ATTN: Other people’s cultures are NOT your wedding theme

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Piñatas, tacos, & cascarones at this Mexican-inspired DIY wedding in Chicago
The bride at this wedding chose to celebrate her Mexican lineage with her wedding decor. Photo by Spark & Glow Photography

In September, Offbeat Wed celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by sharing some of our favorite offbeat Latino / Latinx / Hispanic weddings on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

As the posts started rolling out, I received this message from a follower named Aral:

I’m soooooo excited about you featuring Latino/x weddings just PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be mindful, respectful, and recognize and PLEASE EMPHASIZE AND NOTATE our culture, customs, rituals, even religions are not a wedding theme.

  • Taco party should not a wedding theme
  • Fiesta should not be a wedding theme
  • Mariachi should not a wedding theme
  • Tacos and cerveza should not be a theme.
  • Loteria should not be a wedding theme.

These are the REAL customs, traditions, and way of life for a lot of real people, and it’s offensive for people to use them as themes.

This is especially true when so many of people reject, demean, mistreat, and have prejudices against Latino people.

This is something my social media manager and I take very seriously when curating Offbeat Wed's social media theme weeks — especially ones that involve cultural identities.

How we pick the posts we feature during a social media wedding theme week

For instance, each post we chose to share this week features has actual Latinx folks getting married — there are no white couples cosplaying dia de los muertos, and we're not featuring weddings where white couples had a taco truck as part of our week of Latino / Latinx / Hispanic weddings. (To be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong with serving tacos at your wedding. The issue is when you make a whole wedding theme out of a culture that you admire, but aren't a part of.)

Our goal is to celebrate the weddings of Latino / Latinx / Hispanic folks — not to celebrate weddings with Latino / Latinx / Hispanic themes.

That said, we are featuring many multicultural and intercultural weddings, so you may see white brides with loteria table settings, and white grooms with papel picado at their receptions. We don't consider it a “wedding theme” when one of the folks getting married is celebrating their own heritage.

This issue is bigger than just Latinx weddings though, and is something we've covered several times on Offbeat Wed

The issue of wedding cultural appropriation has been a hot topic in these parts for well over a decade. Here are a few of the posts we've done in the past:

Thanks again to Aral for bringing up this important issue. As a final note for those concerned about wedding cultural appropriation, I'd like to remind everyone to be cautious about policing people's identities based on wedding pictures. That can lead to some REALLY ugly situations.

I'd love to hear from readers: where is the line for you between wedding cultural appropriation and wedding cultural appreciation?

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Comments on ATTN: Other people’s cultures are NOT your wedding theme

  1. Some additional points to consider when evaluating for cultural appropriation:

    > Who is profiting? Are you supporting independent artisans practicing their heritage? Or are you buying mass-marketed products from corporations? Always direct your money to authentic vendors when possible.

    > Do the people from this culture get punished or looked down on for doing/wearing/eating these things? If it’s “cool” when white people do it, but “backwards/foreign/old-fashioned/superstitious” when people of color do it, then there’s a double standard. Remember that people can’t take off and put on their culture like a costume – it’s a core part of their identity.

    For what it’s worth, by these standards, I wouldn’t call it cultural appropriation for a white couple to have a taco truck at their wedding, as long as that taco truck was owned by Latinx/Hispanic people. But others might have different perspectives, which I’d be interested to read – and that wedding certainly wouldn’t qualify for a Latinx/Hispanic wedding roundup!

    • So much yes! I had some of the same thoughts as I was reading. I feel like the things you touched on could be their own standalone posts.

  2. Yes yes yes. I have seen this a lot lately. I have seen a lot of wedding cake pinata’s. It’s kind of fun but makes me think its not totally appropriate.

  3. I’d like to second the “don’t police people’s identities” bit. A family friend of mine who is Latino recently had a Dia de los Muertos themed wedding, which might have looked like cultural appropriation to an outside observer because he is white passing and his wife is white, but was actually them choosing to celebrate and honor his Mexican heritage. You really can’t tell someone’s ethnicity/cultural heritage just by looking at them, and that goes double for a group as diverse as Latine people.

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