Australia is home to several diverse cultures, so it’s no surprise that wedding planners want to include customs at the happy couple’s wedding. People from all over the world, including Lebanon, China, and Vietnam, have made Australia their home. When couples become engaged, their families expect that their customs and traditions will be honoured during the wedding ceremony.
There’s many expectations centred around an Australian wedding. Not only should common wedding customs be followed, but individual customs for each culture and religion need to also be taken into account. The bride and groom may have certain expectations from each other’s families, while the happy parents on both sides may also have their own sets of expectations. Unfortunately, what often happens is that while the wedding planning is well under way, someone’s expectations have not been met, resulting in tears, or worse, a big argument that splits the family in two.
It’s important for the bride and groom to sit down with both sides of their parents, and even grandparents, and have an important discussion about wedding expectations. If parents have since remarried, be sure to discuss your plans with your birth parents as well.
Here are the top three questions to ask both sets of parents before kick-starting your wedding planning journey.
1. Are there any expectations around dowries?
Before you dismiss this topic, be sure you discuss it with your family first. Despite it being the 21st century, dowries still are traditionally given in many countries around the world. This is a serious topic worth discussing, as many women in India are killed for dowry-related crimes. While this may not happen in Australia, it’s definitely a touchy topic worth discussing. If your grandparents are insistent, perhaps symbolic gifts could be given instead? Or, perhaps the parents could donate money to a fund, so the couple can buy their first home together.
2. The division of the wedding expenses.
Traditionally in Western cultures, the bride’s family would pay for the wedding and reception, while the groom’s family would pay for the rings and the honeymoon. In Chinese cultures the groom’s family would pay for the wedding. But in today’s economic climate, as well as couples having prior marriages, this may not be feasible. You’ll need to take into account any cultural aspects of how the wedding expenses are to be paid. It’s best to consult with both sets of parents to find out what their contributions will be, so that the couple can top up any gaps that there may be.
3. What types of rituals must happen during the wedding ceremony? Should there be special customs honoured during the reception?
From the week-long Indian wedding celebrations, to the smashing of plates in a traditional Greek wedding, and the tea ceremony for Chinese weddings, many couples wish to honour their cultural background and upbringing. Cultural elements may need to be tactfully woven together on your wedding day. If your parents are expecting them, be sure to ask first.
A wedding is your special event in time that should draw your family together into one cohesive unit. What happens at your wedding will be remembered forever. Don’t let conflict shatter your wedding before your life together has even begun. Be inclusive of all members of your family, and ask for their opinions to plan the best cultural wedding that will be remembered for decades to come.