The offbeat bride: Liz, Assistant Brand Manager (and Tribe member)
Her offbeat partner: Suraj, IT Project Manager/Part-Time Fossil Hunter
Location & date of wedding: Bolingbroke Mansion in Wayne, PA, a simple but lovely historic house that lets you bring your own caterer. (Key for an Indian wedding!) — September 5, 2010
What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding was destined to be offbeat. Not only did we plan on having an Indian-fusion wedding, but we wanted a BUDGET Indian-fusion wedding. For those of you who know Indian weddings, rarely do these two things coexist.
A typical Indian wedding takes place over three days. While the wedding was important to us, it wasn't important enough to blow our savings, so we simply picked the parts from the ceremony that were significant to us and dropped the rest. Then we added little American traditions like the kiss and exchanging of rings.
Instead of wearing a white dress, or a traditional red Indian bridal outfit, I fell in love with a bright turquoise lehenga choli in the store. Contrary to both traditions, Suraj was there during the dress shopping to help pick it out. He is a man of style, and I value his opinion.
Oh yeah, and technically I was bought by my husband during the ceremony for a mere fifty bucks. Told you it was a budget wedding! (Don't worry ladies, I am quite the feminist. But some traditions were too silly to take seriously and so we enjoyed laughing through the antiquated parts. Plus, it was pretty funny when the priest thought my brother was asking for 50 rupees, rather than dollars!)
Tell us about the ceremony: The ceremony was long, but fun. An Indian wedding is filled with games for the family to get to know one another. For instance, my sister had to pinch Suraj's nose and say, "you'd better take care of my sister" at the very beginning. Then when Suraj entered the mandap and took off his shoes, my sister had to steal them when he wasn't looking. I will always remember my sister running up to me, breathless, shoes in hand, yelling "Success!"
During our ceremonial walk around the fire, Suraj and I had to race each other to our seats, musical chairs-style. Whoever got to their seat first is the one who rules the household. (Bwahaha, I won!)
Overall, the focus of the ceremony was on two things: joining our families and a foundation of "total friendship." It truly could not have been more perfect for us, since Suraj and I are first and foremost the best of friends.
Our biggest challenge: Pulling off a multi-cultural wedding isn't easy. We had a lot of strong viewpoints that we needed to contend with (particularly when it came to venue, size/length of the wedding, and food/alcohol). The way we made it through was by establishing a united front as a couple and then approaching our family members in the most respectful way possible. Towards the end, our family members appreciated that we were trying to compromise.
My favorite moment: It meant so much to me that even though the ceremony itself was Indian, my non-Indian family was 100% integrated. I was literally surrounded by my mom, sister, and brother during the ceremony and that made it so much more special. Plus, it was wonderful to see my mom and Suraj's mom feed each other sweets during the ceremony.
Another great family moment was during the reception. Our cousins Tulsi and Pooja performed a beautiful Indian dance for us. Right before their performance, they had asked me to join in during the second song. With some coersion, I agreed, and I'm so glad I did. I had a blast twirling around (to Jai Ho, no less) and couldn't stop smiling.
Lastly, I will always remember when during the ceremony, Suraj's toe crept over on top of mine, hidden beneath my lehenga. With the inevitable jitters of being the center of attention, that toe snuggle was the most grounding, reassuring thing on earth.
My funniest moment: I had a bit of a laissez-faire attitude towards some elements of the wedding, and bought my shoes at DSW the day before. Flash forward to 30 minutes before the ceremony. Our uncle takes my shoes and returns with a perplexed look on his face. Turns out I had bought TWO RIGHT FEET. Luckily, my awesome mom and brother were able to zoom to the nearest DSW. As the minutes are ticking by, I get this text from my mom, "Mother Goose has found the egg." It was so perfect for the moment and had me laughing all day.
I messed up a bit of the ceremony by dropping a banana leaf into the fire instead of the rice that the banana leaf was holding, and all of a sudden, the ceremonial fire grew five times as big. Everyone was laughing, and the priest thankfully scooped out the leaf and blew out the fire. Also, one of the decorative pillars underneath the mandap kept falling and crashing on my mom. Thank goodness she has a great sense of humor and laughed it off each time.
My advice for offbeat brides: Have a vision in your head of what you want the day to look and feel like, but be much more focused on the feel over the look. This is particularly important as a budget bride. Did I have some crazy-looking ideas in my head from poring through wedding blog posts, particularly those lavish Indian weddings? Yes. Could I afford them even in my wildest dreams? No.
Just keep focusing on soaking it in and having fun, and you'll have a fabulous day. So many things went wrong on my day from an aesthetic perspective, i.e. my precious table numbers/name tags were never put out. But who cares? People sat themselves wherever they wanted, walked around and had a blast. That is so much more important than having my cool Hindi-font table numbers out there.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? The most important lesson I learned was to give up control in order to be present and enjoy myself. The day of, the caterer couldn't find the water glasses from the rental company, the bartender showed up 90 minutes late, and the hair dresser burned a hole through a chair with a curling iron. Whenever someone approached me with a new issue, I quickly deferred to my wonderful family members. And you know what? Things were handled. An aunt found a bunch of water bottles to give out, my family friend hopped behind the bar and started pouring drinks, and my mom resolved the burnt chair issue. I felt confident that as a family, we could tackle whatever was thrown our way.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Bride's dress and jewelry: Saahil
- Flowers: Fifty Flowers
- Vases: Handblown by my talented brother, Michael
- Cake: Made by my talented friend, Lindsay
- Photography: Kelli Cohee
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!