I’m so excited that Nirmala and Ian’s colorful Multicultural Jewish – Trinidadian – Indian wedding love story was featured on Karen Cinnamon’s style-focused Jewish wedding blog: Smashing The Glass.
When I first met Nirmala and Ian, I was excited to learn more about them as a couple, their love story, their heritage and their plans to incorporate their two distinct cultures into their what Nirmala affectionately calls their “hinjew” wedding: Trinidadian – Indian and Jewish cultures into their wedding.
One of my 2014 summer jams was “Jhalla,” a song I discovered via Nirmala & Ian’s wedding website and instantly loved for its fusion of Hindu – Caribbean- pop beats.
Their wedding didn’t disappoint and was beautiful labor of love and features some of the best, most amazing vendors below. I’m so grateful to Nirmala for all the details she shared about her wedding below:
Their wedding took place at the rustic Full Moon Resort in the Catskills of New York. Growing up in the country, the setting brought a sense of home, belonging and peace amidst the mountains.
I knew my good friend and makeup artist Abby of Juicy Looks Makeup was talented as a makeup artist but had no idea so also knew how to properly affix Indian attire like Nirmala’s ceremony anarkali. Together with Nirmala’s best friend Kezyann, they both helped her get into her pink and silver anarkali and pinned her veil also called an orni.
Jewish Cultural Wedding Attire
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my good friend and men’s stylist Carlos of Dante Zeller in Bayridge Brooklyn pulled together Ian’s tuxedo look. Ian is Jewish and wore the same yamaka and tallit that he’d worn at his Bar Mitzvah and the watch Nirmala had purchased for him on their four year anniversary.
Merging Jewish and Indian Ceremony Traditions
The bridal entrance song was the very emotional Hindi love song titled Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin by Ajay – Atul & Sonu Nigam. Here’s a little translation of its meaning:
“A new heartbeat came up,
I got to know that I am still alive..
is there in this moment,
where was this moment of mine..
now it’s in front of me,
should I die or should I live a little..
should I kiss joys,
or should I cry a little,
should I die or live for a while.”
Nirmala’s mother recited a prayer during the ceremony to Lord Ganesha to remove obstacles and blessings.
Nirmala shared the following memory of how Ian looked when she approached him.
As Ian stood under the chuppah he had the same look on his face as he did two and a half years prior when he proposed to me. He looked nervous yet so happy. He stared at me so lovingly, I felt so moved, usually I am moved to cry but I was gleaming with joy, I had the widest smile, I was so excited to get my man! I even pointed at him and said “I’m coming for you.” We waited what we thought was a long time to get married and we worked tirelessly on planning and executing our wedding. We both were looking at each other with so much love and joy, we couldn’t believe it was finally happening. My husband to be stood there in his Judaic gear looking absolutely handsome. I was so proud, he was mine. The setting completed the moment, it was all a fairy tale.
A key part of the wedding ceremony involves stating 7 blessings in the Jewish faith & 7 sayings in the Hindu faith, both based on a thankfulness to God. I loved how Ian and Nirmala incorporated both their cultures in their wedding ceremony.
During Nirmala & Ian’s Hindu – Trinidadian – Jewish wedding ceremony, Nirmala’s sister Anuradha sang a special song “Bahara Bahara.” It’s about a young lady who sees the man she likes in everything: sometimes in the moon, sometimes on the ground, in the clouds, in the rain… I love that the words meant so much to Nirmala that she also quietly sang the lyrics with such passion to Ian.
To celebrate their East Indian heritage, Nirmala’s sisters wore identical purple sarees, the color her family had chosen for their wedding.
Lydia Castiglia of the Catskill Flower Shop designed the florals including the chuppah. Nirmala’s bouquet incorporated white and ivory roses with accents of pink garden roses, spray roses, pink spray stock and silver brunia.
Ian’s button hole included pink and white rose buds, and silver brunia.
Center pieces were ball jars with assorted flowers in shades of white ivory, lavender and purple. Pink roses, alstomeria, hydrangea, stock and larkspur.
This was one of my favorites details from their wedding. The escort cards were small bottles filled with assorted stems of pink, ivory roses, alstomeria, stock, silver brunia and larkspur. A handwritten tag hung from the bottle neck with t guest name and table number. They also served as the favors.
How They Incorporated Culture into their Entertainment
Tassa Drum Band – Young Generation Tassa Group
Traditionally in my Indo-Trinidadian culture the band accompanies the groom and his guests to the ceremony location. This procession is called the Baraat. It’s a time of celebration and dancing. The groom is celebrated by all the guests. This was important to me, growing up in Trinidad whenever tassa was heard everyone knew a wedding was taking place. The sound of the drums and the other instruments tug at your heart and creates excitement, it makes you want to dance. I wanted Ian to be celebrated in this way, and I could not imagine not hearing the sound of the drums that would signal my groom was on his way. Simply put tassa was a wedding staple for us.
Steel pan Artist – Aston Ellis of Robanic Reggae Band
Ian was adamant about having a relaxing, low key cocktail hour, where we could chat and mingle with our guests. The sound of the steelpan was just perfect, and it brought an island vibe also incorporating my Trinidadian heritage. Ian is a Bob Marley fan and the artist played Marley songs. It was very entertaining, peaceful and fun.
DJ Impulse Sounds – Keshav Singh
We wanted music at the ceremony location and the reception. The DJ incorporated a mix of music that got our guests on the dance floor and which also highlighted our cultural backgrounds. Hindi love songs were played when my parents welcomed Ian to the ceremony location, when our flower girl, ring bearer and my sisters walked down the aisle. A hindi love song was also played when my mom accompanied me down the aisle. The hora was played during the reception which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Having a DJ was very important to us since it gave us the opportunity to incorporate a lot of music we love and that celebrated everyone attending.
Anuradha Hansraj Trinidadian singer
My eldest sister sang a Hindi love song during the ceremony to celebrate our marriage. It was heartfelt and we were honored to have her serenade us and our guests with her beautiful voice on our wedding day.
How They Incorporated Culture into their Wedding Favors
Indian Bangles and Bindis were placed in a rustic tray along with a mirror and were ready upon our guests arrival. The female guests and the children attending adorned themselves with them. It was a way to immerse our guests into our multicultural wedding.
Indian sweets were distributed after the ceremony by my sisters, which is. We incorporate this to thank our guests for celebrating with us and also to celebrate the joining of our cultures. Distributing sweets during a Hindu wedding is also tradition.
Escort bottles with stems of fresh blooms and a handwritten tag with the guest name and table number also was one of the favors. We invited our guests to keep these as a memento of the day.
Creative Ideas for How They Incorporated Culture into their wedding
Since our wedding was interfaith and multicultural there were a lot of significant details.
- She wore an anarkali or East Indian wedding dress and accessories
- Nirmala’s mother wore a saree, sisters wore sarees, my niece also the flower girl wore an anarkali and Ian’s mother wore a shalwar kameez all traditional East Indian attire
- Steel pan was played during the cocktail hour which represented my Trinidadian heritage
- The entertainment and music at the reception included soca & chutney which derives from Trinidad
- The Baraat known as the groom’s procession was lead by tassa drummers is also an East Indian tradition
- Her mother performed the Swagatam, the welcoming of the groom where a deeya or small pot with oil and wick was lit and waved around Ian to bless him
- Nirmala’s brother Videsh performed the Gath-Bandhan also known as tying the knot. He tied Nirmala’s veil/orni and Ian’s tallit symbolizing that our happiness is in our bonding and unity forever
- Sindoor application – Nirmala’s sister assisted Ian in applying ‘Sindoor’ (red vermillion powder) into her hair, which symbolizes that she is married
- Jaimala – The exchange of garland symbolizing the acceptance of matrimony
- Nirmala’s sister Anuradha sang an Indian love song to celebrate our marriage. The song entitled Bahara Bahara originally sang by Shreya Goshal
- Ian wore the yamaka and tallit which he wore at his Bar Mitzvah 31 years ago
- Rabbi Zoe Zak officiated the ceremony and incorporated the Hindu elements
- Rabbi Zak sang a Hebrew welcoming of the groom and blessing of the chuppah
- The rabbi did a wine blessing using the Kuddish cup, the same one that Ian had used at his Bar Mitzvah
- Rabbi Zoe sang Dodi Li, a Judiac love song
- Rabbi Zoe recited the seven Judaic blessings
- Ian smashed the glass at the end of their wedding ceremony
- They did the hora at their wedding reception
Their favorite moments from their wedding:
Ian: “Standing under the chuppah/Mandap watching Nirmala walk down the trail and down the aisle. I felt such a strong feeling of love and she looked absolutely beautiful, we were finally getting married.”
One of the most special moments for me was when we were hoisted on the chairs by our family members during the Horah. Ian waved the napkin for me to grab. Looking at him reaching for me and the joy on his face made my heart melt. I felt a different kind of connection to him, he was sharing a part of him, his culture, an outpour of love from him and his family during that moment. My family was so excited and joined in. It was truly a remarkable experience. The true meeting of our families.
The exchange of the garlands – They were missing, then were damaged along the way and were not tied properly. While we scrambled to tie them during the ceremony Ian laughed and said something that went like this “it’s fine, these represent the ups and downs and the craziness of our wedding planning process, and it’s the truth.” I laughed too and he was right, not everything ran smoothly during the wedding planning process or on the day of the wedding but we’re not perfect either and we were celebrating us, we were getting married and we were/are madly in love. Our garlands were beautiful and imperfect just like us.
Rabbi Zak gave a modern explanation for breaking the glass as seen in the wedding video. It was very meaningful to both Ian and myself. That lady can also sing! We adore her!
My mom reciting the prayer to lord Ganesha meant the world to us and my mom. Ian was especially grateful we were able to include my religious beliefs and honor my mom and our family.
The After Party
The after party was held after the reception in the road house. We had grilled cheese sandwiches, French fries along with an open bar and music played from our friend’s iPods. It was a time to chill and mingle, everyone changed from their wedding attire to casual wear and mingled in their summer dresses and shorts. Ian loved the grilled cheese and the time off camera. It was the perfect end to our night.
How They Incorporated Family and Friends
- We had Ian’s two best friends, his brother, my sister, my cousin and my best friend make brief speeches at the reception. They were witty and loving
- We did a parents dance where Ian danced with his mom and I danced with my dad simultaneously to the same song. Ian’s mom also accompanied him up the aisle during the ceremony. My mom walked me down the aisle and said a prayer of blessing at the ceremony
- My sisters walked down the aisle with their children, my niece was our flower girl and my nephew was our ring bearer. My older sister sang a love song at the ceremony.
- My brother tied a knot with my veil and Ian’s tallit to signify our union.
- The groom’s cake was a tribute to Ian, his two best friends and their annual boys only ski trips.
Be sure to check out the people who helped make this wedding happen.
Awesome Wedding Vendors in the Catskills
- Photography: Petronella Photography
- Videography: Mae B Films
- Venue & Catering: Full Moon Resort
- Hair + Make up: Abby Falore-Ayodeji of Juicy Looks
- Bride’s East Indian wedding dress (Anarkali): custom designed in India
- Bride’s white wedding dress: Allure Bridal from Lotus Bridal
- Bride’s shoes: Badgley Mischka & French Connection
- Groom’s tuxedo: Dante Zeller
- Floral Design: Lydia Castiglia of Catskills Flower Shop
- Cake: Chef Adam Kowalsky of Full Moon Resort
- Rabbi: Zoe B Zak
- Invitations: Invitations by Dawn
- Ceremony Tassa: Young Generation Tassa Group
- Steel Plan: Aston Ellis of Robanic Reggae Band
- DJ & Entertainment: Impulse Sounds