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Brides go viral on TikTok with their three-day Indian wedding – Insider

When Deepa Joshi, 29, and Gauri Joshi, 32, were planning their wedding, they knew they wanted to put their own spin on a traditional Indian wedding by celebrating their unique love story with their friends and family.
They had no idea that it would go viral on TikTok, too. Now, thousands of people from around would have reached out to them and thanked them for setting an example of how to pull off a traditionally heterosexual ceremony as a same-sex couple. 
Deepa and Gauri admitted they were nervous when organzing the festivities. They thought their extended family members and friends may not attend because it wasn’t a heterosexual ceremony. 
“It was just so meaningful for us because we grew up with none of that representation,” Deepa said of the couple’s wedding celebration. “We grew up thinking it was not even an option. It wasn’t until after the wedding that we really got to see the impact our wedding had.”
Just three days after joining Tinder, Gauri received a message from Deepa. 
“We could just endlessly talk to each other,” Deepa told Insider. “It didn’t matter if there was something new to share or something mundane. It always felt interesting to hear from her.”  
After a month of communicating on the app and via text, the two decided to meet for coffee. Gauri and Deepa admitted that it was their first time pursuing someone of the same gender. They both admited they were concerned with how to approach the coffee meeting, so they didn’t even establish it as an official date. But as soon as they met, they said it felt easy. 
“The first date was really fun because we had already built a foundation of friendship since we were talking so much every day,” Gauri said. 
After their initial meeting, Deepa and Gauri told Insider they hung out daily. Two weeks later, on June 12, Deepa asked Gauri to be her girlfriend. 
“The day we got together, we talked about not being able to imagine an Indian wedding between two girls,” Deepa said. “It’s so funny to think about how we made it happen after years of being together. 
Because it was the first same-sex relationship for both women, the couple faced some early challenges, including that neither had shared their dating preference with their parents. 
For Deepa, she felt it was vital that she was financially independent and had graduated from law school before coming out to her parents. Her parents had had an arranged marriage and likely would want her to follow in those footsteps, she said. She hadn’t mentioned to them that she was seriously dating anyone, let alone a woman. It would be a big step to talk to them. 
Deepa told Insider that after revealing to her mother that she was dating a woman, her mother was apprehensive at first but never questioned her about it again. 
“She was scared that people within their community were going to be mean, and she was afraid that I was going to get hurt because of what other people were going to say,” Deepa said. “I could tell her reservedness came less out of disapproval and more out of fear.”
Shortly after Deepa came out to her parents, Gauri decided she would do the same when she visited her parent’s home in Seattle. 
“I started by saying it bothered me when our relatives in India asked when I was getting married,” Gauri said of the conversation. “I told them it bothered me because whoever I was going to marry wasn’t going to be a man.”
“They were stunned, and then there was a pause,” Gauri continued. “Right off the bat, my dad said, ‘no matter what, we love you.'”
Gauri then told her parents about dating Deepa, whom they had met under the pretense that Deepa was only a friend.
“In true Indian parent fashion, they immediately said: ‘Are you planning on getting married one day?'” Gauri said. 
Two years after coming out to their families, the couple celebrated another big moment: their engagement. Deepa planned to pop the question on a July 2020 trip to Hawaii, originally set to be a 30th birthday celebration for Gauri.
Gauri told Insider that she followed the birthday celebration ruse until they arrived for a private lunch, and she spotted a scrapbook Deepa had made on the table. 
“It was a sweet collection of all the memories from our relationship, and then when I turned to the last page, it said, ‘Will you marry me?'” Gauri said. “It felt like an out-of-body experience because I had no idea it would happen. Of course, I said ‘yes!'” 
After the proposal, Deepa and Gauri started planning their wedding. Deepa told Insider that it was vital for them to have a traditional Indian wedding because they wanted to normalize two women getting married and represent what that means within their culture.
“I didn’t want me being queer to mean that I couldn’t enjoy the traditional wedding that is part of my culture,” Deepa said. “I’ve always struggled with feeling like I needed to choose between being gay or being Indian like it couldn’t be both.”
Gauri felt the same. “We wanted to make sure that our wedding felt we were doing it justice,” she said. “There was an added pressure because of not growing up with that representation. We wanted to have the perfect, big fat Desi wedding.”
The couple set an original date in 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they rescheduled it for March 2022. 
Deepa and Gauri told Insider they worked with B Beloved Events to plan their wedding festivities, which took place around the Bay Area in northern California, where the couple resides.
The three-day weekend kicked off with their mutual mehdni party at their home. The next day, the brides held a Haldi ceremony at the TPC Stonebrae Country Club, where they were cleansed by family members, and an evening Sangeet with 130 guests. Their wedding day would bring together 250 guests to the Hayes Mansion in San Jose, California.
“It wasn’t until we started sending out the invitations that we got excited,” Deepa said, noting much of the planning was “touch-and-go” because of the pandemic. “We were happy to finally be out and see people that we never expected would be supporters of the LGBT community come out to celebrate us.”
To start the celebration, the brides hosted a mehndi ceremony, where they each had elaborate designs applied to their arms. Typically, this is done with the bride and her family, but Deepa and Gauri decided to do it together. As per tradition, they included each other’s names hidden in their mehndi designs.
The following day, the couple and their guests came together for the Haldi, a cleansing ceremony in which guests put turmeric paste on the couple before they officially tie the knot. 
Both brides donned yellow outfits, with each speaking to their backgrounds. To honor her South Indian roots, Deepa wore a sari. She told Insider that she chose to wear a silk sari because it is popular in Karnataka, the Indian state where her family is from. 
Gauri chose a dhoti, an outfit consisting of loose pants and a matching top, because it is a popular style among Maharashtra women, which is the Indian state where her family is from. She told Insider that growing up, her grandmother would often wear her sari in a dhoti style, and she wanted to pay homage to that for her wedding. 
“We didn’t want to follow conventional gender norms, especially because we’re a same-gender couple, so we made it a point to do all of it together,” Gauri said of doing both the mehndi and haldi side-by-side. “This celebration was a testament to our relationship, who we are as a couple, and our love story.”
After their Haldi, Deepa and Gauri headed to the Sangeet, a celebratory pre-wedding party that involves food, toasts, and choreographed dance numbers with their bridal parties and families. The brides changed into lehengas by Indian label B Anu Designs by Anu Batra. 
The brides told Insider in a heterosexual Sangeet, the groom normally wears a colorful look and the bride will wear a bright color because the celebration should be decorated in hues that reflect the sunset. Deepa and Gauri said they thought if they both wore bright looks, it would be too much, so Deepa wore orange and Gauri opted for olive green to balance their color scheme. 
As part of the Sangeet, the brides watched their friends perform two choreographed dances. Then, Deepa surprised Gauri with a final dance number. 
Deepa told Insider that she knew that Gauri loved the Bollywood movie “Main Hoon Na,” which starred her favorite actor Shah Rukh Khan. Deepa chose to dance to one of the songs from the film, “Tumse Milke Dilka Jo Haal.”
“I was nervous because I don’t think I’m the best dancer, but it was so much fun,” Deepa said. “Gauri’s love language is acts of service, so I wanted to do something for her. The dance was my way of showing her that I know her inside and out.”
At the party, guests could also have their mehndi done, dine on fusion Indian food like tikka masala pasta and arancini balls with Indian spices, and, of course, get down on the dance floor to more Bollywood jams. 
The brides did everything together on the wedding day, including getting ready. Both Deepa and Gauri opted to dress in the same room but facing away from each other. 
“It felt nice to get ready together because it was one of the only times during our wedding weekend that we just got to chill out,” Gauri said. 
For their outfits, the couple told Insider that many brides usually go to India to do their wedding shopping, but because of COVID, that wasn’t feasible for them, so they shopped locally in the San Francisco area.
Deepa said that in a heterosexual Indian wedding, the bride usually wears red, and the groom wears white. Because of that, they decided that Deepa would wear orange and Gauri would wear white accented with pink beading. Both brides wore traditional lehengas from B Anu Designs by Anu Batra. 
Deepa told Insider that her dress “felt like an entity” because it weighed about 20 pounds. Gauri said that she made the idea of wearing a white dress her own because it had floral motifs in shades of pink throughout the design.
Deepa and Gauri told Insider that their ceremony outfits were their most important looks of the weekend, so they wanted them to reflect their heritage. 
Deepa honored her South Indian background by wearing traditional jhumka earrings. 
Gauri’s parents hail from Maharashtra, so she wore the region’s traditional headpiece that features two strands of beads. She also nodded to her mother and grandmother by adding a bangle they had worn to each of their weddings to her bangle stack.
“We wanted to incorporate our cultures as much as possible,” Gauri said. 
The couple did choose one moment to play traditional roles: the walk down the aisle. For the entrance, Gauri said she wanted to ensure that Deepa had the spotlight. 
“We were both brides, but I wanted her to feel that moment, and I wanted to be able to watch her walking down the aisle,” Gauri said. “I could have a front-row seat.”
The couple adapted parts of the ceremony, including the language by the pandit. The brides told Insider that their priest went out of his way to ensure the language was progressive and matched their preferred pronouns.
They also chose who stood at the wedding mandap with them. Usually, it would be both sets of parents, but the couple decided to include other family members. Deepa chose to have her sister and brother-in-law walk her down the aisle and join her at the mandap. Gauri walked in with her father and brother-in-law, then had her mother and adopted mother at the mandap. 
“Even thought it was a same-sex wedding, we wanted our parents to feel like it still had their cultures intertwined,” Deepa said. 
Since Indian weddings involve the groom putting on a mangalsutra, a gold necklace that serves like a ring does in a western wedding, the couple made that part their own too, Deepa said. The brides put necklaces on each other.
Deepa and Gauri agreed that seeing everyone together in the same room was the highlight of their weekend. 
“It reminded us why it was worth waiting for,” Gauri said of the pandemic postponement. “Many people met for the first time at our wedding, and everyone gelled well together.”
Deepa told Insider that walking down the aisle was another favorite part of the wedding ceremony because she could see all their guests supporting their union. 
“It was a physical representation of my life not just as a queer person, but as a Desi South Asian person,” she said. “I remember when we first got together, and Gauri said she couldn’t imagine two Indian girls together. We were making it happen with our wedding.”
Later that evening, the couple held a reception. The brides wore two looks from Evotique; Deepa chose a blue lehenga and Gauri donned gold.
The night included more nods to their love story. For their first dance, the couple took a spin to a “Glee” version of Taylor Swift’s “Mine”, significant for two reasons. Early on in their relationship, the couple discovered a shared affinity for Taylor Swift songs. And, the song included female pronouns, which felt more authentic to them. 
The couple agreed to share a last name, taking Gauri’s surname, Joshi. 
“We both decided we want the same last name to solidify the fact that we are a family, especially since same-sex marriage isn’t legal everywhere,” Gauri said. 
The couple said that they are looking forward to their 2023 honeymoon in Italy and enjoying all the support they’ve recieved from people around the world, thanks to that video post by their planner.
Deepa and Gauri told Insider that seeing their wedding go viral was shocking because they never thought it would have such an impact. 
“It’s been great to see other people feel inspired by our wedding,” Deepa said. “We hope our wedding can be the representation we wish we had growing up. We didn’t know anyone who was Indian and gay.” 
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