Our wedding ceremony was my absolute favorite part of my wedding day. Yes, there was cake (and ice cream), princess like gowns and jewels. But the ceremony? That was my creation and one that I’ll always be proud of. My husband grew up Catholic and I grew up Hindu. In our adult lives, we gravitated towards more of a spiritual existence rather than being bound to one religion. We’re both supportive of one another; it’s always been that way and I love it. It makes life easy.
We wanted our wedding to be a reflection of both of the customs and traditions we grew up with. We let go of what people might have “expected” and went with what made the most sense for us and for our families: we combined elements of both religions to create our own ceremony. It was unique and special. It meant the world to us.
Hindu weddings involve the bride being carried in on a doli. My doli was handmade just for me. A beautiful gold and pink chariot that I decorated with ribbon for the occasion. Traditionally, your “brothers” carry you, which includes male cousins. I thought that I would be nervous, or even a little scared being lifted up and carried, but all I could do in those moments was smile. I was marrying my favorite person!
We started with a traditional Hindu ceremony, which involves fire and eating honey. It’s a ceremony with lots of old traditions, and ours was filled with laughter. One of the best parts is that it includes both sets of parents – it’s really a family affair. Our Hindu priest was a riot and my cheeks actually started hurting from my smile. We ended with traditions customary to the Christian faith: a beautiful sermon, vows, a declaration of love and an exchange of rings. We would have liked to have a Catholic ceremony, but there are rules that prevented that from happening. Our Christian (non-denominational) priest was absolutely wonderful! He created a beautiful ceremony that spoke to our love for each other and our values. We wrote our own vows and I couldn’t make it through mine without tearing up a little.
We were lucky enough to have both of our grandmothers at our wedding and so they were the ones who signed our marriage license. I love that years from now, when I look at this document, it will have both of their signatures on it.
Planning a religious ceremony that encompasses two fairly different religions can be stressful. At the end of it all we found out that the details, though they mattered, they didn’t truly matter. We walked around the fire and we sealed the deal with a kiss in front of our tribe: the friends and family who raised us, who gave us values and who taught us the true meaning of love within religion and outside of religion.
Though religion played a role in our wedding ceremony, having two different religions didn’t matter to us, or to anyone else. We knew this with certainty when we saw our friends and families embrace two cultures with so much love and acceptance that it still makes me teary eyed, nearly a year later. Our ceremony confirmed what I always knew was true: love is the universal language.
Your turn: Have you ever been to an Indian wedding? Did you have to make some religious compromises for your wedding? And what did that compromise look like?
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All photos by the amazing and talented June Cochran.