Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hey, everybody, look at us!

Mr. Spaniel and I just got back from our first dance lesson. Why dance lessons, you ask? Are we going to rock the reception?

(An aside: aren't they amazing?)

Well, not exactly. We actually are just learning a simple waltz—no mean feat, given my two left feet! (Nyuck nyuck nyuck.)

Incorporating my family's wedding traditions has been pretty easy—I've been to Jewish and Pakistani weddings, and there are so many aspects of each that are highly visible, but also totally secular. If the groom smashes a glass at the end of a wedding ceremony and the crowd shouts, "mazel tov!", you know you have just witnessed a Jewish wedding! Wearing henna and playing Indian dance music easily signals to guests that we are bringing in aspects of other cultures. But since Mr. Spaniel is a bit further removed from his Scandinavian heritage (his family has been in the U.S. a lot longer than mine has!), we had a harder time figuring out how to incorporate his culture in an obvious way. A search for "Danish wedding traditions" yielded this:

In Denmark, there is a traditional wedding custom of building an arch of pine branches, called the Gate of Honor, in front of the bride's family home. Another Gate of Honor is built when the couple celebrates their silver anniversary.

At some point during the marriage celebration the groom will disappear and the male guests all kiss the new bride. After the groom returns his bride eventually leaves the room and all of the female guests kiss him.

At a traditional Danish reception the guests will all gather around the groom, during the dancing and festivities, to cut his tie and socks with scissors.

The Danish marzipan ring cake is the customary wedding cake in Denmark. Also called the cornucopia cake, it is made with almonds, pastilage and marzipan. On the outside, the cake is beautifully decorated with sugar work. On the inside it is filled with fresh fruit, candy and almond cakes.

To avoid bad luck, the newlyweds cut the cake together as a married couple and all of the reception guests must eat a piece.

Well, we're Angelenos, and that means that until we're pretty much millionaires, we'll be apartment dwellers. And that means that building pine arches in our common areas is not happening. And the groom's tie is rented, so it probably wouldn't go over well if it was cut when it was returned! (The socks, which we ended up finding at Way too awesome to cut!) And worst of all, the bride is allergic to almonds and marzipan! We want to leave our wedding to go to our honeymoon, not the emergency room!

We kept searching around the ww web for ideas until we struck gold: the Danish wedding waltz! Mr. Spaniel read that the traditional first dance at a Danish wedding is a bridal waltz, and that guests line the dance floor, gradually moving closer and closer to the couple until there is no more room for them to dance. While we can't really verify the authenticity of this tradition as a general rule, we did find this awesome video, which inspired us.

We also found a really nice version of the Brudevalsen (the particular piece being played) that FBIL-Spaniel was able to cut to the correct length for us, since we won't have our own orchestra playing behind the DJ stand. ;)

We're currently circulating the video around for our wedding party and hoping they can help lead our guests, with a few extra cues from the DJ. We won't be bringing the house down with our killer moves, but I'm pretty excited about what we were able to learn in a lesson, and really jazzed that we found something from Mr. Spaniel's side to include!

How did you incorporate your FI's cultural traditions into your wedding?


  1. This is such a neat idea! I think I'm going to have to research all of the different customs from our various backgrounds, even if our ancestors have moved here a looong time ago, I'm still proud of my background!

  2. I love this idea! My cousin/MOH and I are going to take some bhangra lessons before the wedding so we'll be able to dance to the Indian music that we will play during our reception - I can't wait!

  3. PPG: That is genius! :) I never even thought to take bhangra lessons; I kind of just make it up as I go along. ;)


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