A Cross-Cultural Love Story

By Tanesha Avasthi

When my husband and I met briefly as teens, over a decade ago, we never imagined we’d eventually merge families and cultures, creating a love to last a lifetime.

Crossing paths for the second time many years later, we fell madly in love. After dating for over a year, he surprised me with a silk robe from Victoria’s Secret. As I lifted the pink robe from the box, I felt something heavy hanging from the waist-tie. Before I could fully appreciate what was happening, there he was, bended on one knee with tears in his eyes. He was holding the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen, asking to marry me. We married seven months later, twice in the same day.

While most brides bear the burden of planning one wedding, I took on the challenge of planning two. Being from different cultures – he is Indian and I am American – we knew both traditions needed to be incorporated into a day that would unite us, and our families, for life.

Shortly after we got engaged, plans began for our trip to India, where I would meet my fiancé’s paternal family, have our official engagement party, and shop for my Indian bridal outfit. The initial excitement of my first overseas trip was soon overshadowed by a cloud of stress stemming from many disagreements about styles, colors, food, music, and biggest of all, what I, the bride, would wear.

While my fiancé’s family tradition requires brides to wear a lehnga choli, which consists of a long skirt with a matching blouse and a long scarf, I was determined to wear a sari. Though it wasn’t the family’s preference at first, once they saw me in the sari of my choice, they loved how it looked, and enthusiastically supported my decision.

Getting over that hurdle left me to deal with the next one: finding the perfect white dress. According to his family’s tradition, the color white is worn during funerals, so wearing white as a bride might have looked a little out of place, even disrespectful.

After searching high and low for the perfect dress, and going so far as to create cut-outs for my future mother-in-law’s approval, she finally told me that whatever choice I made would be perfect. With her blessing, I chose an ivory gown with heavy beadwork along the waist.

With major issues concerning clothing out of the way, it was time to finalize the details. 

Anyone who’s gotten married or is in the planning phase, completely understands when I say, you go in with one plan, and then end up married according to a completely different one. In the beginning of our planning stages, we decided it would be more cost-effective and less stressful to have just the one Indian ceremony, and during the reception I could wear my American wedding dress. But like I said, we started with that plan in mind, and then it all changed.

Just when I thought all the big decisions had been made, we realized we couldn’t agree on colors. My fiancé wanted the traditional vibrant oranges and reds. I, on the other hand, envisioned soft neutrals and fresh white flowers. With no easy compromise in sight, we decided to have two ceremonies. This way, we would each have one ceremony exactly how we wanted it, and the reception could be a mix of our cultural traditions. In the end, we were able to successfully mesh classic and modern with fuchsia and silver, using both Western- and Indian-inspired accents. 

Looking back, everything turned out beautifully, and we couldn’t have imagined it better. We adore how our photographer captured our love at our multi-cultural event. Among my fondest memories were our many changes of outfits. And, just for the record, my husband had more than I did! My dream wedding was simple yet elegant. And even with over 300 guests that included a large extended family, we managed to make it intimate.

So for all future brides in the planning phase of a cross-cultural event, my advice to you is this: Your day will never go exactly as planned, so stay flexible and, most importantly, compromise. Your wedding day is your own so make it as unique as you and your partner. I’m proud to say that I managed to have two weddings in one – a big, fat cross-cultural wedding, full of culture, craziness and everlasting love. My favorite part other than getting to marry the man of my dreams? I literally got to look and feel like a princess on my wedding day, in two completely different ceremonies.

Tanesha Awasthi: GirlWithCurves.tumblr.com

Photos by IQPhoto.com