Wednesday, 12 August 2009

On multicultural weddings...

Since this never actually became a wedding planning blog, plain old recaps didn't seem appropriate, and besides, I find them a bit meh. So I'm going to post about what I learned and how I integrated it (or didn't) on our wedding day. Maybe someone might find it useful or maybe you'll just like the piccies (who doesn't like wedding pics?!). Either way, let the post-mortem begin!

Once upon a time, I was sick of dating guys who didn't have a culture of their own. I mean those people who unfortunately don't or can't remember their roots because they were 10th generation whatever and interesting cultural traditions got lost along the way. After the last guy tried to appropriate my culture without sharing anything in return, I decided that the next guy I dated and ultimately married, would have culture coming out of his pores.

Then I met Dave the Scot. Exotic much? Well, for me anyway, meeting a real life Scot complete with the accent, the kilt and the history nearly knocked me off my feet. Of course, I fell in love with Dave because of who he is as a man, but his culture was very attractive to me. So integrating our cultures was a no-brainer. I always knew my Ghanian* heritage would be front and centre but it was nice to share that stage with Dave's culture. It wasn't difficult at all. I told my mother I wanted people to wear the traditional kente cloth and we just knew the men on Dave's side would wear kilts. My mother asked if I wanted to change into traditional dress for the reception and I said no because I couldn't fathom wearing my wedding dress for a couple of hours - I could wear a kente outfit to a fancy restaurant on a Saturday if I wanted. And that was that. The attire was taken care of.

Since the wedding took place in Scotland, we had a bunch of Scottish touches such as haggis parcels for hors d'oeuvres, a piper who piped us out of the ceremony and into the reception, and a reading by a Scottish poet. This probably was common practice for our Scottish guests, but they were a whole new world for the Canadian, American and Ghanian contingents. Just to nail the point a bit more, we hand an old Celtic ritual performed - the handfasting. I had sewn together two long strips of kente cloth and tartan for this ritual as it conveyed not only the joining of two individuals and families, but two cultures as well. It was and is so important for us for our cultures to be shared with each other and we wanted to share with our guests.

Another thing that we did was have a couple of songs from each culture. We did some ceilidh dancing (traditional Scottish country dancing) and danced to some high life Ghanian music. I was a little nervous about this, but it worked. People loved it! Most Scottish people have never heard Ghanian music and vice versa. One high point for me was seeing my mother-in-law shake her money maker and yell "Am I doing this right?" and me enthusiastically giving her huge thumbs up.

So my thoughts on multicultural weddings is this: keep it simple and make sure both sides are represented equally. They are fun, unique, beautiful and educational. Communicate with your partner and your parents and be confident in the fact that your guests will most likely be blown away by the differences and similarities. For our wedding, one of the things that keep blowing me away is the multi-ethnicity and the vibrant colours in the photographs (sorry if they're not coming through here). A few more pics to see what I mean:

Our families

My family. My cousin at the end left and my aunt to my right flew in from Ghana. The love!

I love this shot for a couple of reasons: Firstly, our friends are gorgeous and they flew out from 3 different countries to be with us. And secondly, we met in Japan and they were there from the genesis of our relationship. We had to kick it Japanese style and give up the peace sign for this pic.

Ceilidh dancing. This was the "Gay Gordon", which I love. Lots of twirling, but make no mistake, this dance is a workout.

Our celebrant tying out hands together, saying beautiful words the whole time.

At the end of the handfasting portion of the ceremony. I loved the symbolism.

All the boys and kilts and me. Yum yum.

My uncle and the best men. The best man to the immediate left dubbed him the African Tony Soprano. Yeah, that works.

*I spell "Ghanian" the way Ghanians do, though if you look it up in the dictionary, it's spelled "Ghanaian" and also pronounced that way by non-Ghanians. Confusing? Hopefully not. But if you go to Ghana and ask a Ghanian what she calls herself, if she was brought up in Ghana, she'll say Ghanian.

I'll be back soon with some more lessons learned. Ta!


  1. It's really interesting to hear your views of Scottish culture and how important it is to have a sense of the culture that you grew up in. Photographing weddings I see a LOT of tartan and thistles and do begin to see it as somewhat repetitive so it's good to think about it in a new light. I would love to photograph a Ghanian wedding, the dress is so colourful and I love Ghanian music. The thought of your mother in law 'shaking her money maker' is fantastic!

    I can't wait to hear more about your wedding and see more pictures, it sounds like it was a lovely day.

    And finally, did you have a humanist ceremony? I think I recognise the celebrant from one of our weddings this summer!

  2. Hey PandP, I understand the tartan and thistles thing can get played out and I refused to integrate everything a Scottish wedding seems to include these days, but I understand how Scottish brides might be under pressure to go this route. They must get SO MUCH pressure from their mums and grannies so I got off easy! Hopefully you'll get to photograph a Ghanian wedding one day - the colours must be experienced in person!

    And yes, you recognised the celebrant correctly (I think she's quite popular). I will be writing about what I thought about making up a humanist ceremony soon.

  3. "They were a whole new world for the Canadian, American and Ghanian contingents."

    I feel so honored to have my own contingent!

  4. I can't get over how gorgeous you look. This cultural mix is not only SPECTACULAR, but extremely interesting as well. All the best.