Chicago is beautifully Diverse!
The Chicago Metropolitan area ranked 10th among the most diverse cities in the country. Based on a recent study, many factors have been taken into consideration: Socioeconomic, Cultural, and Religious!
I am not a sociologist, nor an anthropologist for sure, but because of the nature of my career, as a wedding photographer, I have had the chance to see different cultures and get to know their traditions and even sometimes the stories behind them. I have had the opportunity to learn about different people in the world without even leaving the town! How lucky one can be 🙂
In general, I categorize the wedding day into five segments:
Getting Read, when the bride and groom put on their outfits and get ready for the most important day of their lives
First look, when the groom sees the bride for the first time in her dress.
The ceremony, the formal part of the day when they officially become husband and wife
Portrait pictures, The couple takes aesthetic images to print large for their walls.
Reception, when dinner is served, the couple cut the cake, and close family and friends give speeches and finally they all dance!
As far as I have learned, generally speaking, eastern countries have more tradition when it comes to weddings. There are usually interesting stories behind the symbolic actions.
Regardless of the cultural background of the bride and groom, the wedding photographer would capture moments of each part of the day from morning till night. In fact, that is what you get if you hire a Quality Wedding Photographer in Chicago.
In my pre-wedding questionnaire, I ask the bride-and-groom-to-be if they are going to have any special tradition during the day because it is very important to know in advance and plan accurately for it. Thanks to the hundreds of weddings I have had the chance to shoot, I am pretty much familiar with many traditions in different cultures, but I still ask to get precise details and information. Even if you are hiring the most experienced wedding photographer in Chicago, make sure to provide as much information and details as possible.
Here, I would like to share my observation from many different weddings from different cultures and ethnicity I have shot.
Even though white seems to be the most common color for wedding dresses, it is not the case in many cultures like Indian, Nigerian, Peruvian, or Korean. For example, the Indian Wedding dress is mainly in red, with beautifully, elaborated fabrics and jewels. Nigerian wedding dresses are usually in bright colors like yellow and orange.
Sometimes, in some Asian cultures, the bride-to-be starts to get ready a day before the wedding by having a Hannah Ceremony, when the whole bridal party treats themselves with applying beautifully elaborate designs on their hands and feet.
You may be interested in this article:
The first look is one of my most favorite moments of the day. There are lots of emotions involved and I love to capture every single second of it. The best wedding photographer in Chicago is the one who pays attention to small nuances in each culture.
In many cultures, the groom is not supposed to see the bride before the ceremony. In traditional western weddings, the groom sees the bride in her dress, for the first time, when she is walking down the aisle. However, some couples prefer to have the first look before the formal ceremony where they can express their feelings more freely in private.
In Indian weddings, there is a divider (made of silk mostly) between the bride and groom and once they are officially husband and wife they remove it and they can see each other for the first time.
In Persian weddings, the bride keeps the veil on her face, and the groom would raise it to see his bride right after they are officially married.
I can write a book about different ceremonies I have seen and shot in my life. Technically, the distinction between weddings in different cultures is mostly reflected in this part of the day.
Some ceremonies are long, and some are short. During the ceremony the bride and groom stand, kneel, or sit down.
In some cultures, they have a set up right in front of them (like Persian weddings) which contains some symbolic elements about love, life, and unity while they sit beside each other and look into the mirror in front of them. The close family, standing by them, holding a piece of tapestry on their head while another person rubs sugar cones on it, symbolizing giving blessing and sweetness into their life. Interestingly, the officiator must ask the bride three times to hear “I DO” from her because apparently, female in Persian culture, is the manifestation of tenderness and supposedly the groom must try harder in order to get a yes from her:)
Some ceremonies take place in a canopy elaborated with tapestries and flowers (Like Jewish weddings or Indian).
In some cultures, the ceremony starts and ends in complete silence, however in some other cultures, once they are announced as husband and wife, people start to play traditional music and even dance.
In western weddings, family and friends throw flowers or blow bubbles on the newly married couple while leaving the church, and in some Middle-Eastern cultures, they throw small comfits on the bride’s and groom’s head, wishing them a sweet life.
In Persian Weddings, the bride and groom give each other some honey right after the ceremony to start their life with sweetness. With the same concept, Polish couples feed each other bread and salt to bring blessing to their newly started life.
In western wedding ceremonies, I have seen that the bride and groom do something called “God’s knot” or the Unity Braid ceremony, which symbolizes the joining of one man, one woman, and God into a marriage relationship.
In Jewish weddings they break a glass or plate right after the ceremony, it demonstrates that marriage carries sorrow as well as joy and it also represents the commitment to stand by one another even in difficult times.
All being said, LOVE is unified in all weddings regardless of culture and ethnicity.
Let’s talk about the fun part of the day!
After the ceremony, being the most exclusive and special segment of the wedding day in different cultures, the reception distinguishes one wedding from the other in many aspects.
The type of music played at weddings are different, the food is absolutely another important factor that makes one wedding different from the other.
Dance is a way to show joy and happiness and is very specific in different people of the world. Some cultures dance in groups, some dance as a couple, some circle up, and some make a line having hands on one another shoulders.
The Hora is a traditional dance performed at Jewish weddings where the newlyweds are lifted into the air while their family and friends dance in circles around them. During the hora, the couple each holds one end of a handkerchief or napkin to signify their union.
Even in religious Jewish or Muslim weddings, where the men and women are separated by a veil in between, nothing can stop people from dancing and expressing their happiness. That is an international act regardless of age, ethnicity, and belief.
If you are going to have a traditional wedding, I would love to be part of it.
Shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org