The Politics of Cross-Cultural Wedding Planning

With four weeks to go til the big day (*spoiler alert: I am getting married in October), I can fully feel the pre-wedding stress that I swore our intimate, less than 100 guests, celebration would not cause me. We have friends and family from several countries (and US states) traveling for our big day and the logistics of bringing all these people together, on top of typical wedding preparations AND the added stress of visa situation has started to rear its ugly head.

Planning a wedding with a fiancรฉ in another country can be pretty tough. First off, the communication, no matter how often you talk, just isn’t the same as hashing out the details with each other in person. There is miscommunication, forgetting to mention certain things, repeating others, and a bit of tension that wouldn’t be the same as in person.

There is also the fun wedding planning stuff that the other person misses out on, like sampling food from caterers, visiting venues, and more. There is only so much a texted photo can display. And then there is the stressful stuff that couples usually get to take on together. Such as finding the available vendors for the day, budgeting, seating charts, etc.

As non-traditional as our wedding will be (no religious ceremony, no real wedding party, on a weeknight), there are still hints of our cultural backgrounds at play. For the Irish, speeches are a huge deal (and often can run 20 minutes each!). Typically, the best man, maid of honor (or as I prefer to say, “best woman”), father of the groom, father of the bride, and groom all speak. Guests typically bet among the table on the length of the speeches, how often the word “thank” is used, or something of that nature. This is all new to Americans! And we are putting together some instructions to leave on each table if they care to join in on the betting fun.

A tradition that my family is insisting upon is Dermot and I getting ready separately on the big day and then seeing each other for the first time at the venue ( family friends’ restored stone barn). I am also wearing the wedding dress my mom wore on her wedding day, which was handmade by my grandma! That isn’t necessarily an American culture thing, but repurposing items and not wasting money on something I would wear once, is definitely part of my personal culture and how I grew up.

Another American wedding tradition that the Irish are not used to is open bar. But so far, I haven’t gotten any complaints on that one!

Have you ever planned a cross-cultural wedding? How did you incorporate both families’ cultures while still being true to yourselves?

Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at

Dermot and me at a friend's wedding in San Diego this spring
At a friend’s wedding in San Diego this spring

2 thoughts on “The Politics of Cross-Cultural Wedding Planning

  1. We just went through all of this a few months ago, but at least we were in the same country. However, differences in languages, cultures, and religions required lots of careful consideration. My family doesn’t speak Spanish while his doesn’t speak English. Puerto Rican traditions suggest one thing while American traditions another. We were married by a judge on the beach in a non-religious ceremony in which some parts were done in Spanish while others were done in English.The music offered everyone a chance to get up and dance at some point, and the food, although Puerto Rican, was even something that my family would eat. In the end, we had a ceremony that represented us and a killer party that everyone enjoyed. I have complete confidence that your wedding day will be just as memorable. Enjoy it! And best wishes to you both!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. Your wedding sounded beautiful! Our’s was amazing (hope I don’t sound too conceited saying that) and quite memorable, complete with the traditional way to end the party; the Irish national anthem (in the Irish language of course).

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