Bridesmaid Dresses

Bridesmaid Dresses with Ethnic Flair

Planning a wedding is both fun and challenging, but deciding how to integrate your familys cultural traditions into the process can add an unexpected dimension to the experience.

There is no cookie cutter formula for planning a wedding, despite what the etiquette books say. The traditional version of the bride in the white gown and the groom in the cutaway tuxedo is no longer the norm. Couples are free to express their own unique style and heritage through cuisine, decoration and bridal attire.

Ethnic bridesmaid dresses are one way to integrate a little cultural flair into the wedding party. Wilsdon African Designs, founded in 1990, is an example of one company that is catering to the desire for culturally inspired wedding wear.

The company provides waist wraps, custom made dashikis (a loose fitting print or embroidered shirt for men), buba tops (a specific style of African blouse that is slung low on the hips), African pattern wedding gowns and gele head wraps (a style of wrap common in many parts of Africa which is wound around the head in intricate patters.). The company even provides an instructional video on how to arrange your gele headpiece.

A bridesmaid need not follow ethnic tradition completely. You can mix and match the contemporary and the traditional according to your preference. For example, a bit of traditional embroidery or choice of pattern or fabric can enhance an otherwise conventional bridesmaid dress. The addition of some ethnic jewelry to a conventional dress can also add some punch.

In certain cultures, the concept of bridesmaid does not exist as we know it in the United States. Second generation brides are finding new and innovative ways to marry their own cultural background with their American upbringing. For example, in Indian weddings, the attire for the women of the bridal party is usually not coordinated. Traditionally, bridal party members simply wear their best, brightest and most elaborate ensembles. Gold embroidery, heavy jewelry and intricate brocades are the order of the day.

For Indian weddings in the United States, brides are increasingly dictating a selection of colors and patterns for their bridesmaids, while still allowing some degree of choice. Compromises of this kind are becoming more and more common amongst second generation couples.

There is no hard and fast rule that says you are only allowed to draw tradition from your own ethnic heritage. If you come across a style of dress or specific custom that want to incorporate into your own wedding, by all means do so. However, if you are going to incorporate certain customs from other cultures, be sure to check that borrowing that tradition will not be offensive to members of that group.

Traditions and cultures continually evolve and grow, particularly in a multi-cultural setting like the United States. Your wedding is an opportunity to affirm and celebrate your heritage in the most important way possible- through love, commitment and the promise of enduring companionship. Through joy and celebration, you are now interlocking the traditions of both past and present and ensuring their continuance in times to come.

About the Author

Andrea Pellettiere has been has been a freelance writer for a number of years.  She is a new contributor to .

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