Lauren & Madhu's eco-friendly, handmade, Hindu-Catholic fusion wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015

Remember those beautiful hand-made paper flower bouquets that we all drooled over. Well here is the wedding that started them all!

Me and Madhu The offbeat bride: Lauren, paper florist

Her offbeat partner: Madhu, scientist

Location & date of wedding: St. John's RCC in Frederick, MD; reception at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center — May 22, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding was offbeat because it had to be. There were too many traditions to follow and people to please, but we had to please ourselves first.

Placing of the thali -- Hindu necklace worn by married women
Madhu and I couldn't live without an eco-friendly and budget-conscious wedding. My mom couldn't live without a Catholic wedding. My MIL couldn't live without a Hindu wedding. I was damned if I wasn't going to have a really cute handmade-focused wedding. We did our best to do it all, and came close.

I was amazed at how accepting everyone was. There were a few trying moments over the religious side, but no one flinched when I wore red heels and a short dress. We had vegetarian Indian food at the reception, cupcakes as centerpieces, a paper flower bouquet, and a baraat on foot (instead of in a sportscar or on a horse). We also encouraged our guests to walk from the church to the reception, which most did.
Our ceremony was essentially Catholic, with a placing of the thali (necklace worn by married women) and a reading from the Bhagavad Gita. Before the ceremony, there was a simplified baraat, in which the groom is escorted to the temple (or, in this case, the church). Usually the groom will ride a horse or a sportscar, but in order to make our wedding more sustainable and affordable, everyone just walked. After the wedding ceremony, there was an impromptu Hindu ceremony in which the married women of Madhu's family gave us sweet things to eat and a blessing. This was so impromptu that I don't even know what it was called!

Impromptu Hindu ceremony including sweets (to represent sweet things later in life) and a blessing
Our vendors were super supportive also. Our photographer was up for anything, our florist suggested I do paper flowers, and the Delaplaine's coordinator even sewed our table runners.

Our biggest challenge: Probably religion. For various reasons, this issue became particularly fraught for both of our mothers. I can't pretend that there weren't fights and tears, but we all came through the other side still liking each other, so I guess we did something right.

The main tip I can give here is to make sure everyone knows that you really are trying your hardest to respect any and all religions involved. The ceremony we ended up with was not our ideal. I made sure my MIL knew that I, too, was dissatisfied with not having equal time, so to speak, for each religion. I think (and I hope) that it helped.
Movement photo
My favorite moment: Dancing to our first song, Real Love, by Regina Spektor. It's really not the best first song (a bit long and slow), but it's very meaningful to us.

Walking together to the reception.

Watching our families dance and laugh together, particularly when Madhu's family friend, Sateesh, started to lead an Indian dance and almost everyone in my family joined in. My family still talks about how much fun they had dancing that night.
Giggling and whispering together at our sweetheart table, kind of alone for once during the day. (Okay, I was doing most of the giggling.)

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great:I was very afraid that my meat-loving family would hate the idea of eating vegetarian for one meal, that someone would give me crap for wearing red high heels, that the two families wouldn't mix, that no one would dance. In short, I'm a worrier. What actually happened is that everyone seemed to go out of their way to have fun and if there were complaints, I didn't hear them.

They used baby photos for table numbers. Adorable!
My advice for offbeat brides: If something isn't important to you, jettison it ruthlessly. I don't care for flowers, so they were gone.

Listen to your family and give in when they're being reasonable. My mom was not in favor of us having no flowers, so she offered to pay for them herself. That lead to having some quite nice, simple flowers in the church, for the bridesmaids, and flowergirls. Oh, and I gave in to myself and made my own bouquet, which opened a new career path.

If you find a vendor who really gets you, hold on tight to that person. Bake them cookies. Show them love. Having a professional voice backing you up can do wonders with relatives who can only see their own opinion. Not to mention, a vendor is much more experienced in dealing with wedding crap than you or your family. They are also more detached about the situation.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding:
Our wedding, or the wedding planning, kind of changed my life. I never considered myself a crafty or creative person prior to that process.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Photographer: Spence Photographics — David Spence was the most fun, easygoing, diplomatic photographer imaginable.
  • Flowers: En Masse Flowers — Sharon at En Masse Flowers encouraged me to make my own bouquet and quite literally changed my lfe.
  • Venue: Delaplaine Visual Arts Center — Marilyn at the Delaplaine sewed our table runners and did our decorating for us, asking only that we donate the table runners. We threw in the decorations, too, because what were we going to do with them afterwards?
  • Wedding Dress: Jane BonBon

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. "Paper florist", what a wonderful job!

    Everything looks fantastic, and well done on managing to mix the two religions. That's the one headache I will be eternally glad we don't have to deal with! I wouldn't even want to attempt it but it looks like you pulled it off perfectly.

    Well done too on getting the meat eaters to give vegetarian a try! I hate when people won't try something new for no reason. I'm a meat eater but there's some veggie food I love and I'd hate to have missed out on that!

    (Also I have the exact same camera case that's in one of those photos, possibly the same camera too! 😀 Small things…)

  2. I love Delaplaine! My FI had a piece of his work in an auction there I and got to see a reception being set up when we stopped by one time. It seems like a really cool venue 🙂

  3. I remember seeing this wedding on the OBT Flickr stream, and I thought, "Wow! What a fun, romantic, and pretty wedding!" Congrats!

  4. I can NEVER get my sari wrapped that well. I always look like I'm heading to a toga party.

    That picture of the two of your smooching is SO incredibly beautiful; probably my favorite wedding portrait EVER.

    Edit: OK, just got through the slide show. HOLY CRAP, what a beautiful venue, wedding, everything!

  5. How amazing!! I'm catholic and my hubby to be is hindu. So far, we have only heard a couple of grumblings about our interfaith union. So good to see another couple do the same thing. Namaste and God Bless!!!

  6. Yay! This looks so cool! Beautiful, colourful, happy and inclusive. What more can you ask?
    xx

    P.S. I've ordered paper flowers from Lauren for my wedding, which I'm really, really happy about! Thanks again Lauren for being so helpful and accommodating with my very short notice order – and thanks to OBB for the link!

  7. I'm so excited to see two Frederick County weddings on OBB in recently… finally some love! I tend to skip right to the pics and then go back and read the post after and as soon as I got to the part where you were walking down the alley I knew FOR SURE where you are (I went to SJRCS which is right next to the church)… and also I love that En Masse is as cool as they seem!

  8. What an adorable wedding! I love that you wore red high heels. And I have to say I'm a worrier, too. My immediate family is totally supportive, but I still catch myself wondering what the extended relatives will think of our wedding. Bravo on going ahead and doing it your way!

    PS– Thanks, Lauren, for being so patient with all my goofy questions and things– I just know that my yellow/black/cream Pride & Prejudice bouquet is going to be gorgeous. 🙂

  9. Your wedding looked so fun!All of your paper flowers, hair clips, head bands…etc were beautiful.

    The picture of the two of you kissing with the girls in the red dresses dancing about is amazing.

  10. So much to like about this wedding. Is it weird that the tables #'s are my favorite? What a great idea! I want to steal it/pass it on to all brides. Intensely cute and creative.

  11. I think this wedding is very nice and different too. I'm not a big fan of paper flowers but the ones here are very nice and unique way to add some "flowers" instead of real ones. I love the baby breath flowers the bridesmaid used. I really love those saris all of you wore, I have been looking for those to wear as a reception dress to my up coming renewal but havent found the ones I like. Where did those sari come from does anyone know?? The pictures came out very nice great wedding!! Congrats to the couple.

  12. Hi there! I'm Lauren's Mom, finally catching up with my blogging girl! The wedding was amazing. My aunts and uncles loved it just as much as Lauren's cousins. I have not heard a negative word–they wouldn't dare! My favorite parts were Lauren's bouquet, the tri-fold table markers (that featured Lauren & Madhu at the age of the table number), and the little programs that Lauren made. On the back was one of nine quotes that Lauren and Madhu had selected because they reflected their relationship. It was a wonderful day and we have a wonderful new (well, year old now) son-in-law.

  13. Ok, maybe it is the caterer in me, but what about the food? Since one of the main concerns was serving vegetarian fare to a meat eating crowd, what ended up on the menu? Would love to hear how it turned out (good, of course)!

    -Kevin

    • Hi, Kevin! We served up vegetarian Indian buffet. The caterers were amazing, they accomodated my mom's extreme aversion to hot spices and religion-related food restrictions of other guests. Can't remember the name of the place off the top of my head, but it's the only Indian restaurant in downtown Frederick.

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