Thanks to globalization, different cultures and traditions are becoming more “mainstream” and accessible. There is not only a greater awareness of diversity but a greater need to accept it, given the social and civic challenges experienced in 2020. As more people with different perspectives, backgrounds, and cultures continue to share their collective experiences, there is also a greater need to accommodate and support them.
Today’s wedding planners and the couples themselves are looking to create and host experiences that are unique and reflective of mixed cultures or traditions, thus expanding and broadening the need for venues, vendors, and partners to be sensitive about inclusivity and representation. What this means is that the very definition of the wedding traditions themselves are being redefined and re-written to include specific details and customs that require a level of understanding, as well as flexibility from all those involved.
When it comes to planning a multicultural wedding – possibly one that is celebrating customs relevant for mixed or racially diverse couples, or expectations when it comes to sexual orientation – sensitivity and flexibility are key. An awareness and a willingness to learn allows for an appreciation and understanding of ceremonial requirements. Cultural customs that represent both worlds, especially for racially diverse couples, take on additional significance, and so understanding the desire to accommodate those needs will be important.
When it comes to looking for a wedding venue that can support the diverse and varying needs of the market today, look for a partner that can not only communicate well, but that can listen to your needs and any concerns that you might have. While this might seem like a no-brainer, you want to work with someone who can guide you and offer suggestions, yet be flexible when it comes to personalizing your wedding to fit who you are and how you want to celebrate. Here are three things to consider when looking for the right venue:
Understanding the needs for diversity and inclusion in the first place
It’s hard to list this as tangible criteria when you’re doing searches, but you’ll see this reflected in how the venue presents its capabilities and experiences. A quick look at the online Gallery should show a variety of wedding ceremonies and celebrations. Venues that take the time to share images of couples celebrating their big day in different ways demonstrate that they have experience supporting diverse needs and are more open to different requests. It also reflects their sensitivity overall in trying to be more inclusive. This is especially meaningful for younger Millennials and Gen Zers who are more likely to partner with organizations and companies that are vocal about social responsibility. Since these generations tend to rely on technology and digital means to do their research, it’s very likely they will assess D&I (Diversity & Inclusion) digitally, without picking up the phone or talking to someone to ask direct questions.
If the website doesn’t seem to showcase mixed-race or same-sex couples, make sure to ask them what types of weddings they’ve hosted and how they’ve accommodated specific requests. Some venues simply might not have had a chance to update their image carousels (especially since 2020 was light on events) so it’s important to ask. Couples want to feel confident that they’re working with someone who will understand their wedding vision. While no one wants to “copy” someone else’s ceremony or celebration, they do want to see representation and imagery on the venue website – it will not only establish confidence but may also inspire couples and planners to incorporate additional elements they hadn’t originally thought of.
Communication to inspire creativity
Again, another criteria that’s not necessarily a simple “check the box”, but one that goes hand in hand with flexibility, understanding, and the awareness of cultural traditions and modern needs. Look for venues that will take the time to get to know who you are as a couple. Expect to field a lot of questions about the two of you – not only your likes and dislikes but backgrounds and what you want to emphasize in the wedding celebration itself. You’ll want the venue to understand the elements of the ceremony that are important to you, and you’ll want them to share what they’ve done for couples with similar backgrounds. A venue that is designed for maximum flexibility is of course ideal, but just because they haven’t yet hosted a multicultural wedding between a couple of Hindu and Christian faiths doesn’t mean they can’t do it well. The key is communication and an openness to trying something different. Lean on their expertise to help you sift through specific details. For example, Hindu weddings include a “Bharat” or a procession of the groom and his party before the ceremony begins. It generally happens outside, and before the groom’s party enters the venue, so you’ll need to figure out any zoning, parking, or traffic flow parameters in advance and account for that. Your venue can lead the charge and offer creative ways to maintain the concept while still being safe and within zoning guidelines.
Similarly, if you want to have a ceremony that blends cultural traditions, consider elements that include additional exposition for guests, so they understand what is happening and why it’s meaningful to the couple. This might be manifested through handouts or program guides, a master of ceremony narrating the activities, or even the use of technology such as QR codes and augmented reality views through mobile devices.
Plan to articulate the wedding vision and what is specifically meaningful. Share what you’re not willing to compromise on. Look for a venue that has had experiences or is willing to work with you to bring your vision to life.
Access to trusted industry partners and vendors who can transform vision into reality
Venues with a list of trusted industry partners and vendors are more likely to be in a position to accommodate all of your needs. Exposure and experience are a great combination when it comes to creating unique experiences. A diverse wedding can mean many things, ranging from multi-cultural celebrations, mixed-faith ceremonies, or same-sex weddings – working with a venue that can tap into a wide range of expertise or specialization through multiple partners means that you’ll increase your chances of working with experienced vendors who are familiar with what you want to do, and thus able to support your needs.
For example, explore different palates through fusion cuisine while maintaining a desired “gourmet” vibe. Or express different cultures through joyful celebrations in music and dance. This often results in exciting celebrations that allow access to live music or performers who can influence participation to make the reception event truly memorable for your guests.
Express your voice
Regardless of the experience you want, make sure to have a clear idea of what you want your wedding to reflect and represent. Be prepared to ask many questions, but also prepared to answer just as many from your vendors as they strive to understand how they can create an experience that matches your vision. A two-way dialog with the right venue is key to building a diverse wedding celebration that will make everyone happy.