We will be talking about their beautiful blended wedding, and get into some deep conversation about Aveena coming out to her Indian family for the first time. I can’t even imagine the pain and rejection they had to face from loved ones and communities around them, all while planning their wedding. Marriage equality is relatively new in the United States, and there is still so much judgement in the world toward LGBTQ couples. So I really appreciate Aveena and Alissa’s openness and willingness to share their story with all of us.
Alissa is American, Aveen is first generation Indian, born and raised in Minnesota. They met on Bumble 3 years after Aveena moved to Seattle.
Aveena: “I told Alissa from the beginning that I would love to propose to her. In July of 2019 we went down to meet her parents for the weekend. One night her dad and I were out sharing some whiskey and cigars when I asked him for his permission to marry Alissa. I knew from the bottom of my heart that she was the one for me. He teared up, gave me this massive hug and said; “of course we would love to!” Later that evening I asked her mom the same question, because I wanted to make sure that they knew my intentions with their daughter.”
Aveena: “All of the things that you can imagine going wrong for someone who is planning a proposal, happened. First of all, Alissa did not want to go on a date. It was cold, pouring rain, we hadn’t eaten all day, traffic was ridiculous, and we were two hours late to the proposal sight. (Which was actually a date spot that we went early on in our relationship.) I remember vividly, as soon as I proposed to her and she said yes, I told her: “hey babe, I have some bad news. We actually are not going to dinner.” She was expecting us to go to a really nice restaurant, so we were both getting really hungry, especially after drinking champagne.”
Alissa: “I love reading, so for me, the most important part of this story is that Aveena created a picture book that was going over all the reasons why she loves me, and it ended with “Will you marry me?”.
Alissa: “On the night of our proposal we went over to my parents house to celebrate. We immediately started talking about wedding planning. Seasons, potential dates, venues, guests we wanted to have…etc.”
Aveena: “My sister owns an event planning company in Minnesota. Next to Alissa, she is one of my best friends, so I always wanted her to be in my wedding. So Bright Events was actually who put the wedding all together from Minnesota, and they did an absolutely tremendous job. Truthfully the actual wedding planning process was not as stressful as it could be.”
Aveena: “Growing up I was raised in a very Christian home. So a few days after I proposed to Alissa, I came out to my family for the first time. It was difficult and very very very hard. My family did not agree with it, and fast forward they did not come to the wedding, even though we tried to get them involved. It caused a lot of strain during the wedding planning. I’m the last one in my family to get married and this was like the big wedding that they were all waiting for. And also because I married Alissa, and Alissa is a woman.
So it was a season of really weird emotions. We were very happy and there was so much to look forward to. And then it was very dark, sad and lonely at times. My family is really vocal, so they made it known multiple times how they felt about our relationship. And how what I’m doing is wrong, and what we are doing is wrong. Growing up it was taught that homosexuality is wrong. And just being around that environment you are just taught at a very young age that this is right and this is wrong.
Unfortunately for me, I knew at a very young age that I was very different compared to my cousins. Compared to those in my community, as well as my pier group in my school. And for that I had to protect myself, so I pushed and suppressed it as deep as possible so that no one would know. I would kind of try to fit in this mold that they would want me to.”
“Even after our marriage. It was definitely difficult for me and for that I give a lot of credit to Alissa. She was very patient with me, knowing that I had not come out to my friends and family. And she just had to trust that I was going to do it.
I don’t regret the timing of coming out. We give this advice, (and it’s funny because I didn’t necessarily take it), but when someone comes out, they should do it for themself. I definitely did it for myself, but I felt like I needed to have some support. I found that in Alissa, as well as in her family. Which I need to be very intentional thanking her family, because they filled the void that I was missing. Comforting me, encouraging me, and they were just so loving and accepting of me.
It’s definitely been hard living with this for a very long time. And then finally being able to come out is a huge weight off my shoulders. I feel this sense of freedom and it’s amazing! And it’s even more amazing and fruitful when it’s with somebody who also supports me and respects that I was going to do it.”
Alissa: “Aveena has also had experiences of rejection and judgement from white Americans, as well in religious communities. So it seems like in her experience that there has been a mix of cultural roots of homophobia and religious roots.”
Aveena: “When I moved to Seattle I got involved in a church and it was really my first community here. For three years I was invested in this church and when they found out it was a total rejection and I was asked to leave.”
Aveena: “I was able to not think about all the hurt and pain of what has happened with me coming out and us being married. I never felt more present in the moment in anything! It was by far the most joyful, BEST DAY EVER! The void of not having my family there was filled up very quickly with the people who were there.”
Alissa: “Aveena did a wonderful job of reassuring me when I needed to hear that she was still in this. She still wanted to get married. This wasn’t too much. There were definitely times when I was brought back to my 20 year old self of coming out and dealing with some of the backlash around that. It was painful, and it was also a lot of closeness between us. In some ways it really strengthened us. At times when it could have chipped away our relationship, instead we let that build us up. And bring us closer.
One thing that I ended up having to do, and may be helpful for other people to hear. As the one with the more accepting family, I had to be really intentional about setting boundaries with my family. Around how involved they would be and what kind of decisions they would make. Because it was so easy for my family’s voices to be the loudest. Otherwise it would have been so easy for the wedding to be a reflection of me and my family.”
Aveena: “A henna party is known for an Indian bride to have. It was super cool for me and my sister to be able to throw this party. It was like my party to my new family and friends. Alissa wore a traditional Indian lehenga and that was obviously really great for me. It was also really cool to see those who attended, (like her aunts and cousins) to do Mehndi. We had Indian food and there was obviously a lot of Indian music. It’s tradition that at the Mehndi Party you have people feed you Indian sweets, as kind of like a blessing and good luck. It was a precious moment for me to see my sister feed my soon to be bride. “
Alissa: “One thing that my therapist told me early on was to make the day about us. To have it reflect our love and who we are. She gave me permission to turn down traditions that just don’t fit us. For example we didn’t want to feed each other cake, and neither of us wanted to do a ‘giving away’. We did have people walk us down the aisle, but the ceremony of who-gives-who-away was not done. We are our own individual and are intentionally making this decision.
Part of what I had to think about with my family being more involved is what are some of the traditions that are really important to me. What did I want to do, regardless whether Aveena could do it. So I decided that it was really important to me that my dad walk me down the aisle, but I didn’t care as much about having a father-daughter dance. It was a balance of thinking about what fit us individuals and then what felt like a nice way to be respectful for one another. Given we had different circumstances.“
Aveena: “I had asked Alissa if she was ok with incorporating communion. Being raised in a Christian background I’ve always loved and desired to have communion for the first time with my wife on our wedding day. Our officiant did such a great job of tailoring that environment. A lot of people who attended our wedding may be religious, or may not, be, or understand what communion is.”
Aveena: “As far as the outfits goes, we all had our own ideas of what we wanted to wear. For example, I always envisioned myself wearing a traditional Indian for my wedding. And I definitely wanted to have a henna party. So those were my two non negotiables. To take a step back, we did not see what our outfits and our bridesmaid outfits look like prior to the wedding. But it was great to be able to share our outfits with each other’s family though.”
Alissa: “I think sometimes there is this push to make everyone look uniform. But for us we complimented each other nicely. Even though our bridal parties were dressed in different things, and we were wearing different colors.
Another great thing was finding vendors who are very intentional with working with the LGBTQ community. That is definitely a piece of advice I would give! Not only to those who are in the LGBTQ community, but those who are in an interracial relationship. Unfortunately that is still a problem, were people don’t want to work with those who are interracial.”
Some of our favorite resources:
Aveena: “Having the ability to marry same sex is very new in American. And our officiant did a good job of pointing that out. I think that really set the stage for the whole day. This is something that is very new to America. And we should count ourselves lucky and honored to be part of it.
We do our best to include my family in everything. I think that’s the biggest thing that we can do to show love. I think love is truly freedom and so for me that’s what I have to do. As difficult as it could be, especially in this world, (whether if it’s being an interracial or gay couple), you have to be loving and you have to try to fight the hate with love. It is the only thing you can do.”
Sometimes just by choosing somebody from a different culture, race or ethnicity can bring up so many judgemental opinions in people. I think regardless of if you are an LGBTQ person or not, you can relate to the feelings Aveena and Alissa have shared with us.
Connect with Aveena:
Check out some more wedding photos:
All photos by: Carley Jayne Photography
Would you like to join the GMM community so we can chat about multicultural relationships and weddings? Hope to see you there!