by Keya Milla
When Interfaith Romances Bloom
Last weekend, Robbie and I witnessed the marriage of two good friends, one Hindu and one Catholic, and celebrated their wedding with a party that bespoke a seemingly effortless confluence of two cultures and faiths. Bridesmaids wore bindis, the sweet table had chocolate mousse and methai, and every now and again, the band would take a breather to play old Hindi favorites. The celebration was beautiful, a true testament to the success of the difficult planning that went into it.
And I would know. My sister’s recent engagement (Congratulations, Bena!) has me excitedly involved in planning for the coming year. And if a family wedding isn’t enough to look forward to, it turns out I have not one, but three close childhood friends getting married next year. These four women in my life share more than just the same wedding year though. Common to all of them is a deep-rooted pride in their ethnic and religious backgrounds and traditions – Indian, Greek, Armenian, and Jewish. And yet, each of them is also navigating the challenges of planning an intercultural or interfaith wedding.
As a sister-of-the bride, friend-of-the-bride or bridesmaid in at least four different weddings next year, I am guessing I will have more than a couple of to-do lists. More significant than the “to do” though, will be the “how to do” – how to observe individual religious practices, maintain family customs, respect cultural traditions, and at the same time, seamlessly combine everything into one big celebration.
Robbie, a Catholic, and I, a Hindu, asked ourselves these same questions just three years ago when we were planning our own wedding. But even as recently as 2009, there was little and less out there on interfaith or intercultural weddings. So when I finally found an article in Nirali magazine about a beautiful Hindu/Catholic ceremony, I used it as inspiration for several aspects of our wedding celebration. One example was inviting the kiddos in our family to wear traditional garb from both sides for different events, which they did with utmost enthusiasm, as you can see from the photos.
Planning once again, I am finding so much more now in the way of intercultural weddings. In addition to online inspiration boards and blogs, Wedding Nouveau Magazine is a beautiful, inspirational resource dedicated to discussing and depicting the new wave of rapidly emerging interfaith and intercultural weddings. Wedding Nouveau’s online archives are chock-full of stories and photographs.
Magazine articles and photographs may not necessarily answer all of the “how-to-do” questions that come up this year, but they will certainly inspire creative new ideas for difficult challenges ahead. And when all is said and done, when all the questions have answers and my friends and family are inspiring others with their own pictures and stories, I will have Greek danced with my best friend’s Irish groom, celebrated a Jewish friend’s marriage to a good Catholic boy, witnessed my Armenian friend marry the Polish man of her dreams, and watched my sister walk down the aisle, not to a mandap (a Hindu wedding canopy), but instead, to a chuppah (a Jewish wedding canopy). I can’t wait.
This article is republished from the blog not just an Other, where it appeared August 24, 2012.