An Unlikely Love Story {Part 2}

Following on from Wednesday’s post about the challenges Sam and Monty faced in their cross culture relationship, I thought you might want to hear more from Sam about ‘choosing’ to have an Islamic wedding, and what it meant to them. Sometimes, when we’re all wrapped up in choosing favours and bridesmaid dresses and play-lists, it’s easy for us to forget about why we’re getting married in the first place. Most of us are lucky enough to be able to choose to get married to who we want, when we want, and then focus on making all of these lovely decisions. Sam and Monty of course had that choice too, but  it wasn’t quite so easy for them.
An Unlikely Love Story continued…

To cut a long and very painful story short, a few weeks after he told his parents about me, Monty stopped talking to them altogether and told them he wanted nothing to do with them. I think everything they’d said to him about us had become too hurtful and too raw, and he eventually lost his patience with the situation.

Giving up his family like that made him incredibly sad though, so I knew it couldn’t stay that way. After thinking long and hard, I agreed to marry him Islamically if I could do it without converting (if you’re interested, there was one way, but I don’t like to talk about it – I pushed it from my mind as soon as I did it).
The wedding itself was put together in two months, and took place last weekend. I still have no idea how they managed to pull everything together so quickly, but it definitely wasn’t without its stresses. Every time we went shopping for the lengha (the traditional Indian wedding outfit), I would be told I was fat and a size XL. Heartbreaking for any girl to hear!
When we finally ordered the outfit (which had to be tailor-made in India because they didn’t go up to a size 12), it didn’t turn up until just a few days before the wedding, and it hung off me – mainly due to the fact that the tailor had taken my waist measurement 9 inches too big! This was the same for all four outfits (tradition dictates nine outfit changes, but the expense of just one outfit was immense – around £2,000!)
By the time the big day rolled around, I was unbelievably stressed and getting hysterical. Then, finally, it was here – I had the Mehndi (henna) party to look forward to, as well as the Nikah (the Muslim ceremony) and the Walima (the reception). One hectic weekend was planned, and I had to go straight back to work as soon as it was all over!
The Mehndi was almost like a hen, with all the women and girls in Monty’s family popping in, arms laden with delicious food, to have their henna done. Bollywood music reverberated from the stereo and the room was decorated with hot pink saris, which were draped from the ceiling and walls. By the time it got to my turn to have my henna done, I had been changed into a simple, mint green outfit – baggy trousers, which I like to call my Aladdin or maternity trousers, and a fitted tunic top.

My henna was an incredibly intricate pattern, which traced up my fingers and along my wrists. It spread across to my palms where, after the ink had rubbed off, it appeared bright red. Apparently, the ink comes out darkest wherever you’re warmest. Or, if you listen to tradition, if it goes dark, it means your future husband loves you more!

After the party, I was taken to a large hall, where guests would come and greet me and my bridesmaid as I sat with two leaves on each palm. As they walked up to me, they’d place their finger into a giant pot of henna, and smear one of the leaves. They’d then place a sugar crystal in to my mouth, which symbolises sweetness and purity.
Monty then arrived, although I wasn’t allowed to be seen by him, so I sat behind a screen. I think that this was when the stealing of the shoes took place – where one of his relatives stole his shoes, and he had to pay to get them back!

The next day, I spent the morning getting ready for the Nikah. By the time I’d put my make-up on and done my hair, I had started to really panic. Not because I didn’t want to marry my him, but because I was terrified of going through with the Islamic ceremony. I was terrified of what it would mean, and I was terrified of what I was giving up. I know that that sounds dramatic, but I felt as if Monty and I had been pressurised into going ahead with this.
I was terrified of going ahead with it because I had no idea of what would happen, or what I would be giving up. The only thing he and I have ever argued about (besides my love of shoes!) is his family, and I was scared it would drive a permanent wedge between us. Would I throw it back in his face when we argued in the future? Would I ever be able to forgive his family? Or worse still, would I hold it against him?
As a big-time worrier, these were the things etched across my mind and it freaked me out big time. But when it came down to it, I needn’t have worried. As soon as my hand slipped into his at the mosque, I realised I had nothing to worry about. I was doing it for love.

I love that Sam’s been brave enough to stand up and say how hard this has all been, and the arguments this has caused. There is a tendency in the wedding industry to just talk about how wonderful the whole process was,  how helpful everyone was, and gloss over the struggles and arguments, which we ALL have during this big scary planning process, dual religion or not. Next Wednesday will see Sam’s final installment, with some utterly fabulous pictures of the Nikah and the Walima, and proof that Sam is definitely NOT a size XL!

Categories: Wedding Reports
8 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted August 20, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Interesting read mainly because I am Sikh and we have so many similar rituals as you went through in your wedding- obvviously, because all of us (muslims/non muslims) are pretty much the same- but there are certain things which I noticed are slightly different! it's usually the girls side that steals the boys shoes (it would be Sam's sisters or friends) and the boy has to pay them (alot) of money to get them back!!
    And they say that if your henna turns out dark orange it means that your mother in law will love you loads!! That is quite a bit of rubbish because it depends on the dye they put in the henna :D
    You are SO not fat- and I like how they kept telling you that esp since the 'auntys' probably had humongoid backsides themselves!!
    And to end this long comment – I just have to say Indian tailors love adding about 5+ inches to your waist measurements always!! It is obv because of the aforementioned auntys!
    Can't wait to see your lehenga x

  2. Posted August 20, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Ahh, thank you for commenting! It's lovely to hear from people with other religions. One of my best friends is Sikh, and she also had similar experiences!
    I'm glad it's not just me the Indian tailors screwed up! They put me down as a 36 inch waist. No idea where they got it from!
    What are the other Sikh traditions? Sorry, I am fascinated by other people's cultures etc!
    The lengha is lovely – it was my one princess moment. Definitely have a look when you check back!! x

  3. Posted August 21, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    You look absolutely gorgeous.
    Can't wait to see the rest of the pics.

    Your one brave girl. xo

  4. Posted August 23, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    As a photographer who's about to photograph her first Islamic wedding, I've found this account fascinating. It's really interesting to hear about the different rituals and ceremonies.

    I'm looking forward to reading your next entry.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted August 23, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    We had a similar experience almost 20 years ago but my husband 'chose' me over his family and we married in a traditional British ceremony, but with very few people on his side! I wanted him to go back and speak to his parents before the wedding but we had a huge fear that our day would then be stopped or ruined in some way so we enjoyed our wedding and then he made peace with his family some time later. Things were never easy but got better when we had our two children as my in-laws worshipped them. We still had tensions around some of the traditions, especially where our son was concerned, and plenty of give and take was required on both sides! Sadly they have both passed away recently and I can truly say that despite our issues we all grew to love and respect one another and I know that they became proud to have me as their daughter-in-law!
    Sam you look absolutely stunning! Stay strong and believe in yourself and in your love!

  6. Posted August 23, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Oh !! I also forgot to mention that my Grandmother left England many many years ago (the late 30's maybe) to marry my Grandfather who was from a very traditional Sikh family living in Pakistan at that time! There are so many happy stories out there and I know yours is going to be one of them!

  7. Posted August 24, 2010 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    So interesting to hear other people's happy endings on this…prrof to Sam that it's all going to be worth it in the end….

  8. Posted August 24, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Wow, thank you all so much for your support! It means a lot to me and Monty, who's been reading this too :)

    It's lovely to hear from other people who have experience a similar situation. I really hope that we can develop a better relationship with them too, although I do fear that when we have children things may get tricky. Thank you so much for your responses, though!

    The pics are great – I'm so pleased that we'll have something like that to show our children! Eliza Claire, the weddings are something else. A photographer's dream!

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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