I’ve just returned home to Uganda from a whirlwind of travels, prompted by my oldest and only brother’s wedding in Lake George, NY at The Sagamore Resort. As me and most of my family’s first Indian/Hindu wedding, it was such an amazing time and wonderful to watch the love between my brother (Phil) and new sister-in-law (Tanisha). Having met Tanisha way back in high school in Vermont, she has been a friend to our family for years and since she moved to DC and they started dating in 2009, has become a very close friend of mine. So you can imagine how happy I was for the both of them! To explain the blog title: the commemorative #GoCharme hash tag was created over the weekend (Govil – Ducharme), though she did take my brother’s name 🙂
For those of you that have never been to a traditional Indian wedding before, here’s my “dummy” version of the ceremonies that led up to and were included in the wedding that I was able to participate in. For those of you that have, please forgive my over-simplified attempt to describe rituals that I recognize are deeply religiously and culturally rooted and far more complex than I am even attempting to describe.
- Havan – A fire ritual that was performed at their home after they were engaged, form of worship and blessing between the hosts and priest. (many months before the wedding)
- Haldi – This was a fun one! Here, close friends and family blessed and cleansed the couple with tumeric powder and offerings of sweets and fruit. Essentially, we spread this powder on their clothes and body. Lesson learned: do not get a manicure before handling tumeric powder. It stains! (Wednesday afternoon)
- Mehndi Ceremony –Tanisha had to sit still for 6ish hours as her hands and feet were covered in elaborate Mehndi. In the meantime, another artist was doing Mehndi for close friends and family as we waited with her. (Thursday evening)
- Ring Ceremony – This is when Phil & Tanisha were formally engaged and happened on a boat tour of Lake George that included a delicious Indian lunch. (Friday afternoon)
- Sangeet – A night of celebration! There were plentiful food and cocktails, elaborate decorations, small gifts of bangles for the guests, and performances dedicated to the couple. (Friday evening)
- Barat – This was the groom’s procession which included my brother riding a horse along with his family and friends dancing and singing beside him. At the end, we reached Tanisha’s family and Uncle’s from both sides were announced and given wreaths around their neck. We then proceeded directly into the wedding ceremony. (Saturday afternoon)
- Wedding – The wedding itself took place outside in front of a beautiful view of Lake George. Though it rained during some of the ceremony, it only made the day more memorable! (Saturday afternoon)
- Cocktail Hour – More cocktails, appetizers, and celebrating before the formal reception. (Saturday evening)
- Reception – The reception was pretty similar to most weddings I have been to in terms of structure. It included announcing the couple, first dances, cake cutting, toasts, dinner, and dancing. Not to mention some delicious sweet treats for the guests as gifts! (Saturday evening)
- Brunch – Lastly, there was a farewell brunch for the couple in which guests were able to say goodbye before the couple departed for their honeymoon to Bora Bora! (Sunday morning)
Coming off of the jetlag of returning from Uganda the same day as everything began, I was basically running on adrenaline and the excitement of it all. But this certainly did not stop be from enjoying every moment of the celebration. Reflecting on the weekend, here are a few moments that I especially enjoyed:
- Wearing Indian clothes for the first time and seeing all of Tanisha’s different outfits for each event.
- All of the dancing! And, as a bridesmaid, I learned a bollywood-esque dance for the sangeet that we all performed together and Tanisha also guest starred in. So much fun.
- Though not overly-comfortable with public speaking, I was honored to do the closing speech at the reception with Trishna (Tanisha’s sister) and to toast to the newlyweds.
- As per tradition, my brother’s shoes were stolen by the bride’s friends and he had to negotiate with them how much to pay in ransom! I think he got off easy.
- All of the details. From Phil’s name hidden in Tanisha’s henna, to tiny elephant charms on the gift boxes, to beautiful candles for the bridesmaids to carry down the aisle, to the decor, and the list goes on!
- Being able to see so many family and friends and meeting many new in the short time that I was home.
- And most of all, how happy Phil & Tanisha were the whole time!
Though I can’t hardly capture what a magical weekend it was, I know the memories will last a lifetime. A few favorite pictures are included here though many more can be found on Facebook. I’ll leave you with my closing words during our toast:
“Tanisha and I happen to share an inexplicable obsession with quotes of all kinds. So, I wanted to read you one of her favorites by the poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” In having and loving each other, you will carry beauty in your hearts always. Phil et Tanisha, je t’aime beaucoup.”
(Full Disclosure: I can’t take photo credit for all of these. I snagged some from others on Facebook. Thanks to everyone for capturing such beautiful moments throughout the weekend!)