The day was beautiful. Warm, but not a cloud in the bright blue sky.
By the time I got to the tent where the rest of the bridal party was waiting P and his parents had already walked out arm in arm. P’s brother U was already next to the gazebo playing Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring on his guitar as our processional.
AS and RH walked out together down the stone path to the gazebo, then R and D, then my younger sister M and P’s best man S, finally my maid of honor—my sister K walked out alone right before I walked in with my dad on my right arm and my mom on my left.
I don’t really remember much from walking in other than my dad whispering, “Slow down, people are trying to take pictures.” At that point your brain kind of goes into autopilot. I think I hugged both my parents and took P’s hand and then I was there, standing in front of the gazebo, starting the wedding ceremony.
I remember thinking silly things like—should I stand with my side to the guests looking at P the whole time? Or should I turn and face everyone and make eye contact, like a speaker in a presentation? (Which I did a few times, I’m such a nerd.) We held hands through the ceremony, and stole long smiles.
The officiant opened the wedding with a brief welcome. Then our good friend D stood up and did the first reading—“The Art of a Good Marriage” by Wilferd Arlan Peterson:
Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created.
In marriage the little things are the big things.
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through all the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.
He had told us in advance he was going to give us high fives after—but opted for a quick hug.
Next my younger sister M got up to do the second reading, a passage from “Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louis de Bernieres:
Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being “in love” which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.
Next the officiant asked our parents for their blessing in our marriage, asking them to “relinquish [their] claims upon [us], save those of love and affection?” while our parents responded “We do.”
The officiant asked the rest of the audience, “You are here today as relatives and friends, to give your support to the marriage between P and C, and to enter into a new relationship with them as they become husband and wife. Do you give your blessing to them on their marriage?” and they responded “We do.”
Then it was our turn, and the officiant asked us if we were ready to proclaim our love and devotion for each other, affirming to respect, care for and commit ourselves to each other in happiness and sadness. We responded, “We do.”
Then P and I read our vows to each other. I wrote my vows while P and I were driving down to Philly to help his brother move about a month before the wedding. I figured I would share my vows with P since he is less familiar with what vows generally sound like, so as to give him a baseline for what he might plan to write (it seemed only fair). I remember when I read them in the car (he was driving), that he got a little choked up. Just a little bit, but it was there, and it made me happy to know he liked them.
The officiant had P read his vows first. I hadn’t seen them yet, and they nearly made me cry. When he finished and it was my turn to speak it took me a moment to refocus so I could speak without my voice shaking with emotion. He said:
I, PP, promise to be your one true companion and partner till eternity. I cherish the wonderful days that are ahead of us. I also realize that there may be days that we would want to forget. I promise to be completely by your side in joys and sorrows, in sickness and in health, through all these times of highs and lows. I promise that I will always respect you and I will always support and encourage you. I promise that I will always love you as you are. I look forward to our next adventures in life, and I look forward to growing old together with my best friend.
I just got choked up again typing them out.
I went next:
I, CC, promise to be your equal partner in life; to be fair, honest faithful and kind. I promise to have patience, and to listen, to be hardworking but fun loving, and to always be ready for the next adventure. I will always strive for a happy, supportive and loving home and family. And although I can’t promise that I’ll eat daal-bhat everyday, I do promise to be the best companion, wife and friend that I can be.
Even with my little line of humor in there, P won the best vows award for sure.
Next I had to put my own intercultural spin on things. I can’t help myself. When P went back to Nepal in April I asked him to bring back a small vial of dirt from his backyard. Meanwhile I asked my dad to do the same. Instead of the “sand mixing” ceremonies some people are doing these days I decided to do a “Mixing of the Earth” ceremony.
The officiant said, “As all of you present surely know, P and C come from very different cultures and very different parts of the world. Their union bridges two families, two continents and two cultural perspectives. To symbolize this special bond P has brought some earth from his childhood home in Kathmandu, Nepal and C has brought some earth from her childhood home in Oswego, New York. As they combine the dirt of their homelands together, so too do they combine a life of intercultural appreciation and understanding, and many long years of American and Nepali festivals, holidays, foods and traditions.” Then P and I mixed our two vials of earth together, and I shook it for good measure, and we now have this sitting on our bookshelf at home—a little piece of both our “homelands.”
P and I exchanged rings, and then as per my mother’s request, we did a unity candle. P’s mom and mine came up to the gazebo with us and lit candles, and then the two of them lit the larger candle together to symbolize our two families coming together.
Then those famous words, “In virtue of the authority vested in me by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I now pronounce you, P and C, husband and wife.”—and P had to kiss me, in front of all his friends and relatives, something he was completely embarrassed to do. Later KS, a friend of ours for many years said, “It was funny to see the two of you kiss… in all this time we have never seen you do that in public!”
We finished with a final blessing, which I originally heard at my friend ArtAsana’s wedding last year:
Now you will feel no rain
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness for you,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is only one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
At the conclusion P’s brother said, “If you know the words, please sing along” and he played us out of the ceremony with a guitar rendition of “All You Need Is Love.”
We did the picture thing with the wedding party and the family during the cocktail hour, and then the bridal party was announced and P and I did our first dance… to John Lennon’s cover of Stand By Me. P and I probably should have practiced first, we probably looked a little stiff slow dancing together, but he did manage a few spins and it was very sweet.
My sister K did her maid of honor speech which was also very touching. Both she and the best man, S, were so nervous to do their speeches (I was surprised about S, he loves to talk!). But they both did a nice job talking about their relationships with us individually and us as a couple (including a funny line from S about how when the two of them were the only Nepalis in rural Maine and went everywhere together people probably thought they were a gay couple ;)).
I think generally during wedding dinners the DJ is supposed to play less danceable music so people can sit and eat. I even think some of our friends were planning to make short impromptu speeches during dinner, but then our DJ said, “The dance floor is officially open” shortly after the MOH and Best man speeches, and my mother’s family took it literally—there was pretty much non-stop dancing the rest of the night.
Other than cutting dinner a bit short, I thought the DJ did a fantastic job. I had asked him to do a mix of classic rock/rock and roll dance hits with a few modern songs peppered in, as well as some Nepali/Bollywood songs that we gave him (originally on a CD, but I think P’s brother gave the DJ his laptop to hook up to the sound system with all his playlists).
In the beginning the American hits had the Americans on the dance floor, and the first Nepali song that came on cleared the Americans but brought all the Nepalis up, which I think my American family found interesting, but as the night progressed I think the dance numbers became more integrated.
I’ve mentioned this before—but there are certain songs for which I will literally drop what I am doing and run to the dance floor for. I know I am probably super lame, but I LOVE some of those group dances, specifically “Shout!” “YMCA” and the “Chicken Dance.” I’ve written about this before, but I’m always a little sad when people put the Chicken Dance on the do not play list, and I was certainly sad when the DJ told me that the “YMCA” wasn’t popular at weddings anymore. We did all three with full dance floors. I actually wanted one Nepali friend to lead the Chicken Dance (because of a dare from a few years ago), but I didn’t get a chance to arrange it with all the dancing and socializing with guests.
Other great songs from the night—I asked the DJ to play “Kathmandu” by Bob Seger since a lot of the guests were from there, and that was really fun, especially yelling out “I think I’m going to Kathmandu!!” and “K-K-K-K-K-K-K-Kathmandu!” and of course dancing with P to “Pretty Woman,” “Sweet Caroline” (and shouting “So good, so good, so good!” would have been more fun had the song come later in the night). There were a few big Bollywood numbers of course, like “Desi Girl” (for which R yelled out, “You are officially a Desi Girl now!!” as we both spun around on the dance floor), and my uncle requested “White Wedding” and my family made sure I was on the dance floor for that.
Weddings where people dance are a lot of fun. I’m not really one to go “out” to dance (clubbing, etc), but I love to dance at weddings (I think in part because I love the older music). It must run in the family, because my mother was tearing up the dance floor– even dancing with P’s dad–so much that at one point he must have tripped, because he wound up on the ground. It was a lot of fun.
The night passed so quickly. I was really glad to have two wedding days to talk with people more and have more time to enjoy. I was literally running on pure adrenaline by the end of the night, having barely touched my food. It was so much fun, I didn’t want it to end.
As the night was about to close our friends helped us pack our car with gifts and other wedding stuff (which was very helpful, that and the fact that R and AS kept asking me if I had enough water to drink, and would thrust water into my hands. Sometimes you get to busy that you forget the basics! It was really helpful of them to keep an eye on me, and I’ll keep that in mind for any future weddings I’m involved in!)
As we finished the night, the farm/wedding venue owners met P and I at the door with a basket of goodies for the morning—juice, milk, muffins, Danish, and two pieces of wedding cake in case we didn’t have a chance to eat during the reception. As the last guests headed out P and I walked across the parking lot to the bridal suite.
During the reception AS and R snuck over and decorated our bed with flowers and left us a bottle of chilled champagne. Another friend left us a “honeymoon basket” of snacks—cheese and crackers, chocolates, nuts, sweets, etc. Everything was so beautiful, and all these kind gestures reminded us of how important and special all our friends are to us.
With the night over, I finally felt the exhaustion of the entire week fall heavy on my shoulders, and I sunk to the floor in my wedding dress and said, “P, I think I’m too tired to get up.” It took me a few moments to finally pull myself off the floor. We put away the champagne and the honeymoon basket, and I took down my hair and wiped off my makeup. After a quick shower, knowing that the following day we would have to wake up early and get back home to spend the day visiting with P’s relatives, we promptly fell asleep. I was probably more tired than I’ve almost ever been (including international flights!)