Embrace your Cuban culture by enveloping it in every concept of your wedding: from invitations to the reception. Get creative! For example, your save the dates could be replicas of Cuban cigars. Your guests can unroll the message and view it like a scroll. Reflect your ethnicity and personality in your invites with the Latin styled staggered invitations and inserts. Your level of formality should be incorporated in your invitations. Typically, the invitations are in a distinctive “y” format; the bride’s announcement is on the left, the groom’s is on the right and the details form the base of the “y”. Depending on your preference, you can also use the traditional vertical format; list your padrinos (godparents), etc.

Consider meshing Latin traditions into your ceremony like the lazo (the cord), las monedas (the coins), and el cofre (the treasure box). The reception, however, is where you can really embellish and personify your celebration. Why not go for an Old Havana theme? Cuba is a wonderful mix of cultures like African, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese. These influences can be reflected in your decor and food choices. At your cocktail hour, play the smooth sounds of Tito Puente while authentic foods and drinks are passed.

Choose tapas for your cocktail hour, like empanadas, bocaditos, and chorizo. Have a signature drink; it will tame your alcohol budget as well as round out your theme. Opt for daiquiris (which can be made sans liquor for minors and non-drinkers) and mojitos. Incorporate dishes like sofrito, mojo, and maduros into the entrees.

You could even take it a step further and have a roasted pig! Dessert can be loads of fun with Cuban staples like flan and mango mousse. And you cannot forget the cafe cubano! Music is what makes the festivities. Find a band that is familiar with the music you want played. If you want a DJ, ensure he has favorites in his library like Celia Cruz, Ibrahim Ferrer, and Arturo Sandoval. Encourage your non-graceful guests to dance by providing a basic, but fun, dance lesson.

How you tie the decor into your theme is very important. Domino tables are seen everywhere in Cuba. Why not use a few scattered around your venue as cocktail tables. Dress up your dining tables with pearberry and orchids in your color. Choose bright colorful linens that contrast and complement the dishes you have chosen. Your rich, decadent cake could have sugar orchids and white butterflies cascading to the table. Release white doves at your departure for a romantic send off.

What ever you do, enjoy yourself and your loved ones! Turn to your family and friends for personal inspirations and traditions.

Buena Suerte!

Contributed by Terrica Skaggs