Summer vacations are my favorite time of the year. We usually travel to some exotic destination in Europe with the family and spend some quality time bonding. This year though, we broke with tradition.
My little brother got married this summer and we flew all the way to the US to celebrate his wedding in the picturesque city of Chicago. The wedding itself was a beautiful affair which struck a delicate balance between old school Indian traditions and newer Western concepts.
All the key elements from traditional Indian weddings were incorporated into this event. These included the baarat (wherein the groom enters the wedding location with the wedding party dancing to some crazy beats), the tying of the knot in the presence of the purifying fire and the holy priest, and of course rich Indian food. The couple was even able to convince the priest to shorten the traditional ceremonies from the hours long monologue to a more interactive and much appreciated 45 minute version.
In addition to these Indian concepts, there were a number of western concepts woven in. For example, the bride and groom following their families in walking down the aisle, the couple reciting their wedding vows during the rituals and their first dance as a married couple.
What stood out in stark difference to traditional Indian weddings was the small number of people present. A traditional Indian wedding has well over a thousand guests. When the Honey Bee and I tied the knot, there must haven been between 1,000-2,000 guests, most of whom we did not know. This wedding, on the other hand, was a relatively intimate affair with about 100 close members of the family and friends groups. A welcome change in my opinion.
We were also personally responsible for organizing an afternoon tour of Chicago followed by lunch at a local favorite restaurant for our out-of-town guests. The tour was great, especially given the phenomenal weather we had. We even took guests to the famous Lou Malnati’s for a taste of the authentic Chicago deep dish pizza. Suffice it to say, people overestimated their eating capacity and we had a LOT of leftover pizza.
The wedding went off flawlessly, and I’m glad to say we were even able to lend a helping hand in organizing the event. Everybody had a great time and I was even invited to give a toast. Albeit extremely nervous, I really enjoyed standing up there facing the bride, groom and the rest of the wedding party delivering their wedding toast.
To wrap up today’s entry, I have posted the full text my toast, with all personal identifying information redacted. I was very conflicted about posting it on here, but I finally decided to post it for the sake of posterity.
Most of you here already know me. For those who don’t, my name is ***, and I am ***’s favorite brother. Yes, his only brother-but that doesn’t matter.
And as his only brother, I feel it is my duty to tell you about little *** here. *** and I first met 29 years ago. It was March **st, 19**. I’m sure *** doesn’t remember that day, and that’s understandable because he was going through a lot at the time. Nonetheless, *** and I shared an immediate connection.
Like most siblings, we had our fair share of tussles, but that was mainly because of our different personalities. You know, *** was always loud, abrasive and foolish, while I was calm, composed and good-looking, and still am.
I kid of course, but the good thing that came out of all of these fights, is that we both became really good at apologizing. ***, you’re welcome!
*** and I have always shared a strong bond, and he’s been a best friend and confidant. As a result of this closeness, I like to think of myself as having been a little protective of him.
I still remember when I was like 12 and he was 10 and some of our friends were picking on him. I stopped them and said, “hey, don’t pick on my brother!—–Only I get to that!”
On a serious note though, as I stand here today, I still can’t believe that my baby brother is getting married.
*** and *** met at college in Bloomington, and it has been wonderful to see their friendship blossom into love over the last 11 years. It is an intense source of happiness for me to know that my brother has found his soul mate.
I consider myself blessed for having such an incredibly loving soul as a brother. I could not have asked for anything more and I just wanted to say that I love you. And now, I am also being blessed with a wonderful sister.
Welcome to the family ***!
And so, without further ado, if everyone would join me in raising their glasses. To *** & ***-a a lifetime of love, unity and happiness. God bless you both! Congratulations!
And so with that, we wrapped up the wedding. However, the wedding was at the end of the trip. Since we were travelling so far, we also decided to get a taste for some other parts of America. So in the next post, we will rewind a couple of days and take a look at some of our other adventures in the US of A.