The perfect arrangement

10/29/2012 12:27 PM

10/29/2012 1:33 PM

“The first date? I didn’t expect much,” say Monica and Bobby in unison. Monica adds, “It’s Indian tradition that our parents would try to set us up.” Monica and Bobby’s marriage might not have been arranged by their parents, but their first meeting certainly was. “As Bobby was living in Chicago and I was in Charlotte, neither of us were very interested in attempting a long-distance relationship. Nor were we sure how effective our parents were at matchmaking,” says Monica. When Bobby came to visit his parents in North Carolina for the winter holidays, his parents continued to insist that he meet Monica. After several days of procrastination, Bobby finally asked Monica to dinner.

“We realized almost immediately that this was something different,” Monica says. After their first and second dates, Monica knew she was ready to travel to Chicago and begin a long-distance relationship with Bobby. “Our first dates went by so quickly even though one actually lasted nine hours,” she says. “I wanted to ask, are you real? Is this real?”

Spring and summer passed, and by the autumn of 2011, Bobby and Monica began to discuss engagement. While in Charlotte, Bobby took Monica to choose an engagement ring at Diamonds Direct SouthPark. Over the next two months, Monica kept hoping to see the ring she had picked out, but she would have to wait until the end of November. It was a cold, rainy Chicago night and Bobby and Monica decided to stay in. Bobby cooked dinner, and as the chicken baked, Bobby handed Monica a calendar. She flipped through the days, starting from their first date one year earlier. On every month’s page there was a picture of the couple, stories from their adventures during that month, and excerpts from a journal Bobby had kept over the year of their courtship. As Monica reached the last month, December 2011, she read, “Bobby proposes.” Monica looked up to see Bobby with the engagement ring, and when he asked the official question, she accepted without hesitation.

The couple decided to have a traditional Indian wedding to honor their cultural roots. Chuck Eaton Photographers captured the ceremonies that led up to Bobby and Monica’s exchange of vows before 330 of their family and friends. “It was exactly how I wanted it to be,” says Monica. Bobby adds, “Now I know that wedding days really are uniquely special days; it’s not just a cliché.”

The wedding centered around colorful Hindu customs and, most importantly, family. On the Friday before the wedding, the bride’s family gathered to sing traditional songs about Monica leaving her childhood home for her future life. On the day of the wedding, Monica’s mother placed delicate glass bracelets on Monica’s wrists and the groom’s mother and sisters covered his face with a traditional marriage veil. Bobby arrived at the wedding on a white horse with his family dancing and singing as they led him to Monica. They wed outdoors in a traditional mandap, or large marriage altar.

After Monica and Bobby said their vows, the party continued at a lively reception with traditional festivities and fantastic food. For their first dance as husband and wife, Monica and Bobby performed a group dance with their families in spectacular Bollywood style.

Their parents may have figured it out first, but Monica and Bobby know they are meant to spend the rest of their lives together. As Monica says, “When you know, you know.”

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