Monday, February 24, 2014

Not Your Typical Wedding Love Letter

Marriage #2 to husband #1!

Two weekends ago I got married for the second time to the same man, my dear Roberto. Honestly it was an amazing love story. Not just a love story between him and I, but a love story of me and the amazing people who joined us on that day.

This is a love letter to those people...

As I have grown older, I have found myself ruminating on love more and more. It is something I reflect upon quite frequently, love in its many forms, the way we love different people and different relationships and how love and memory can be so intertwined. Roberto and I were officially married last July in my hometown in Northeast Pennsylvania in Wilkes-Barre, PA. It was a very sudden wedding, I like to say that it was a shotgun wedding without the baby. My parents were so thrilled to find out that some guy was willing to marry their crazy daughter that they threw together a wedding less than two months after my engagement. They invited 100 of their neighbors (mostly other Bengali folk) and boom I was MARRIED.

Yes, it was cray-cray, I just wanted an excuse to use the word cray-cray

It was a fun weekend, an absolutely insane one, but fun. The problem was, almost none of my friends were there. About 5 good friends of mine managed to attend, but most other people I loved weren't there to spend my special moment with me. I wanted to share my love with my friends, and for me that meant, another wedding, well...two to be exact.

This meant that we were going to have a West Coast Wedding celebration (and an East Coast one...eventually). In May, Roberto surprised the crap out of me in Alamo Park  with an engagement where about 40-50 friends of ours came out of the woodwork to descend on me in a park in San Francisco to see Robert propose at the site of our first date weekend. I was shocked, I cried and wore red flannel (yup I was so surprised that my engagement pictures will forever be immortalized with me dressed as a scrub).

Apparently, Roberto likes scrubs
That was an amazing moment, and I wanted these friends to be part of our wedding celebration.

So lo and behold, two weeks ago we threw our West Coast Wedding Celebration. It was Naderto's wedding celebration, a horrible amalgam of our names clashed into one. We even hashtagged it (#NADERTO). This celebration was honestly one of the most beautiful, poignant and best memories I have ever made. Roberto built a beautiful alter with his bare hands (in the rain, I may add), and decorated it with beautiful red and yellow flowers. My mentor and West Coast mom, Mary and her equally awesome Dave graciously offered up their home for the event, even though Mary's eyes widened when I told her 150 people had RSVP'd. Countless friends offered to help set up, bring food and drinks and join me with so much excitement on this day.

Our alter, made by the groom

And the day of the celebration, it rained. It was gray and windy, but almost everyone still showed up, yup, Mary was still stuck with about 150 people (sorry Mary!). We did a vows ceremony with our monsignor, Gabriel presiding over our words. Gabriel's wife, and my dear friend and twin, Maia, had basically wedding planned the entire event, we couldn't have celebrated our love without the love given to us by this amazing couple.

Us with Gabe and Maia. Members of the Salvadoran wives club with our lucky husbands ;-)
Everything from that day was possible due to the help of others, it took three of my girlfriends, Barnali, Sabiha and Preeti to help me put my sari on (I'm a failure as a brown girl, I cannot put a sari on my by myself for the life of me), and even my mother commented on how beautifully it was put on. And honestly, coming from a Desi mother, that means a lot.

My beautiful bouquet =) Photograph by Jennifer Davis

My bouquet was put together by Mary's daughter, Charlotte, and our breathtaking wedding photography was done by Mary's niece, Jennifer. Our celebration wouldn't have been possible without the contribution of all of these friends, and I will never forget what they did for me to make my day so special, ever. My friend and artist, Sabreena Haque of Ritual by Design did my stunning mendhi.

My beautiful mendhi by Ritual By Design

My friend Nadine, handmade truffle chocolates for dessert. My best friend Nwe not only got us appetizers from her local Burmese community, but had her boys help me out to fundraise at my wedding for my organization, NAPAWF (National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum), they went around with a box asking people for donations for this organization under our name.

With my NAPAWF sisters and my donation box
When I walked down the aisle, with Mary giving me away (yea girl POWER!), I couldn't even look at the crowd that was waiting for me. I was too overwhelmed by their love for me and Roberto, I was too overwhelmed by them coming out on a rainy day to be a part of this. During my vows, I laughed, cried and honestly forgot what I actually said (thankfully there's video), but was moved the entire time by having everyone there.

You know you have the best co-workers in the world when they come out to party for your wedding! My organization, CHAA (Community Health for Asian Americans)
My awesome SEAYL youth came out, because they are the most awesome youth ever
With my Black Young Dems! Co founded this group with some of these people 2 years ago, and look how far we've come =)

I'm not sure if everyone understood how significant this event was for me. Yes it was a celebration of love, but it was also for me, a celebration of my four years here in the Bay Area. I came here literally ONLY knowing Roberto, the guy I made this crazy move for. As I moved around our packed party, I mingled with the different people in organizations I've worked with, from different jobs, to political movements and groups. All of them were part of a transformative chapter of my life.  Each one of them shared a memory and experience with me, I honestly cannot believe that I experienced so much in these 4 years. My friendships and relationships are a testament to these lives I've lived in the West Coast.

After cheerful and tearful toasts, after dancing and drinking, after gifts and hugs, I know have this memory forever. It is a very important memory of love, the love I share with Roberto and the love I shared with each and every person who joined us. Thank you ALL, from the bottom of my heart.

I love you all, thank you to my my friends for loving us back!

PS. If you want to check out all of our wedding pictures by the wonderful Jennifer Davis, here they are!
Nadia and Roberto's Wedding Photos
Nadia and Roberto's Black and White Wedding Photos