Having A Culturally Blended Wedding Can Be Difficult But This Is How I Made My Dominican-Egyptian Nuptials Work

credit: Carly Romeo & Co.

When my now-husband and I got engaged, it became obvious very quickly that planning a wedding was going to be a little more complicated than many of the ones we had previously attended. I am Dominican and he is Egyptian, and our cultures are sometimes so different that incorporating both of them into one event would turn out to be one of the hardest parts of planning our nuptials.

With both cultures rich in music, dance, art and food, we were so stuck thinking about which direction to take that for a full year we didn’t plan anything at all. It was clear that we needed a game plan, one that ensured that typical wedding planning tasks — like deciding on location, dinner and entertainment — incorporated who we are as individuals and a couple.

Here, how I was able to have a beautiful wedding that was part-Dominican, part-Egyptian and full love, respect and joy.

Step 1: Location

(Photo Credit: Carly Romeo & Co.)

The first step was deciding where to get married. I have a huge Dominican family in New York City, but most of my husband’s relatives live in Egypt. If the wedding were to happen in New York, where we live, the guest list would be primary my side of the family, and we didn’t think that was fair. Many multicultural couples opt for two weddings in different countries, but that wasn’t an option for us. That is how we ended up choosing to get married in Los Angeles, where my husband’s brother, sister-in-law and nieces live. Our friends let us use their backyard as the venue, and we decided to have an intimate wedding. The result was a beautiful outdoor wedding with 50 of our closest relatives and friends.

Step 2: The Ceremony

(Photo Credit: Carly Romeo & Co.)

My husband and I were both raised Christian, though we are currently non-practicing, so we didn’t have to plan for a multi-faith ceremony. However, we did want to blend a little bit of our cultures into the nuptials. We chose a non-denominational Christian minister to officiate and wrote our own ceremony. By writing it ourselves, we were able to incorporate a reading that included one of my husband’s favorite poems and a coin ceremony as a nod to my Latinx heritage. By keeping it simple, we felt that the ceremony focused on our commitment to each other, and that’s exactly what we wanted.

Step 3: The Food

(Photo Credit: Carly Romeo & Co.)

Food defines cultures. In discussing what to serve to our guests, we couldn’t figure out how on earth we would blend two completely different cuisines into one menu. After doing some research, the choice was made for us, because in Los Angeles it is nearly impossible to find a caterer that cooks Dominican or Egyptian food, let alone one that will mix both. So we opted to choose a cuisine that was local and served Mexican food. This also gave us the opportunity to use our wedding as a way to be impactful to the community. We chose Homegirl Catering, an organization that hires and trains former gang members and previously incarcerated young men and women, to make the food and use their young women as our servers. They were kind enough to fit in some dishes that would make our Dominican and Egyptian guests extra happy, and served Egyptian hibiscus tea, called karkade, as well as Dominican style flan for dessert.

Step 4: Entertainment and Music

(Photo Credit: Carly Romeo & Co.)

A party without music is not a party when it comes to people of color, so naturally tunes and entertainment were important aspects of our wedding planning. Lucky for us, our cultures boast some of the best songs and recreation in the world, so we had a lot of options. After discussing it with our DJ, we opted to play a variety of music, with a focus on Latinx songs, since we felt these were better to dance to. But we also hired a belly dancer and Arabic drummer, who held a beautiful performance for our guests. One of the biggest highlights, though, was our makeshift hookah lounge. Outside, we set up a section where our guests could sit on floor pillows and smoke hookah. It was a huge hit, and to this day our guests talk about how much they loved the variety of entertainment at our wedding.

Step 5: The Details

(Photo Credit: Carly Romeo & Co.)

Details bring everything together, and it’s also a great way to incorporate personal touches to a wedding. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t know that all our guests captured all the tiny details, but we love looking back at our pictures and seeing items we handpicked ourselves. One of the most special pieces of the night were our wedding favors. We had handmade glass cups produced in Egypt by young artisans trained by the Nebny Foundation. Other wonderful details that showcased our heritage was our guest book, comprised of travel postcards showing pictures of Dominican Republic and Egypt, our pyramid backdrop for our selfie station and the choice to select a Dominican bachata song as our first dance.

(Photo Credit: Carly Romeo & Co.)

If I could plan our wedding all over again, honestly, I’d do it all the same. It’s easy to get caught up in the traditional aspects of weddings, but creating or blending our own customs helped us understand each other’s heritage on a deeper level. Those lessons continue to serve us as we navigate married life.

Read: 9 Ways Brides Can Take Their Latina Wedding Traditions And Run With Them

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