How did you meet?
We met in high school. We were in various classes and clubs together. We even played the same sport – tennis – although the men’s and women’s seasons were at different times in the year. Here’s our story: It all started in a high school AP Physics class in the year 12 P.C. (Pre-Covid), or 2008, for those of you who don’t want to do the math. Meghan and Kao were chatting with some friends around the time that prom (Meghan’s senior prom and Kao’s junior prom. Yes, you’re correct. That makes Meghan one year older (and wiser?) than Kao) tickets went on sale and realized that neither of them were sure who they were going with yet. What happened next depends on who you ask. According to Kao, he asked Meghan if she would go with him if neither of them had dates in a week. Meghan’s version (the correct version if you ask anyone) is that she asked him to go with her. Flash forward a week. Neither had anyone else to go with, so they decided to go together as friends. Meghan and Kao ended up having an amazing time with each other at prom (Yes, Kao danced the entire night). They enjoyed each other’s company so much that they continued to hang out in the days following. A week later, although they knew that Meghan would be graduating soon and moving away to college, they decided to officially start dating.
How did the planning go?
Overall, the planning went well. Meghan and Kao are detail-oriented, organized, and usually successful at communicating with each other and friends and family. Our favorite part of the process was how our friends and family came together to help us plan and execute various parts of our wedding events. We really enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time with them in such a unique way. The worst part of planning was often trying to organize all the moving parts and getting people to nail down all the details at the same time across the world in both families (family from Europe, India, and across the US) such that the different cultural and religious parts could all be executed.
We knew we wanted to include elements from both of our cultures into all of our wedding events. It was important to us on the main wedding day to have ceremonies for both families (Hindu and Christian) and include various other cultural elements throughout the day. In both of our cultures, it’s important to include family so we knew everyone would want to pitch in and help somehow. So, we included our friends and family in the planning and the events as much as we could. We had performances from our close friends and family included, speeches from both sides of the family, help with DIYing, planning, getting cultural clothes and cultural items, etc.
Combining essentially three different cultural traditions (Indian, Mien, and Christian) was quite challenging. Ultimately, there are only so many days and so many hours in each day and it was hard to fit in everything we wanted. We also had a hard time “modernizing” and “shortening” various cultural elements to fit within the days and hours we had.
How would you describe the wedding?
The main wedding day had three ceremonies: Hindu, Christian and Mien Tea Ceremony. Each one was customized to fit our timeline, our cultural traditions, and our families. We would describe our ceremonies as unique and full of love and laughter. The Hindu ceremony on the main wedding (4th day of celebration) had portions specialized to our parents and ourselves. In the Christian ceremony, we included unique promises to each other based on our relationship throughout the years. We also customized the way that the tea ceremony was done so that it flowed nicely between the other events and maintained key traditional elements while also being simplified to reduce the required time for it. In addition, our clothes were customized to us and our cultures in a unique way. Meghan’s mehndi was still visible even in her white wedding gown and the bridesmaids wore traditional Indian clothes and jewelry. Kao’s tie and pocket square during the Christian ceremony mimicked the cross stitch patterns used on traditional Mien clothes, and the groomsmen’s pocket squares had traditional Mien cross stitch designs sewn by Kao’s mom. Our Indian clothes colors were customized for our wedding theme colors. Our favorite colors are emerald green and royal blue so we both wore elements of each color in our Indian outfits. Our other wedding colors (royal purple, magenta, and gold) were included in the bridesmaid and groomsmen outfits, floral décor and bouquets across all the ceremonies.
Our day-of wedding coordinator was amazing! We could not have pulled off our crazy busy schedule on the main wedding day without her helping us to keep all the vendors on track and get us, our family and guests in the right places at the right time. Komal went above and beyond to help us make sure all the last-minute details were organized, even when unexpected changes happened. Additionally, we loved how our wedding stationary (from invitations, to signs, buffet food signs, labels, and thank you cards) turned out. My cousin Asha did an amazing job creating a custom design for us that seamlessly captured our cultures, personalities, and wedding theme and colors. Lastly, the alterations on Meghan’s white wedding dress came out beautiful. The dress started off too long and had too deep a V-neck front and open back. Oksana at Golden Needle & Silver Thread did an amazing job fitting the dress perfectly to Meghan and using the lace to create a custom neckline in the front and back that you would never be able to tell wasn’t part of the original dress.
Special Cultural Features
In addition to the main wedding ceremony day that had a Hindu wedding ceremony, Christian wedding ceremony, and Mien tea ceremony, we had three other cultural days. Our first day was a Mehndi Day, where traditional Mehndi/henna was done on my hands and feet, as well as Kao’s hands (my hands and feet took five hours to complete and six hours to dry before I could remove the paste). Both of our designs were customized to us, our story, and elements we wanted to include (e.g., my mother passed away and had always liked roses, so I asked for roses to be included in my Mehndi design; Kao is in the Air Force so a bird was included in his design). Keeping with Indian tradition, close friends and family were also able to get designs done on their hands. On Haldi Day, our close family gathered for a traditional Haldi ceremony where each person gave their blessing and good wishes to the us by putting a paste made of yogurt and turmeric powder on our faces, neck, arms, and/or hands.
On the third day, we celebrated Mien culture by dressing up with Kao’s
entire family in traditional Mien clothes.
The dances performed by our family and close friends were unique, highlighted both of our cultures, and we enjoyed by us and all the wedding guests. In addition, the three speeches from our families were also memorable. Another memorable element of our reception was the group photo time we had with all the wedding guests. In traditional Indian weddings, there is a portion of the reception set aside for each family/group who attended to the wedding to go up and take a photo with the bride and groom. We put a fun spin on this by turning it into a fast photo session where guests were encouraged to form groups and rush in to take photos with the bride and groom as quickly as possible. This led to some memorable photos and a once-in-a-lifetime experience full of chaos and laughter.
During the Hindu Ceremony, many of the steps required were provided as instructions as the ceremony progressed by the Indian pandit. There were often funny moments of confusion with interpreting the part Hindi, part English instructions to both of us, our parents, and our family on the stage helping to bring items where they needed to go. In addition, the group photo session during the reception didn’t quite turn out as we expected as everyone ended up rushing in at the same time in many cases and we ended up with groups of people who may not have been related to each other, but created amazing memories and photos we will cherish forever.
Kao’s Best Part
The best part was seeing family come together to help with the wedding proceedings. The Indian side and the Mien side met for the first time but they all got along as if they’ve been family for a long time.
Meghan’s Best Part
My favorite part of the day was getting to see how all of our cultural elements fused together in a way that represented who we are, our backgrounds, and the family want to create of our own in the future.
Advice from the couple:
Your wedding is a blessing that celebrates you as a couple, and a challenge that will strengthen your bond in marriage. Wedding planning requires a tremendous amount of time, patience, organization, and love. We urge all new couples to not only embrace the challenge, but to enjoy it as best you can. There may be trying moments in the process but in the end, there will be countless memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life.
What would have done differently if you had the chance?
Weddings shouldn’t be about being perfect or better, but rather it should be an experience unique to the couple. Although there are things that could have been “improved”, if we had been given the chance to do the wedding again, we hope that nothing would be different.