Hi everyone, a couple of people have asked me how I blended both cultures into one ceremony. A lot of fusion weddings have two different ceremonies on different days or the same day but as I touched on with previous posts, we decided to have one ceremony with our immediate family as the officiants. Since we didn’t have the expertise of religious officiants to give us the scripts we made our own ceremony which made it even extra special. We researched a lot of things on the internet and took SOME (keyword) advice from our close friends/family. Thank you Google for allowing us to get married haha! And now to pay it forward for other engaged couples, we are happily giving you our ceremony online for you to hopefully enjoy along with some explanations, thought processes, challenges etc.
- Wedding Registry – From all the Indian weddings I’ve been to, I’ve never seen a wedding registry which is usually the case for the American weddings. Who doesn’t love getting gifts? *looks around* NO ONE! I wanted a wedding registry but Nelli didn’t. He said I could have one but it would specifically be for me which I didn’t think was appropriate. We ended up not having a registry in the end but we did get some very nice generous cards/gifts anyway! I wish I had something like ZOLA. Zola is a great website that combines a lot of wedding registry functions into one convenient place. I didn’t even know they offered free wedding websites, they are truly a 1 stop shop. You can combine registries from different brands and they have the option to provide cash as a gift (which is what a lot of Indians tend to do). If your friends want to pool their money which some of my friends did, you have that option on Zola as well. Also, it may be Indian weddings traditionally don’t have registries because of internet/department store access. Things are quickly changing as India is becoming one of the fastest growing markets in the world. I love that friends and family abroad can use their international credit cards and billing addresses with no extra fee on Zola. Lastly, Zola makes it really easy to send thank you notes! We lost track of who gave us what and if we had Zola they would have a list of people who bought us gifts.
- Prayer to Lord Ganesh – I didn’t really want us praying to our respective Gods because I wanted to keep the ceremony non-religious. Yes, I did have a bible reading but we weren’t asking for blessings from any higher being. We decided as a couple to include the Lord Ganesh prayer because it was really important to Nelli.
- Mangalsutura – I like to think the mangalsutra necklace is the equivalent of wedding rings, it’s that important in a Hindu ceremony. The more I read about what the mangalsutra represents, the less I wanted to incorporate it though. The necklace is suppose to have 3 knots which represents obedience to husband, parents, and God. Seriously?! Obedience!? HAH! In addition, the saying that is supposed to be chanted says “May your husband live for 100 years”. What about me?! In the end, Nelli wrote his own chant in a way that spoke to both of us because he is fluent in Sanskrit (YAY!). He put the necklace on me without the craziness of the parents/aunties crowding around me trying to tie knots.
- Declaration of Marriage intention – This is a Catholic wedding tradition that is pretty straightforward. I think one of the original questions is somewhere along the lines of “Will you promise to raise your children under the Catholic Church”. Nelli was like “wait WHAT?! I can’t promise that!” I thought my aunt was going to have a heart attack but she was willing to work with us and suggested that we say something that can be applicable to both religions like “Will you accept children lovingly from God?” We ended up going with that….Thanks Dede!
- Walking down the aisle – My parents were so confused as to why the whole wedding party/immediate family was walking down the aisle. Traditionally, in American weddings the groom waits at the alter and there are ushers (not family members) walking the mothers to their seats. In the end, I decided not to change anything and have everyone walk down the aisle because it was my way of honoring them.
- Lessons Learned
- Triple check to make sure you have all your props at the ceremony location! Garlands, Broom, Necklace, Sacred Fire! Our garlands were in the fridge when we were ready to exchange them! OOPS!
- Be clear on expectations! I told Nelli our vows should be 1-3 minutes long. His was 1 minute and mine was 3 minutes! *Face palm* I should have said 2 minutes for the each of us so my vows didn’t look so long! Everybody loved mine though and was laughing/crying all at the same time! Should I post my vows to the blog?
- Jumping the broom – I had to pick up my train prior to jumping but Nelli thought I was jumping already so our jumps are a little off…haha no big deal!
- You may kiss the bride – This is not traditionally done in hindu ceremonies because SCANDALOUS! We did a quick kiss but I wish we would have just taken our time and enjoyed the moment
- Family expectations – My in-laws didn’t really have anything to say about the ceremony…probably because it was so far away from what they were used to. Traditionally, hindu weddings are 3 hours long, ours was 30 minutes! Some practices or lack thereof our family questioned like everyone walking down the aisle, Me or Nelli not having red powder on our forehead, and Nelli giving me the mangalsutra. We took their feedback into consideration but we ultimately did it OUR way and they didn’t put up a big fight. The most feedback I received was from my side of the family which I found surprising! They thought the script was more Hindu than Catholic but I found it to be numerically even (not that it mattered). I wouldn’t change our script for anything!
- Research! Make sure that every word in your wedding script is something you believe in! There are a lot of things in a Hindu wedding ceremony that incorporate caste traditions and identify a bride as being married (toe rings, bangles, sindoor, bindi, mangalsutra) – most of these things we cut out of our script. In these cultures, they place too much importance on a woman being married and even when she’s married – the sole concern is that of her husband. Our wedding script is just our little way of fighting the patriarchy, discrimination, and making sure our actions match our words. Set the tone for the rest of your life!
- Helpful Links
- I really like this ETSY STORE for buying wedding brooms. I plan to use my broom as a heirloom and pass it down to my brother/sister/kids when they get married. I started a new tradition and for each person that gets married, they will carve their name in the wood. This broom is handmade out of all natural materials. Check it out!
- Here is a YOUTUBE LINK for the music that was played during the mangalsutra tradition. Nelli wanted this to be playing in the background because it is quintessntial South Indian and he is very proud of his culture and LOVES the Carnatic style of Classical Indian music .
For a full script please see link below ❤
Dede: Friends, Family and Loved Ones, I want to welcome all of you today to celebrate one of life’s greatest moments. We are all here today, united by the love of Francesca and Raghav.
Prayer to Lord Ganesh
Raj: We will now commence this ceremony with a prayer to Ganesh.
Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya Surya-Kotti Samaprabha Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryeshu Sarvadaa.
“O Ganesh, one with the brilliance of million suns. Please bless this wedding ceremony and remove all obstacles.”
Raj: The couple will now exchange garlands to signify the start of the wedding rituals and the couples acceptance of one another. Consisting of flowers and thread, the garland symbolizes happiness, enthusiasm, aspiration, zeal and beauty.
*Couple exchanges garlands*
Dede: Now, A reading from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 12:31
Brothers and Sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.
But I shall show you a still more excellent way.
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have
love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend
all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to
move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over
so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own
interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood
over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
The Word of the Lord.
Tie the Mangalsutra (Necklace)
Raj: Raghav will now tie the mangalsutra (Sacred thread) which is a symbol of love, happiness and a successful marriage. This necklace signifies the beginning of new, strongly tied bond between the couple (Nadaswaram).
“Mangalyam tantunanena mama jeevana hetuna kanthe badhnami subhage twam jeeva sarada satam”
“ O maiden with many auspicious attributes, This is a sacred thread. I tie this around your neck, May you live happily with me for a hundred years“
*Nelli Simultaneously Puts Mangalsutra on Francesca*
Declaration of Marriage Intention
Dede: Francesca and Raghav, have you come here today to enter into Marriage without coercion, freely and wholeheartedly?
Raghav and Francesca: I HAVE
Dede: Are you prepared, as you follow the path of Marriage, to love and honor each other as long as you both shall live?
Raghav and Francesca: I AM
Dede: Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God?
Raghav and Francesca: I AM
Dede: Since it is your intention to enter into the covenant of Holy Matrimony, join your right hands, and declare your consent before God:
Nelli: (Write own vows)
Francesca: (Write own vows)
Dede: “Wedding rings are made precious by our wearing them. Let these rings also be a sign that love has substance as well as soul, a present as well as a past, and that, despite its occasional sorrows, love is a circle of happiness, wonder, and delight. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here today.”
Raghav: “I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness. As I place it on your finger, I commit my heart and soul to you.”
*Raghav placing ring on Francesca’s finger*
Francesca: “I give you this ring as a symbol of my love for you. Let it be a reminder that I am always by your side and that I will always be a faithful partner to you.”
*Francesca, placing ring on Nelli’s finger*
Saptapadi (Seven Steps)
Raj: Now the couple will take seven full circles, walking clockwise around the agni (sacred fire). This represents the seven principles and promises they make to each other.
We will provide for and support each other.
We will develop mental, physical, and spiritual strength.
We will share the worldly possessions.
We will acquire knowledge, happiness, and peace.
We will raise strong and virtuous children.
We will enjoy the fruits of all seasons.
We will always remain friends and cherish each other
*simultaneously* walks after each promise
Dede: Now, bound by tradition and love, I pronounce you husband and wife…You may kiss your bride.
Jump the Broom
Dede: We end this ceremony with the African-American tradition of jumping of the broom. Slaves in this country were not permitted to marry, so they jumped a broom as a way of ceremonially uniting. Today it represents great joy and at the same time serves as a reminder of the past and the pain of slavery.
As Francesca and Raghav jump the broom, they physically and spiritually cross the threshold into the land of matrimony. It marks the beginning of making a home together. It symbolizes the sweeping away of the old and the welcoming of the new; the sweeping away of all negative energy, making way for all things that are good to come into your lives. It is also a call of support of the marriage from the entire community of family and friends. The bride and groom will now begin their new life together with a clean sweep!
*Nelli and Francesca Jump the Broom*