Thursday, October 25, 2012

Alecia grew up in North Carolina. Vinod grew up in Nepal. When 17 year old Alecia accompanied her mother on a trip to Nepal to volunteer in an orphanage there, she had no idea that she would meet the love of her life and future husband the minute she set foot outside the airport in Nepal on July 13, 2008. Vinod was in charge of the transportation to and from the orphanage and the airport. Alecia was immediately attracted to his laughter and contagious smile. Vinod was noticing how easily Alecia interacted with those around her and felt quite comfortable with her. It soon became obvious to not only the two of them but everyone around them how much they cared for each other. Over the course of four years their love grew and Alecia returned to Nepal four times, the last time being July of 2011 where they were married in a private traditional Hindu ceremony. Of course they wanted to have the traditional American ceremony too, so they set a date of October 21, 2012 and booked the historic Haywood Hall for the ceremony and Caffe Luna for the reception in downtown Raleigh. Alecia contacted me around the first of the year to see if I would officiate. I am so happy that I was available to participate in this wonderful wedding ceremony into which we incorporated both the American and Nepali wedding customs.
Guests were greeted with this welcoming sign as they arrived at Haywood Hall that Sunday afternoon.
I brought my little table and placed it on the indoor-outdoor carpet where they would walk around the candle flame during the ceremony. We discovered at the rehearsal that the ground underneath the very large and very old magnolia tree has many exposed roots and is not the most level or smoothest surface for the bride's wedding dress to trail over and gather bits of leaves and dirt in the process. So, Alecia's parents rounded up this piece of carpeting to help remedy the surface.
Asia Morris and Friends provided the music.  I think they are friends of the bride and are not a professionally performing group. They were good too!
The guests were arriving and taking their seats this gorgeous Sunday afternoon. 
While the bride and her parents and bridesmaids made their way down the front walk to a little gate from which they would enter the ceremony, the groomsmen, groom and I stayed behind the house so Vinod would not see Alecia.
Such pretty girls in such a pretty color. I love the hot pink and its festiveness, especially combined with the orange of the flowers in the bouquets. Whole Foods was the florist.
Tavia, a friend of Alecia's, served as our honorary wedding director. She learned what to do at the rehearsal the day before and did well. When she and I exchanged a thumbs up, she had the two sets of grandparents process in and be seated. Unfortunately none of Vinod's family could be with us. His parents and his sisters were in our thoughts and we know Alecia and Vinod were in theirs.
Then the groom, groomsmen and I entered and took our places under the big magnolia followed by the entrance of our lovely bridesmaids.
 Here comes the bride! 
Don't you just love this setting? The wedding the day before had the white paper globes in the trees and they left them so when Alecia and her friends added the orange and pink ones, they were gorgeous.
After warm words of welcome, I explained the significance of the Mangalsutra, a special necklace in Hindu wedding tradition, similar to rings in the American tradition, and then it was passed from guest to guest for them to infuse it with their blessings for the couple during the ceremony. Following that we had a prayer and remembrance of those not with us.
I invited Alecia's parents, Marcie and Neal, to step forward to bless the union of Alecia and Vinod. And of course they did!
Next came their wonderful story and their secret words to me about what they love about each other and what they are looking forward to in marriage.
In the Hindu tradition, the couple then lit the candle representing Phere around which they then walked four times as I read the meaning for each round. These are the vows.
In the American tradition, they exchanged rings. Notice that Alecia has had henna applied to her hands in the Hindu tradition.
Next Vinod placed the mangalsutra on Alecia symbolizing the strength of their union: physical, mental and spiritual.
 A wonderful moment! (I am going to take this opportunity here to point something out. Please notice the photographer who was behind the couple--I stepped out of the way for the kiss. I am pretty sure he was not one of the professional photographers being paid to take photos. When the professional photographers ask me if I have any restrictions on photographs--the really professional ones do ask--I tell them I have no restrictions except to please not get behind me during the ceremony and distract the guests from the ceremony. I was not aware of this young man during the ceremony or I would have turned around and asked him to relocate out from behind us! I have had to severely crop a lot of these photos to remove him from the pictures!)
Aaah! Two weddings down and one more to go! Alecia and Vinod will be going to Nepal next spring for yet another wedding celebration in the full-fledged Hindu tradition that takes several days. My, they have a lot of anniversary dates to remember!
 Such a good-looking couple! 
All the guests were invited to walk two blocks down Blount Street to Caffe Luna for the reception while the wedding party took photographs. Our professional photographer for this wedding was Bridget McEnaney and her assistant Colleen.
Just a little clowning around after the ceremony and high on what a gorgeous wedding it was!
Alecia and Vinod, you are an amazing international couple! Your love story and your love are inspiring to all. May you have all that you wish always! Remember Rumi's words: "The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They are in each other all along." 

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