The Couple: Hannah and Rajesh
The Wedding: 11.02.12 in Vijayawada, India
Tell us about your decision to hold your wedding in India. What was your wedding planning experience like? Rajesh’s parents really wanted to have the wedding in India, and while I would have loved for all of our friends and family from the US to attend, we wanted to do this for his parents. He’s been living in the US for several years now, and is not able to see them as much as he would like. They are a very traditional Indian family, and we wanted to reassure them that, even though their son was marrying an American, nothing in their relationship would change, and that I would also want to be a part of their family. This was a very unusual wedding by American standards. The bride had nothing to do with the planning. All I had to do was let go, of everything. I wore three sarees during the wedding, all of which were hand-picked by Rajesh’s mom and sister. The blouses were hand stitched and beaded according to their instructions, and they were very beautiful. I didn’t see them until a few days before the wedding. The food and decorations were all done by the wedding hall. Prior to the wedding, Rajesh and his father were busy hand-delivering invitations. That gave me time to get to know his family a little. I stayed with his grandfather, uncle, and aunt, and their family prior to the wedding, and they couldn’t have been more welcoming. Since my family didn’t know their family’s wedding traditions, they taught me, my parents, and my brother what to do, and took us all in as their own family. They adopted us.
What were the top three priorities for you in planning your wedding? For me, it was to get over my jet lag, get to know Raj’s family, and learn a little Telugu (his language). Raj was the one rushing around trying to get things done. Since I really had no clue about what weddings are normally like there and what needed to be done, I was no help. Normally the bride’s family does all of the planning in India, just like in the US, but since all of it was unknown to us, Raj and his family took up the charge. I’m so grateful to them for working so hard to do the things that the bride’s family should do.
How did you choose the colors and fashion of your wedding? The colors were based on the flowers that were available. The wedding hall was decked with beautiful purple lilies. But since were were in India, all colors were welcome! The fashion was completely traditional. My main wedding saree was white with a red border. All of the brides who get married in that part of India wear the same thing. The jewelry was also completely traditional.
What were some of your favorite cultural elements or traditions that were incorporated into your celebration? What did they mean to you? My favorite traditions during the wedding were the games. There was one game in which the priest puts two rings in a jug filled with water. One ring is silver, and the other is gold. The bride and groom both put their hand into the jug and try to find the gold ring. The one who finds it will be the dominant one the relationship. It’s best out of three tries. The first time I got it, the second time he did, and the third time I did. Another tradition I liked was the blessings. Everyone who attended our wedding came and gave us a blessing by putting rice on our heads. We also blessed each other by putting rice and flowers on each others heads.
I feel so lucky that Kristi was able to come with us to shoot the wedding. She captured so much that I didn’t even have time to notice during the ceremony. When there’s so much going on around you, and music playing, and you’re trying to follow the priest’s instructions (using hand gestures because he’s speaking sanskrit), there’s no time to soak in the full beauty of your surroundings. Thanks to a great photographer, I will always have access to the beauty of that day.
What was the most important thing that you learned through the wedding planning process and what would you tell other brides-to-be? The most important thing for me was to enjoy the process, and not to get bogged down in worrying about things not being exactly how I had always pictured. Our wedding was so beautiful, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing, but I could have never planned it for myself. It was not the wedding I always dreamed of, but I enjoyed every minute of it!
The Wedding Team:
Photographer: Kristi Odom Photography
Second Shooter: Lisa Robinson
Reception Venue: Veduka Function Hall
Catering & Florist: Veduka Function Hall
Thank you Hannah and Rajesh! What a spectacular celebration - we're so honored to get to share it with you!