By Aparna Lele Balchandani
We spent the day in La Jolla, California, reminiscing about our first year together, one filled with romance and precious memories of our incredible wedding day. We often think about that magical day, and marvel at how our lives have been filled with joy since meeting each other on opposite ends of the world 5 years ago.
At the age of one, I lost my hearing to meningitis, and my family moved to Boston so that I could have a better education. Sign language has always been my primary method of communication. I’m currently a Customer Relationship Manager at Sprint Corporation, where I’ve worked for the last 10 years.
Amit grew up in Bangalore and has been deaf since birth. Speech is his primary method of communication, but he learned sign language after meeting me. Amit has many years’ experience in 3D animation and visual effects, working with companies such as Technicolor and DreamWorks SKG.
Thanks to the miracle of technology and the encouragement of our families and friends, we found each other on opposite ends of the world. In 2008, a mutual friend sent a Facebook message announcing the upcoming Indian Deaf Expo. Amit and his friends started replying with funny comments, which got me curious because I’ve always wanted a guy with a great sense of humor! It took me a few days to work up the courage to send a friend request to Amit, and to my relief, he accepted right away. The next thing we knew, we were emailing like crazy, and our bond grew stronger and stronger. Despite our different backgrounds, we had a lot in common and couldn’t wait to meet. Our first date was in Mumbai, and by the end of it, I knew my dreams had come true. I found my soul mate.
We both knew it was only a matter of time before we would be together forever. Once Amit popped the question and I accepted, we had 3 months to plan our once-in-a-lifetime event. Luckily, event planning has always been my passion, arranging multiple events for Sprint during the past ten years. Going through the process of deciding on everything from invitation cards to décor, and wedding cake to wedding venue, we knew that we were true partners.
The actual wedding day was a perfect blend of all three of our cultures – Indian, deaf and American. Of utmost importance to both of us are the Indian customs and traditions that our families have followed for generations. But we also wanted to make sure that our deaf wedding guests would be able to understand and appreciate those traditions, so we had sign language interpreters translate the priest’s words. The priest spoke in Sanskrit, and then translated to English. The interpreters then translated from English to American Sign Language for us and our deaf guests. When the ceremony was over, a sea of hands waved in the air, because deaf people wave their hands instead of clapping for greater visual impact.
We blended in American culture with flower girls, speeches, a beautiful wedding cake, and our first dance together as husband and wife. We chose a salsa dance, and everyone went crazy when they realized that we were going to dance even though we couldn’t hear the music. It wasn’t hard, really. We just followed the rhythm and the beat by following the music in our hearts.
When we look back on our wedding day, we always think of how our two worlds – hearing and deaf – came together to help us celebrate our love for each other. Our first year together has been more incredible than we imagined, and we look forward to celebrating many, many more years together.
Wedding & Reception: Ruby Hill Golf Club, Pleasanton, CA
Photographers: Raj Singh Photography, The Hamilton Brand, Dan Brubaker, Creative Vision Studio
Videographers: Sweetwater Media, Creative Vision Studio
Hair & Makeup: Makeup by Aliya Qazi
DJ: Sonic Soundz
Florist: Dazzling blooms
Horse: Fancy Wheelin
Cake: Satura Cakes
Henna: Mehndi Designer
Officiant: Prabhakar Sathe