A Few Fun International Wedding Customs To Make You Smile
Even if you are not planning a wedding, it can be interesting and joyful to learn about the wedding customs of other cultures around the world.
Wedding ceremonies can definitely look bizarre from the outside. From tossing a bouquet of flowers into the air to smashing a glass under a shoe, there are all sorts of interesting rituals involved that can make someone not familiar with the local traditions feel a bit puzzled. The one thing all wedding customs share is that they all have some type of meaning to the cultures of the people getting married. Learning about your own traditions can be interesting, but there is something even more rewarding in dedicating time to learning about unfamiliar customs from other parts of the world.
If you have an interest in wedding customs, now is a great time to expand your horizons. Explore these international traditions and learn something that will make you smile.
Customs On the Skin
Across the Middle East and parts of Asia, henna has been used as a dye in all sorts of customs and traditions. For brides throughout this region, henna plays a crucial part in various activities related to the wedding. It is common for young women to host “henna parties” before a wedding, which is similar to the traditional American bachelorette party in some respects. The women gather together to celebrate the bride with a party that involves food, dancing, and drinks. They will also draw temporary henna tattoos on the bride and other guests.
The beautiful and intricate designs drawn on the skin are worn with pride as a representation of the love shared between the friends and family. Some brides will wear these exact same henna designs on her wedding day; others will hire photographers to take pictures at the henna party to commemorate the event. Though common in the Middle East, these customs have spread outward and can be found in communities across the world.
Bring in the Happy Couple
All cultures have some variation of introducing the married couple after the official ceremony has ended and the reception and celebration are about to begin. In America, for example, the bridal party will often be announced by an emcee before the reveal of the new Mr. and Mrs. Another interesting custom comes out of Lebanon, where a dance called the zaffe is conducted. This dance is also done in anticipation of the couple’s entrance, often by a group of professional dancers instead of wedding-party members.
There are variations on the zaffe all around the Middle East and surrounding areas. In Saudi Arabia, where men and women celebrate the event in separate halls, the dance might be conducted twice by two separate troupes of dancers. However, this is often the only time of the night when the bride and groom are seen together by the guests. Instead, the bride spends much of her time with her female guests, who are allowed to wear more extravagant garb than normal due to the segregation of the wedding and lack of need for religious coverings.
A Quick Dip in Some Skim
Weddings can be stressful. In Morocco, some customs help brides-to-be take rest and self-care routines to another level. The Moroccan milk bath is an old tradition and one that may date back to the days of Cleopatra. On a symbolic level, the bath is meant to purify the woman and her body. On a scientific level, the fat of the milk softens the skin and helps to relieve tension. Flowers and other fragrant items are added to the bath to create an aromatic experience that allows for a bit of true serenity.
Wedding customs around the world might vary wildly, but all center around celebrations of love. Whether you’re planning for your own nuptials or simply curious to learn more about the weird and wonderful habits of the human race, there are plenty of interesting tidbits to discover.
Speaking With Confidence: Tips for Wedding Readings and Toasts
While being asked to speak at a wedding can make many people nervous, a little preparation can give you a boost of confidence in your speaking role.
Your friends are getting married, and they’ve asked you to play an important part in their special day. Perhaps you’re one of the honor attendants or you’re giving a reading during the ceremony. The prospect of getting up and speaking in front of a bunch of people, even if they are friends and family, can make you feel anxious or even panicky. Fortunately, you can conquer your fears and give a great speech, reading, or toast by following some helpful advice.
Consider Your Content’s Structure
Whether you’re writing a toast or giving a ceremony reading, the structure of your content plays an important role in its delivery. The Knot’s Maggie Seaver suggests that toasts and speeches should be kept short and simple. Citing public speaking expert Jennifer Hester, Seaver describes a general format that you can follow: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you’ve told them.” This formula keeps it simple and creates a clear beginning, middle, and ending in your speech.
Next comes the hard part: what to say. Huffington Post’s Kelsey Borresen shares useful recommendations from Simon Bucknall, author of “The Best Man Speaker: The Definitive Guide to the Best Man Speech.” Focus on positive personal attributes. Perhaps you admire your friend’s sense of humor, selfless generosity, or optimism during tough times. If you’re stuck for ideas, Bucknall suggests interviewing friends and family members. Don’t forget to take notes: You’ll need them later when you’re writing your speech. Also, stay away from touchy subjects or potentially offensive humor. The last thing you want to do is embarrass yourself or the couple when speaking publicly.
If you’re giving a ceremony reading, you’ll use a somewhat different approach. Wedding Wire’‘s Lindsay Pietroluongo stresses the importance of studying the reading text. Understanding its meaning is crucial: You’ll not only know what you’re saying, but you can also appropriately stress key words, phrases, or lines for emphasis.
Practicing Speaking Makes Perfect
Now that you have your content well in hand, practicing speaking is key to polishing your delivery. Brides’ Elizabeth Mitchell recommends frequent rehearsals to help yourself know your content, become familiar with the words, and fine-tune details such as speed and annunciation. The goal is not to eliminate your nervousness entirely, but to harness it and make it work for you. Non-verbal elements such as gestures and tone of voice make up a large part of how we communicate, so letting your emotions naturally come out makes your words come alive and your delivery more genuine.
As you rehearse your speech or reading, other tools and tips can aid in your preparation. Pietroluongo suggests practicing speaking in front of a mirror. Besides helping you remember to look up at your audience, you can also pay attention to your body language, facial expressions, and movement. Both Seaver and Mitchell recommend recording yourself and listening to the playback for filler words such as “um” and “uh,” excessive throat clearing, and other trouble spots. Also, consider rehearsing in front of a friend or family member you trust to provide honest feedback.
Don’t Forget Your Script
As confident as you may feel right before the big day, it’s still a good idea to bring written notes or a copy of the reading with you. This isn’t a poetry slam: No one’s expecting you to memorize. By making an outline or jotting down notes or photocopying your reading, you’ll give yourself some visual prompts and avoid either rambling or drawing a complete blank.
No matter whether you’ve spoken in front of a crowd once or a hundred times, it’s natural to feel nervous. Giving a ceremony reading, speech, or toast is an honor, and you want to do the best job possible. Remember to practice, mind your content, and above all, relax! You’ve got this. With preparation and a little confidence, you’ll do fine.
Need Ideas for Your Reception Eats? Try DIY Food Stations
DIY food stations have become a popular way to serve food at weddings in a fun and unique way, and enable you to showcase different cuisines.
Designing your reception meal is a fun part of wedding planning, but it can also be one of the hardest. Sit-down plated dinners, buffets, food trucks, spreads, and appetizer stations all have their advantages and drawbacks. Whether your guests have unique dietary needs, you’re concerned about cost, or you just want to do something different, DIY food stations may be the perfect solution to your reception meal conundrum.
A Quick Review of Food Stations
Food stations have already been popular for several years. Martha Stewart Weddings‘ Blythe Copeland mentions that they’re great alternatives to buffets. They’re typically scattered around a room, with each station offering a different type of food, and guests can come and go as they please. With this setup and logistics, they don’t generate long queues of people waiting to get their meal. You can also give each station unique décor to complement the cuisine it offers or your wedding’s overall theme.
Customizable Dishes and Bowl Food
Wedding Wire Canada’s Alice Prendergast projects customizable food as one of 2020’s biggest culinary trends. This concept takes food stations a step further by allowing your guests to individually create their dishes. Pizzas, tacos, and burgers are typical options, but many dishes can work with this concept. Bridal Guide showcases several other ideas for interactive food stations.
Prendergast also mentions bowl foods as another popular choice for DIY stations. Bowl foods grabbed international headlines when Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, served them at their May 2018 wedding. Bowl foods usually include a few key components:
- A starchy base such as rice, noodles, or quinoa
- Chopped fruit or veggies
- Meat, poultry, fish, or plant-based protein
- Flavorful touches like sauces, marinades, or toppings
Bowl food encompasses a wide range of world cuisines: Hawaiian, Cuban, Indian, and Japanese, to name a few. It’s pretty easy to find options that will please your crowd, so you’re only limited by your imagination and budget.
Are DIY Food Stations Right for Your Wedding?
As you think about self-serve food stations for your event, you should consider some important details. You may pay more for labor for replenishing food or if any stations need to be manned–for instance, meat carving or oyster shucking. Don’t forget about any seating issues, either. You’ll have to be careful if you have relatives who don’t get along or guests who use mobility aids.
Tips for Successful Food Stations
Ready to plan your self-serve food stations? Your first step is finding the right caterer. The Knot encourages couples to come up with a vision for their event before shopping for caterers, venues, or anything else. The planning process usually begins about a year before the big day, so that gives you some time to find vendors that best fit with your concept and theme. If you find the perfect caterer first, don’t forget to ask potential venues if they allow outside food services. You’ll want to make sure your chosen venue has enough space and an ideal layout to support multiple food stations.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to accommodate guests with food allergies or dietary restrictions. Hopefully, you’ll gather this information either early in the planning process or request it from attendees with their RSVPs. Ask your caterer to clearly label items on each food station. Consider separate stations for people with severe allergies to avoid cross-contamination, especially with serving utensils.
Fantastic Food Options for Your Special Day
Your wedding is a chance to unleash your creativity and choose new approaches to everyday things. Customizable and bowl foods are the latest trends, but they’re also perfect ways to spice up your reception cuisine. Self-serve DIY food stations are a fun way to present these awesome foods. With smart planning and budgeting, you’ll give your guests an unforgettable experience.
Food Stations Boost the Fun Factor at Your Wedding
Food stations are a fun and flexible option for any type of wedding, and you should consider them when planning your wedding reception meal options.
As you try to figure out your reception meal options, you’re probably inundated with tons of possibilities. Maybe a typical sit-down dinner isn’t suitable for your casual wedding, or you’re not thrilled about the idea of long buffet lines. On the other hand, you may want to encourage guests to mingle more during the celebration. Maybe it’s time to consider food stations, an appropriate option for formal, semiformal, and casual affairs.
The Low-Down on Food Stations
Brides writer Heather Lee explains how food stations work in an April 2018 article. For your food station setup, you’ll break down your menu into individual categories and then assign each one to a freestanding table. Your guests can then choose from available options and either serve themselves or request made-to-order items.
How should you divide up your reception menu dishes into individual stations? Your caterer can offer some guidance, but some typical arrangements include the following:
- Assigned stations for entrées, salads, side dishes, breads, and desserts
- Foods grouped by their countries of origin
- Heavy appetizer stations
Of course, these are just a few possibilities. You can conceivably divvy up your offerings according to any scheme you wish, as long as you have the room and the budget.
Consider These Key Advantages
In her Brides article, Lee points out several advantages that food stations have over traditional plated multicourse or buffet meals. Your invitees can mingle and eat as they wish, allowing for more opportunities to interact with each other. Made-to-order items are prepped to their specifications, reducing the chance that they’ll be unhappy with their meals. You can also designate some stations to offer alternatives for guests with dietary restrictions. Finally, spreading the stations throughout your venue cuts down on long lines and waiting times.
Planning Tips for Your Food Stations
At the same time, you must also plan properly to ensure that your food station reception is successful. Southern Living, a United States-based lifestyle magazine, mentions that placing your stations too close together can lead to reduced floor traffic flow, longer lines, and congestion. For that reason, you’ll need a reception venue with plentiful room in order to properly space your stations. Be sure to budget appropriately, as Brides writer Heather Lee clarifies that you’ll need additional chefs for interactive stations and more staff to bus tables and assist with cleanup.
Not only that, guests with food allergies and dietary restrictions will require additional assistance in navigating your stations. Wedding Wire Canada’s Alice Prendergast stresses the importance of labeling stations to indicate whether they have vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or nut-free dishes. She also recommends allowing guests with food restrictions to serve themselves first. You’ll ensure that they won’t have to contend with cross-contamination from serving spoons accidentally placed in the wrong dishes.
Stumped for Ideas? Try These Recommendations
Want to incorporate food stations but you’re stumped for cuisine or theme ideas? No worries. You’ll find loads of suggestions at many wedding websites. The Knot mentions several unique food station setups to surprise and delight your guests, with standouts such as a late-night snack bar or mashed potato bar. For brunch receptions, Wedding Wire Canada offers great recommendations such as pancake and waffle, salad, and cereal stations. Lunch and dinner receptions may benefit from Wedding Wire Canada’s savory food station suggestions to please your guests’ palates.
Food stations are becoming more popular at weddings for several reasons. They allow people to select their food when they wish while giving them more opportunities to move around and socialize. For hosts, they provide the chance to offer fun food while accommodating invitees with food restrictions. With wise planning and smart menu selections, your food stations will be a big hit with your guests.
Signature Drinks: A Simplified Guide
Signature drinks are a popular way of capturing the essence of your wedding while simultaneously providing guests with ample libations.
The requirements for throwing a wedding have changed significantly over recent years. While the goal of a reception is to ensure guests have a wonderful time celebrating the union of a happy couple, new trends have shifted the manner in which this occurs. Now, it is quite common for couples to have to go above and beyond in regard to specific features of their special day. Signature drinks, for example, are a popular way of capturing the essence of the event while simultaneously providing guests with ample libations.
In most cases, a signature drink at a wedding is featured during the cocktail hour of the event. This is typically when the newlyweds are off taking care of business like photographs before the actual reception takes place. To select an ideal signature drink, be sure to think about a handful of these suggestions.
One or Two?
Though the tradition is somewhat new, there are already a number of different ways you and your partner can go about making your selection. The first decision to think about is whether you would like one or two signature drinks. One drink is meant to symbolize your union. Two drinks allow both members of the happy couple to craft their own signature beverages for guests to sample. Providing two options can be fun for competitive couples who want to see how many guests select which drinks.
Still, you might find having a single signature drink is more than enough. The drink is meant to help guests get through the cocktail hour without feeling bored waiting around for the reception to begin. This means you want to think about drink combinations that will keep people energized and excited. Stick with light, possibly fruity, alcoholic drinks to keep people engaged and ready for everything else. Keeping the alcohol content of these drinks low can also be helpful, as the actual event has not yet begun and you don’t want to deal with too many sloppy guests.
There are a number of ways you can go about the process of selecting your signature drink. Many couples find that it is easiest to go with drinks they already enjoy. When you and your partner go out every now and again and enjoy the same beverages, it might be a great place to mine for wedding inspiration. If you tend to drink “tequila sunrises” together when you go out, then you should definitely consider this drink or something similar as your signature cocktail.
You might also want to go in a completely different direction. When you want something new and refreshing for your guests, consider speaking with a certified mixologist. Though a new profession in many ways, mixologists spend countless hours trying to figure out the right drinks for any occasion. Those looking to keep their spending in check might also benefit from talking with friends or family members who have a background in bartending for some help.
What Drinks Are Hot?
Finally, you can never go wrong with selecting a drink based on recent trends. You and your partner might not be big drinkers, or you may not have specific beverages you gravitate toward on your nights out. If this is the case, there is no shame in taking a look at trendy blogs and restaurants for a bit of inspiration for your wedding drink.
Choosing the right signature cocktail for your special day can be a fun and interesting way to add an extra-personal touch to your event. Find the perfect fit for your needs by giving yourself ample time to make your choice and doing lots of research to find a solid option.
Secrets to Keeping Guests Happy at Your Wedding
There are a few ways to keep your guests happy at your wedding.
Planning for your wedding can be a lot of work. You want to make sure everything goes smoothly and your vision is executed exactly the way you see it in your mind. Of course, all of this planning and organizing can make it easy to forget about key aspects of the event. Your guests, for example, are very important to keep in mind. Specifically, you need to make sure your wedding is aiming to keep your guests in the right spirits throughout the entire reception. While it might be a struggle, it is far from impossible to achieve.
To keep your guests happy at your wedding, you do not need to go to extreme lengths. In fact, there are a couple of simple secrets you might be able to explore to keep your guests satisfied. Consider these suggestions and get your wedding on the right track.
One of the most difficult aspects of planning for a wedding is making sure all of your seating arrangements make sense. This is going to take a bit of time, and you might need to sit down with your partner and really hammer out some of the finer details. While it might not seem like much, seating guests at the wrong tables can cause all kinds of minor dramas and problems. To avoid all of this, you need to be mindful of seating from the very first stages of planning.
You might be able to avoid serious confrontation in this regard if you plan accordingly when you are first writing out your guest list. Write out the names of everyone you are planning on inviting and make specific notations on the list to denote who cannot sit near whom. Having this information handy will provide you with a bit of guidance when it is time to look over the seating chart. Though guests can easily get up and move about during the reception, they will be in far better spirits when they learn they are sitting somewhere pleasant.
Satiated and Full
Food is another way to keep your guests happy. There are going to come times during your wedding when you will not be present. Many couples opt to take wedding photos in between ceremonies and receptions. Since you do not want your guests waiting for hours for you to arrive at your own reception, it is best to come up with a course of action that can keep everyone busy and satisfied until you get there. One surefire way to achieve this goal is by going all out on your cocktail hour.
Guests want to eat at weddings. While dinner might be the biggest draw, most guests are going to have more fun by being given the opportunity to try lots of easy finger foods. During your cocktail hour, while you’re out taking photos or getting ready, your guests should be kept busy with drinks and appetizers. Come up with a plan by speaking with your venue and caterers and learning more about how you can provide the right flavors and distractions.
Your Wedding, Your Rules
It is also important for you to remember that you do not need to break your back for your own wedding. Keep your guests as happy as possible, but remember that it is your wedding. If you don’t want to deal with family members who are complaining about seating charts, then you don’t have to. Remember, this is your special day, and you want to walk away from it with the fondest memories possible. For the best results, try to find a balance between your happiness and the enjoyment of your guests.