at grand entrance

  • @SBmini

    I don't think they will feel alienated or have a negative reaction. I am assuming that most if not all of your family / guests know that you're mixed cultures since you said that 99% of your family has met your FI. 

    I think you ARE over thinking it.

    I would say to go ahead and do the entrance the way you want to. After all, it's a way to show who you are as a couple.
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I think you are really over thinking this. Why don't you just tell your uncles/ cousins/ parents/ close friends  that at Armenian weddings, everyone gets up and dances to traditional museum at the beginning so follow the groom's parents leads and please jump in.

    I have been to a lot of weddings with traditional dancing, and it has always been fun because inevitably, some cousin or auntie jumps over and teaches everyone else how to do it. 
  • Just let your family know ahead of time what's going to happen. We had a Quaker wedding, which was new to most of my family and friends. Whenever someone asked me what we were planning, I took the opportunity to say a little about the ceremony. And we sent an insert with our invitations. And had a note on our programs. It was probably overkill, but the Quaker ceremony involves audience participation. This way everyone had time to get to know what we were doing and get comfortable with it. 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    In addition to warning your family, your FI should remind his family that your family and many of your friends are not Armenian and may be resistant to joining in the dancing or other Armenian traditions, so as again to cut down on the culture shock for his side.
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    Yeah, I don't know why you wouldn't just inform people ahead of time and not worry about the supposed "shock" they will get.
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
    image
  • My hubby is Salvadoran-Dominican and I'm Irish-Italian, and our guests were split almost 50-50.  We didn't "warn" any of them in advance or try to teach culturally-specific dances (Irish step dancing, the tarantella, salsa/bachata)...no one was forced to partake in anything, but lots of guests were up dancing to everything in their own way.  Maybe it's because we all live in NYC, but there wasn't any culture shock.  As long as all of your guests feel welcome to join in if they like but aren't forced to do so, they should be okay.
    Two more things that are strictly my personal opinion: cocktail hour is a great time for guests to eat, drink, and chit-chat, not have dance lessons.  And I've been a BM many times- one of my least favorite wedding tasks is being forced to do a dance.  Your WP should have the same option as your guests- if they'd like to dance they should but no one should have to partake.
  • I don't think there's any problem with what you are doing.

    If you are very worried, you can let your family know by word of mouth ahead of time what traditions the Armenian cultures include and educate them a bit on how your ceremony/reception will go. Likewise, let his family know that your family is not used to these traditions so maybe they can help get everyone up and involved. 

    But I don't think you have to worry so much, and I don't think you need to put something special on your programs, I think your family will understand that there are two cultures going on. 
  • My daughter married a man from Kenya and they did something very traditionally Kenyan for their entrance. I didnt know about it until I seen it happening.  I loved it.  I felt like it was a way for them to add some of his culture to an otherwise very traditional American wedding.  You should be fine.



    SBmini
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    I think you are really over thinking this. Why don't you just tell your uncles/ cousins/ parents/ close friends  that at Armenian weddings, everyone gets up and dances to traditional museum at the beginning so follow the groom's parents leads and please jump in.

    I have been to a lot of weddings with traditional dancing, and it has always been fun because inevitably, some cousin or auntie jumps over and teaches everyone else how to do it. 
    This.  I watched the clip at 8:25, and I know my family would LOVE to get up and wave their arms around dancing.  It looks like fun.  And if your family doesn't, just don't pressure or force them to get on to the dance floor.  Watching something new can be equally enjoyable for them.
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited February 2014
    My SIL is Armenian. His father grew up in the middle east and retains his Armenian culture. His mother is Irish American. Our family members are mostly fourth generation Americans with Irish and Canadian French ancestry. My husband is Ukrainian American, but doesn't have many family members left. So we have quite a mixture of cultures. Once the music started, our family members jumped onto the dance floor to show off their moves, along with the Armenians and Armenian Americans. No one suffered from culture shock. 

    If your family is shy, recruit a few friends and family members to encourage the guests at their tables to participate. When your dj does the introductions, he could invite everyone to join in.

    I think the introductions in that video were too long, TBH. A simple introduction with background music for the wedding party would better, followed by the Armenian band and you and your husband to start off the Armenian dancing. 

    P.S. did anyone notice the slide show in the video seemed to suck the energy out of the room? What a waste, after getting everyone into party mode.
                       
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    My SIL is Armenian. His father grew up in the middle east and retains his Armenian culture. His mother is Irish American. Our family members are mostly fourth generation Americans with Irish and Canadian French ancestry. My husband is Ukrainian American, but doesn't have many family members left. So we have quite a mixture of cultures. Once the music started, our family members jumped onto the dance floor to show off their moves, along with the Armenians and Armenian Americans. No one suffered from culture shock. 

    If your family is shy, recruit a few friends and family members to encourage the guests at their tables to participate. When your dj does the introductions, he could invite everyone to join in.

    I think the introductions in that video were too long, TBH. A simple introduction with background music for the wedding party would better, followed by the Armenian band and you and your husband to start off the Armenian dancing. 

    P.S. did anyone notice the slide show in the video seemed to suck the energy out of the room? What a waste, after getting everyone into party mode.
    Yup!  I quickly stopped watching once that started.
    Marzipan13
  • The introductions in that video were WAY too long! That is not how we're going to do it at all, just the music and the dancing. Thanks everyone at making me feel more at ease. 
    image
  • hyechica81hyechica81 member
    Seventh Anniversary 1000 Comments 100 Love Its First Answer
    edited March 2014
    ok the easiest armenian dance is the bod you hold pinkies walk left right left kick kick kick with the left kick with the right then repeat the walking.  we did that at my brothers wedding and even the non armenians got up and danced.

    i took armenian dancing from the time i was 6 till i was 17 in the church youth dance group i know every dance and the bod is the easiest
  • I think if you forewarn your immediate family & bridal party & show them the video & tell them that if they feel up to it, feel free to join in. If I'm understanding this correctly it's just a small portion of your reception & not armenian music the whole time. If you are having a DJ maybe with the help of your FI you can add some popular armenia dance music in with the regular songs you will be playing. It wouldn't be any different then a European family having a few polkas played.

     

     

  • It's going to be about 50% Armenian music, 50% pop/American music. It will probably get more poppy as the night wears on, that's how Armenian weddings tend to play out. As the older people leave, the music gets younger and more American. 

    But Armenian music is SO MUCH fun that I highly doubt any of the guests will mind. It's just one thing when a foreign song comes on in the middle of the wedding. It's another thing entirely when it is right at the beginning and his family joins in and my side is confused.

    Part of me wants to keep it a surprise, the other part of me wants to tell some people so they know what to expect.
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