Last February, a bride approached me at a bridal show because she needed some advice.
She noticed that my portfolio showcased numerous multicultural weddings, and she was hoping that I could help her with an issue.
You see, the bride (Caucasian) and the groom (African American) planned to Jump the Broom at the end of their wedding ceremony. When they shared this detail with family, a few family members (on both sides of the family) expressed their concern about the bride participating in this tradition because of the history behind Jumping the Broom. The tradition meant a lot to the groom but the bride was concerned that her participation would only anger family members. (I have a sneaky suspicion that it will only anger the vocal few, but I digress.)
Here’s my take (not the facts, just my take):
1. Based on the info that I’ve collected over the years, Jumping the Broom is a wedding tradition (primarily practiced in the African American community) that is carried out to honor ancestors. Shortly after a couple is declared husband and wife, they take a moment to pay respect to the ancestors that literally planted the seeds of their family tree. This tradition is not carried out to honor slavery; this tradition is carried out to celebrate a new beginning. And it is a tradition that is carried out to pay homage to the ancestors and their will to unite as a family in spite of slavery.
With that being said, is it really inappropriate for this couple to participate in this tradition? Absolutely not. In my experience, I have seen a bride with Southern Baptist roots get married under a chuppah, a groom with Irish roots participate in Korean wedding traditions, and an American groom actively participate in Ethiopian wedding traditions. Every single one of those mentioned ceremonies brought me (and everyone involved) to tears.
2. “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” Weddings are full of emotion when you bring together a bride and groom from the same background — When you sprinkle in diverse factors such as religion, culture, race and gender, you kick the emotional scale up 200%. Embrace your diversity, respect it, and celebrate it. And come to terms with the fact that it may not be embraced or respected by all of your family members (not right away anyhow). Like Kermit the Frog said, diversity is not always easy.
3. Blending family and cultural traditions are one of the many reasons why weddings are so beautiful. Work with your parents, your officiant, and your planner to figure out the best way to perform the wedding traditions that matter most to the both of you. And I have found that a brief explanation in the wedding program goes a long way to helping your guests understand why the various traditions are so special.
4. Enjoy your wedding day. The “beauty” of family events, such as weddings, is the fact that you will receive “unsolicited” advice and feedback no matter what you do. This is your wedding day. Take in what is necessary, and work with your trusted family members to incorporate traditions and rituals that represent both of your backgrounds. After all, inclusivity is what you were trying to do in the first place.
Love & Soul Always, Kawania