MULTICULTURAL WEDDING AT ELTHAM PALACE, LONDON
“The day kicked off with a Vietnamese Tea Ceremony which really acts as the key part of a Vietnamese wedding. It starts off with gifts from the groom’s family to the bride’s family. Then one by one, family members come up to give us blessings and cute bits of advice for our marriage, we serve them tea and thank them. I love this ceremony because it officially introduces both sides to the different members of the family and we get such cute nuggets from people like “Make sure you always listen to one another, never go to bed angry, always share responsibilities in the house, etc.
This was then followed with our Civil Ceremony where we did our vows, wedding registry and a confetti throw!
Lastly, we had our Bengali Walima which is the dinner part with a beautiful stage, throne/sofa for us to sit, groups of friends and family coming up on stage to take photos with us, speeches from our families throughout dinner, cake cutting and then a sparkler exit!”
What did you find challenging in the planning process?
“I would say three things. One is to make sure the wedding was a representation of us as individuals and a couple – making the balance between cultures but doing it justice at the same time.
If buying three sets of outfits wasn’t stressful enough, the second challenge has to be the outfit changes throughout the day. Not only was this an outfit change between ceremonies for the bride and groom but also for our wedding parties.
The third was fitting it all in. We had guests travelling for our wedding so we wanted to fit all the ceremonies into one day (including point 2, all the outfit changes and photo sets). Our day started at 2pm and finished at 9pm.”
Your top tips for planning a multicultural wedding
- Excel is your best friend
“We had a shared excel spreadsheet which not only managed budget but also guest lists, supplier lists, schedules, to-do lists etc. At the start of the process, we put down names against each responsibility so we were aware of who was working on what. We both updated it on the go with the status of tasks/the budget and were able to see holistically what was done and what needs to be done.”
- What’s important to you individually?
“This wasn’t just one conversation, these were many conversations throughout our relationship and the planning of the wedding. And it was okay that, what was important shifted throughout the process as well. We made sure to listen to each other and find common ground to make sure we both got what was important. Sometimes people have their own individual vision of what makes a perfect wedding and they refuse to deviate from it. Maybe it’s because you grew up going to Vietnamese weddings and that was how things are always done, and anything different is a ‘no-go’. But it’s a union of two people bringing their two lives together so it’s supposed to be a representation of you both. There were some cultural things added from both sides that are completely foreign to the other but we just thought hey if it doesn’t hurt anyone and it makes the other person happy then why not, let’s do it, it keeps things interesting for the guests anyway :)”
- Decision-makers, everyone wants input
“With the large families that we have, it’s only natural that everyone has an opinion. I have to say we lucked out because our families were relatively chilled out throughout the process. It can sometimes feel stressful when you’re trying to keep everyone happy but you have to step away and realise your family really just want to help. They just want you to have the best day of your life. We listened to our family’s input but at the end of the day, we sat down as the two of us and made decisions between us. We didn’t run to them to sign anything off, we just kept them updated throughout so they know what we have decided and to make them feel like they’re part of the process. We shared special moments with our family like when I finalised the stationary design, food tastings, shopping for outfits, trying on outfits etc. but it’s because planning a wedding brings a family together to celebrate the big moments in one’s life.”
“It is so so important that you choose suppliers that understand what you’re about, what’s important to you and what you hope to achieve at your wedding. There were three suppliers that made our lives so much easier because they understood our vision: our wedding coordinator at Eltham Palace (Annabel and team), our decorators (Kenza Creations) and our photographer (Gyan). We spent a lot of time before the wedding with each of those suppliers to talk through the day and what was important to us. This meant that we had full trust that they knew what to expect and what we could expect. How do you know if you’ve chosen the right people to work with? When it’s not just a job for them, when you can tell that they’re personally invested to give you the day of your dreams, they don’t have a ‘one size fits all’ approach and they spend time to understand your day and what’s important to you.”
- The running of the day
“It’s a wedding day that incorporated Vietnam, Bangladesh and England – I doubt any of our guests have been to such a wedding. It’s new to us, it’ll be new to them. We made sure to include the meaning of the different ceremonies and lay out what the ceremonies entailed in the order of service. This didn’t just allow them to follow the day but it was also our chance to share part of our culture with everyone. We’re really proud of the fact that everyone walked away learning something new about Vietnamese and Bengali culture. Another tip would be to have briefing meetings! There are A LOT of moving parts for any wedding but throw in this many ceremonies and outfit changes for everyone and it can get manic. We had a briefing meeting with our venue team and with all our groomsmen and bridesmaids before the day to run them through the schedule- it’s down to them that the day went off without a hitch and they never needed to ask ‘what are we meant to do now’. We made a detailed schedule + what you need to know document and shared this with our wedding parties and suppliers.”
Lastly, your favourite memories from the day?
Katherine: “Whether it’s one culture, two or six cultures, it’s a wedding at the end of the day. It’s two people who love each other so much that they want to celebrate their love with their friends and family and spend the rest of their lives together. So, the favourite memories are the same as any wedding, it was his face when he saw me in each outfit (yes, I got to see this three times, WIN!) and it was the vows. I am just thankful that we got to do all of this whilst doing justice to our cultures and who we are as people.”
See their wedding video by the wonderul Moments Catchers xx
Photography: Gyan Gurung Photography
Venue: Eltham Palace
Catering: Clay Oven
Stage/Décor: Kenza Creations
Videographer: Moments Catchers
Bouquets & buttonholes: Flower Station
Cake: Little Bear Cakery
White Dress: David’s Bridal
Lehenga & Sherwani: Monga’s London
Jewellery: GG Creations
Lighting: Creative Sparks
Thank you so much Katherine for sharing your experience and tips for planning a multicultural wedding.
If you are looking for a photographer for your multicultural wedding, send me a message to find out my availability for your date & any suggestions you want from me, please ask! 🙂
Want to see more inspiration? Check out this pre wedding shoot where the couple wore traditional outfits by Sabyasachi.
Big hugs!! Xx