Yana & Archita's Stunning Multicultural Hindu-Jewish Wedding {Pride Month}

2014 Jun 20 - by Preeti
Oh lovelies, today's wedding has left us all speechless. There is so much love, happiness, and support in this wedding that it will grab you from the computer screen and suck you into the warmth.

Continuing to honor {National Pride Month}, we have a beautiful, scratch that, just amazing multicultural lesbian wedding. Hindu, Indian, Jewish, Russian, vodka, bindis, it is all here!

Yana and Archita got married at the Trust, a neoclassical styled art and event space gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Surrounded by their friends and family, they combined all their traditions and culture into giant ball of awesome.

I will let them share their story. Check out our sister blog, The Big Fat Jewish Wedding, for even more pretty Jewish wedding photos. And big thanks to M2 Photography for these gorgeous pics.

What was the inspiration for your wedding gowns?

Yana: Like most girls and very unlike my wife, I always pictured getting married in a white wedding dress and that was just about all the criteria I had. I opted for less "poof" so that the dress wouldn't overtake the sari. We decided that one way to match and really look like a couple is to use some material from Chita's sari as a sash around my dress. We were worried that when we stood next to each other it wouldn't like we were about to get married since we never saw a sari next to a wedding dress no matter how much we googled! So the sari sash around my dress was the piece that united us, yet let us each wear exactly what we wanted.

Archita: One of the strangest questions (at least, strange to us) we heard repeatedly when we got engaged was "wow, so are you two going to be wearing identical wedding gowns?" --- It's funny to me because I think what makes us work so well is that we are so different. We have very different backgrounds, different tastes, and of course different visions of what we would look like on our wedding day. Yana always imagined she'd wear a white wedding dress, but I'm from India, and I always imagined I'd be wearing a bridal sari. So we decided to do just that. I visited my parents in Kolkata about 10 months before the wedding, and we found a beautiful red-and-gold Benarasi bridal sari from Indian Silk House.

Yana went wedding dress shopping in Philadelphia with some of her closest friends, and refused to show me the pictures of all the dresses she tried on. I didn't see her dress until the big day. She also cut some material off the end of the traditional bridal sari to turn into a sash and tie just above her waist – it was gorgeous! So we ended up matching even though we were dressed nothing alike. It felt very 'real' to get married in what we'd always imagined wearing, rather than what most people expected us to wear.

How did you incorporate multiple cultures into your wedding?

Yana: We immediately knew that we would have a Russian-Indian-Jewish-Hindu wedding because that reflects who we are. This wedding was very much about uniting two families into one. Representing both cultures and blending traditions did just that. In the ceremony, we stood under a huppah made from saris from India, which looked alot like a mandap. Instead of walking around a fire in 7 circles, which is both in Jewish and Hindu tradition, we made 7 steps around candles. Chita stepped on a glass, as per Jewish tradition.

We signed a hennah-inspired Ketubah, again blending cultures - it was specially made with Hindu and Jewish symbols specific to our families. We had two caterers for food: Indian and Russian and everyone ate family style, as per Russian tradition. And of course, there was a bottle of vodka on every table and one for each guest, home made by my father - true Russian style.

Archita: We sort of went all-out on incorporating our families' multiple cultures into one wedding. Although our wedding seems "non-traditional", tradition was actually important to us. In a world where only a handful of nations recognized our marriage, our wedding was visibly melting the many different cultures of our individual families together into one family - and through those traditions we were married. So rather than choosing to incorporate some traditions and 'compromise' on others, we just included everything that was important to us. The ceremony had it all! We had a huppah, but it was draped with colorful saris from India. Yana led me in our seven-step walk around the 'fire', and I broke the glass after we were married. We signed a Jewish ketubah that was decorated with Hindu/Indian calligraphy and design.

Our appetizers were Russian, our main course was Indian (so delicious!). We worked with our officiant to come up with words that meant something to both of us, rather than a standard pre-written script. We did the same with decor – saris were draped over many of the tables downstairs, and on the walls. The dinner tables upstairs had bottles of Russian vodka (homemade by Yana's dad!). It was an awesome party, a joining of so many different cultures into one family – because why would you want to 'compromise' on that?

Did you have any trouble with family members regarding having an interethnic, lesbian wedding? How did you resolve it?

Yana: We have been incredibly lucky with our family. Our parents support us unconditionally. Our greatest challenges have come with more distant family members but close enough that they would be invited to the wedding. The resolution comes from building on the strength from the family that is there to support you. When one particular relative declined our invitation, it made it difficult to not shut that family out of our lives. We think - what happens when we have kids? Will they not acknowledge us or our children? So it's important to know who in your network of family or friends is your ally and continuously build on that network instead of dwelling on one family member that doesn't support you.

Archita: One big lesson we learned through this process is that most people are inherently just good people – you just have to be vulnerable, be authentic, and give them a chance. Getting engaged meant that we finally came out to many members of our families who hadn't previously known we were a couple. And after the initial 'shock', most people in our family were amazingly supportive and excited for us. The only one who wasn't, was one I most expected to be supportive – and we realized that at the end of the day, whether or not they came to the wedding, we'd have an amazing party with all of our friends, our parents, our siblings – what more could you ask for?

Although our parents hadn't been our biggest fans when we started dating five years prior, they'd quickly become our strongest advocates, by far. And as we were preparing and getting excited with our friends, it felt like all of our 'guests' were part of our family. Being in that room surrounded by everyone we loved, our 'extended family' – it was the best feeling in the world.

What was your favorite part of the wedding/reception?

Yana: I know this couldn't get cheesier, but when I first saw my wife standing half-way down the aisle, waiting to walk the rest of the way with me, I remember how physically and audibly my breath was taken from me. It felt like time stopped and everything was right. We had everyone we love in one room, and I was about to marry the woman I love.

Our seating was semi-circular and we had 2 aisles - and we met in the center and then walked under the huppah together.

Archita: The party! Our biggest priority was to just let go and have the time of our lives celebrating with friends and family. After dinner it was just an amazing party – dancing, laughing, feeling on top of the world, and somehow seeing all of those little moments captured in incredible photos by M2. At the end of the day, the rest melts away, and that's what I remember most about our wedding. Well – that, and the moment I saw Yana for the first time as we came to the altar – she took my breath away. There was an awesome moment right after the ceremony, when we got to slip outside for about 60 seconds on our own and just revel in the fact that we were married! …before the wedding party came out to join us. That was one of the best 60-seconds of my life!

What advice do you have for a lesbian bride-to-be?

Yana: Remember that most brides find wedding planning stressful! For a same-sex couple, there are a few more complications - it's not all cookie-cutter and this gives you more room to be creative but you also should be proactive about telling all your vendors in advance who you are marrying. You don't want surprises on your wedding day from vendors! You'll get questions about "who's wearing the suit?" or "who's the man?" and just know that it takes people to change perceptions and to have those conversations. Be patient and have fun!

Archita: Be authentic and open with your friends and your vendors - and don't feel like you have to prove anything. Often the many questions we got from well-meaning friends were incredibly frustrating (at our own wedding reception, Yana was asked: "So are you guys married now? Or like not actually married?") - but if people are being vulnerable with you in asking the question, it does you no good to fight them. We were terrified that the traditional Russian restaurant catering half our wedding would turn and run if they found out the bride-and-groom were actually bride-and-bride. We had heard horror stories about vendors pulling out at the last minute - but none of that happened. It was just an awesome wedding.

And every time we got asked something like "so who's going to wear the suit?" we reminded ourselves to laugh, be authentic, and remember that our wedding wasn't a 'lesbian' wedding or a 'same-sex' wedding or a 'non-traditional' wedding – it was just the wedding of two people in love.

Thank you so much Archita and Yana for sharing your wedding with us during National Pride Month. We wish you both the very best in life with love, happiness, and support. xoxo

{Wedding Suppliers}

Photographers: M2 Photography

DJ: Mike at Synergetic Sound & Lighting

Flowers: Chartreuse

Venue: Trust, 249 Arch St, Philadelphia PA

Hair / Makeup (Yana): http://www.mokobeauty.com/services/wedding-services/

Hair / Makeup (Archita): Salon at 5th (now closed)

Food (Indian): Tiffin

Food (Russian): Golden Gates

Cake: Brown Betty

Wedding dress (Yana): Philly Bride

Wedding sari (Archita): Indian Silk House in Kolkata, India