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Personalizing Your Ceremony: Tie in Your Background

Every culture has its own wedding customs, many of which date back centuries. Including your heritage in the ceremony not only makes it more meaningful to you, but also lets you express an important part of who you are to your guests. You may already know the traditions of your culture from attending family weddings, but if not, ask relatives about rituals they remember or have heard about. Or check books about wedding customs.

For her June 2004 wedding to Sean Burns in Jackson, Michigan, Sarah Jones incorporated a Mexican tradition to honor her heritage. A wedding rosary, called a marquerno or lazo, which has two loops, was draped over the couple to signify their unity; as the priest placed one loop over Sean and the other over Sarah, he recited a prayer. "It was wonderful to be able to give my guests a window into my heritage," says Sarah. The ritual was even more sentimental since Sarah's grandmother and great-grandmother had traveled together to Mexico to buy the rosary for her. "The fact that they chose my marquerno is something I'll always cherish," she says.

Keep in mind that you aren't restricted to your own heritage. If a tradition appeals to you because you have a special connection to the culture (you met in Italy, for example), or if you simply believe in what a certain ritual represents, feel free to include it. The most important thing is choosing what resonates for you.

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