Everyone knows that planning a wedding gets stressful. But probably no one knows this more than the couples on Bride & Prejudice (FYI’s upcoming docuseries premiering March 15 at 9 p.m. EST), who have to deal with the realities of planning nuptials that are cross-cultural, interfaith, and everything in between. Similarly, when Jamaican-born Karla Ferguson married her French-American fiancé Jerome Soimaud (they met during a flight to Paris, fell in love and wed a year later in Miami), the couple faced a few unexpected bumps along the way. Below, Ferguson shares what happened when two people from different backgrounds tied the knot.
1. It wasn’t just my family who had preconceived notions about the French man I was marrying – I did too. The biggest lost-in-translation moment was realizing Jerome (who has traveled all over Africa) was far more "black" than I was. When it came to planning the wedding, I thought that he would want to share his Judaic or French traditions, but that was far from true – he wanted the wedding to have a very African influence. In Jamaica, we tend to have more conservative, ceremonious British traditions. Marrying Jerome, I had to switch gears and delve more into the African side of my culture, which was a huge awakening.
2.We had to learn to compromise quickly. I thought I was a nonconformist before the ring went on my finger. All of a sudden, I wanted to go the traditional route with announcements and invitations, and I even found myself obsessed with bridal magazines. Jerome didn’t want to do anything traditional. The French apparently don’t like rules and my now-husband is a major rule breaker, so anything that was conventional was exactly what he didn’t want. And Jamaican girls – we tend to follow rules when it comes to these major life moments. We needed to learn how to compromise.
3.We went dress shopping together. My soon-to-be French family didn’t think it was strange at all or bad luck to see the bride in her dress before the wedding. As a matter of fact, Jerome’s mother even dragged her husband on the search with us. This was exciting for me because I took a trip to Paris just to find a dress and learned how important fashion is to my new family. Jerome and I choose a gorgeous Christian Lacroix gown together.
4. Learning how to address my in-laws was awkward. When I first met my in-laws, I noticed that Jerome referred to his parents, aunts, and uncles on a first-name basis, and they insisted on me using their first names as well. For them, it was normal. In Jamaican culture, that is a major no-no. I even call aunts and uncles who are my age "Aunt so-and-so" or "Uncle so-and-so."
5.The cliché about Caribbean people being late for everything still applies on their wedding day. My sister and maid of honor spent so long getting ready that I was an hour late, leaving a bunch of Europeans unaccustomed to the Miami heat waiting in the sun for my arrival. My fiancé thought I was bailing on him, of course. All the Europeans ended up with slight sunburns; the Jamaicans were fine.
6.We couldn’t understand our officiant. During the ceremony, the officiant recited the vows using old English and all my husband could say was, "I have no idea what that gibberish means, but, yes, I want her to be my wife."
7.The garter toss was too sexy. In France, they don’t do the bouquet and garter toss. So at our wedding, when Jerome’s best man caught the garter and my teenage cousin caught the bouquet and had to have the garter placed on her … well, let’s just say that my very conservative family got to witness some very seductive moves put on my cousin. That was uncomfortable.
8.Nothing breaks down the language barrier like a party. Overall, our wedding was extremely festive with very few speeches as customary for us British Jamaicans – instead we let dancing break down the language barrier and bring the two families together. Everyone left the wedding on a high after hours of dancing, eating and drinking – even when we couldn’t understand each other’s languages and thick accents.