According to our good friends at Wikipedia – At the 2011 census, London had a population of 8,173,941. Of this number 44.9% were White British. 37% of the population were born outside the UK, including 24.5% born outside of Europe.
The result is that as a wedding venue in the heart of London, which is arguably one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, we need to be on our game when it comes to meeting the needs of couples looking to use BMA House to celebrate their big day.
From Chester to Chinese, Halal to Hawaiian, Kosher to Korean, this becomes particularly interesting when the couple are from two separate backgrounds. Can you imagine the conversation when we advised our chef that a bespoke menu needed creating that reflected both heritages of the Sri Lankan / Spanish couple…? Or the Russian / Canadian couple?
Communication is key
So where should we start? Ultimately, knowledge provides understanding, which in turn allows people to better relate to what is going on around them. This is certainly true for multicultural weddings, where you want everyone to be as involved and engaged as possible.
First and foremost, it is vital that all parties communicate effectively from the start. There is the potential with multicultural weddings to create an incredible experience that will be remembered by all for years to come. There is however the chance that a misstep or breakdown in communication could result in wedding that’s remembered for all the wrong reasons. It is vital to incorporate the traditions and needs of both sides to create a balanced day but don’t forget it isn’t always about tradition – it is about what the couple wants. Let’s be realistic and remember that if they were truly hard core traditionalists then a multicultural wedding probably wouldn’t be taking place in the first place!
The need for communication extends far beyond just the inner circle of bride, groom, close family and best friends. Everyone in attendance needs to know and appreciate things might be a little different to what they are used to. Just because it is not what they perceive as “normal” they shouldn’t take offence or get upset, they certainly shouldn’t comment negatively about it or complain. Allaying this with effective communication early on is the best way forward.
A key way to achieve this communication is by educating everyone on the differences, commonalities and etiquettes for the day, which will in turn ensure things run smoothly. Whether the differences are religious or cultural they can significantly impact the ceremonies, rituals and celebration, so why not make things easier by communicating in advance as well as on the day. The invitation, social media, emails and a culturally appropriate “order of service” are all options that will make things far easier.
Focus on what matters most
Cost for a multicultural wedding can also easily spiral without a close eye on things. This is particularly true if you try to meet everyone’s expectations and effectively have two equally lavish celebrations that run over a longer period of time. First and foremost, focus on what matters most to the couple. Everything else just adds value to the day and the experience – but it is their choices that matter most, particularly if it is going to impact the cost. It is of course also worth noting that acknowledgement to whoever is paying can impact planning. If it is not the couple themselves then hopefully those generous individuals can understand the needs of the couple and the importance that the celebration reflects everyone’s culture.
Then, there is the matter of the catering and hospitality. In some cultures the drinking element is a key part of the wedding, with many celebrations featuring stories of someone having a few too many. In other cultures, this is an absolute taboo – so it is an important conversation to have early on, particularly with the venue who can often provide great solutions. We for example have a host of mocktails alongside our cocktails, all of which can make use of the wonderful fresh herbs from our medicinal Garden.
As for the food? Let’s return to the Sri Lankan / Spanish and Russian / Canadian couples as an example. To tell you the truth, rather than our chef seeing it as a difficult task, he saw it as a true creative challenge and delivered incredible menus for these couples. Looking back through our bookings over the years, a huge proportion have been cross-cultural, one year we actually had 13 – all requiring bespoke menus. Fusion cuisine is not a new concept but on the high street it rarely brings together some of the incredible cultures that love manages to do and it is up to all involved to make that a reality. Bespoke menus are a regular occurrence at multicultural weddings, which is why a tasting is such an important part of the experience. It provides an opportunity to check creative ideas can truly be delivered and work for the couple, it provides a chance for them to give feedback, and of course it provides a chance to select and sample what works best for them and their guests.
At BMA House all couples work with a dedicated member of our team throughout the whole of their wedding planning experience. They get to know each other and ensure the perfect day, ensuring true desires come to fruition. So why not give us a call and challenge our team – they are dying to try out their Klingon / Hobbit Tudor banquet concept.
Get in touch with eve to enquire about BMA House as your wedding venue.
Planner and stylist @emmajaneweddingplanner