Culture Clash Wedding: Cajun Customs

   Part of the fun of having a Culture Clash wedding is the way everything seems to make sense in the minds of all the people involved, but on paper it looks completely insane.


       (Korean Wedding Dolls vs. Western Wedding Dolls)

   Here’s the basic breakdown: Korean American dude marries Creole/Cajun girl in a Western ceremony in a Chinese garden (NOT in Louisiana, that complicates things a bit, too). So, given the location, the wedding is sort of Asian themed with Creole untertones. We chose the place due to it’s central location in the city, because we had one of our 1st dates there, and because there’s already awesome landscaping and pretty pagodas and shit so we don’t have to decorate the location at all. But, my Cajun roots have to be incorporated somehow, and Mr. Panda is not Chinese, so there’s gonna be a whole slew of confusion all around.

   So, lemme break down the basic wedding traditions we plan on following from each culture. In this post, we’ll explore the traditions associated with my Lowcountry roots:

(after the jump!)

Cajun Customs:

Cajun food at the reception: Oh Hell yes. Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie AND File’ Gumbo will be represented, along with much more, I’m sure. Mr. Panda still hasn’t tried a lot of the dishes I grew up on, so it’ll be fun to be able to try new things at our wedding.


Jumping the Broom: This tradition started in rural Louisiana as a way of making a marriage “official” while people were waiting for the traveling preist to come around and perform marriages. The poverty and topography of Louisiana made buliding proper roads difficult, and furthermore, people couldn’t always afford to use the roads they did have. My family doesn’t do this. Books and internet research tells me that the broom jump is a Cajun thing, but my family insists it’s an African American tradition. Whatever. I didn’t want to do it anyway. Knowing me, I’d wipe the fuck out and bust my face open on my own damn wedding day. I’m not about to jump over anydamnthang.


Structured Dancing: This is wherein the bride & groom dance first, then the bride & her dad, then the groom & his ma, then the groom & his MIL, the bride & her FIL, etc, etc. All before anyone else is allowed to dance. I’m going to do this because if we don’t, my family will literally have no idea how to proceed with the dancing portion of the evening. If we open up the dance floor with no pomp and circumstance, my relatives will probably just crowd around the edges of the dance floor and twitter around like penguins on the edge of a rock until one gets up the gumption to jump in. Cute as this mental image is, I’ll go ahead and do the ritualistic dance order to spare them the confusion.


The Money Dance: This is where the fam pins money to the bride in exchange for a dance. Nowadays grooms do it, too. I think it’s hella tacky, and I’m not about to let anyone come at my dress (or me) with pointy objects. However, I don’t know if my fam can handle it if this exercise in bridal humiliation is skipped.


 The Mop Dance: Unless you’re just an enthusiastic practitioner of the Custodial Arts, the Mop Dance is a cruel display. This is where the the older unmarried siblings of the bride & groom are forced to dance with gussied-up mops & brooms to mock their singlehood. Though my family will gladly humiliate anyone in any and all ways possible as the situation permits, we currently do not observe this tradition.


Hog’s Trough Dance: This is where the unmarried siblings of the bride & groom dance around in a hog’s trough until it breaks. Don’t ask me, man. I don’t even know what a hog’s trough looks like. But if somebody wants to break shit, I wouldn’t mind rigging up some Mythbusters-esque Rube Goldberg Machine of Hog Trough Destruction at my wedding.


The Charivarie: (Pronounced “Sha-ree-va-ree”, but my fam says “She-vau-ree.” Potato, potahto.) This is an old French custom of disrupting the bride & groom’s wedding night. People gather outside the couple’s room and bang pots and pans until the couple invites them in for some food or drink. It’s basically the time-honored Cajun version of  a hipster afterparty. Only with less drugs. My family is spotty about practicing this. I was really young the last time we did it, and I fell asleep on the couch in my poor cousin’s honeymoon suite until my family decided to give up & leave the newlyweds in peace. Though I have no control over this, I’m pretty sure they’re gonna do it at my wedding. Cuz I was an idiot, and booked my whole family in the same hotel.


Second Line: People play New Orleans music and everybody files in dancing behind somebody holding an umbrella made up to look like Bobby Trendy. It’s basically a tranny conga line. The second line is not exactly a wedding thing. It’s also not totally a funeral thing, either. People just do it in situations where there’s a lot of people around to join in. My grandma was like, “Can we do a second line at your wedding? I’ll make the umbrella. ” And I’m all, “OK.”


   Well, that’s pretty much it for the Cajun identity bit. Stay tuned for the next 2 installments:

CCW: Western Wedding Customs

and CCW: Korean Wedding Customs


 Well, that’s pretty much it. If anyone can think of other Cajun traditions to address, leave them in the comments!


6 responses to “Culture Clash Wedding: Cajun Customs

  1. Whoa. I cannot imagine the various ways any number of my relatives would cut a bitch if someone tried to force them to do the mop dance.
    I did not realize so many of these traditions were still practiced regularly. You’re lucky to have a family that will liven up your wedding with at least the excuse of culture, whereas my family will liven up my wedding by getting drunk and vomiting in the chapel.

  2. Vomit in the chapel? That is so hardcore.

    Actually, the truth is that not all of these traditions are alive & well. Like the Hog’s Trough one. I read about it & knew I could bounce a joke off of it, so I included it. But still, you learned something, didn’t you?
    *cue The More You Know banner…*

  3. bewilderedhousewife

    Oh man is this going to be a good time! If you have any last minute cancellations, call me up, I am THERE.

    Money Dance brainstorm… maybe wear a scarf-draped-over-your-shoulders-type-thing for money-pinning purposes. Then you can roll it up and shove it in your purse when they’re all done handing over the dough. Or something.


  4. LadySkittlehattington

    I did the money dance once and forgot my money. I totally bewildered the groom. He still thinks I’m wacko.

  5. So…have you figured out what songs you are going to use for the structured dancing? I think that would be the hardest part for me. “Hmmm, what song best sums my relationship with my father-in-law?” Also, I’m really paranoid people would read unintended meanings into the songs.

  6. You know, if someone tried to make me dance with a mop at a wedding I’d kick up suck a stink along the lines of ‘What, you saying I NEED a man?!’ Then I’d grab the thing and start swinging it around martial arts style until someone stopped me.
    They’d never try THAT again.

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