I had the great honor of marrying Amy and Bryan this summer at a lovely rooftop venue overlooking the East River and the 59th Street Bridge.
When I first met with this beautiful couple (truly, they are adorable), we discussed ways to blend their philosophy on love, their values, and their unique romantic story with cultural aspects that would also honor their families.
Together they shared an interesting mix of roots -- a combination of Chinese/Taiwanese and Korean/American along with several family faith traditions such as Buddhism, Catholicism, and Judaism. They wanted everyone to feel included, yet wanted to bring in sacred elements that were meaningful for them both.
Buddhism was part of the bride's family background and the groom was very comfortable with that tradition, so we opted for a ceremony that featured Buddhist and Asian elements blended in a very loving and contemporary way. Although it was by nature an interfaith and intercultural union, the ceremony of marriage was more about the spirit of love than religion.
My thanks to the newlyweds for allowing me to share some aspects of their ceremony here to help other couples who might be interested in including the spirit of Buddhism or Chinese culture in their interfaith, non-denominational, or personalized ceremonies.
We began with a welcoming statement to the guests and an non-religious opening blessing, then we honored family with words and the symbolic gesture of bowing to show reverence to their dearest family members, their guests, and one another. It went like this:
Rev. Laurie Sue speaks: It has been said in a Buddhist Homily that: "Nothing happens without a cause... The union of this man and woman has not come about accidentally but is the foreordained result of many past lives. This tie can therefore not be broken or dissolved."
At a wedding, we see firsthand how the lineage of love gets passed along. The light of love that illuminates this marriage would not be possible without the love passed along to Amy and Bryan by their families.
At this time, they would like to take a moment to honor the people who have loved and nurtured them. (Names of loved ones here.)
It is most appropriate on this day that we thank you all for your inspiration by bowing.
The bride and groom will bow to the bride's family to honor and thank them. (bow to Amy's side)
Next the bride and groom will to bow to the groom's family to honor and thank them. (bow to bryan's side)
The bride and groom will now bow to their guests to thank you all for your love and support. (bow to center)
And finally, Bryan and Amy will bow to honor one another. (bow to each other)
Blessing After Bowing:
We completed the bowing with this short, celebratory blessing.
This family is united in a circle of love and strength.
Every joy shared adds more love.
Every obstacle faced together makes the circle stronger.
With every birth and every new union, the circle will grow.
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there must be better ways to mark a wedding annivesary than to see a film about a wedding anniversary
My wife is desperate to see 45 Years, a film about a couple who are a week away from their 45th wedding anniversary. We are, coincidentally, a week away from our 23rd wedding anniversary. It’s a time, as far as I’m concerned, for discouraging all forms of reflection.
“If you don’t want to come, I’ll go by myself,” my wife says.
“No, I’ll come,” I say. “Can we make it an early evening screening though? Because I’m…”
“Early evening? Are you mad? Let’s go now. We can have lunch first.”
“Like a date?” I say.
We go to a pizza restaurant where we used to take the children when they were small. It’s been redecorated in a less child-friendly style, and is empty apart from a few elderly couples.
“It’s the bank holiday, innit,” I say, trying to dodge my own reflection in the mirrored wall.
“Maybe,” my wife says.
“If there’s time before the film,” I say, “I’d like to go over the road to buy some kind of drain unblocking chemical.”
“We’ve got nothing but time,” my wife says.
“Something corrosive, with many warnings,” I say.
“More beer?” she says.
At the DIY shop over the road, my wife finds me crouched in the plumbing aisle. “Hurry up,” she says. “We’re going to miss the start.”
“You said I had time,” I say. “Nothing but time.”
“I didn’t know you were going to spend 20 minutes deliberating over drain cleaner,” she says.
“Yes, you did.”
In lobby of the cinema, my wife passes a woman who is holding a large glass of wine. “That’s what I want,” she says, pointing.
“Are you sure?” I say. “Because we’ve already…”
“Do you want one?”
From the back of the cinema, we see a sea of white heads. My wife stops to stare, and I know what she’s thinking: first, that we’re the youngest in the room; second, not that much younger. “It’s the early screening,” I say. “That’s why.”
45 Years, it transpires, is the bleakest assessment of long-term monogamy ever captured on film, set in flat, permanently twilit Norfolk. A tragic event from the past (Tom Courtenay’s first girlfriend fell into a crevasse and died) is suddenly brought to the fore (her perfectly preserved remains have been found – thanks a bunch, global warming), causing Charlotte Rampling to reconsider everything about their marriage. Her face, by the end, conveys a depthless horror. It is not a date movie.
At several points I consider nudging my wife, or even clasping her hand, to break the spell, but I don’t dare. It’s the kind of thing Courtenay keeps doing on screen, and it’s not working for him. Only when the lights come up do I risk looking into my wife’s eyes. They convey a depthless horror. “Oh my God!” she hisses. “I fell asleep!”
“Did you?” I say. “For how long?”
“I woke up in the middle of the party,” she says. “What happened?”
I hold my explanation until we’re outside. “What’s the last bleak thing you remember?” I say. “Did you see her in the attic?”
“I don’t think so,” my wife says.
“Yeah, well, she goes into the attic and finds a slide projector, all set up.”
“I missed all that,” she says. “I just saw her face at the end.”
My reconstruction is so painstakingly detailed that it takes us right to our front door. “So the take-home message,” I conclue, reaching for my keys, “is that everything will be fine.”
“Really?” my wife says.
“Love conquers all, blah blah blah.”
“But her face,” she says.
“And also, never move to the country.”
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By Navi Sidhu
Anyone who has had or has ever been to an Indian wedding knows that they are not like other Canadian weddings. Indian weddings are good, bad and can get ugly. On one hand, you get to party with your family and friends every night for a whole week while you're all glammed up. On the other hand, you have to party with your family and friends every night for a whole week while you're all glammed up.
Indian weddings can last four or more days of festivities. Between the engagement, sangeet, mehndi, out-of-towners welcome night, the ceremony and the reception, they really do become a marathon of sorts. Having a large family, I have run my share of Indian wedding marathons.
As I age over the years and my feet and liver can tolerate less and less, I've learned some tips and tricks to make it through!
Here are my top 10 survival tips:
It may seem that you're going to the same party, with the same people, at the same place every night. Varying your look will help liven things up and get you excited about getting ready night after night, with the added benefit of being able to distinguish one night from another in pictures.
Colours: pink, green, blue -- I tend to reserve deep, moody colours for evening events
Outfit type: suit, anarkali, lahenga, sari
Hair: big waves worn down, up-do, voluminous pony tail, top knot, half-up
Jewellery: big earrings, tikka or matha-pathi, statement necklace -- I usually pick one statement piece
Make-up: soft neutrals, bold lip with simple eye, smoky-eye with a nude lip
Overall look: traditional, modern, sophisticated, sexy
2. Test run
Do the clothes fit you? Do the shoes work with the outfit? Are the earrings too heavy? These are all issues you don't want to deal with as you're trying to get out the door. Try on all of your outfits with shoes and jewellery in advance, giving yourself enough time to find solutions to issues before the big event.
3. Tend to your feet
Footwear is important to any endurance sport, and surviving five straight nights on a dance floor is no exception. Try not to wear the same shoes two days in a row so as to give your feet a bit of a break. Another key is to bandage up spots before you head out so that you can avoid blisters rather than treat them after the fact. Alternatively, rubbing a little deodorant on those spots acts like a barrier against the rubbing. On a side note: if you take your shoes off to dance, use wet wipes or some wet napkins to clean your feet before slipping your shoes back on.
It doesn't matter if you're at the bar all night or if your drink of choice is chai -- hydrating is key to any marathon.
Nights can be long and the venues hot and humid, which can result in your face sliding all over. Use face and eyelid primers before you apply your make-up; follow your make-up with a translucent powder or a finishing spray to keep everything in place.
6. Be prepared
Evening bags tend to be small and by the time you fit your cell phone in there, you're not left with much room. I do, however, make room for some essentials. I use a small pillbox or old mint tin to contain a few bobby pins, safety pins, antacids and mints. I also like to carry a couple of wet wipes (see #3 above). If you don't have individually wrapped ones, you can always throw a couple in a Ziploc bag to avoid them drying out. Lastly, I always take my lipstick or lip gloss since that's the easiest way to refresh my make-up.
7. Exit strategy
We've all got our sore subject (school, marriage, kids, weight, etc.) and there's always an auntie who will hit you or your young adult child where it hurts. "Beta, don't you want a beautiful wedding just like this?" Despite wanting to tell the auntie to mind her own business and to worry about her own kids or weight, it's better to just pretend that someone standing behind the auntie is calling you and politely excuse yourself.
8. Know your limits
We've all seen the poor soul at the party who is stumbling around with her sari slipping off her shoulder. Don't be that girl! Not only will you become fodder for auntie gossip sessions, you won't have time to recover since there's another event the next day. Keep track of how much you're drinking and alternate drinks with water.
9. Don't sweat it
Nobody notices that pimple, the chutney stain on your top, or the uneven eyeliner. The one thing that will allow you to enjoy yourself and look amazing all night is confidence. So, hold your head up high, pull your shoulders back and smile!
Follow up the week of excess by avoiding fried foods, butter chicken, dairy, alcohol, silk and embroidery -- it's not like you'll want any more of those anyway.
As much as Indian weddings can be overwhelming, try to enjoy yourself. Before you know it, you'll be back in your sweats on the couch and engrossed in a marathon of the TV variety.
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