Posted on September 8, 2005

A Niche in Ethnic Hitches

Brian Feagans, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sept. 7

The bride’s family can’t serve its own cow — unless they have a catering license. But a groom is allowed to ride a white horse. And swinging around swords at the reception is OK, too, if you’re a belly dancer.

Such are the ground rules at the Gwinnett Civic Center, which has grown into a hot spot for elaborate ethnic weddings of the type that are common in Delhi and Dakar, but relatively new to Duluth.

More than half of the roughly two dozen weddings and wedding receptions held at the public facility each year have an international flavor, said Candice Kirkpatrick, a sales executive for Proof of the Pudding, the center’s caterer.

Festivities have followed the traditions of China, Egypt, India, Iran, Korea, Morocco, Nigeria and Pakistan, Kirkpatrick said.

Each event seems to produce something unexpected, she said, like the guest who tapped her on the shoulder and asked for a giant garbage bag at a Nigerian wedding last month.

“I said ‘Oh, no, is there a mess?’ ” Kirkpatrick said “She said ‘No, we need something to put all the money in.’ ”

Kirkpatrick turned around for her introduction to the Nigerian tradition of “spraying.” Friends and relatives of the groom — an ethnic Igbo from Nigeria — were showering the couple with torrents of cash as they danced.

The bride’s side — from Nigeria’s Yoruba culture — carefully placed everything from single dollars to $100 bills on top of the couple’s heads and shoulders. Kirkpatrick reacted quickly to Africa’s version of a dollar dance, brandishing a bright orange garbage bag to round up all the cash.

“These ethnic weddings,” Kirkpatrick said, “are a whole new ballgame.”


The facility has held three African weddings this summer.