K E L L E Y & N I T I N P E R U M B E T I
Parsons graduate student Kelley Perumbeti and her husband Nitin's wedding was a feast for the eyes, and a celebration of love, ancient ritual and yes, color! Kelley shares with us how they were able to honor tradition with a modern twist that felt right to them.
Did you include any cultural traditions in your wedding?
"We did! Our wedding was a perfect balance of both Indian Telegu traditions and a modern Western wedding over the course of two days. Day one was dedicated to Indian traditions while the wedding day was Western. We started the first morning with Pellikuthuru/Pellikoduku ceremonies involving first the groom and a companion followed by the bride and a companion. Paste (a mixture of turmeric and oils) was applied to our face and arms by close family and friends (yes, we were covered by the end!). The ceremony is a form of blessing and purification, preparing the couple for their wedding.
We then did a ritual from a typical Indian marriage ceremony led by Nitin's grandmother where a black and gold necklace with a diamond pendant is given to the bride by the groom, followed by an exchange of garlands. I got to wear the most beautiful red sari, a gift from Nitin's family.
The first day ended with a wildly fun Sangeet, a huge celebration of color, traditional Indian food and dancing! Groups of friends and family performed dances for us followed by a performance by an Indian dance troop who led the guests in an Indian dancing lesson. I wore a beautiful gold and pink lehenga while Nitin wore an embroidered gold kurta. 99% of our guests wore Indian attire, making it quite the colorful evening!"
What was the hardest part of planning a multicultural wedding? What was the coolest?
"As crazy as it may sound, I don't think there were any truly hard aspects. The challenging part is finding a balance between truly honoring tradition while also finding a modern version of those traditions that felt right for us. We struck a perfect balance and our families were supportive the whole way. As for the coolest, I was very excited to be able to create an authentic multicultural experience that would expose our guests to beautiful new traditions while also expressing ourselves through the Western aspects, like writing our own vows! I was also able to absorb so much about Indian culture through the process and developed a newfound appreciation for the beauty in bright color. I'd also be lying if I said that shopping for outfits in India wasn't a highlight - I fell deeply in love with Indian fashion during the process."
Advice for engaged couples looking to create an experience that honors several traditions?
"Your wedding is one of the most important events of your life, the more meaningful and authentic it can be for you, the better! Cultural traditions are not only shared on that special day but honor the past and future. Craft them in a way that feels right. Let it be a special time to learn and engage culture alongside family."