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Jess & Jay Wedding Day 1 in Fairfax, VA

It is not always easy to bring two families together, especially two families with different cultural backgrounds. And while one family from India and one family from Iowa may not have a lot in common THIS family had the most important thing in common; love for their family. And what a day celebrating their two families coming together!

Jess & Jay had TWO days of weddings! Their first wedding was a traditional Indian ceremony and their second was a fairly traditional American wedding in downtown D.C. For this blog post I am going to be talking about their Indian ceremony. And just like it is true that every American wedding different it is also true of Indian weddings. While there are many shared traditions, there are quite a few that may not be recognized by the American born and raised. So, as I share these photos and tell a bit of their story I am also going to educate us on the different aspects of Jess & Jay's Indian ceremony.

It's hard to find a place to start but I will do my best to give a good picture of the meaning behind their ceremony rituals. Let's start with the groom's grand entrance, the baraat. It is tradition that the bride & groom do not see each other on the wedding day until the bride walks down the aisle...that is still a fairly true tradition in American weddings as well. However, in Indian weddings the groom has a BIG entrance. He doesn't simply walk down the aisle and stand there. Before the ceremony Jay's hat was placed on him by women in his family and Jess' mom placed red powder on his forehead.

Then his family walked him around the entire building while they danced and sang! It was so fun and full of LIFE! It was like a pre-party to the actual party. There was so much laughter and joy! It felt like how all wedding ceremonies should feel. He made his way to the mandap, which is similar to a chuppa.

After his grand entrance, Jess entered with her family members holding a large scarf over her head as rice and flower petals were thrown on the bride in celebration by his family members. And as soon as she walked through the doors tears of joy and happiness were flowing from Jay's eyes as his dad wrapped an arm around him and other family members looked on. It was such a beautiful moment.

Once they are finally together they both walk up to the mandap together followed by their families. There were many ceremonial rituals that took place but I am just going to highlight a few of the moments that stood out to me the most.

During the ceremony many prayers are prayed and well wishes are made to the bride & groom. Gifts are exchanged, sweets foods are shared, and the two families are well honored. As they begin the bride & groom exchange flower garlands. This is called the jai mala. Later in the ceremony the groom also gifted the bride a necklace called the mangal sutra or "auspicious thread".

After the bride & groom take hands they walk around the fire in the middle of the mandap. In this ceremony they walked around the fire 7 times. Each time represented something about their joining together. If I remember correctly, one of them was to have friends and family over as long as they are invited :)

They exchanged rings at the beginning of the ceremony to symbolize their unity and they ended their ceremony wrapped in a scarf together while their friends and family threw rice and flower petals in celebration with them! I loved how everyone who attended their wedding had a part in their ceremony and how the families were honored throughout. It was a very meaningful time of unity.

After the ceremony the bride had quite a surprise for the groom. She hired two Bollywood dancers to perform during the reception and as they watched the dancers together she stepped up and surprised him with a dance that was choreographed with the dancers! The expressions on his face were PRICELESS!

The night ended with some of my favorite foods in the world; garlic naan, aloo gobi, lamb vindaloo, and butter chicken. If you are unfamiliar with Indian food and want to venture out and try something new those are the ones I would start with. They are equally delicious, warm, and sometimes a little spicy.

And last but not least...the groom's shoes were stolen. This is a tradition often played on the groom by family of the bride. The groom then has to find out who stole the shows and barter with them to get them back. I believe it was $151 to get his shoes back!

Well, I think I've given a good overview of Wedding Day 1 for Jess & Jay. Tomorrow I will be posting their Wedding Day 2 blog with all the details about their downtown D.C. Wedding! Until then, enjoy these beautiful, colorful photos from Day 1!

As she walked through the door...

Tears of joy with his father's hand of support

Starting the fire and walking around it seven times

Oh, did I forget to mention he had to pick her up and put her in the other chair? There was a lot of laughter at that part :)

The bride, mother of the bride, and mother of the groom's henna


His expression when they ask her to come up... 😂

Then she rocked it and he was feeling it!

Congratulations Jess & Jay! Here's a little preview of tomorrow's blog post!

Vendor List:


Danielle Towle Photography


The Saree Room

Wedding Coordinator

Ashley Nicole Events


Tandoori Fairfax


Kiley Smith Makeup


Kylie Howell, Mara Hair & Mode Studio


DJ Rell Deez




DJ Rell Deez


The Saree Room


Organic Bronzing Studio


Sokora Jewels

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