Multicultural Weddings | Fusion Wedding Photographer | Multicultural Wedding Photographer
Drumming – Chapssaltteok – Horses – Soca – Acrobats
As a Multicultural Wedding Photographer, documenting each element of fusion weddings is always incredible
What happens when people from different backgrounds meet and fall in love, and want to tie the knot? They have a wedding like almost everyone else, and get to incorporate their own unique traditions into their unique celebrations. A multicultural wedding is when people from different cultures, religions, and/or traditions join together in legal marriage and celebration.
From Trinidadian island celebrations to 5-day South Asian weddings, here are photos, ideas, and what to expect when having the most amazing multicultural weddings.
I’m a New York-based destination wedding photographer who travels all over the world to document amazing celebrations. I’ve photographed couples on 6 continents (all but Antarctica!), in over 20 states and territories in the U.S., and on many different islands from Hawaii to the Caribbean to Southeast Asia. Despite having photographed hundreds of elopements and weddings, no two weddings are the same.
I don’t tend to photograph typical “traditional” weddings. In fact, my clients often know me as the creative wedding photographer who documents non-traditional weddings. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you need to have a crazy unique wedding, or that ballroom weddings are boring. For most people, they’re great! My wedding photography niche just happens to be more offbeat couples who are doing something different. Sometimes that’s due to the adventurous aspect; sometimes that’s because my couples are quirky, and sometimes that’s because my couples are blending different cultures.
Bring in multicultural weddings and elopements, which are often not your typical black-tie plated dinner affair. As an LGBTQ-welcoming multicultural wedding photographer who has lived all around the world, it’s my joy to take photos that transport my clients back to their incredible day. And this is true no matter where they’re from, where they were raised, what they have planned, how they look, or how they identify. I’m hired to catch the entire celebration and take the most memorable photographs.
My clients are often from different countries, different households, different religions, and different cultures. I’ve lived in several different countries and traveled to 55 of ‘em, and strive to feature all types of couples in their unique celebrations. When I lived in Thailand, I stayed in a tiny northern mountain village (not on any Google Maps) and found their funeral celebrations to be more lively than their weddings. Crazy, right? But that doesn’t mean that a Thai wedding would be the same in the South or other parts of the North, for example.
A few of the multicultural weddings I’ve photographed include:
Egyptian Coptic Christian-Columbian
Over the years, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected, which sometimes means there are surprising elements or spontaneous dances, and sometimes no elements at all when I would have expected some.
Fusion Wedding Rules
Here’s what NOT to do as a multicultural wedding photographer or guest at a fusion wedding:
– Never assume that just because people are from a certain place that they celebrate the same way, or are the same religion. For example, I photograph a lot of Indian weddings, but there are Indians who are Sikh, Muslim, Christian, a mix, agnostic, Buddhist, and more.
-In the same vein, don’t assume that people who both describe themselves as the same will celebrate the same.
– Don’t assume people want to be labeled by their appearance, written gender, religion, skin color, or other. It’s always one of the first questions I ask when meeting my couples, because I want to understand where they’re coming from. This often pertains to LGBTQIAS2 individuals, and is always a polite, affirming question to ask
– Make sure to ask what, if any, unique cultural traditions you need to be ready for during the ceremony, reception, or other. Is there a Taiwanese tea ceremony? Will there be clapping and dancing as the bride(s) walk down the aisle? Is it a handfasting ceremony or traditional vows?
– Just because a couple “looks white” or “looks Filipino” doesn’t mean they are, nor does it mean they align with a culture you are assuming. Basically, just don’t assume, and don’t be quick to judge when you probably don’t know someone else’s life/situation/values! Says Mikomi, a past client of mine: “I’m extra light skinned so people often need answers when they see me or they will have questions. I’m Irish, Black, and Japanese. My husband is black and native.”
Note: I’m just as guilty as others about making assumptions , and am in no way pointing fingers. Hopefully everyone can learn, understand, and appreciate getting to know the joy of diverse cultures. Multicultural weddings are awesome, and what our nation and world is all about. Cultural appropriation is not okay, but before jumping to conclusions, just ask!
Tips for Photographing Multicultural Weddings
– As a photographer, make sure you know where you are or aren’t allowed to stand, photograph, or see
– Make sure to look behind you, as the main action may not be where you’d expect
– Befriend an auntie or relative who can alert you as to important moments you may not know (a tossing of rice, a handkerchief over hands, a coconut cracking)
– Always have a wide angle and a telephoto on at all times, including at least one flash. Things move quickly, and oftentimes you’ll be in doorways shooting inside, outside, inside, outside. Be prepared.
– Make sure you know what can and cannot be worn for a particular wedding. Some houses of worship require shoulder coverings, head coverings, clothing below the knee, no shoes, no flash, etc. Know before you go!
The Surprises, Joy, and Color of Multicultural Weddings
This all said, multicultural weddings are DARN fun. Some cultures more than others use acrobats, horses, cars, smoke bombs, dancing and dancers, unique colors, unique music, and more during their ceremonies+celebrations. Being a multicultural wedding photographer means I get to learn and experience so much more than the traditional [North American] Western weddings we picture in our minds.
Even if you’re eloping and not having a huge celebration, you can still incorporate your multicultural wedding touches. Do an outfit change and get married in both traditional wear and something more “wedding-y.”
Fusion weddings/multicultural weddings are one thing, and then there are so many types of single celebrations from different regions, religions, and heritages. One type of wedding I haven’t yet photographed is a South African Xhosa wedding, and that’s something I’d love to experience. Other unique celebrations everyone loves experiencing as a guests? Colorful Nigerian weddings, Khmer weddings, unique Orthodox Jewish weddings, Rajasthani weddings, Gambian weddings, and so many more.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Chapssaltteok is a Korean-style mochi. It was given as a table party favor at a multicultural wedding I photographed a few weeks ago!
For multicultural couples having a blended wedding and who don’t want two different ceremonies, try incorporating different decorative elements, toasts, favors, dances, and more into your day. Guests love trying new traditions, whether it’s a drink, dessert, dance, dress, or nearly anything else—and it’s a wonderful way to share a piece of where you came from~
Kathryn Cooper Weddings: Creative Wedding Photographer & Destination Wedding Photographer
Fusion Weddings | Indian Wedding Photographer | Multicultural Wedding