When it comes to blending cultures, whether it be that you’re multicultural, biracial, interfaith, cross-cultural, it all comes down to compromise. You never want one side to feel isolated or unheard but you also don’t want to do something that clearly makes you uncomfortable. You’ll need to be able to create balance and harmony to make it all work without driving a wedge between yourselves and/or your families.
As cross cultural wedding planners we see that there is an added level of stress to the already overwhelming wedding planning process when it comes to artfully incorporating different backgrounds. Today I want to share about how Jess and Cody planned their multicultural wedding in Southern California.
We just came up on their one year wedding anniversary. I’ve known them for nearly two years now and it’s so special to watch them grow. Going through the wedding planning process with them was a phenomenal experience for me. Jess is a designer so she came up with the most creative and thoughtful details for their wedding including a custom made logo incorporating their initials. Cody is such a free spirit, I loved watching him crisis manage especially as we neared the last few weeks of their planning journey. He full blown stepped in to make some pretty tough executive decisions. Together Jess and Cody are a force to be reckoned with. They’ve newly welcomed a free-spirit-crisis-manager-designer babe into their lives and that has to be my favorite part so far.
On April 14, 2018, Jess and Cody invited their favorite humans from across the country to celebrate their destination biracial wedding in downtown San Diego! Both coming from Boston, Jess and Cody are California transplants but if you met them in person you would never know they weren’t California bred. They hosted an amazing taco bar for their wedding to make my case. Like how much more SoCal can you get than that?!
I’m so excited to share their beautiful multiracial wedding, which was featured in print at Exquisite Magazine.
Introducing Jessica and Cody
Both of Jess’ parents are from the Caribbean; her Dad is from Haiti and her Mom is from Guyana. Both of her parents are 1st generation making Jess a second generation American. Cody is as American as they come with roots going all the way back to the Civil War on his mom's side (woah!). Jess and Cody met in college through mutual friends. They were friends before they dated and kept it going through multiple moves including their BIG move to California from Boston.
Creating an inclusive Wedding Planning Experience
When it came to Jess and Cody’s wedding planning experience, they were pretty much on the same page from the start. In some private conversations, pre-engagement, they agreed that they wanted to keep things as small as possible. The original plan was to do something intimate at the courthouse followed by a dinner with a small group of VIP family members. As appealing as the simple route sounded, it was simply too special of an occasion to try and pull that off without ruffling family feathers (uhmm Moms and Dads). After the engagement happened Jess and Cody received so much love and support from their loved ones near and far. Everyone wanted to celebrate with them especially the ones rooting for them from the very beginning. When you witness a love blossom the way it did for these two, you can’t help but want to be a part of that incredible celebration.
Eventually Jess and Cody switched gears from a “small” wedding to a “medium” wedding. Their medium dream wedding consisted of hosting 100 of their favorite people for a destination wedding. Jess and Cody ended up choosing a loft in downtown San Diego because it’s a MAJOR destination city in Southern California but still close enough to their home in LA so they could zip down and do a little wedding planning when they needed to. I mean who doesn’t like an excuse to take a weekend getaway in San Diego to “plan your wedding.”
Compromise is the Language of Love
For families that are tied to certain traditions or very family oriented, it’s hard to break the news that you want to have a “small” wedding. Both my husband and I tried that for our wedding. We broke the news to my husband’s side of the family, a GIANT Mexican family, and that didn’t go over well; I mean it’s been 8 years and I still haven’t met the whole family. My side of the family is small so when we said we only wanted to invite 50 people, 25 on each side, it was the most devastating news for them. We eventually caved in and chose to host 100 people but it wasn’t easy.
For Jess and Cody, having a medium sized wedding was a good compromise for them. Their traditional, family-oriented loved ones were satisfied and felt included while Jess and Cody felt like it was enough of a "destination" to satisfy their ever-growing travel bug. One other interesting fact is that although Jess and Cody had been dating for nearly 10 years before getting married, their families had never met! Jess and Cody arranged a dinner between their parents just 2 days before the ceremony.
Some of their Challenges
Jess and Cody faced some minor challenges throughout the process but the fact that both Jess AND Cody were on the same page- this is key- made it pretty easy to stand their ground when third parties would step in with opinions. As a planner I see this all the time and what makes it difficult is that emotions are very HIGH for everyone involved. It’s most noticeable with parents wanting to be involved in the actual planning, then you have siblings that sometimes get a little overprotective and then you have the couple that just wants to get married their way. Wedding planning is an ocean of emotions with winter storms on the horizon. For Jess and Cody, Jess’ parents wanted them to have a traditional church ceremony but they really wanted a non-denominational ceremony and for it to be led by a close friend. This fit their casual personalities and carefree spirits. Both families wanted to invite more family members (cousins of mom and dad, etc.) however the distance and expense of having a "destination wedding" prohibited some people from attending and that was TOTALLY by design. Eventually, their parents stepped out of the planning process after Jess and Cody voiced their opinions, which eventually led to the family understanding that they needed to step aside. Things worked out better this way as Jess and Cody were able to customize a lot of the details and prioritize what mattered most to them.
What Mattered Most
I asked Jess and Cody what was most important to them in their planning and here is what they shared, “For me, it was the right setting/atmosphere. I had anxiety about getting married in general. The thought of utilizing a traditional catering hall/church was intimidating and nerve-wracking. The space needed to have the right light and "vibe" to help me feel relaxed, giving me the confidence to get this done. For Cody, he wanted to make sure that guests were well taken care of in terms of drinks and delicious food. That's why we prioritized having an open bar and tacos for catering. While we didn't have an extravagant budget, we wanted something that would be delicious and authentic to the setting, something that our guests can't have every day.”
Biracial Wedding means a Whole New Culture
Both Jess and Cody have cultivated a completely new culture that they live by as it suits their lifestyle. They both agree that through their choices and decisions, especially throughout the planning process where family can get very involved, they were able to convey and share their new lifestyle with their family. Jess and Cody introduced their parents to a more care-free lifestyle and as a result the family learned to adapt to them. The key is that Jess and Cody were always on the same page from food, culture, and general openness and didn’t have to compromise that for their families. [From cody] “So thank you, families, for compromising for us :)”
And this my friends is how you plan a multicultural and biracial wedding in a nutshell. Planning an event of this magnitude on it’s own is stressful enough. Add “destination” to the mix while trying to incorporate different cultural backgrounds, it can get overwhelming. The key is to get the help you need so you have the clear mental space to decide for yourself what matters most to who and be able to prioritize from there. For my people pleasers, It cannot ALL be done no matter how hard you try. So we invite you to have a conversation with us. We only have 5 wedding dates available for 2019 and would love to help those that in a similar situation navigate this process.
The Fabulous Wedding Team
Los Angeles Adventurous Wedding Photographer - Katie Edwards Photography || Cross Cultural Wedding Planner - Michelle Isabel & Co || Downtown Loft Wedding Venue - Luce Loft || San Diego Wedding Florist - Sage Sisters || Balloon Artist Southern California - Stars Above Balloons || Specialty Rentals - Archive Rentals || Full Service Wedding Rentals - Bright Rentals || Specialty Craft Cocktails - Snake Oil Cocktail || San Diego Bakery - Love Cakes || San Diego DJ and MC - Extreme DJs || Taco Bar San Diego - SanDiego Taco Company || Mobile Hair and Makeup Service in San Diego - Mobile Beauty Team