Surviving Your Interracial Wedding Without Killing Your Relatives

If I close my eyes and change the accent a little, I'd swear it was my father talking...minus the free house.

Weddings, like funerals, tend to bring out the best and worst in families.  In preparation for the upcoming wedding season, I thought it would be helpful to share some wisdom I gleaned from surviving our own wedding (relatively) unscathed.

10.  Have The Tough Conversations Early.
Every culture has its own norms about weddings.  Generally, Western traditions place most of the planning responsibilities on the bride's family, but other traditions may place some responsibility equally on the groom's family or extended family members.  Take time early on in your planning to discuss expectations around roles, responsibilities, and most importantly, who's writing which checks to whom.

9.  Know Your Deal Breakers.
Unless your name happens to be Kate Middleton or Prince William of Wales,  you may need to make some compromises around your wedding.  So it's important to know what things are most important and which things you could care less about.  For example, I'm a stickler for time, and am well aware of the tendency for Nigerian functions to start at least one hour late.  On our wedding website I put "NO NIGERIAN TIME" next to the ceremony start time, and I told my family: "I love you and I want you to be part of our ceremony.  But if it's time to start and you're not there, as long as me, my husband-to-be, and the Pastor are there, we're starting."  And that's exactly what happened.

8.  Remember That The World Is Still Turning.
After our wedding, I remember a friend mentioning some unspoken rule that friends shouldn't call until three months after the wedding.  "What?!" I replied, "Who said that?!  That's the stupidest thing I ever heard!"  The rest of the world doesn't stop just because you're planning a wedding.  It may be your priority, you can't assume others feel the same way.  Hopefully you have more to contribute to a conversation than ideas about the ultimate wedding favor, the prices of flowers, or what cake/filling/fondant combination best suits your fancy.  Trust me, your friends will thank you later.

7.  Hijack The Reception Playlist
Should you find yourself having a "Whose Wedding Is This Anyway?" moment as your wedding day approaches, exert some control by slipping the deejay/band/musician your top picks for reception music.  Who cares if your future in-laws like to gather around in a drunken circle and scream "Sweet Caroline," "Don't Stop Believing," and "Livin' On A Prayer" at the top of their lungs?  If you want Kanye and Nirvana, you get Kanye and Nirvana.

6.  Make Sure Your Vendors Knows The Complexions Involved.
Shopping for wedding vendors got down right hilarious at times, especially when we met a photographer in Baltimore we nicknamed "The Dog Whisperer" because he seemed more interested in talking to us about his dog's psycho-emotional needs than our wedding photography.  Eventually we did find our photographer, Tony "That's Hot" Brown, also known locally in Maryland as "The Interracial Couple Photographer."  Unbeknownst to us, most of his prior clients were interracial couples which meant he had significant experience when it came to appropriate lighting for different complexions in the same picture.  Very important.

5.  Dance Lessons.
See: "If You're White, Keep It Tight."

4.  Don't Play Travel Agent.
Once you've booked a block of hotel rooms, your work is done.  Guests having visa problems? Send them to the State Department.  Guests looking for things to do?  Send them to the state/city tourism office.  Guests missed the room block deadline?  Send them to TripAdvisor.  Your guests don't expect you to plan their vacations any other time of the year so why start now?

3.  Turn Off Your Cell Phone.
If one of your guests calls you or your groom on the morning of your wedding day to ask for directions to the ceremony, to find out where you are registered, or (Heaven forbid) to RSVP, then something went terribly wrong.  Even if you're not using a wedding planner, let that guest consult with the internet, a relative, or a friend.

2.  Find a Hideout.
I refused to be "that bride": red-eyed and baggy-eyed, nodding off at the altar.  I refused to fill my days leading up to my wedding with non-stop airport runs,  food runs to feed all the people staying at my parents' house, or trips to Six Flags to chaperone small cousins.  Oh no.  I am not the one.  So I did what any reasonable bride would do: I hid.  My dear friend and her parents let me stay at their home during the week of the wedding.  I saw it as a win-win: my parents had an extra room to use for guests, and I maintained my sanity.

1.  Elope.
While we were at the county courthouse for our marriage license a few days before the wedding, I tried to convince my husband into getting married on the spot: "Come on! No one will know.  It'll be our little secret.  We'll still have the wedding.  But there'll be our 'Anniversary' and then there'll be our 'real Anniversary' that only you and I know about."  But cooler heads prevailed and we got married as planned.  *wink*


  1. LOVE IT! Great suggestions for ways to gain some control in a day that often goes out of control. My wedding was a beautiful disaster of sorts because we barely got to be involved at all! Thanks so much for handing out advice that lets couples know that they can empower themselves to make some demands for their own wedding! P.S. I LOVE My Big Fat Greek Wedding...nothing else describes the experience better! =)

  2. @Chantilly
    Thanks! Yes, I remember when my husband and I got engaged and I told my mom we wanted a small wedding. She looked at me square in the eye and was like "No. That's not possible." Lol. Considering both she and my dad are 1 of 6 kids, she was probably right.

  3. Love this post :) I think it applies to couples that are not interracial too! Will definitely share. Thanks to Chantilly for linking to this!

  4. William and Kate should have married YEARS AGO!! at least they're tying the knot now

  5. That was very funny. I loved it. I am planning the smallest wedding ever for my fiancé and myself this September. I've been married before in Vegas previously, that was a wise decision. My fiancé has not been married before and I think my future MIL and his sister are little peeved because they have nothing to do but there is really not much too do. He wanted something small and so did I but we went back and forth for awhile but since we're paying for this I felt only our wishes mattered. My family is fine with it, his not so much. The MIL is a bit of a control freak but so am I and it's our wedding. Wish us luck.

  6. No. 6 is a good one. Our photographer had a lot of interracial couples in his portfolio and had also done a Chinese wedding and an Indian wedding. He was very good at lighting and making sure all skin tones looked good. He was interracially married as well (him BM, wife, HM) and came off as very welcoming to interracial/interfaith/intercultural weddings.

  7. @Flor
    Thanks. Yes, I think many of the sentiments are universal.

  8. @Eugenia
    Wishing you two all the best on your special day. Kudos to you for sticking to your guns!

  9. @Bunny
    Yes, I don't think I realized the whole lighting issue until we started talking to photographers and it really makes a difference! Glad you found someone that worked well for you.

  10. @Anonymous
    I'm bracing myself!!! Should be a fun wedding to watch. I can't even imagine what some of the conversations between Kate's family and the royal family over wedding plans were like...

  11. Oh I love wedding season. I'm cracking up on no. 9. "No Nigerian Time!!!" Yeah, I can relate to that one. My family went to a wedding for family friends of ours and the wedding started 4 hours late! Four hours! The bride AND groom just weren't ready yet. We were all sitting there on time because my mom (an AA woman) is very punctual and the whole time she's talking about "your father's people" and how they can't get it together to be on time. It was a sweet wedding though. I had the same sort of rule on my wedding day too. Everything went off without a hitch.

  12. @Brown
    Yeah, that was one of the few things I had to be very blunt about. That and: ADULT ONLY RECEPTION so people didn't roll through with a gang of kids like it was The Baby-sitters Club.
    But I do remember seeing A LOT more people during the recessional than I saw while I was coming down the aisle during the processional. Mmmm-hmmm.....

  13. Love it! I wish I had this about a year ago - although I have to say, I disagree with #7. That's what people remember and go home happy about - they get to dance their chicken dance or dollar dance or anything that involves a circle - and you get a break from having to deal with them all hounding you for at least 3 to 4 minutes ; ) ~ Jen

  14. @Jen
    I'm with you, point taken. Using the playlist as a guest distraction mechanism is brilliant.

  15. @getrealweddings
    Thanks! Hope it was helpful!