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Customs and Traditions

Multicultural wedding ceremony decisions

After seeing the post on padrinos, I'm starting to feel like there might be more multi-cultural couples on here!

We're having a non-religious wedding. FI is Mexican and was raised Catholic, though doesn't practice. I am Eastern European Jewish mutt and was raised in a humanistic Jewish family (great explanation here).

We have the option of my aunt officiating our ceremony or hiring an outsider. My aunt got ordained to marry my uncles in August so she'll have a wedding under her belt by the time we get married. However, we'll need to provide her with much more direction than we would an officiant-for-hire.

I want a ceremony that respects both of our backgrounds. I'd love to break a glass (Jewish) and use the lasso (Mexican). Neither of us is comfortable with the newer trends like unity candles or sand, etc. We're just struggling with the scripting of this type of ceremony. He's never attended a non-Catholic wedding and I've never attended a Catholic wedding so our perspectives are very different.

Has anyone navigated multicultural ceremonies before? Or seen any? We're not sure where to start.

Thanks!
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Re: Multicultural wedding ceremony decisions

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Can't help you with the Catholic side of things, but I'm also Eastern European Jewish and the advice I can give you there is as follows: 

    1) Find an officiant who is okay with a multicultural wedding
    2) Don't treat the glass breaking as a "bonding" ritual.  Also, it doesn't represent luck.  If you do it, do it in the spirit of the ritual.
    3) Realize that on both sides, the people around you may not be okay with any or all of what you do and be prepared for that.
    Marzipan13PrettyGirlLost
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    If your FI does not practice his Catholic faith, it would be disrespectful to incorporate it into your ceremony.  If your FI wants to incorporate his faith into his wedding, the only way to do it without being banned from receiving any sacraments in the future, is to marry in the Catholic church.  If he marries outside the faith, his marriage will not be valid in the eyes of the church.  Whether he currently practices or not, make sure he understands this before you proceed with a secular ceremony.
    HisGirlFriday13s-aries8990
  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    mobkaz said:
    If your FI does not practice his Catholic faith, it would be disrespectful to incorporate it into your ceremony.  If your FI wants to incorporate his faith into his wedding, the only way to do it without being banned from receiving any sacraments in the future, is to marry in the Catholic church.  If he marries outside the faith, his marriage will not be valid in the eyes of the church.  Whether he currently practices or not, make sure he understands this before you proceed with a secular ceremony.
    Don't worry- we have no desire to incorporate anything Catholic into the ceremony. It would be disrespectful and, quite frankly, I'd be incredibly uncomfortable with it. We're definitely both on the same page about this, we're just struggling to tease out traditions that are Mexican rather than Catholic- in a lot of cases, it seems like a very fine line.
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  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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    Jen4948 said:
    Can't help you with the Catholic side of things, but I'm also Eastern European Jewish and the advice I can give you there is as follows: 

    1) Find an officiant who is okay with a multicultural wedding
    2) Don't treat the glass breaking as a "bonding" ritual.  Also, it doesn't represent luck.  If you do it, do it in the spirit of the ritual.
    3) Realize that on both sides, the people around you may not be okay with any or all of what you do and be prepared for that.
    I'm with you on the glass, though I didn't learn that until my sister's wedding.

    We're definitely not going to please everyone, and we're ok with that. His family's sufficiently thrilled that he's marrying me that they're dealing with the secular wedding better than would be expected. My family would be horribly offended if there was anything religious about the ceremony. It's not a perfect win but we're more focused on finding something that makes us comfortable without offending than we are with making them all happy.
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  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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    @Schatzi- we've been Googling a bit but not finding anything that resonates so far. I should make FI try it in Spanish as my written Spanish is painfully bad!

    FI is not religious nor does he have any interest in becoming religious. We've spoken about the subject extensively due to the broad differences in how we were raised.

    Good call on asking family though. I've gotten some feedback from his family but they're still unsure of some of it. For instance, we keep being told that the lasso is a Mexican custom but no one has actually seen it done outside of the Church. We love the symbolism of it but are still trying to figure out how to make it our own. On my side, anything goes. However, it would mean a lot to certain members of the family to incorporate at least a nod to Jewish traditions. Breaking the glass is the common in my family and would make my side happy without offending his family.
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  • mobkaz said:
    If your FI does not practice his Catholic faith, it would be disrespectful to incorporate it into your ceremony.  If your FI wants to incorporate his faith into his wedding, the only way to do it without being banned from receiving any sacraments in the future, is to marry in the Catholic church.  If he marries outside the faith, his marriage will not be valid in the eyes of the church.  Whether he currently practices or not, make sure he understands this before you proceed with a secular ceremony.
    Don't worry- we have no desire to incorporate anything Catholic into the ceremony. It would be disrespectful and, quite frankly, I'd be incredibly uncomfortable with it. We're definitely both on the same page about this, we're just struggling to tease out traditions that are Mexican rather than Catholic- in a lot of cases, it seems like a very fine line.
    Oh, this I can help with! Greek-Irish Catholic, right here.

    The only 'traditions' that are truly Catholic are: 
    -- Liturgy of the Word
    -- Nuptial Mass
    -- Liturgy of the Eucharist

    That's it. Anything else -- tributes to the Blessed Mother, unity candles, etc. -- are not Catholic.

    The Catholic Mass is very straightforward, and a lot of the parts of it that are standard -- like the Liturgy of the Word, which is the first reading, responsorial psalm, second reading, gospel acclamation, gospel reading, and homily -- are parts your FI's family will be familiar with. 

    I have no idea what the lassos are, but those are definitely Mexican, not Catholic.

    In short, if it doesn't happen at a regular weekly Mass (other than the exchange of vows), it's not part of Catholic Nuptial Mass. 
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  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    That helps! Thank you!
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  • mobkaz said:
    If your FI does not practice his Catholic faith, it would be disrespectful to incorporate it into your ceremony.  If your FI wants to incorporate his faith into his wedding, the only way to do it without being banned from receiving any sacraments in the future, is to marry in the Catholic church.  If he marries outside the faith, his marriage will not be valid in the eyes of the church.  Whether he currently practices or not, make sure he understands this before you proceed with a secular ceremony.
    Don't worry- we have no desire to incorporate anything Catholic into the ceremony. It would be disrespectful and, quite frankly, I'd be incredibly uncomfortable with it. We're definitely both on the same page about this, we're just struggling to tease out traditions that are Mexican rather than Catholic- in a lot of cases, it seems like a very fine line.
    Oh, this I can help with! Greek-Irish Catholic, right here.

    The only 'traditions' that are truly Catholic are: 
    -- Liturgy of the Word
    -- Nuptial Mass
    -- Liturgy of the Eucharist

    That's it. Anything else -- tributes to the Blessed Mother, unity candles, etc. -- are not Catholic.

    The Catholic Mass is very straightforward, and a lot of the parts of it that are standard -- like the Liturgy of the Word, which is the first reading, responsorial psalm, second reading, gospel acclamation, gospel reading, and homily -- are parts your FI's family will be familiar with. 

    I have no idea what the lassos are, but those are definitely Mexican, not Catholic.

    In short, if it doesn't happen at a regular weekly Mass (other than the exchange of vows), it's not part of Catholic Nuptial Mass. 
    Really? We got married in a full Catholic mass and our priest had us do both of these things.
  • Sort of in a similar situation here where my fiance had never been to a non Armenian wedding and I've never been to an Armenian wedding. I spoke to his mom to get an idea of what we should or should not include. We decided to have a very standard, American ceremony but include an Armenian common cup ceremony, which will be introduced as an Armenian common cup ceremony. Then, we're doing a plate breaking (similar to the cup breaking) at the start of the reception.

    So any ways, my advice is to talk to his family and then pick and chose what to include from there.
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  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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    I like it!

    I've tried talking to his family but they're not terribly forthcoming. I've gotten comments about a money dance (not happening) but that's about it. There haven't been a lot of non-JP weddings in the past few decades so I don't think they have a lot of preferences to share.
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  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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    @schatzi13 I like that idea! We just decided that my aunt will perform the ceremony. She got ordained to perform my uncles' wedding this summer and offered to do ours. We loved the idea of being married by someone we know. She's been studying Spanish and I speak enough to get by so this could be perfect!

    Thanks!
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  • TheGrimReaper - No, that's correct.  Neither a unity candle nor flowers presented to the Blessed Mother are required in the context of a Catholic ceremony or Mass.  

    (Although I don't know of any Christian denominations who do anything - flowers, prayer, etc - to honor the Blessed Mother, except for Catholics... so I would say that traditions involving the Blessed Mother are Catholic, but not required for a Catholic ceremony or Mass.)
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  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    TheGrimReaper - No, that's correct.  Neither a unity candle nor flowers presented to the Blessed Mother are required in the context of a Catholic ceremony or Mass.  

    (Although I don't know of any Christian denominations who do anything - flowers, prayer, etc - to honor the Blessed Mother, except for Catholics... so I would say that traditions involving the Blessed Mother are Catholic, but not required for a Catholic ceremony or Mass.)
    This is from the info my church gives to Brides and Grooms:

    Taking flowers to the image of the Blessed Mother is not part of the Catholic Rite of Marriage.  This is permitted only if both the bride and the groom have a strong and deep devotion to Our Lady.  Both the bride and groom must present the flowers to the image.

     

    The history of the unity candle is unclear but it appears that it was invented in the 1970s.  The ritual was first popularized when the lighting of a unity candle was performed in the fictional wedding of Luke and Laura on the TV soap opera General Hospital in 1981 and has since enjoyed widespread commercialization by the wedding industry.

    Although some churches and clergy may allow its use, it is strongly discouraged at Church because of the candle’s secular origins and lack of Christian symbolism.  While non-Judeo-Christian rituals are not necessarily without merit (and, indeed, some have made their way into Christian worship over the centuries), the appropriate place for the unity candle is outside the Christian liturgy, such as at the wedding reception. There are several powerful signs of unity that the liturgy offers us.  Among them are the exchange of vows and rings between the bride and groom. The most powerful symbol of unity is the gift of the Eucharist, given to us by Christ. When the bride and groom partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, they are professing a oneness with Christ and his Church.   No other candles are to be used in the wedding liturgy other than the candles that are always present in the church and in the Sanctuary.



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  • My FI and I are having a multicultural wedding. I am British, he is Dutch and we live in Sweden. We didn't want a very traditional wedding, but we picked a few customs from each culture that we liked, and just stuck to those. So we are having a Wish Tree (Dutch), I'm wearing a myrtle leaf Bridal Crown (Swedish) and I'm having a sixpence in my shoe (British/Scottish). We are also walking down the aisle together, which is both a Swedish and Dutch tradition, and in the reception, we are having a short Ceilidh (Scottish). I think as long as you have an equal mix, and don't try to incorporateeverything, you will be fine.
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    TheGrimReaper - No, that's correct.  Neither a unity candle nor flowers presented to the Blessed Mother are required in the context of a Catholic ceremony or Mass.  

    (Although I don't know of any Christian denominations who do anything - flowers, prayer, etc - to honor the Blessed Mother, except for Catholics... so I would say that traditions involving the Blessed Mother are Catholic, but not required for a Catholic ceremony or Mass.)
    This is from the info my church gives to Brides and Grooms:

    Taking flowers to the image of the Blessed Mother is not part of the Catholic Rite of Marriage.  This is permitted only if both the bride and the groom have a strong and deep devotion to Our Lady.  Both the bride and groom must present the flowers to the image.

     

    The history of the unity candle is unclear but it appears that it was invented in the 1970s.  The ritual was first popularized when the lighting of a unity candle was performed in the fictional wedding of Luke and Laura on the TV soap opera General Hospital in 1981 and has since enjoyed widespread commercialization by the wedding industry.

    Although some churches and clergy may allow its use, it is strongly discouraged at Church because of the candle’s secular origins and lack of Christian symbolism.  While non-Judeo-Christian rituals are not necessarily without merit (and, indeed, some have made their way into Christian worship over the centuries), the appropriate place for the unity candle is outside the Christian liturgy, such as at the wedding reception. There are several powerful signs of unity that the liturgy offers us.  Among them are the exchange of vows and rings between the bride and groom. The most powerful symbol of unity is the gift of the Eucharist, given to us by Christ. When the bride and groom partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, they are professing a oneness with Christ and his Church.   No other candles are to be used in the wedding liturgy other than the candles that are always present in the church and in the Sanctuary.


    That is very interesting that your church insists the bride and groom make the presentation together.  As a bride myself 36 (gasp) years ago, I presented flowers to the BVM with my MOH. 3 years ago at her wedding, in a completely different parish, my daughter also made her presentation with only her MOH.  I have also seen it done with the MOB following behind her daughter.  I have never seen a groom present with the bride.  Curious.
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