Multicultural weddings: A Hindu and BRITISH Fusion Wedding

Read Will’s account of his and Sonam’s beautiful multicultural Hindu & British fusion wedding

In a recent blog about planning a multi-cultural wedding, we highlightd many of the areas to consider when deciding which parts of your cultures to include in the ceremony.

Will has shared his thoughts on his planning journey as he planned his Hindu/British wedding.

After getting engaged to Sonam, I suspected that our initial future would stressful yet exciting. Yet of course, worth it in the end.

Having an inter-racial relationship can bring up some hurdles, with marriage, in all likelihood, the largest one to overcome. I was very fortunate that Sonam‘s family were welcoming. Thus, despite a few roadblocks on the way we made it to a wedding and beyond!

A HINDU AND BRITISH FUSION WEDDING - multi cultural weddings
Photo credit: Wilde Photography

Our Hindu Ceremony

When planning our wedding, I knew that it was important that we honour both our cultures. So we had a religious component as well as the civil ceremony. My wife is Hindu and I respect her beliefs whilst I consider myself to be an atheist/humanist. We agreed straight away that we would have a blessing at the Hare Krishna Temple in Watford Then a civil ceremony at another venue. Initially we wanted a small wedding with close-knit family/friends.

Hindu wedding ceremony - multicultural weddings

We were also aware that, as Sonam was the first to be married amongst her siblings, then a fuller, traditional religious ceremony may be in order.

The Hindu ceremony was something that was brand new to me. I had never been to any type of Asian wedding. Therefore I only had ‘the internet’ and the experiences of a couple of friends to help me. In terms of the planning, this was looked after by Sonam‘s family – from the clothes (I wore an indian suit) to the ceremony. I didn’t mind this, as it meant that everything was done in the correct and respectful manner.

Wedding Preparation

I had simple wedding preparation: get dressed and turn up. I didn’t get to see all of Sonam‘s preparation – much more involved over multiple days. One thing we both chose was the venue, which was perfect! The day was an incredible experience that introduce my family to another culture and focused on the joining of our two families.

When planning this part of the wedding the two of us met with a wedding planner. She such a tremendous help in guiding us to customise and design the wedding.

Our civil ceremony

This second day of our wedding comprised a traditional British civil ceremony. We chose our vows, the music, the colour theme, food and entertainment.

Sonam and her parents chose The Pinewood Hotel as our venue.

We kept our vows traditional, along with wedding speeches by the Father of the Bride, Best Man and Groom.

Sonam and Will at their civil ceremony

Our wedding breakfast

For our wedding breakfast we enjoyed a three-course meal that we followed with an evening reception. It was a somewhat one-sided guest list though – with most of the guests being Indian we opted for Indian food from a caterer.

I had more involvement in the arrangements for our second day of celebrations: the civil ceremony. I chose the mens’ suits and the colour scheme. I also chose our wedding songs and spent days planning and rehearsing my speech. I spent a great deal of time thinking about making everything as meaningful as possible. This was very important to me – I’m only going to do this once!

Joint decisions

I always knew that co-habiting before we married was never an option. I knew too that I had to be with her for quite some time before I proposed.

I always had great respect for her culture and her family so we never considered living together before we got married. This wasn’t always easy – we had stress, arguments and issues. But our marriage made all that worthwhile.

We took decisions together and did everything with a shared focus on starting a life together.


Planning A Multi-Cultural Wedding

Planning a multi-cultural wedding:
We live in a diverse and ever-blending society. A few decades ago, multi-cultural weddings were almost unheard of. Not so in the 2000s. If you haven’t already attended a cross-culture wedding you’ll be certain to know someone that has. Thus, planning a multi-cultural wedding is something that most wedding planners will encounter.

And if you’re a mixed race/faith/culture couple planning a wedding, or you know a couple in that position, you’ve found the right blog.

Planning a multi-cultural wedding

A real multi-cultural wedding:

The daughter of a friend of mine married her non-British Indian groom. They got around the potential perils and pitfalls by having not one wedding but two.

Their wedding proceedings kicked off with a traditional British civil wedding, with a registrar officiating to make it legal, in a hotel with a sit-down three-course dinner. This event was attended by relatives from  both India and the UK.           
Then, a few weeks later, the British contingent flew to India for the full Sikh wedding experience.

That’s one way of doing it – albeit a costly one. Assuming though that there isn’t the budget for two weddings here’s a few options for you to consider when planning a multi-cultural wedding.

It’s complicated enough planning a wedding without throwing different religions and customs and unfamiliar familial formalities into the mix!

Six tips for planning a multi-cultural or interfaith wedding

  1. Communicate

Talk openly. With each other and with both sides of the family. You’re in love and everything is wonderful. But you must, must, must before you go too far, discuss matters of faith and child rearing and more. In the headiness of romance, it’s an easy job to dismiss such things. But it matters. If not now – then it surely will in the future. As this article from Here comes the Bride says: Pre-marriage counselling will help you both to clarify expectations and prevent future misunderstandings.

Beyond all that it’s best to discuss what traditions each half most wants to incorporate. Though of course everyone has to have a willingness to compromise!

  1. Make the ceremony personal to you both

There are officiants of all religions that are open to conducting a joint ceremony. They’ll help you design one that honours both religious and ethnic traditions. Don’t try to incorporate too much into it though or it’ll be too long. As an alternative – see point 3:

  1. Spread the cultural load

If the contrast is too sharp to allow the ceremony to give equal representation to each culture do it a different way. Reserve the ceremony for the bride’s heritage and the wedding breakfast for the groom’s. Or vice versa. Consider having a mehndi party for your girlfriends. Mehndi ceremonies are brilliant fun and, as they’re traditionally females only, what could be better? 

  1. Fend off the faux pas

Make sure no-one puts their size 9s in it. Give each of your families some education on what’s considered appropriate and inappropriate social behaviour and clothing in the other’s social world. Whether they like it or not they’re adults and should be respectful. Ditto the guests.

Going back to the wedding of my friend’s daughter: of those that flew to India, some chose to wear traditional dress and some didn’t. But of those that didn’t – they understood that acres of bare leg and displays of cleavage were not acceptable.

You can add an area to your website or wedding programme with details on what’s expected in all areas and to explain the symbolism of any unusual elements in the ceremony.

  1. Be creative with the wedding breakfast

Super popular these days is fusion food. So surely planning a multi-cultural wedding is the perfect chance to make a gastronomic statement that demonstrates how two cultures can meld and be harmonious?

  1. Make sure your plans are legal!

This 2015 Telegraph article about the inadequacy of UK marriage laws in today’s multi-cultural Britain points out the pitfalls:

‘Although the law was relaxed in the 1990s to allow civil weddings to take place in hotels and stately homes instead of simply register offices, only those in specially registered premises are legally binding …

More worryingly, some go through a ceremony without checking whether it is legally recognised and only discover their lack of legal status at the time of relationship breakdown … ‘

It’s clear then that there’s a problem if you’re an interfaith couple. The UK system forces you to choose between a ceremony that reflects the faith of one of you or a ceremony that reflects the faith of neither of you. That leaves you in the predicament of having to have two or more ceremonies to satisfy both the law and your own wishes.

Legally Wed

The easiest way to circumnavigate that quicksand is to have a separate civil ceremony to make sure you’re legally wed. Then arrange your interfaith/multi-cultural wedding ceremony and celebration as you see fit.

If you’re looking for further inspiration check out this article from The Knot about multi-cultural wedding tips. It showcases six diverse couples who show how it’s possible to put on a wedding that represents you both in equal measure. Irrespective of cultural and religious differences.

Finally, we like this point from the Brides.Com tips for planning a multicultural wedding – it’s a great one:

Consider hiring a wedding planner – not only for the great ideas but as a confidante and support.

Sonal J.Shah specializes in Indian weddings. She’s organized more than 650 weddings. Many many have been multi-cultural weddings where she often finds herself acting as an intermediary between the families.

As she says: ‘As a bride, it’s reasurring to have an ally on your side, a credible source. I back up the bride’s ideas and help families to understand why they work.’

If you’ve started to plan your multicultural wedding and you’ve found out already that it’s more work than you thought then we’re here to help.

Call us on 07511 841 451  or drop us an email at hello@fabulousfunctionsuk.com and we’ll get right back to you.