How to make your bicultural wedding special for both your families

Given that we live in such a multicultural society, it’s unsurprising that many couples are from different backgrounds and cultures. That’s why Honeypot co-founder Katie has put together her top tips for making a bicultural wedding a joy for all.

Shane and I got married in March last year. One of the aspects of our wedding I often get asked about is how we balanced and celebrated our two cultures; while we are both Kiwis, Shane’s family is Chinese Malaysian and mine is Pakeha. So let’s break it down – what are the top four things you need to consider when planning a bicultural wedding?

Managing and communicating expectations

It may sound obvious, but the real key to managing family expectations is communication. Early in our planning, we sat down with Shane’s family to discuss the cultural aspects. Shane, who has lived in NZ almost his entire life, would be the first to admit he was completely clueless about Chinese weddings!

One of our discussions got a little heated as Shane’s mum was certain we should do the tea ceremony (an important part of any Chinese wedding) the same day as our reception. The conversation went round and round, with us saying there just wasn’t time. Eventually we realised that my mother-in-law was assuming there wouldn’t be any other ceremony, since we weren’t getting married in a church. We had always planned to have an outdoor ceremony with a celebrant, but hadn’t communicated this at all!

Be prepared to compromise

I’m sure many couples planning weddings have needed to reach compromises between families, and bicultural weddings are no different. However, we are very lucky to have families who get along well and were happy to mix things up!


Chinese tea ceremony weddingFor us, the best compromise was to have two celebrations – this allowed us to have the western-style wedding we had planned, and then a tea ceremony and Chinese dinner with our families two days later. Thankfully Shane’s family did most of the planning for the Chinese dinner, leaving us time to plan the main event.

Having the two separate events meant everyone felt they were included and had a part to play. Shane’s relatives from Malaysia were invaluable at the tea ceremony, showing us the correct way to serve tea and explaining the meaning to my own family.

Don’t see it as a challenge – there are some serious benefits!

Bicultural weddings have their challenges, but the benefits far outweigh them! I think embracing both cultures helped to bring our families together in a meaningful way. Plus, who can complain about two parties (or getting to wear two dresses, amiright ladies)?!

My advice for multicultural couples

I’m sure there are plenty of other couples in a similar situation to us – maybe you also come from different cultures, or religions, or backgrounds. Whatever the case, my recommendation would be to have an honest discussion with your families about expectations early on in your planning. Like us, you may be surprised how much you or your partner will learn!

Our solution may not work for everyone, but there’s other ways to include both cultures. You could have two celebrants (or ministers, priests etc.), or ask a member from each family to do a reading of their choice. When it comes to choosing food, drink and music, make sure you have a few options to suit both cultures.

Last of all, enjoy yourself! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your partner to conform to other’s expectations – work out the compromise that works best for you and your loved ones so you can all have a great time!

Thing I wish I’d known before my wedding (or: confessions of a not-so bridezilla)

This week, Honeypot co-founder (and married nearly a year woman) Katie decided to look back on her 2016 wedding and give a few insights into what she wished she had known before getting married – hopefully it may help a few of our soon-to-be brides!

When we decided on this blog topic, I picked up a pen and paper. My first bullet point was EVERYTHING! The fact is, Shane and I have attended very few weddings prior to getting hitched, as we were among the first of our friends to get married. Early on we decided this was a positive, as we didn’t have any expectations to live up to. We were the wedding guinea pigs!

I certainly don’t consider myself to be a wedding expert – then or now. But I thought I’d share some words of wisdom that might have saved me a few grey hairs!

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Funnily enough, this was the advice I was given the most, and yet I still ignored! I was never a “bridezilla” (if anything, Shane was definitely a groomzilla at times!), but there were a few things I stressed about unnecessarily. For example, things like getting the wedding favours perfect. I spent AGES trying to decide what to do, ordering the containers, printing and cutting our messages – yet the guests were far more interested in the candy bar!

Book your florist early

We were pretty organised when it came to booking our venue, accommodation and photographer. But for some reason, we left it until 3 months before the wedding to book a florist. We quickly discovered that every florist we approached was booked out since we were getting married in the popular Easter weekend. Luckily for us, I happened upon the facebook page of Twig and Twine and found out they were available. It turned out to be the best last minute decision ever, but we could have saved some stress by organising this earlier!

Don’t stress over seating arrangements

Many people told us that seating arrangements can be challenging, and they were right! We had everything planned, but then received a few last minute RSVPs which meant we had to start over again. Our families both had specific ideas of how they thought it should go, which led to inevitable stress and late nights. Looking back, no one seemed too bothered by where they were seated, so long as they knew a few people around them. After all, they’re only there for dinner before heading to the dance floor!

Don’t rely on taxis

Our wedding was a magical, perfect and stress-free day. That is, until right at the end when our taxis failed to show up. I had booked in advance two minivans to take the bridal party and families back to our accommodation, but after 15 minutes of arguments over the phone with the taxi company, it was clear they weren’t coming. We were extremely lucky that the wedding venue was able to book us taxis through a different company, otherwise we would have been stranded in the middle of the Waitakere bush.

The fact is, our wedding was so fabulous that I can’t really regret anything about the day – but I’m sure the process could have been less stressful at times. I hope these pieces of advice come in handy and you have a wonderful, stress-free and above all FUN wedding!

Note: Thanks to the amazing Samantha Donaldson for our gorgeous wedding photos, including this one!

Your go-to wedding planning timeline

Here at Honeypot, we know how overwhelming wedding planning can be. If you’ve never been involved in one before, it can be hard to know when you need to be booking wedding venues, finding a florist, looking for a dress or figuring out what to do for a wedding registry (hint: we’d suggest a honeymoon registry with Honeypot, but we might be a little biased…)

That’s why we’ve put together our handy wedding planning timeline – your basic guide to when we’d recommend doing each of your main wedding related tasks. Of course, you can stick to any timeline you like – but it doesn’t hurt to know what other people are doing (and with Katie and Shane having just gotten married in March, they’ve lived and breathed this timeline!)

So without further ado, here’s your go-to wedding planning timeline:

wedding-timeline

 

What to ask the wedding venue

Wedding planning can be scary – that’s why we’ve gotten recent bride Katie to put together her thoughts on how to make wedding planning easy and fun. First up – questions to ask the venue!

When you start looking at venues, the process can be daunting and overwhelming. While most venues provide comprehensive info on details such as menu, drinks lists and prices, other information is more difficult to come by. Here are just a few of the things you could be asking:

1. What are our option/s for wet weather?

If you have an outdoor ceremony, the risk of rain is unfortunately something you need to consider. Some venues offer outdoor marquees or covered areas, while others may require you to use the same area for both ceremony and reception.

2. What is the minimum and maximum capacity of the venue?

Venues vary greatly in size, from small 30-person venues to large venues which can fit hundreds of guests. This means you will need a rough idea of you guest numbers before you book your venue. Sit down beforehand and write a draft guest list before approaching venues – it may not be completely accurate but at least it will give you an idea.

3. Any unusual rules or regulations that we’ll need to comply with? 

You might be surprised by some of the rules set by venues or the areas they are situated in. For example, some venues in protected areas have noise restrictions – not great if you’re wanting to party into the wee hours of the morning!

4. Is the venue well-equipped for people with disabilities?

This may not apply, but consider any older relatives or friends with disabilities who may require a walker or wheelchair. Check whether the staff are available to help with seating and making sure all your guests are comfortable.

5. What are the options for younger guests?

If you’re planning to invite children to your wedding, keep them in mind when looking at venues. They may offer kiddie meals or special chairs for children.

6. What is the bathroom situation?

While this is definitely not the most romantic aspect of the venue, it can be very important! Believe it or not, some guests we have spoken have pointed out a lack of bathrooms as one of the major drawbacks of previous weddings.

7. What additional services are included in the venue price? 

When comparing venues, many couples look to the hire fee and food and drink costs. While this is a good starting point, it’s really important to consider what else a venue is offering. Some venues include centrepieces, decorations, canapés and even entertainment in their hire fee, while others require the couple to provide or hire these separately.

 8. What are the payment options? 

Payment options vary greatly between venues. Some will require large deposits to secure a booking, which may not be within your initial budget.

What’s most important is that you’re not afraid to ask! When picking a venue, it needs to work for you and your needs – so asking what you might think are silly questions could be the difference between worrying about little things on the day and having a stress-free wedding.

 

6 ways to make your wedding special for your guests

In the lead up to wedding season, you’re probably stressing a little about how much is left to do before your big day. While you’re busy planning anyway, you might as well make sure you’ve had a think about what your wedding will be like for your guests. After all, your wedding is all about you – but who doesn’t want to make their special day special for all their loved ones as well?

Here, Honeypot co-founder (and first guest to hit the dance floor) Verity gives her top tips for making your wedding fun for your guests:

Make sure they can get to and from the wedding

There’s nothing worse than going to an open bar wedding and only being able to have one drink because you’re driving. Have a think about whether there’s public transport easily accessible to your venue, or if it’s really far out, whether you need to organise group transport to and from the wedding. You don’t necessarily have to be the one who pays for it, but it means guests can kick back and have an awesome time without having to stress about transport.

Look out for those with intolerances or allergies

It might be frustrating when someone says they’re gluten free, dairy free, egg free and nut free, but for those with intolerances, allergies, or conditions like coeliac disease, weddings can be a really tough time with everyone else eating delicious things around them (believe me, I know!)

Ask on your invitations/RSVPs whether anyone has any food intolerances, and try to ensure that you have an option for them. Most venues or caterers can easily sort this with advance warning, and it will make them feel much more included.

Keep speeches short and inclusive

We all know the horror of a long, drunken best man’s speech – and for the majority of guests who don’t understand the inside jokes or find the best man funny, it can seriously take the fun out of a wedding. Ask everyone giving a speech to keep it short and as inclusive as possible; stories that are funny or sweet regardless of whether someone was there or not are the best. Finally, try to keep all the speeches under half an hour total.

Think about your playlist

You might love heavy metal, but that doesn’t mean Uncle Jim or Cousin Polly loves head banging in quite the same way. Let your playlist reflect your personal tastes, but have a think about what will appeal to the most people as well, so that everyone can have a good time. A good spread of well-known songs is usually a winner (although if you include Puppy Love, your DJ might be labelled the worst DJ ever – hello Love Actually reference!)

Look out for your older guests

Your wedding might be the biggest party of your life, but for your grandparents or other older guests, it can be a really tiring day. Think about how they can be most comfortable – seat them away from loud speakers, make sure they’ve got a seat at times when everyone else may be standing (such as during cocktails), and if needed, organise transport for them to leave the reception a little earlier if needed.

Think about how much it’s costing them

We all know that weddings cost a lot for the happy couple – but have a think about how much it’s costing your guests as well. If it’s a destination wedding, give your loved ones plenty of advance notice so they can save for flights and accommodation, and accept that some people won’t be able to make it.

Even a local wedding can cost guests a few hundred dollars between their outfit, transport, gift, and childcare if needed. Many 20 and 30 somethings end up attending several weddings a year, so make sure yours isn’t the one that breaks the bank for them. Creating a Honeypot registry for your honeymoon or gifts means they can give as much or as little as they want for a gift – they can even keep their amount anonymous if they choose.

Most of all though, remember that your guests just want to celebrate your special day with both of you – so make it fun for everyone and you’re sure to all have an absolutely fantastic day.