You haven't heard from me in a while because—as you know if you're a regular reader of this blog—I've been away for almost three weeks enjoying my own wedding and honeymoon. But I'm excited to be back and penning my first entry as a Mrs. There's so much to share about the big day, but to paint the full picture I have to start a week earlier.
Since my husband (still getting used to that!) is Indian, we had a number of pre-wedding events the weekend before in Massachusetts, where he grew up. The highlight for me was the mendhi ceremony, where my hands and feet were artfully decorated with dark ink called henna (it looks black when applied, but after it dries and you wash it off your skin is dyed a deep maroon).
There are numerous explanations for its significance—the deeper the color, the more your groom loves you; the ink toughens your skin to brace you for the hardships as well as the joys of marriage—but I simply loved the intricate designs. Mine had a peacock hidden in the swirls as well as my husband's initials.
The next night about 400 of his family's friends feted us at an exuberant event called a raas garba. It's named after two traditional Gujurati (Gujurat is the state in India where his family is from) dances that everyone—even my fearless family members—participated in. I'll never forget the kaleidoscopic image of so many rainbow-hued saris twirling around simultaneously. I felt like a princess in my vibrant, hand-beaded custom ensemble—which led my husband's cousins to endearingly nickname me "Indian Barbie".
That celebration set a festive precedent for the actual wedding one week later, in Charleston, SC, which I'll write about in my next installment. —Elaine Stuart, senior associate features/travel editor, Modern Bride