By Thais Pino
With the wedding comes the union between a man and a woman. Sometimes weddings involve more than the romantic relationship and the wish to share the rest of your life with somebody you love. Sometimes weddings are a union between two different cultures too.
Most Latter-days Saints do not wonder where their wedding will be. They just set up a day and time in their favorite Temple and call it a date. However, a bride and a groom with different ethnic background include additional aspects many will want to consider.
“The temple is what matters,” said Renee Chukwurah, a BYU graduate who works at the Multicultural Students Services Office and is married to an African-American.
Her husband was born in the U.S. but grew up in Nigeria with his family. Although he was raised in Nigeria, she said the gospel and similar interests were things they always had in common. Because of that, some of the traditional Nigerian rituals were not as important for him with regard to their wedding.
“We are committed to each other and to the gospel,” Chukwurah said, “and that is why things work out.”
In her wedding, for example, they had a dinner the night before their wedding where the family wore traditional African attire. In that occasion they had speeches allowing the parents to give their blessings. On their wedding day, they were married in the temple. She wore her traditional white wedding gown and he was dressed as a standard groom. But at the reception both sets of parents and his siblings wore traditional Nigerian attire.
“We had a pretty normal reception, but his culture was visibly present throughout the wedding day from African attire to friends and family,” Chukwurah said.
She said one thing that was surprising for her husband was how expensive wedding services were overall. From the reception center to the videographer he kept asking her “Are you sure we need this? Let”s use this money to start our life together and cut back on some of the expenses.”
Chukwurah said his viewpoint on this matter stemmed not so much from his Nigerian culture, but from the cultural differences between men and women and what they value as being important on this special occasion.
Another common way couples can bring their ethnic heritage into their weddings is by having traditional food and decoration. Places such as the Temple Square Hospitality provide a variety of services from flowers and table cloths to a specially designed menu that follow wedding themes, such as a specific ethnicity.
Enoc Flores, the director for International Students Services said the temple wedding makes things simpler.
?In Mexico, people get married and then have a big fiesta for the bride, groom and their families and friends,? Flores said.
Mexico, Brazil and many other countries do not recognize the temple wedding. The couples need to first be married civilly in order to enter the temple.
People can either have a big party with their civil marriage and then go to the Temple or have their civil marriage done before going to the temple and then have their party afterward, Flores said.
One?s ethnic heritage exercises most of its influences not on the wedding day, but throughout the marriage.
?It?s during the marriage that the ethnic background comes out more,? said Cristiano Ruy, a multicultural counselor from Brazil that is married to an American. ?It takes time and patience with some things, not because it bothers me, but because it is different.?