When Gobind delivered the best-man speech at his brother's wedding in 2015, we were moved; both to tears and laughter. For a speech to break us from our intense focus, it has to be an absolute classic. And at that moment we hoped that when him and Nikki's big day came, we would again be there to capture it all. As luck would have it, we were soon bound for Philly for their multi-day Indian wedding extravaganza. Nikki and Gobind's Philadelphia wedding represented a modern unity of two, centuries-old religions - Sikhism and Hinduism - in a city that has a long and proud history of opening its arms to religious diversity.
When William Penn named Philadelphia back in the late 1600's, he drew inspiration from the Greek phílos (beloved, dear) and adelphós (brother, brotherly), which is where its nickname sometimes call it, the city of brotherly love. Having experienced religious persecution himself, Penn sought to promote a just place where individuals could freely practice whatever religions they wanted and so from the early days, Philadelphia was a pretty progressive place.
Despite a Sangeet that went late into the night and an early morning start to the wedding day, bright energy and colorful optimism filled the air for Gobind's Baraat down Broad Street. Singing, dancing, and a dj out the back of a mini-van guiding Gobind as he rode atop a white horse making his way to Nikki at the ceremony site, the Kimmel Center; it had everything and more you could ask for and it wasn't even time for breakfast yet!
Later that day (around 9am), the first of the two ceremonies began on the Kimmel Center's rooftop garden and were filled with emotion and rituals and carried the couple through to the midday luncheon in the center's main atrium. Upon leaving the center and heading out for some photos in the main city center, Nikki was greeted with quite the wedding gift surprise (and it was actually a surprise to us as well!)...a brand new car! As friends and family obscured the vehicle, it wasn't at first clear what was happening and then the look of shock, followed by a surge of emotions, as this might have been seen as symbolizing the Doli, or the moment in Sikh tradition that the bride leaves her family for her new one. It was then that the couple made their way back to the Loews for the Griha Pravesh , marking Nikki's official arrival into her new home.
After we all regained our collective composure, we took the couple away from all the intensity of friends and family and to the alternative intensity of downtown Philadelphia wedding portraits and hordes of onlookers. It's understandable though when you see how incredible Nikki and Gobind looked, how could you not stop and take a second look!
By this point, we'd lost track of time but the hazy afternoon sun and been replaced with an ambient blue. Nikki had gone away to slip into a new outfit, a beautiful white dress, and when she returned we took advantage of the day's last light for some final portraits before the reception. Filling the ballroom were friends and family as the couple made their entrance into a speech. Bringing us full circle to the day we first met this couple, Gobind delivered a welcome speech and homage to his new wife that was, if you can believe it, even better (albeit less crass) than his best man speech from 2015. A day we will never forget from the city of brotherly love.