Blending Cultures for One Wedding Ceremony

Food, décor, dress and music can all be customized to suit cultural variety among family and friends for the big day.

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Flower girls do their thing at the Chakraborty-Dudley wedding.It was the hanbok that did it. There were other subtle representations of Kathy Rho’s background, but when she appeared in the brilliantly colored outfit and its ornamental headdress, there was no mistaking her Korean heritage.

She’d worn a Western bridal gown for the ceremony, but changed into the hanbok for the cake cutting. Rho looked resplendent in its bright-red and soft-pink skirt and jacket, accented with lime-green, marigold and navy-striped sleeves. But, she didn’t want to wear the whole thing all day—it’s actually quite cumbersome. So is the traditional Korean garb for the groom: a silk, robe-style jacket with wide, bell sleeves and a square, black hat. “We bowed to each set of parents, cut the cake, posed for pictures, then changed back into our Western-style clothes,” says Rho. “It was a great, brief, lovely way for us to pay our respects to my background.”

There were other Korean influences that came into play at the July 29, 2011, wedding of Rho and her groom, Matthew Reid, who has Caucasian and Afro-Caribbean roots. But the couple, who live in Haverford, also wanted a Westernized wedding. “We didn’t want to overdo it with cultural influences,” Rho says. “We wanted small but meaningful touches.”

Those touches included place settings made of Korean-style gift bags that matched the colors of Rho’s hanbok. Rho also decorated the wedding-cake table with wooden ducks, a Korean symbol of marriage. “We set them by the cake in the main hall, with photos of my family on one side and photos of his family on the other,” she says. “We thought it helped to signify the joining of our families—not just two individuals getting married.”

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