Today the very lovely Nimet of Lipstick Loves talks about her path to her wedding day in November (oh yes us November ladies are fabulous!). I love this frank discussion about her multicultural love and acceptance.
I shall let Nimet talk,
“My wedding day will legitimise my relationship status and choice of lifestyle. I am a second generation South Asian girl living with a European guy (a bit French, mostly English). I am brown and he is white. We’ve been together for nearly four years and living together for the past year. We’re getting married this November.
I’d be fibbing if I said that our love was truly colour-blind. Don’t get me wrong, I love my boy to bits and can’t even contemplate my life without him. But whilst love is all around me, so is colour and culture.
As a child, I thought that co-habitation and pro-creation only happened within the sanctity of marriage. Looking back, I can’t actually remember being told this, but the family units all around me all followed this rule so I just thought that was how the world was. As I grew up and one circumstance and life experience led to another, it started to became clearer to me that this might not actually be the way my life pans out.
My parents do not make me feel ashamed about having a live-in lover. They’re far too interested in wanting me to be happy. Okay, he has a different skin colour to me and doesn’t fully understand the jibber jabber spoken my family – a mix of English, Gujarati and Swahili (both my parents are Indian but my mother was born and raised in Kenya), but they know that he’s a good egg and have come to love him like the son they never had. I guess it also helps that Britain loves curry and my mum makes great ones.
However, I am well aware that some people, including other second generation Asians think that my lifestyle choice is something to be shunned. This hurts my feelings mainly because I hate the thought of people judging my parents because of the way I have chosen to live my life.
Last year, Alex and I pooled resources and bought our first property. No one questioned this, despite my belief that a mortgage is far bigger commitment than marriage. After we’d settled in however, I was reminded by family members that I was thirty, my biological clock was ticking, and had we talked about marriage yet?
Well, yes, we had talked about marriage actually. We’d debated it a great deal from early on in our courtship. I can’t help but feel that if I wasn’t brown, the wedding thing wouldn’t matter to me. I know some girls have dreamt of their wedding day since they were young – I am not one of these girls. I don’t personally feel like a wedding is necessary for two people to spend their life together. But I did feel the pressure to get married for my relationship to be socially accepted in the wider Indian community.
The day he proposed to me I was shocked. So shocked, that I didn’t even say yes straight away. My first reaction was checking that the proposal actually included a wedding day and wasn’t one of those ‘long-term engagements’. I reacted like this because I knew that he was utterly devoted to spending the remainder of his days with me, but he didn’t want or need me to be his wife. In contrast, I had originally told him I was only going to stick around if I knew that one day I could be his wife – and this required a wedding to take place.
He couldn’t understand why this one day was such a big deal to me. I would try and explain but even my words didn’t make sense to me in this day and age. What was the point of spending a serious sum of money on a frivolous party? Even now, as I write this, I can’t explain why I just want to ‘do the right thing’.
Pre-proposal and pre-property, we realised that for our relationship to work, we both had to compromise. We decided that we would live with each other and get the property thing done first and he ensured me that one day we would get married, but he wasn’t ready for a wedding day just yet. I was banned from mentioning the ‘W’ word, as quite frankly it was driving us both mad. The thought of losing this man just because he didn’t want to put a ring on it was ridiculous so I agreed to the terms and conditions.
In reality, I’m not sure I really stuck to the W-ban, but I did calm down a great deal. We’d go to other people’s weddings and I’d still wonder if I would ever walk down the aisle? Would we ever celebrate our love? I always cry at weddings anyway, but I’d shed an extra tear in mourning my own wedding day.
Buying our house, slummin’ it on a mattress on the bedroom floor, eating on borrowed garden furniture with no wifi was actually the best time of my life. I started nesting, I felt like we were a family and I was strangely finally at peace. Yes, the ring on my finger was missing but I realised that I had everything I really always wanted.
Post proposal, another can of cultural worms opened. What kind of wedding would we have? Shall we elope? Shall we invite 50 people (English-y) or 500 people (Indian-y)?
I feel like I have already rambled enough so I’ll skip to the end. We decided that I will have a mendhi (henna) party so I and any female guests who wanted to could adorn their hands and feet in pretty traditional patterns. We will have a civil ceremony dressed in Western attire, serve Indian food at the wedding breakfast, have some traditional Indian non-religious ceremonies (well, in reality they are just games) between the bride and groom, and our music would be Western as well as Bollywood beats. Both sides of the family were happy about this.
There was one poignant moment however, when my mother and mother-in-law to accompanied me on my final shopping trip to choose THE dress. The MIL asked my mother if she wanted me to wear traditional clothes on the wedding day. There was a marked silence, a gulp and watery glazed eyes. Then a politically correct response about how she just wanted me to wear what made me happy. It breaks my heart when I think of this moment. Have I let her down? Are my parents disappointed in me and my wedding day?
In any case, I know that after the wedding, I no longer need to be embarrassed about my ’shameful’ living situation with my live-in boyfriend to those with a traditional mindset. I can hold my head up high and talk about my husband. My husband. I will finally have one.”
No shame here. Isn’t it very interesting to see how we are all so capable of projecting shame into and onto ourselves?