Milan&Aneesha: Married (by Me!)
What a weekend. I have no words to describe, but I'm going to try. I recently wrote a blog post about my friends Milan and Aneesha who were engaged to get married, by me! They had asked me to officiate their wedding, crossing #53 off of my bucket list. As excited as I was, I was super nervous as well--but I'm happy to share that the wedding went well, the couple is married and I've proudly crossed another item off of my list!
The weekend kicked off with a mehendi night full of entertainment, dancing, food and fun! The first surprise of the night took place when Milan walked into the hall, just to have his bride and her girlfriends bust out a short bhangra. (Aneesha may be Sindhi, but who said that Punjabis are the only ones who can bhangra?;-) ) This kicked off the entertainment for the night, including a Fresh Prince-esque rap by the very talented Kinjal, a roast of Milan by his childhood Potluck Party friends (ask him about the leopard print leotard), touching words by the siblings of the couple as well as the best man and maids of honor, and the wedding shoe game with a surprise biodata at the end. (Single ladies, hit me up, I'll pass his details on to you.) Aneesha couldn't resist another twist--this bride had another surprise up her sleeve.
When Milan and Aneesha started planning her wedding, she called me up one day asking for my help (this was before they asked me to officiate). Being the Bollywood fanatic she is, she wanted to surprise her groom and her dad by performing a Bollywood dance at the mehendi night. "They're going to freak out! I can't wait!" And boy was she right. Milan knew that Aneesha's girlfriends, including myself, were going to be doing a dance, so we started out with the 7 of us lined up, ready to go. We had the DJ mess up the song on purpose so we all looked confused and we motioned for the bride to join us because we didn't know what to do. What happens next...well, I'll just let the video show you:
Pretty good considering the first time we all danced together was the performance! It's amazing how much technology has changed our lives, including weddings! Though all of us live in different cities (San Diego, LA, Florida, Phoenix, NYC), we were able to learn the dance through YouTube videos where I broke down the choreography and we even had a few Skype practice sessions.
The next day, Friday, was the day of the wedding and the reception. When I texted the bride to ask her how she was doing, her response was, "Great! I'm hanging out! Yesterday was the hard part for me!"....right. And Friday was the tough part for me. But I was ready. I think. To get my sermon ready, I had googled a bunch of different secular ceremonies, interviewed both the bride and groom, and watched a lot of TLC to get ideas. Because I looked at so many sermons myself online, it wouldn't be fair if I didn't share my ceremony with others who are looking for examples themselves. (I'll spare you though and paste it at the end.)
The ceremony took place in Point Loma at the beautiful Admiral Kidd Conference Center. It was a beautiful day, everyone looked stunning (no really--it was a good looking wedding, guests included), and we were ready to witness Milan and Aneesha become husband and wife. I was wowed again by the technology the couple implemented into their wedding--this time they streamed the ceremony so that friends and family that couldn't attend in person were able to view the ceremony. (If you wanted to see some video, here you go! It starts around 10:22 and lasts about 30 minutes.)
[ustream id=30937645 hwaccel=1 version=3 width=480 height=392]
The couple was married. The guests were elated. And the party began! (And what a party it was!) But in true MilAneesha style, there were more surprises coming in the evening. Milan was in an acapella group in college and he recruited some of his musically inclined friends to perform at the wedding, with him! Milan started off on the drums and threw us for a bigger loop when he got up himself and sang! (I would have been terrified and terrible--fortunately, he's not me and the guys killed it! I have mad respect for people who can sing and/or play an instrument. Rock on, fellas!)
As for the rest of the night, let's just say that this group knows how to party. The afterparty went til 5 in the morning, followed by some Denny's breakfast--and then I had to scramble to pack and catch a flight to attend a wedding reception in Chicago for two college friends who were getting married on Saturday. What a weekend indeed! Congratulations to both couples--wishing you all the best for many years to come! <3
Shaadi MilAneesha Script
Please be seated.
Who gives the bride to be married to the groom?
(Aneesha’s Dad stands and responds.)
Good afternoon everyone. On behalf of the couple, I’d like to welcome you to their wedding and also thank you for being here and being part of this wonderful celebration as we witness Mildaddy and Babycakes, I mean Milan and Aneesha become husband and wife.
As for my introduction, my name is Sejal Patel, though today you could call me Minister, and I’m a good friend of the couple. I’m honored to be officiating the ceremony today, made possible thanks to the wonders of the internet, the laws of California and the crazy amount of trust that Milan and Aneesha have in me.
I met Milan and Aneesha through a mutual friend on different visits to San Diego. Milan and I bonded over the old school music I was playing on my iPod, including my extensive bhangra collection and Aneesha and I are likely the only two Indian girls who like to lay on the beach, in the sun, and get a tan.
I will say that leading up to today, one of my biggest fears was that I was going to cry. Which I already did when I saw Aneesha walk down the aisle—so now that that’s over, it can only be uphill from here.
Aneesha, you look absolutely beautiful. Milan, you clean up pretty well yourself, although I think we're all slightly disappointed you're not wearing your leopard print leotard.
Today we are here to celebrate love, light and unity. We’re celebrating the love that exists between these you, and quite literally celebrating light and unity, as Aneesha means “uninterrupted and constantly flowing light” and Milan is derived from a Sanskrit expression meaning, “a coming together” or “unification”. It is an honor to be included, our privilege to be present, and our duty to give our best to the soon to be married couple.
January 22nd 2009 was a special day in history. While it was a career night for Andrew Bynum of the LA Lakers, that wasn’t what made the day special. As historical as President Obama’s order to close the Guantanamo prison camps was, that’s not it either. What made that day so memorable was that it gave single guys everywhere the courage to approach females and reminded single girls that you never know when or where you’ll find love. That was the day that Milan and Aneesha met, proving that bad pick-up lines could actually work.
They met at Henry's, which is why I'm using their menu as a prop for my notes.
That night, Milan thought the best way to approach a beautiful young lady, was to walk up to her and ask, “Are you Indian?”
And Aneesha, being the sassy gal she is, responded with a, “Um, are you serious? Don’t you see my nosering?
To which Milan responded with equal sass, “Man! Everyone has noserings around here!”
Crazy enough, they actually got into a conversation and that’s where their story began. Fortunately, the conversation got better after that and Milan, who had been living in San Diego for a little while, took it upon himself to be Aneesha’s San Diego tour guide as she had just moved here.
Soon enough, they became friends. In May of 2009, they took their friendship to the next level. THen in March of 2012 they got engaged, which brings us to today, their wedding day.
To symbolize the next step of their relationship, Milan and Aneesha will be performing a sand ceremony.
We have three containers of sand taken from their respective home states of Texas and South Carolina and their current home, California.
Each container, like you, holds its own unique beauty, strength and character. Each container represents your lives to this moment, individual and unique. On their own, they can exist and be whole, without needing anything else. When they’re blended together, they represent an entirely new and extraordinary relationship.
Each grain of sand brings a lasting beauty that forever enriches the combination. By combining all of the sand, you will be representing all that you were, all that you are, and all that you can become, with each other. As you combine the sand together, your lives also join together as one and the life that each of you experienced until now will be inseparably united. Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so will your marriage be.
Right after the sand ceremony, we'll go into the Ashirvad ceremony. Ashirvad means blessing in Hindi. There have been lots of different people who have loved you, supported you, encouraged you and shaped you into the people you are today. We’re fortunate to have so many of those people present and to have the blessings and well wishes of those who aren’t physically here, but send their love.
One of the biggest joys of marriage is bringing two families together and beginning a new family. Milan and Aneesha will be asking their parents who so lovingly raised and nurtured them to offer their blessings for their marriage, promising to support, understand and encourage the couple in their life together in the years to come. Milan and Aneesha will touch their parents’ feet to accept this blessing.
To get here today, you have been on a journey. A journey that began well before you met, a journey you went on together for the past 4 years, 2 months and 14 days ago and a journey that they will continue on, together, after today. There have been moments that stand out during that journey, such as a shared look as Milan rocked out with his band and caught Aneesha’s eye in the crowd. There have been numerous birthdays, vacations and holidays that they’ve experienced together. And then there was a trip to Charleston in November 2011 that motivated Milan to start looking for rings when he returned to San Diego.
Milan and Aneesha, today you’re making the ultimate commitment to each other, to share the rest of your lives with each other. That includes sharing the remote, sharing a bathroom, and yes, sharing that last glass of wine (sometimes). Before sharing the rest of their lives together, Milan and Aneesha wanted to share their vows through beat boxing and interpretive dance, but we didn't have the right mic and her dress makes it hard to move. Instead they have prepared their own vows and personal promises that they’d like to share with each other and the 255 people here.
<The couple wrote their own vows which they read to each other at this part.>
This is the part of the ceremony where typically the officiant will say something like, “A ring, in its simplest form, is a circle that symbolizes forever. By exchanging rings today, Milan and Aneesha are telling themselves, each other and all of us, that they promise to love and cherish each other, forever.”
But there's more to it. While rings are perfect circles, they didn’t start that way. The have a beginning when rock is dug up from the earth and metal is liquefied in a furnace at a thousand degrees, then molded, cooled and painstakingly polished. From that rock and metal, something beautiful is made from the raw elements---the rings. Love is like that, marriage is like that. It’s hot, it’s messy, it takes work, but the results are worth it. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings but result in a thing of beauty. It’s the process of making something amazing and wonderful, when there was once nothing at all.
May I have Aneesha's ring please?
Milan, do you take Aneesha, to be your lawfully wedded wife? Do you promise to entertain her with your conspiracy theories, to put up with her Bollywood dance parties, to be the Govinda she dreamed of as a little girl and to continue to try to become better at sports even though she’ll still beat you 95% of the time? Above all, do you promise to conquer and share your life with her and spend the rest of your days being happy together?
Milan respond with “I do”
Milan, place this ring on Aneesha’s hand and repeat after me:
“Aneesha, take this ring as a token of my love, a symbol of our unity, trust and respect, and a reminder of all our memories together and the fun times ahead.”
May I have Milan's ring please?
Aneesha, do you take Milan, to be your lawfully wedded husband? Do you promise to comfort him when the Chargers lose and drink beer with him when they win (or actually, just drink beer with him period), to accept Natasha into your life, to look past the fact that he plays with his nose hairs, and to continue to let him teach you guitar in hopes of one day jamming out together? Above all, do you promise to conquer and share your life with him and spend the rest of your days being happy together?
Aneesha respond with, “I do”
Aneesha, place this ring on Milan’s hand and repeat after me:
“Milan, take this ring as a token of my love, a symbol of our unity, trust and respect, and a reminder of all our memories together and the fun times ahead.”
In the years to come, time will bring Milan and Aneesha into greater age and wisdom. We hope that their love will grow with each passing day, that they’ll be able to overcome any hurdles that life puts in their path, and that the fun will never stop. May you each bring out the best in the other, miss each other when you're apart, be comfort during sorrows and be the joy in each other's hearts.
It is my honor to pronounce you husband and wife.
Go on and kiss your babycakes!
It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Milan and Aneesha Kumar!