8 considerations for an intercultural wedding abroad

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La version español de este articulo se encuentra en la revista, Aqui Latinos (enero 2018, paginas 16-17). Aqui.

A Spanish version of this post can be found in the magazine, Aqui Latinos (January 2018 issue, pages 16-17). Here.


About a year ago I married my boo, my chancho feliz, my other half. I’m American and English with Indian roots and my husband is Peruvian. Therefore, there was a lot to consider when making plans. The following is a list of what we considered when organizing our intercultural wedding abroad.

1. Where in  the world? We lived in Rome, Italy. The first decision was where to have the wedding. We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of different countries. This was all done a year in advance to allow enough time to organize and send ‘Save the Dates’ to guests, especially those abroad. Once we decided, we selected a date and sent out the information to family and friends.

2. Licenses: In the end we chose Lima, Peru. We considered the marriage process, which included translations, official stamps and a trip to the embassy. This was especially important as we lived in Europe and some of the requirements required extra time and coordination.

3. Talk. Talk. Talk: From the first conversation of marriage and organizing the wedding we always shared our ideas, worries and advice. In this way, we worked together as a team to execute the perfect event. Communication is key.

4. Vision: From the start, we shared our visions: who would be in attendance, the food, the music, the ambiance, how we’d feel. For us, family is important, and sharing a special experience, honouring our love with the most important people was central.

5. Inform families: When we decided on the details, we shared the info with our closest family to request help in coordination as well as sensitize each family with information regarding cultures, including the importance of rituals, food and the order of the events. In the end, we decided on two pre-wedding events, and the wedding that consisted of a ceremony and reception.

6. Inject your style and honor cultures:

Food: We love food! So, given we had three events, we took advantage to have a bit of everything from all the cultures. In our first pre-wedding event, we did a traditional Peruvian menu, at a venue practically in the ocean (Rosa Nautica). The second pre-wedding event was an Indian night filled with dance, rituals and typical northern Indian cuisine (Mantra India). For the wedding, we started out with an Italian apertivo, which included charcuterie and Italian cheeses. The bar served Peruvian cocktails and European wines. The main dinner was Peruvian.

Rituals: Indian weddings have many rituals. We chose a few to incorporate into our events. We did mehndi (where the bride’s hands are decorated with henna like a tattoo), jago (a pre-wedding dance where the families dance with candles to wake everyone up – literally – and get excited for the wedding), milni (a ceremony that marks the official meeting of both families; Peruvian traditions: civil ceremony with rings, a Waltz dance to commence the reception between the bride and groom and close family members.

Music: For the ceremony we hired a classical band (mainly strings) to play during the milni and after the civil ceremony. To kick off the reception, there was a traditional Peruvian criolla band. And the night ended with the DJ mixing a bit of traditional Punjabi music,  bhangra, Peruvian cumbia and salsa.

7. Organized to a T: For the pre- wedding events, frequent communication with the wedding organizing company was key to decide on venues, dates, contracts and discuss details. Most of this was done from abroad, with intensive meetings when we arrived weeks before the events.

Photos: For photos we used a free app, Wedpics. This was a tremendous success, as it allowed for one depository of photos from everyone at the wedding events. Additionally, we had a pro photo team for the wedding day.

Guest liaison: For guests that were coming from abroad, I would periodically send event updates, information on travel, offering advice on where to stay and what to see so that everyone could take advantage and visit the hidden treasures of Lima and if time allowed, a visit down to Machu Picchu.

Logistics: I was constantly updating a central set of documents which helped me manage the logistics of all events and guest info.

8. Remember what’s most important: Weddings in general are stressful. Adding in the complexities of doing it in another country, mixing languages and cultures can add to the stress. Stay focused on your vision. For us it was to celebrate our love amongst the people most important to us.

If you want more of a peek at our event, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KtfeNobWS8

Intercultural Wedding abroad? Destination wedding? What are your tips? What would you do different?