Previous installments of The Toast’s advice column from two disparate and imperfect persons can be found here. Last time: Death.
I am marrying my absolute favorite person in the world next year. It’s wonderful, glorious, I’m brimming with happiness, blah blah blah wedding planning is hard, blah blah blah, but there is a specific point of etiquette I’d like to ask about, and I don’t have any real-life people to ask who won’t think I’m ridiculous. The wedding is going to be a fairly chill, barbecue-in-the-backyard-of-our-home, low-key sort of event. I’m trying to figure out favors, and think it might be nice to have little bags of wildflower seeds, and I would like to attach little paper cranes to the bags with our names and the date written on the wings. I learned some basic origami years ago in the girl scouts, and it would be a relaxing diy-sort of project for me, and I think the symbolism behind them is beautiful (I read the Sadako book in grade school, obviously cried inconsolably, became a raging librul pacifist, etc., but I really like the idea of folding a thousand of them and bringing myself and my family a thousand years of good luck) but my fiance and I are both just your average white, USA-ian type folks and I am having trouble figuring out whether paper folding is a pretty craft project that can easily cross cultural borders, or if bringing them into my wedding is going to evoke imperialism and orientalism and atomic bombs, or seem really appropriative and icky and like I’m adopting a symbol from a culture that’s not my own because I don’t *like* the symbols from my own culture as much. I don’t think I have any Japanese friends that I can ask (I mean, I haven’t reviewed everybody’s citizenship forms, or their grandparents’ forms, but it hasn’t come up) and I would feel weird about asking random friends of other east-Asian ethnicities, because damn, white girl, no. And I’m pretty sure if I ask the generality of facebook people will tell me I’m overthinking things, but I’d really rather not be a presumptuous jerk if I can help it, and I know the commentariat at the Toast is varied and culturally aware and kind, and I’d like to hear opinions that might be more well-thought-out and sensitive than “shrug, do what you want, it’s just a decoration.” Or, if it is just a decoration, maybe just the opinion of someone who probably at least briefly considered that it might be more than that.
TL/DR: Paper cranes: pretty decoration that a white girl can use in her wedding, or significant cultural artifact that white girls should probably avoid?
Nicole/Mallory: We’re also white ladies, and while we both lean toward the “better not to do it” camp, we thought it might be wise to broaden the circle beyond “a handful of white ladies.” Official polls demonstrated a moderate “yeah, just don’t do it” consensus; but we also sought the specific counsel of friend-of-the-Toast Sarah Jeong. Take it away, Sarah! Can you stay and help us answer the other questions too? Yes? Awesome!