Continuing on with our cultural wedding week, today we are bringing you some of our favorite cultural wedding ceremony celebrations! We love that there are so many different faiths and cultures in this area; this makes sure our wedding ceremonies are always unique and interesting. Whether you want to incorporate your family’s history into your big day, or want to celebrate your faith as a couple, there are so many different ways you can do so. We have outlined and explained some we have seen on United with Love below!

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Pier 23 Photography via Modern and Chic DC Wedding

Korean Pyebaek – Originally, the pyebaek is a patriarchal tradition that brought a new bride into the groom’s family fold. The bride would bestow gifts upon the groom’s family and bow in subservience, symbolizing her transition from her own family to the groom’s. Modern Korean weddings, however, incorporate the pyebaek as a means of celebrating the union of two families and is often held either a few days before the wedding ceremony or immediately following with only family present.

The pyebaek begins with the older couple(s) seated on cushions behind a table in front of a painted screen with the newlyweds opposite them. The bride and groom then perform a very deep bow and after, the bride will present the elders with gifts of jujubes (Korean dates) and chestnuts to symbolize children and fertility. The elder then shares wisdom and guidance on married life with the bride and groom. Finally, they will throw the jujubes and chestnut backs to the bride who will catch them in her wedding skirt.

Virginia Chinese Tea Wedding Ceremony

 Love Life Images via Vow Exchange and Chinese Tea Ceremony

Chinese Tea Ceremony – A Chinese wedding tea ceremony is like the pyebaek in that it also is the formal introduction of the bride to the groom’s family and was created as a show of respect for the bride’s entrance into a new family; it is usually hosted post wedding ceremony. In modern Chinese tea ceremony’s, many couples choose to involve and honor both sides of the family. The order of service is usually parents, grandparents, grand-uncles/aunts, uncles and aunts, elder brothers/sisters, elder cousins.

If two separate ceremonies are hosted, traditionally the groom’s family will be honored first. Likewise, if there is an all-inclusive ceremony performed for both sides, the groom’s family would be served first. The couple (groom on the right, bride on the left) serves sweet Chinese tea to the elders in order of seniority and after each sip, the couple is handed a lai see – a lucky red envelope – which usually contains money or jewelry. The ceremony is then repeated for the bride’s side of the family, if necessary. The tea ceremony is also the time when a Chinese wedding contract is signed with a traditional seal or a personalized stamp.

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 Meghan Lynn Photography via Colorful Indian-American Wedding in Baltimore

Hindu Baraat – A Hindu Baraat is the groom’s wedding procession and in generally a very grand affair. The groom is led to the marriage venue on a Ghodi, or white horse, while upbeat drum music plays. He usually carries a ceremonial sword and is accompanied by a young brother, nephew or cousin. Family members adorn the Ghodi with embellishments that match the groom’s. The groom’s family and friends accompany him to the venue in the large procession and are called the baraati. They are then received and welcomed by the bride’s family members and in some cultures the groom is greeted with the Aarti upon his entrance to the venue. While this procession happens the bride generally watches from the venue but does not take part, as the Baraat is solely to welcome the groom and his family to the marriage site. The bride then joins the groom as both families are introduced in a Milni ceremony and remains for the Varmala, where they exchange garlands to signify the start of their marriage rituals.

Washington DC Catholic Wedding Ceremony (2) Washington DC Catholic Wedding Ceremony (4)

Bonnie Sen Creative Photography via Multicultural Summer Wedding Ceremony

Filipino Veil, Cord & Coin Ceremony – A traditional Filipino wedding ceremony often involves several smaller ceremonies within it with deep spiritual meanings. The Veil, Cord and Coin are included most often of all. Ceremonial sponsors are chosen by the bride and groom to take part in the ceremony. Multiple pairs of godparents are customary.

The veil is specially made to go over the groom’s shoulders and the bride’s head (placed by a sponsor) to represent everyone and everything that will protect them, their home and their family and can signify the transformation of two individuals into one family. The cord (lasso) is long and in the shape of a figure 8 to symbolize infinity and often has a rosary attached. It is put around the couple’s shoulders by another sponsor to symbolize the couple’s intimate union and bond to each other for eternity. The coin ceremony involves the bringing of 13 coins to the altar by a small child, generally a ring bearer. The coins are given to the bride from the groom as a promise to financially support their new family and the bride accepts as a promise to build a loving home.

Traditional Persian Wedding Ceremony Rebekah J Murray Photography (1) Virginia Wedding Persian Ceremony (1)

Rebekah J. Murray Photography via Elegant and Romantic Wedding Ceremony

Iranian Sofreh Aghd – This cultural ceremony is generally celebrated by Persian couples that takes place in a specially decorated room with an elaborate spread on the floor or the table that contains many symbolic items that represent an element of the couple’s new life together. These include a mirror, two candelabras, an assortment of seven symbolic herbs and spices, flatbread, eggs and nuts (almonds, walnut, hazelnut) to symbolize fertility, seasonal fruits (usually apples and pomegranates), rock candy, coins to symbolize wealth and prosperity, honey which the bride and groom feed to each other off of their pinky fingers, rose water, a bible, wild rue, needle and thread, coal, a ceremonial cloth or rug, sugar cones, etc.

When the bride enters the room, she has a veil covered her face. Once she is seated next to her groom she can remove the veil and the groom peers at her through a mirror, the Ayaneh, making his wife the first thing seen in the mirror. The Ayaneh represents life and truth and remains on the table throughout. Traditionally, in the days of arranged marriages, this first glimpse in the mirror was often the first time that the groom was able to see his bride.

Virginia Wedding Ceremony Handfasting (2)

Sanderson Images via Casual and Intimate Backyard Virginia Wedding

Celtic Handfasting – A handfasting is an old Pagan custom that dates back to the ancient Celts. It originated as more than a ceremonial act during a wedding ceremony, as it is today, and spanned an entire year serving as a “trial marriage.” If all was well after one year and one day, the couple would then get formally married. If the couple was unhappy, they could split up as if they had never been married in the first place. This has often been compared to a modern-day engagement period.

Today, handfasting is much more literal and takes place during the wedding ceremony. After the bride and groom declare their intent to marry, their hands are bound together with a cord (or cords) to symbolize their connection and the union in which they are entering. The wrapping of the cord forms an infinity symbol and the knot that is tied is a representation of oneness between the two. In a show of unity, they become bound to each other.

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Heather Hawkins Photography via Texas Wedding with Feet Washing

Feet Washing – This custom, which is typically practiced at Christian weddings, stems from the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet after Judas’ betrayal. It symbolizes a bride and groom’s humility and willingness to serve the other for the rest of their lives.

This is often done with a pitcher, a bowl, and a sponge right up at the altar. The bride and groom each take turns taking off  their shoes and having their feet lightly washed by the other and then dried with a towel, just as Jesus washed and dried his disciples feet on the last day of his life.

Stay tuned for a full post dedicated to Jewish wedding customs and traditions coming on Thursday of this week! For more cultural wedding inspiration, check out some of our DC area real weddings!

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