Carolina Bride

January 12, 2012

A tale of two countries

Sonia and Christopher combine their Indian and American roots for a truly international affair.

Since Christopher Compton and Sonia Vishin were in different stages of their medical schooling, they almost didn’t meet. If it wasn’t for mutual friends, the couple may never have started dating at all. "When we first met, it was because a good girlfriend of mine was a student with him,” says Sonia. When they finally decided to take their friendship further, one date was all it took for the couple to become inseparable. After Christopher was given his grandmother’s diamond, the couple started looking at rings. Having already discussed marriage, Sonia knew he was going to propose; however, Christopher planned the event for a day when she least expected it. When it turned out he didn’t have the big day off from work, Christopher had to think quickly. “He came home that night with a bottle of champagne, explaining that we were going to dinner with friends,” remembers Sonia. After keeping her in suspense long enough, he revealed the real reason they were celebrating. With the champagne in one hand and the ring in the other, he got down on one knee and proposed to Sonia. “It was very us,” she says. “We wanted to be together at home, and I could tell he really knew what I wanted from the proposal.” When it came to wedding planning, the couple wanted an event that combined their American and Indian backgrounds. “We had two separate ceremonies on the same day,” says Sonia. “Actually, we had more of a wedding weekend.” Starting the Thursday before the wedding, she had the traditional Indian mehendi, or henna tattooing, at home with all of her family. Friday brought an additional Hindu celebration, and on Saturday, the couple combined their rehearsal dinner with another mehendi. “We had Indian food, dressed in Indian clothes, and the artist did henna for all of our female guests,” Sonia says. Sunday was the day for Sonia and Christopher’s two weddings. In the early afternoon, the couple participated in a traditional Hindu ceremony. “A real Indian wedding takes seven days, so we condensed it and did a few of the most important elements,” she explains. One tradition they used involved Sonia and her husband taking seven steps around a ceremonial fire together (each step symbolizing a different vow). The couple also incorporated a custom called the “prayer of flowers.” Sitting under a canopy, Christopher and Sonia had a scarf placed over their heads, and guests blessed them by throwing flowers. After a short break, the couple celebrated with a non-denominational Christian ceremony. For the second wedding, Sonia changed into a white dress and Chris wore a tux. Her father walked her down the aisle, and for the service, they lit a unity candle with their mothers and exchanged rings. After saying their vows, the newlyweds ended the night with a cocktail hour and reception. Throughout the day, Photoplay Photography was there to capture the couple’s special moments. “Chris Marsh was wonderful,” says Sonia. “I felt I had a hard time finding a photographer because I was having two ceremonies, but Chris was so flexible and so understanding. She was able to grab the whole 12 hours, and the pictures were gorgeous.” To complement the color scheme of the reception, Nona’s Sweets created a four-tiered cake with lime green and fuchsia ribbon. “They had great ideas and made it very easy for us,” Sonia raves. In fact, Nona’s Sweets even made a groom’s cake inspired by University of Alabama (where they both work as physicians). “It had an Alabama A on it and the houndstooth print,” she adds. “They did a remarkable job.” The reception gave Sonia and Chris the chance to celebrate with all of their loved ones. “All of the planning was for two separate events, but the reception was everyone together,” says Sonia. When the newly married couple walked into the hall, they could see everyone who had traveled so far, from across the country and across the world, to share in their special day. “We felt so blessed to have everyone there with us.”

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Nona’s Sweets

Photoplay Photography

Continue reading real wedding stories. Up next: ’The comfort of home’

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