Tag Archives: wedding traditions

Shoes, Crowns and Tea: Weaving Traditions into your Wedding Celebration

24 Jun

Depending on your cultural, ethnic or religious background, there may be traditions that are already built into your wedding celebration.  As an assistant to wonderful wedding photographer Roberto Farren, I have the opportunity to see the the wedding traditions of so many people, and it is fascinating to learn about different cultures by experiencing the way they celebrate love and marriage.  Here are a few of my favorites!

Roberto Farren Photography

Dirk and Dior play the ‘shoe game’ at their German wedding reception.

  • Dirk and Dior were married in Germany a few years ago, and played the ‘shoe game’ at their reception.  Organized by the maid of honor and the best man, this game seats the newlyweds back-to-back.  After removing their shoes and swapping one, they answer questions by holding up whoever’s shoe they think best fits the question.  This game is hilarious, and watching the couple battle over who does the dishes or who is the better driver is always a crowd-pleaser at weddings.
Roberto Farren Photography

Cassandra and Sean share a quick moment together after their Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony.

  • At Cassandra and Sean’s Greek Orthodox wedding in Boston, the couple opted for a full religious ceremony.  Celebrated at Cassandra’s family’s parish, the wedding celebration was a wonderful ritual combining the symbols and words of the sacrament.  From the traditional Greek Orthodox crowning with the “Stéfana”, or wedding crowns, to the ceremonial walk which symbolizes the bond between man and wife, the ceremony was a wonderful display of their commitment and faith.
Roberto Farren Photography

Will and Christine celebrated their wedding with a traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony.

  • Christine and Will’s autumn wedding last year included a Chinese tea ceremony.  Already married on the west coast, they included the tea ceremony in their New England wedding celebrations in a nod to the heritage of Will’s family.  During this lovely ceremony, the newlyweds serve tea to members of their families, who then present the couple with a ‘lai see‘, or lucky red envelope, which contains a gift.  Interestingly, the amount of the gift will traditionally reflect a number that represents good luck, good will, or happiness.

However you decide to celebrate your wedding, don’t forget to incorporate traditions.  Your marriage is a new chapter in the much longer story of your families, and honoring the traditions that have passed down through the generations is definitely not something you will regret when planning your wedding.  And if you don’t have or don’t want certain traditions in your ceremony, you can always have fun starting your own!

Thanks for reading,


Roberto Farren Photography


Very Hungry Caterpillars and Old Lace: The personal touches that really make a wedding

21 Jun

Today will be the first of what will almost certainly be a number of blogs about some of my favorite personal touches that couples include in their weddings.  Weddings, for the most part, follow the same overall story arc: Ceremony, vows, party.  There are special clothes, food, drinks, flowers, family, friends, outpourings of love and affection and usually some very animated dancing.  However, it is usually the smallest of details that makes your wedding YOUR wedding.  Here are a few of my favorites from some of the recent weddings that I have helped to cover with Roberto Farren Photography in New England.

  • At Erin and Randy’s autumn wedding at The Stone House in Little Compton, RI,  Randy’s son and groomsman carried the wedding rings in his grandfather’s baseball mitt.  Not only was this a nod to a favorite pastime of the couple, but it was also a touching way to involve 3 generations of Randy’s family in their sweet, personal ceremony.
Roberto Farren Photography

Randy’s son presents the wedding rings in his grandfather’s baseball mitt at a recent New England wedding.

  • Mike and Denise’s recent wedding at Dante Restaurant in Cambridge, MA was full of small details with big meaning for the couple.  Denise, a children’s librarian, used some amazing origami skills to create all of the bouquets and boutineers from up-cycled book pages.  If that sounds impressive, you don’t know the half of it… she also created the table centerpieces and other decorations for their reception in the same way!
Roberto Farren Photography

Denise’s bridal bouquet, handmade from the up-cycled pages of children’s books

  • Another sweet touch from this same wedding: Denise’s mom and grandmother wore the same wedding dress.  Denise continued the tradition by having her wedding dress made, and asking the tailor to incorporate the gorgeous, hand-stitched lace from her mother and grandmother’s dress into her new dress.  The result was wonderful.  An absolutely beautiful dress that suited Denise perfectly, with which she carried on a lovely family tradition.
Roberto Farren Photography

Denise’s gorgeous wedding dress, made by hand and incorporating the lace from her grandmother’s dress.

One last thing: Like I said in my post about creating your shot list, give your wedding photographer a heads up about these special details.  Unless they’re part of the ceremony or speeches, it’s possible that they could go unnoticed by those that aren’t in the know.  These are the moments in your wedding that you’ve put the most thought into, make sure that you give the photographer the opportunity to capture them for you.

Thanks for reading,


Roberto Farren Photography

Don’t Eat All the Chickens in the Village – Top Tips for a Destination Wedding

20 Jun

Are you totally over the buffet choices at your local Marriott Hotel?  Destination weddings can be an exciting, exotic choice when planning your big day. Who wouldn’t want to be married on a beautiful tropical beach or a pristine, snowy mountain?  BUT. There is a lot more to consider than the backdrop for your wedding photographs.

When Roberto (of Roberto Farren Photography) and I became engaged, we were already guaranteed a destination wedding for at least 2/3’s of our attendees. I’m from New England in the US.

Roberto Farren Photography

Boston, MA skyline at sunrise.

Bob was born and raised in London, to an English father and Portuguese mother.

Roberto Farren Photography

Moody skies over the Queen’s House, Greenwich, London

We were living in London at the time, but spent a lot of time visiting my family in New Hampshire and Boston and Bob’s mother’s family in Portugal.

Copyright Joe D'Cruz Photography

Santa Clara a Velha, Portugal

While it didn’t take us too long to decide to hold our wedding in Portugal, it wasn’t a decision we  rushed, and it certainly wasn’t one that we made alone. I discussed the decision with my parents and my close friends, who were the ones who would be traveling furthest if we celebrated our wedding anywhere but New England.  I knew that the length and cost of the flight would unfortunately mean that some aunts, uncles and cousins, and most notably, grandparents, would not be able to attend.  This applied to Bob as well, who had family and friends that weren’t able to join us in Portugal, even though the distance and the cost was a little less overwhelming.  What we did know was that, for those that were able to sacrifice the time and money to join us in Santa Clara-a-Velha (the small Portuguese village where Bob’s mom was born and lived until she married his dad and moved to London with him) it would be not only a wedding, but a trip that they’d never forget.

My immediate family was able to make the trip, as were most of my closest friends and some of my extended family.  Bob speaks fluent Portuguese, and was able to make great arrangements for accommodation for all of our non-Portuguese attendees, which was a massive help.  I learned enough nouns and colors to get through most of the rest of the planning, and we were also extremely lucky that we were both able to take sabbaticals from our jobs, get to Portugal a month early, and work out the final details in person.

We took a lot of different factors into our decision and planning… here are some of the important ones, including some we learned along the way, and a couple that we wished we’d learned earlier:

Some tips as you make the decision to hold a destination wedding:

  • If you, like us, have family and friends all over the world, talk to people.  Get feedback from parents (especially if they are helping to pay for your wedding) and close friends, and work with them to make the best decision for your core group of people.  On your wedding day, your marriage is more about the people that surround you than the place you’re standing.
  • Consider other guests as well: Will they need passports or visas? Do they HAVE passports? How long are flights? How much will flights and accommodations cost them? Will older guests be able to travel the distance comfortably and safely? Will there be a language barrier?  Know the answers, plan ahead, and provide people with as much info as possible.
  • Speaking of info, don’t forget the following: currency; customs; key words, if you’re going to a country with a different language; cultural differences, especially cultural no-nos; weather; electrics (will they need power adapters to charge/use electronics?); driving (which side of the road, etc) and the list goes on.
  • Don’t forget the budget: Given 3 equal piles of money, what you can do in London is different than what you can do in New England is different than what you can do in rural Portugal.
  • If you’re going somewhere off the beaten path, give a heads up to the locals as applicable.  This was particularly needed in our case… we let the local bar, cafe and gas station know that about 40 Brits and Americans would be descending on the village.  While they were able to order enough beer and wine to keep us jolly for the week, we managed to eat all of the chickens in the village by day 4.  I’m not even joking.
  • Unless you are going to a resort that specializes in destination weddings, be aware that things you’ve come to expect might not be  the norm in other places.  Things like wedding favors, make-up artists, and vegetarian meals don’t exist in the small village of Santa Clara (“Yes, this is vegetable meal… it only has bacon and a little bit of chorizo.”).   Think ahead, make lists and double check.
  • Do your homework.  Do you need a marriage license from where you live before you are married abroad?  Do you need to file paperwork, show birth certificates, or produce proof of your first communion to priests or city officials?  We did.  Go ask Google what you’ll need.
  • Amazon Prime has not quite reached every last corner of the world… hold on to your good attitude, and if wake up on your wedding day to find out that you need to pick up your wedding favors at a gas station from a man on a motorbike, then go pick up your wedding favors at a gas station from a man on a motorbike.  It’s a wedding, it’s a marriage and it’ll be a great story!
  • Think about having a low-key gathering closer to home following your destination wedding.  Roberto and I traveled back to New England a few months after our Portugal wedding for a cookout at my parent’s house.  All of my family and friends that hadn’t made it out to Portugal were able to attend and we had a great time celebrating and sharing the memories of our Portuguese wedding.

Once you think you’ve covered all your bases and make your decision, enjoy the process!  Destination weddings are an adventure for all involved.  Don’t get too stressed about the details (who cares that the ribbon on your bouquet is a shade lighter than the ribbon on your flower girl’s basket? NO ONE!) and enjoy the location for the reason you chose it.

Copyright of Joe D'Cruz Photography

Making our escape from the village in a second hand Land Rover. TO ADVENTURE!

Thanks for reading,