Change of Plans: I Shrunk My Big Fat Bengali-Boricua Wedding

"That day, everyone was just happy to be around each other again, and celebrate our love."

change of planss

Photo by Peaberry Photography; Art by Cristina Cianci

As a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, couples all over the world are having to make a very difficult, and often heartbreaking, decision to cancel, postpone, or adjust their best-laid wedding plans. To share their stories—and, hopefully, help our readers process this admittedly emotional and fluid situation, we are asking those affected to share their "Change of Plans" stories in their own words. Below, Anina Bose tells her story from New Jersey.

The emotion I felt the most was almost like that of heartbreak—a bit dramatic, I know. But when you've been planning something as important as your wedding for over a year, you’ve poured your heart and soul into it, and then for a couple of months before everything, to see it get shut down—heartbreaking is the only fitting word. Last April, my fiancé (now husband) and I came to the difficult realization along with countless other engaged couples that our two-day, 300-person, blended Bengali-Boricua nuptials would need to be postponed due to the pandemic. Our original plans were BIG, to say the least...

With my husband's parents based in Puerto Rico, our families would be meeting in-person for the very first time. The most exciting thing I would say about the wedding was our venue—Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange, New Jersey—it has 30 rooms on-site. We were all going to be staying there for this fun weekend where we would really get to spend a lot of time together. The movie Ghost of Girlfriend’s Past is always a favorite of mine and if you remember it in that movie, the whole bridal party, the families included, stay on the wedding grounds. I loved that idea of being able to spend time at the venue that I was gonna get married at beyond just the ceremony and the reception with lunches and breakfasts all together, in addition to the formal wedding functions.

Photo by Peaberry Photography

It was supposed to be my big, fat Puerto Rican-Indian wedding—something I’ve been dreaming about since forever and currently still dreaming about. 

As part of my culture, a sangeet was happening on day one. That’s a pre-wedding event in India where the bride, groom, and their families do fun dances and performances as a celebration of your love. We had just started working with a choreographer. We were also planning a baraat, the groom’s entry, which happens on a horse dressed in Indian garb with a procession of family and friends, ours happening to the tune of Indian and Puerto Rican/Latin music. The Hindu ceremony would be followed by a Christian ceremony to honor both of our backgrounds and religions. It was supposed to be my big, fat Puerto Rican-Indian wedding—something I’ve been dreaming about since forever and currently still dreaming about. 

To note, we were originally supposed to get married on June 25-26, 2020, but had to postpone our “formal” wedding to July 8-9, 2021. The uncertainty period before our change of plans was the most challenging to deal with. There was a little bit of a feeling of relief when we finally did decide to postpone because living in that limbo state any longer would not have pushed us forward. Over last summer, we made the decision to get legally married and hold a micro wedding at my parents’ house in Short Hills, New Jersey, in September 2020. It was a last-minute decision where we still wanted to get legally married in 2020 because, at that time, we didn’t even know what 2021 was going to look like. It was very much a DIY affair because I didn't have an event planner coordinating things.

Of course, there were tons of stressful moments. I was still dealing with shifting things around for the big, formal wedding being rescheduled with just over a month to plan an intimate 35-person wedding. Planning two weddings amid a global pandemic is no walk in the park. I scoured dozens of websites to order all the flatware, cutlery, glasses, linens, candles, and more. We had to call 10-plus tenting companies because everyone was renting tents for outdoor events at the time. My micro wedding dress, a style by Indian bridal fashion house KYNAH, was originally for my bridal shower. The morning of the wedding, I was hand painting escort cards for seating arrangements while my mom folded napkins into elaborate designs and my sister-in-law baked and piped gorgeous cupcakes. The chaos added to the fun and is something I'll always remember.

Photo by Peaberry Photography
couple at altar
Photo by Peaberry Photography

I was inspired by a backyard, “garden chic” type of aesthetic. My parents' deck, where we were holding the ceremony, is surrounded by a lot of lush greenery, so I wanted to play that up a lot through the décor. I wanted the day to feel very romantic and whimsical and because it was still a Bengali-Boricua wedding, I also wanted it to be very vibrant and colorful. Bistro lights, dozens of candles, bright summer florals, soft ivory linens, and shimmering gold accents helped bring that vibe to life. The result was kind of like Father of the Bride meets Secret Garden meets Hum Aapke Hain Kaun.

Since both cultures center around family, we leaned heavily into that, integrating things that just felt personal and special to us.

Since both cultures center around family, we leaned heavily into that, integrating things that just felt personal and special to us. So my brother officiated the ceremony (we got him ordained the night before). He’s seen my relationship flourish throughout the years and brought that to life through his speech. His wife really helped us in terms of what the flow of the day should be. We had one of my cousin's who's a phenomenal singer, sing one of our favorite songs. My husband, a talented vocalist himself, performed too. And because travel restrictions kept his parents from being there, before the actual ceremony took place we Facetimed his mom, a Pentecostal deacon, who performed a marriage blessing over us. Obviously, it was hard for him not having them both there and that was a nice way to include them from afar.

Personally, I wasn't feeling that excited about the micro wedding, just because it kind of felt like at a certain point that we were just doing it, to just do it. When the day did come though, I did feel all those emotions you expect to feel on your wedding day. That coupled with the nervousness around bringing a group of people together. Although it was a significantly smaller group, it was the first time we had come together in any party-like capacity. “Are people gonna have a good time?” I thought. That day, everyone was just happy to be around each other again, and celebrate our love. Because it was so small and intimate, we got to spend time talking to every person, whereas, during a wedding reception of 300 people you don't get that. 

I do wonder what it's gonna feel like leading up to our postponement date. We're already married, so am I gonna still have those same butterflies? It is something I question, but just knowing my emotions leading up to our micro wedding and how that instantly shifted the day of, I have a pretty strong sense that I will feel all the feelings come July. Probably even more so since we’ll have all the traditional events and be surrounded by more people we love. The only thing at this point that we don't know is how many people that will actually be. Of course, the safety of our loved ones is our main concern. We're just kind of waiting to see what happens these next couple of months and hoping for the best.

Wedding Team

Photography Peaberry Photography

Floral Design Twisted Willow Flowers

Invitations Design by Laney

Welcome Sign Birch Hill Designs

Dress Kynah

Shoes Valentino

Makeup Sally Duvall

Hair Tease Salon

Catering Minar

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