This. This is the Washington, DC wedding feature that always gets me giddy & restores my faith that DC isn’t just a one-note wedding city. Washington, DC is jam-packed with all different kinds of people [races, beliefs, shapes & sizes] and I always imagined my blog to reflect that. However, for whatever reason, I seem to get a significant amount of Caucasian/Christian wedding submissions [not that there's anything wrong with that] only.
I want Capitol Romance to be varied with it’s features – I am striving to be creative, different from the norm, eclectic & offbeat; however, it isn’t completely in my control as it frankly comes down to what gets submitted to me…
*Stepping off my soapbox* So that is why I am giddy – giddy to share a beautiful, multi-cultural couple, that had a beautiful multi-cultural wedding. A Christian one and a traditional Sikh Indian wedding too, all right here in Washington, DC. Thanks to Amber Wilkie Photography [submitted via Two Bright Lights] for this amazing, multi-cultural Washington, DC wedding feature.
Megan & Pritpal’s Multicultural Indian – Christian Wedding in Washington, DC
From wedding photographer, Amber Wilkie:
Megan and Pritpal were married beneath the Netherlands Carillon in Rosslyn in a traditional Sikh Indian wedding ceremony. As per custom, all their friends and family sat on the ground, while musicians played and a cantor read from the holy book. They circled the holy book four times, and then they were married! After we all headed to the Bombay Club for a rockin’ dance party.
And now the rest of the amazing details will come from the stunningly beautiful bride, Megan. Doesn’t Megan look like Rachel McAdams? I think so! Take it away Megan ….
To give you a little background my fiancé, Pritpal, is British Asian (Indian). He was born and raised in and around Birmingham, England. His parents were both born and raised in the Punjab region of India and moved to England in the early 60s. Pritpal was raised in an Indian home, speaking the Punjabi language and going to the Sikh temple on the weekends, but with all the outside influence of English schooling and cultural life. Pritpal’s job in accounting brought him to America, originally on a one year assignment, which turned into indefinitely.
I was born and raised in the mid-west and south. I grew up on a small ranch, riding horses, showing cows in 4-H, and building forts and tree houses with my brother. My family is Christian and I grew up going to church on Sundays. My mom was a flight attendant, so we had the opportunity to travel domestically quite a bit. In high school I realized I loved the beach and weather in California so I left my small town of only 18K people to go to college at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. After college I stayed in California and got a job at an accounting firm.
Our relationship started in 2008 and we dated for a couple of years before getting too serious. We had a lot to work through coming from very different backgrounds, religions, cultures… and I already had a son, Jack, who lived me. Pritpal and I loved each other for who we were and got engaged in January of 2011. When we got engaged we still hadn’t decided on the logistics of our living situation going forward; Pritpal had moved to Washington, DC with a new job and Jack and I had gone back to Kentucky to spend some time with my parents.
In August Jack and I moved out to D.C. to be with Pritpal. Before Jack started Kindergarten, Pritpal and I decided to take a trip back to his home country to visit his mother and check out some Indian wedding attire. At this point it was mid-August and we had decided to have a very small ceremony, Indian (Sikh) and/or American (Christian) we were still not sure, and a nice celebratory dinner with the guests afterwards, nothing too elaborate and definitely no dancing.
While in England we needed to convene with Pritpal’s mother to get names and addresses of family and friends in India, England, Australia, and Canada that we had to give notice to about our wedding. Apparently in Indian culture, it is customary to invite everyone to weddings and considered almost offensive if you don’t invite someone you are related to. They may be half-way across the world and not able to come, but they must be invited. I was under the impression that people would understand we were planning a small affair and could only accommodate close family and friends.
With Pritpal’s mother’s list of “must-invites” we had grown quite a list and we had no idea who from that list would actually make it all the way to Washington, D.C. At this point we felt that our small wedding affair wasn’t looking very plausible, but we still wanted to try to stick with the ideals we had set out with – an intimate ceremony and dinner at a restaurant.
Our stay in England was 11 days and during that time, some 3,500+ miles from the city where we were planning to have our wedding, we had an engagement party arranged by Pritpal’s mother, decided we were both comfortable with having the Indian ceremony as the bigger affair and something smaller for the American ceremony, decided on and ordered invitations, researched and booked a wedding location, finalized the reception at our favorite Indian restaurant in D.C., bought two Indian bridal dresses (lenghas) complete with elaborate bridal jewelry, ordered two made-to-measure achkans (formal wedding attire for Pritpal and Jack), created a website complete with a timeline of pictures of both Pritpal and myself, information for the guests on a Sikh wedding ceremony, and logistics of where guests should fly in, find lodging, etc.
Click inside to see the rest of Megan & Pritpal’s gorgeous Traditional Sikh Wedding in Washington, DC!
Pritpal and I had found our wedding location, the Netherlands Carillon Memorial Park in Rosslyn, VA, because Pritpal would run through that park on his morning jog to his office in downtown D.C. We often took the same run together as running is something we’ve always enjoyed doing together. Once we booked the Netherlands Carillon as our wedding location, we checked the weather religiously as there are no tents allowed in the park and we decided not to have a backup plan. The reason for no backup plan was because it was very difficult to find a place to hold a Sikh ceremony. There are certain religious restrictions; not having alcohol on the premises being the main restriction, such as is the case with restaurants and hotels.
Most people hold Sikh ceremonies in temples, but there also weren’t any of those in the area that met our location and décor needs. So we decided it would be best to have it outside and that was that. The weekend after our wedding it snowed that Saturday, all day long. We felt so lucky that we had narrowly missed that weather.
Pritpal’s mother came in from England about a week before the wedding with a suitcase full of chunnis (head scarves for women), which she had already cut from material and hemmed the edges back in England, and material for making ramals (head coverings for men), which she diligently cut and hemmed for an entire day once she arrived here. By this time we knew we were having around 80 guests, all of whom needed a chunni or ramal. Pritpal’s mother had also brought the achkins which we had ordered while in England, but had not yet seen as they were made in India and shipped back to England after we had left. Pritpal’s fit perfectly, but Jack’s needed much alteration, which Pritpal’s mother and I did by hand.
My best-friend and maid-of-honor, Tana, came in Thursday before the wedding and she helped Pritpal and me write the programs, which was no small task. We were having a Sikh ceremony and wanted to stay in keeping with the Sikh terminology, however Pritpal and I had changed a few things to meet our needs as a couple. For example, traditionally the bridal couple walks clockwise around the Holy Book with the man in front of the woman. We felt it was important that we walk around side-by-side. We wanted to explain everything to our guests so they could follow along and feel involved. Tana formatted and printed all the programs while Pritpal and I were getting our marriage license at the courthouse the morning before the wedding.
Prior to the traditional Sikh Indian wedding, Megan & Pritpal had an intimate, American vow & ring exchange in Clarendon, the Friday night before at the rehearsal dinner.
On Friday evening we had a great rehearsal dinner and American vow and ring exchange at Lyon Hall restaurant in Clarendon. Our officiant, whom we had only met once, two weeks prior, did a great job providing background on Pritpal’s and my relationship to the guests and incorporating my dad into the ceremony by asking him to read relevant scripture. Incorporating some sort of Christian ceremony was very important to my parents and me.
Love love love how Megan had her father incorporated into the ceremony!
We hired a lady to bring some décor items such as the backdrop, sheets for everyone to sit on the ground, a small stage for the officiates, some rose petals for the isle and for throwing at the appropriate time, and some jeweled trees at the start of the isle. We had DJs working on their own to set up microphones and speakers. We also had the ceremony officiates bringing musical instruments, the Holy Book and décor items such as decorative blankets to place around the Holy Book and a wooden canopy.
Everyone had initially coordinated with Pritpal and me, but we weren’t there to oversee the actual setup and we weren’t scheduled to show up until after the guests had arrived. Everything was not planned down to a T, but that was definitely part of the excitement.
Megan, you are much braver than I – I am WAY too much of a control freak to not have everything planned to a T :)
When I arrived at the ceremony site with my dad, I remember seeing all of the guests sitting on the ground surrounded by all of this color and saying, “Wow, it looks really Indian!” My own wedding was my, and most of my family’s, first experience attending an Indian wedding ceremony. Somehow everything managed to come together and we had a great day.
Our reception was at the Bombay Club in downtown D.C. We had an amazing spread of Indian food, an Indian dancer who was a friend of Pritpal’s mother, a DJ, and dancing too!
Things had really changed in terms of our initial thoughts only months ago. The Bombay Club did such an excellent job in terms of the quality and level of service that everything went very smoothly there. We really had the time of our lives that day!
Want more!? Hop on over to East West Productions website to check out Megan & Pritpal’s Gorgeous Washington, DC wedding video!
Congratulations Megan & Pritpal! Thank you SO much Megan for sharing all the gorgeous details of your love story and of planning a multi-cultural Sikh wedding in Washington, DC! A special thanks to Amber Wilkie Photography & Two Bright Lights for making this submission possible!