Advice & Planning

Tips for Planning a Cultural Wedding from Past Brides

A few weeks ago, we posted Julie Olschwanger and Alex Bernhard’s wedding for our real wedding of the week. Julie is Jewish and Alex is not, which got us thinking: What does it take to plan an interfaith wedding? We took a dive into the archives and chatted with a few of our past brides. We already told you their stories, but now we are going more in depth and asking them for advice.

You might have seen the tips Saumya Tayi already shared, and today we check in with Rachel Chinich who married Justin on October 13, 2018. 

Similar to Julie and Alex, Justin is Jewish and Rachel is not—Rachel and Justin wed at the Hotel Crescent Court under a glowing lucite chuppah, which inspired the rest of their ceremony and reception decor. And though they based their aesthetic on this one piece, they planned to plan to integrate their cultures from the start. 

“Blending two cultures together can be wonderful, but it also comes with challenges and feelings on both sides,” Rachel says. “Consult your individual families, but remember that it is ultimately you and your fiancé’s decision about what to include and what not to include.”

Here are some ways Rachel and Justin blended their cultures: 

  • They used a Christian officiant whose resume is filled with interfaith weddings. During the ceremony, he explained significant traditions, like the chuppah (which symbolizes that the only thing that makes a house a home is the people in it), so that each side understood what was happening. “If you know many of your guests aren’t familiar with one culture or the other, find thoughtful ways to explain the traditions so that they feel included,” Rachel advises.  
  • They also included two Bible passages from the New Testament, read by Rachel’s brothers. 
  • Rachel chose to walk down the aisle with only her father instead of both of her parents—having both parents walk the bride down the aisle is customary in Jewish tradition. 
  • Having the parents stand with the bride and groom during the ceremony is also tradition in Jewish culture, but Rachel and Justin had theirs sit.  
  • They broke the glass during the ceremony and kicked off the dancing portion of the reception with the Horah, two more Jewish traditions. “It was so fun to see Justin’s friends and family link arms with mine to show them how to dance and then lift the chairs,” Rachel says. “Our parents each took turns being lifted after us, which kicked off a fun night of celebrating.” 

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