The Wedding Issue

funny sexy african american bride & groom caketopper medHow many weddings are YOU going to this summer? And how many have that special Toronto flavour? You know, the bride and bride or groom and groom or – heck! – bride and groom are completely different shades of human. The ceremony integrates multiple traditions: the couple bows Korean-style to honour their parents underneath a Jewish chuppah, then tucks into an Italian feast at the reception as a West Indian steel band taps out a tune. Half the guests give presents wrapped in fancy paper, the other half stuff fat envelopes into the provided box, and both halves consider the other a bit strange.

This week, we’re talking Weddings on the Ethnic Aisle. From what outfit to wear, to who to invite, to what do to about all of the parents’ demands and requests, for plenty of us its all got a cultural flava.

First up, Kelli Korducki isn’t quite sure what all of the fuss is about. “There are plenty of reasons for committed, long-term partners not to marry, and they needn’t even involve questions of “right one” -ness. Many—maybe most—involve the wedding itself.”

Then, Denise Balkissoon speaks with a bunch of brides who wore two dresses at their ceremony: an outfit that spoke to their ethnic traditions, as well as the Big White Dress.

Lucas Costello reflects on his own brief but quixotic marriage–and how pissed his overseas relatives were that he told them about it via e-vite.

Bhairavi Thanki discusses why she isn’t going to have any of her family’s Indian traditions in her own wedding, no how, no way.

Jaime Woo wishes Western weddings would adopt the Chinese custom of including games during the reception (and he’s got a few ideas of what they could be).

New contributor Helen Mo on why hipsters love an ethnic wedding.

and Simon Yau on why he sort of wanted his wife to change her last name from “Cheng” to “Yau,” and why “Chau” or “Yeng” just won’t work.

Keep checking back, we’ll be adding more all week. And feel free to share your most Toronto wedding stories in the comments.

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Lessons from an ‘Ethnic’ Wedding

By Helen Mo

anna-hathway-saree

Ok, but why did Rachel’s wedding have an “Indian” theme again?

Thanks to a tidal wave of Millennials hitting marriageable age, who among us hasn’t scrambled for a wedding gift or flicked through a score of Facebook engagement shots lately? In my own demographic, the flurry of matrimonial undertakings seems have generated a real ambivalence. On one hand, most weddings are inherently joyous affairs. Two people starting a life together with a public declaration of love and a big party – what’s not to love? On the other hand, a public declaration of love and a big party in an age of heady materialism and narcissism – what such event could escape a firestorm of judgment and participant fatigue?

There’s already a well established backlash against the standard wedding, that tulle-enshrouded extravaganza now homogenized into a pastiche of emotionally loaded and frequently expensive conventions. And although indie weddings may have been conceived as the hip, artisanal repudiation of uninspired weddings, once DIY brides and blogging aesthetes realized that rustic stylings are eminently photogenic, the choice between a flower crown and a tiara soon reflected mostly differences in taste rather than actual values.

In the midst of this fraught landscape, I propose taking a few lessons from an unlikely source: so-called ethnic weddings. It seems – in some slices of Canadian society, anyway – “ethnic weddings” get something of a free pass, particularly from those outside the ethnic community in question:

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My Big Fat Non-Traditional Wedding

By Bhairavi Thanki

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 2.14.17 PMI went to my first traditional Indian wedding when I was 13. The whole experience was harrowing. It wasn’t the fact that this wedding went on for five days, that there were about 500 people there, or that I had to sleep on the floor of a crowded house filled with relatives I didn’t even know. It was how uncomfortable the bride and groom seemed, sitting by the mandap, looking confused about what exactly was happening. The whole ceremony went on for what seemed like hours with the priest going on and on in Sanskrit about God and union (probably). The only question running through my young teen brain was “why”? The traditions felt hollow to me.

Now I’m 25 and in a relationship that’s cozy and just right. I go to a lot of weddings these days, thanks to the fact that almost everyone I know is getting married. I take my boyfriend along, and he doesn’t hesitate to join in while I check off things that we absolutely should not do at our own wedding. And I finally came to the conclusion that I don’t want any of my own ethnic traditions in my wedding. None whatsoever.

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My Lola Doesn’t Have Email

by Lucas Costello

ugly-wedding-cake

via the All-Powerful Internet

Toronto, if you are a part of any diaspora, is likely to be far away from most of your family.  Whether you’re Filipino (check), South Asian or West Indian (I could probably spend the entire article just listing the diasporas that make and help revitalize Toronto), that distance is likely to be several time zones into the past and the future simultaneously. It’s a real problem for people wanting to get hitched. Getting married in this city is not cheap and just sending invitations to your loved ones to celebrate your optimistic belief in everlasting love can be a significant cost in and of itself.

My former partner and I shared just such a delusion once (we’re still friends) and being environmentally and cost-conscious, we decided to go the digital route.  This was in the last decade, when people still checked their Facebook invites and e-mail wasn’t just a storage place for digital newsletters.  We went ahead and gathered the e-mail addresses of relatives from across the country, from BC to Newfoundland, the US, and the Philippines, and then sent those emails out.

Secretly, we knew the cost would be too exorbitant for most of our relatives, though we were hoping they would perhaps send cash in lieu of their presence (they didn’t. A side note: if a couple getting married doesn’t have a registry, give them cash because they probably need it). Continue reading