Gay balloon arch love!

Photos by Stu BayerThe offbeat bride: Karen, Therapist focusing on unstructured play and anger management

Her offbeat partner: Jennifer, Program Manager at a medical school and Doctoral student

Date and location of wedding: Village Hall, Dobbs Ferry, New York — March 17, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our plan was a quiet and simple civil ceremony at the Village Hall in the small town where we live. This plan was hijacked by our amazing friends and neighbors. As we crested the hill to turn into the parking lot, we saw a giant rainbow balloon arch in front of the Village Hall entranceway. We were greeted by the local press who were there to cover the first gay wedding ceremony to be held in our town. Amidst the flash bulbs of our own paparazzi, friends and neighbors turned up with their children to be a part of our ceremony.

Jade and Josh playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"

Our son and his best friend, both eight years old, surprised us with a small string concert — an adorable, sweet and sincere rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” After a short ceremony and the signing of the license, our newly wedded state was heralded by the sound of the fire alarm going off!

Reading the vows

Tell us about the ceremony: This ceremony was not just a union of Jenni and I, but a marriage for our family. We are a complete unit, and our son refers to the wedding as “Our Wedding.” He was an integral part in my proposal to Jenni, and when we presented her with the ring, it was he that asked “Will you marry us?” So on the day of this ceremony, it was fitting that he had just as many friends present at the ceremony as we did.

Little kids blowing bubbles!

As we happily exited the building, and about to head out under the immense balloon rainbow arch, all of the children at our ceremony were there blowing soap bubbles, giggling, and playing. It was the most beautiful and exhilarating moment. We were then whisked away for an impromptu lunch and champagne.

Walking down the aisle!

I had a hard time putting the ring on Karen's finger!

Although we are having a traditional Hindu wedding this year, I still wanted to have my religion and culture reflected at this ceremony. On one of our shopping trips for bridal jewelry, we came across a champagne sari that we thought might work well with Jenni's dress. Jenni had this amazing champagne Kate Spade dress with polka dots that her mother had bought her last year at a sidewalk sale in Connecticut. The sari matched Jenni's dress perfectly. I wore the sari with red bangles and a red necklace since red is the traditional bridal color at Hindu weddings.

Alysia crying

Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge is keeping our family together. I am not an American citizen, and even though same-sex marriages are legal in the state of New York, it does not cover immigration, which is governed by the Federal government. The unstable environment of same-sex marriage makes bi-national unions like ours uncertain.

As a couple we have decided that we will not go quietly. We live our lives very publicly declaring our love and happiness. We have done PSAs for marriage equality, openly discussed with the media what it means to be in a bi-national, same-sex relationship, and we seek out opportunities to discuss our family and our lifestyle. We are overcoming this with the help of thousands of families like us who live every day to the fullest.

Jade and Josh playing the violin

My favorite moment: Seeing our son play the violin at our ceremony. Looking into my partner's eyes and holding her hand while the mayor read our vows to us. Seeing the tears of love in our friends' eyes as they listened to the ceremony. Seeing tears of joy in the eyes of strangers who had heard that the first same-sex marriage was happening and turned up to give love and support.

The mayor giving the signal to bring the rings

My funniest moment: The mayor came up with a signal to alert our friend that it was time for the rings. His signal was a fist pump which was hilarious coming from this impeccably dressed, masculine man. There's a picture that shows this clearly as well as the giggle fit Jenni and I shared.

Blowing at the candle on our wedding cake!

Sharing cake!

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We planned a small dinner party for some of our friends later that night, however other friends who heard about the civil ceremony decided to take us out for champagne and lunch. We were worried that lunch would turn into dinner, and our guests who were coming from the city would be lost and we would not have time to get ready. However, lunch was great, and we finished in time to head home and get ready for the party and the new wave of friends. It all worked out and it was one of the best days we've ever had. Great friends, champagne, and loads of laughs.

Lunch at Harper's

Alysia giving a toast!

My advice for Offbeat Brides: Integrate the details of your personal narrative into the day. We are not just two brides, we are a family. It was important to include our son in a meaningful way. Violin is his passion, and we supported him to represent his love for music and our family.

Be intentional. Having our ceremony in the town where we live roots us more strongly in our community. We intentionally chose to get married in the place where we moved, created a home, and built a family. This is the town where our son goes to school, where my partner works, and where we plan to stay.

Posing with our loves

Be true to who you are. We wanted our culture and heritage to be reflected in our wedding. As an Indian, Trinidadian woman, I chose to wear a sari. Although we live in a town where there are few women wearing saris, I wanted to represent my family, country, and culture through traditional dress. Jenni feels a connection with the 1950s and its focus on femininity, curves, and flare. For Jenni, showcasing her queer, femme fabulousness was a representation of her community.

Signing the marriage certificate

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Jenni and I learned that we are loved, respected, and supported by our spectacular community. In planning this event, we were met with encouragement and love from complete strangers to our closest friends who worked hard to ensure our day was perfect.

Kisses at post-wedding lunch

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Comments on Karen & Jennifer’s queer Hindu and vintage fashion wedding

  1. I remember their picture and how gorgeous they were, so hell yes for a profile! I love the simplicity and as a former band geek, I’m digging the youngsters rocking some strings. Just beautiful, ladies. You look so happy in those photos. =)

    • Jadon is in love with the violin! He informed us that he will also be playing during the dinner at our September Hindu wedding. It melts my choral geek heart! -Jenni

  2. oh, goodness…I’m fanning my eyes trying to hold back the happy tears. Something about this profile just touched me! Congratulations to both of them, and best wishes for a long and happy life together.

    • Thank you for the love, Miranda. We are very touched that people we don’t even know in *real life* are celebrating with us over the interwebs! Yay for technology!

  3. ‘We are a complete unit, and our son refers to the wedding as “Our Wedding.” He was an integral part in my proposal to Jenni, and when we presented her with the ring, it was he that asked “Will you marry us?”‘ That is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard! I ‘awwed’ out loud. Very loud.
    You can *feel* the love, commitment, and sincerity radiating out from this wedding. And your sari is completely gorgeous, especially with the red accessories. I hope we get to see pictures from your Hindu wedding too (please please plleeeaaassee?). Congratulations!!

  4. I’m with Miranda! This was such a beautiful write up and they are such a beautiful couple. I wish them all the best!!

  5. Your wedding was beautiful and your family look so happy. I hope same-sex marriages in the US are recognized at the Federal level so you do not live with that uncertainty. My thoughts are with you.

    • Thank you for the love. We are hoping that the Defense of Marriage Act is overturned soon so I can sponsor Karen for her green card. It’s terrifying to live with the uncertainty of whether Karen’s visa will be renewed. She had to leave the country for a month this year, and we had no idea whether she would ever be able to come back. Luckily, she DID come back and hopefully DOMA will be repealed this year! – Jenni

      • My Mr and I want to offer our guests the option of donating to a marriage equality org in lieu of a gift… We feel strongly that couples should not have to live under such a double standard! Is there a national org or lobby you highly recommend as actively & effectively fighting for it?

        (So far we are considering Fair Wisconsin – local props! – and Human Rights Campaign, but I’m interested in a wide array of input.)

        Also– your story made me literally tear up. Damn. So happy for you both, congrats! Wonderful that your community turned out for you!!

        • Yay, that makes me so happy! I would definitely recommend your local marriage equality organization over the Human Rights Campaign. Although they appear to be making some progress, HRC has a history of excluding the trans community in advocacy efforts.

          Thanks for the support!

          • Thank you! I think HRC does some good work but I’d heard rumblings in the background… whereas FW continues to work to secure rights at the state level across the spectrum of identities. It’s a long road ahead so I have highest hopes that DOMA will fall soon and make way for progress nationally. 🙂 Congrats again on your nuptials!!

  6. This wedding is amazing! I really love how the Kate Spade dress and champagne sari compliment each other so well. I also love the fact that your son and his best friend played a song for you. Congratulations!

    • It’s rare to find a champagne sari, and we didn’t know whether it would compliment my dress when we were shopping in Queens. It was a pleasant surprise that they complimented each other so well! The song was completely Jadon and his friend’s idea. They practiced everyday for 1 week after school together. 🙂

  7. Put me down for big ole tears as well, I agree something about this one was incredibly sweet and touching. Congratulations!!

  8. Mayor fist-pump FTW! So many congratulations to you two. We WILL get DOMA repealed and stories like yours will help others to see the love behind the issue. It’s about people, not politics. Happy wedding to you and your beloved..

    • The mayor fist pump was sweeeet!! He is a very masculine, white, straight man, and we were thrilled to see him genuinely excited about the ceremony. I really believe that DOMA will be overturned soon. Thanks for the support.

  9. Your wedding was gorgeous and sweet, and you two look so happy! Congratulations!
    And I wish you all the best in dealing with your immigration– it is absolutely sickening that there is any question as to whether or not you marriage, or your relationship, is legitimate.

  10. Hah, I was in a bad mood when I came to OBB (for unrelated reasons) but this wedding had me smiling, sighing and crying in minutes. Much love and best wishes to all three of you!

  11. You both looked so beautiful and happy! I also wish that the nation will follow the lead of states like NY and stop the hate laws that govern marriage.

    One thing that strikes me as absolutely wonderful is the community. Seeing so many children there is very uplifting. The parents are showing their children that true love comes in all forms. Kudos to Dobbs Ferry. And huge congratulations to Karen, Jenni, and your son!

    • We are overwhelmed at how supportive our community is. Jadon’s teacher hung up an article from our local newspaper about our wedding and talked about it with the class. Jadon’s principal called to congratulate us. It has been a beautiful experience, and we are grateful to live in such an accepting community.

  12. Oh oh oh, my heart is just filled with joy right now with the love from this amazing family. Thank you for sharing your lives and love. Your community is so supportive! What a great place to raise your son in.

    The repeal of DOMA cannot come quickly enough and I will keep your whole family in my thoughts through your immigration process. My best to you all!!

  13. Congratulations and my best to your family! Seeing this wedding makes me so happy. At the same time, it makes me incredibly frustrated that the U.S.’s federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage so it does not provide a pathway to citizenship for same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens. I really hope they get rid of DOMA ASAP.

    • It still shocks me that our country actively keeps families apart by supporting DOMA. There are thousands of binational couples/families that are torn apart because of wacky, discriminatory laws. I really hope we do the right thing soon! Thanks for the love.

  14. This is trually one of the most beauitful weddings I have seen on OBB. You can really see the love in the photos. You both look absolutely beautiful. Congratulations! x

  15. ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. You two brought tears to my eyes, and I love love that your family and friends loved you so much they pretty much gave you a “surprise” reception!!

  16. cant get over how much i love the champagne colour of the dress and sari, also thought the part about your son was so sweet, loved that very much.

    • Thanks! I really wanted our legal ceremony to have more traditional Western bridal colors (i.e. ivory, champagne, white). I’m glad we didn’t do white in the end though. For our September wedding, we’re both wearing red (which is the traditional Hindu bridal color). -Jenni

  17. Congrats, Jenni and Karen! I wish you and your family all the best now and in the future….I hope everything works out.

    I was blown away when I saw where you guys lived cos I don’t remember ever seeing a couple from Westchester featured on here (I live in one of the Rivertowns myself)! YAY! 😀

    • We both feel ridiculously lucky to have one another. We never thought we would find this kind of love. Sometimes we’re shocked at the magic despite cultural, racial, and religious differences.

  18. Holy. Beans.

    You two are so adorable, as is your beautiful little family! Congratulations, and best of luck dealing with all the immigration BS. Your love can and will conquer all!

  19. Congrats, Ladies! You two make such a beautiful couple and I think it’s totally kick-ass that you got to be the first same-sex couple to be married in your town!

  20. Oooh! Shout out to Maibock and Fair Wisconsin!

    I have a friend who moved to France to be with her partner simply because it was easier than the United States. I hope the laws change quickly so that same sex sponsorship for citizenship becomes possible.

    The most important thing is love. The laws will follow to reflect what are basic human rights.

    Cheers to Karen and Jennifer!

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