Leena and Justin live in SF. They got married in Pittsburgh.
They had 2 ceremonies: Christian + Bengali Hindu.
What were your initial steps in wedding planning?
1. Define the stakeholders
2. Determine who gets to make which decisions
3. Have someone who’s responsible for the budget
4. Make a list of the elements you’ll need to price them out
5. Hire a coordinator to manage details and anything you can’t/don’t want to do
Getting married where desi community is smaller
While there’s a sizable south Asian community in Pittsburgh, it’s not as big as other major cities. So there aren’t as many vendors – which actually makes doing research easier but also means it’s a good idea to book vendors early or necessary to bring them in from other cities.
For example, I came in on a palki. There’s no vendor in the Pittsburgh area, so we had it brought in from New Jersey.
Describe the education process for both of your families.
There was education on both sides. Justin and I took the lead on acquainting both sides with the ceremonies and customs. His family had never attended an Indian wedding and my family had never done a Christian ceremony.
We showed his family my brother’s wedding video and explained the various components of a Bengali wedding and what they mean. We also explained to my parents about the Christian ceremony and their responsibilities.
Everyone was sort of treading in foreign territory so the idea was to make everyone as comfortable as possible beforehand so that day it all goes smoothly.
At one point we were thinking about just doing the Bengali ceremony. But since his family wouldn’t be as involved, we decided to do a Christian ceremony and a Hindu ceremony.
The Christian ceremony was first (30 minutes), followed by the Hindu ceremony (a little over an hour). We used the same room for both, so you can see in the above photo, the mandap was already setup.
Describe the logistics of having 2 ceremonies.
Putting the invitations together was pretty time consuming because we had to make sure we inserted the correct cards into each envelope. We had cards for each event.
We had 2 priests – one for each ceremony.
And, since we were in SF and my parents are in Pittsburgh, they took care of a lot.
I had one makeup person for both ceremonies. That was one less vendor to manage. I still did a trial even though I was on the west coast, which I recommend.
What was one of the most exciting aspects of wedding planning?
Getting the RSVPs back. You feel really loved. You’re taking a big step so it’s nice to have the blessings of your family and friends.
Our photographer is a photojournalist for the New York Times. It was really cool to have him documenting everything.
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