Two of my good friends married each other on Saturday, and the whole weekend was filled with lovely wedding events! As I mentioned last Thursday, the bride is Indian, so the wedding was a combination of Indian and American traditions. First up: the mehndi party.
The mehndi party is when the bride (and other guests) receive their henna, though in this particular case, the bride had had her henna done the day before (it took four hours!). An artist was there to draw henna on other guests who were interested, though. I would’ve loved to have some done, but given my skin’s recent penchant for having an allergic reaction to nearly anything under the sun (bath bombs, certain laundry detergents, antiseptics), I didn’t think it’d be in my best interest to experiment with dye that’s supposed to stay on your skin for several days. The party also included a buffet of Indian food, which was the first time I’ve ever had ~real~ Indian food (my previous experience was limited to the frozen, single-serve meals you get at Trader Joe’s, which only kind of counts). I enjoyed the dinner options (though some of them certainly challenged my spice tolerance!), but dessert…! omg.
The bride has been talking up gulab jamun every time wedding food came up when we were hanging out, and boy, she did not oversell it. They were so good, and to my immense surprise, reminded me very much of oliebollen, a Dutch donut that my family often has around the holidays.
The elephant cookies also became a bit of a joke at the party. The bride likes elephants and wanted them to be a theme throughout the wedding, which is why they had them at the party. However, it turned out that the room across from ours in the banquet hall was hosting a Republican fundraiser at the same time, headlined by none other than Bruce Rauner, governor of Illinois, himself. That was quite the surprise to everyone, including the bride’s family who had booked the space months ago, not to mention quite the contrast. I don’t think anyone arriving at the hall that night accidentally attended the wrong event! At least the cookies could’ve fit in equally well at either party 😛
I went to the rehearsal dinner on Friday, so that’s how I spent that evening, and then we had the main event on Saturday night!
The wedding was at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park, and was originally supposed to be outside. I had been concerned about the weather ever since I found out they wanted to get married outside (and wanted to get married in October), but, per usual, it turns out all my fretting was for naught. It started to sprinkle about an hour and a half before the wedding, so they moved the ceremony inside (the reception was always going to be inside).
This was my first Indian wedding, and I thought it was one of the loveliest ceremonies I’ve ever attended. The Hindu priest performed the ceremony in Sanskrit, but explained everything he said and why it was important in English. I learned so much about Hinduism and its beliefs, traditions, and customs, which I loved! It was all really interesting and made everything more meaningful to understand the religious and symbolic significance behind everything happening during the ceremony.
This was also my first wedding at the Nature Museum, and wow! What a venue! We basically had our run of the place the whole evening (though I was too busy hanging out with friends and dancing the night away to spend much time exploring). Cocktail hour was among the second floor exhibits, and while I would’ve loved to check all of them out, I couldn’t drag myself away from the Birds of Chicago wall.
I literally spent the entire hour at the Birds of Chicago. It was so interesting! I tried counting how many of them I’ve seen in real life in Chicago (seeing them other places didn’t count, since it was a Birds of Chicago display)–I think it was 31?–and was fascinated by the whole thing, particularly the birds that were/were not included. Like why were some warblers in the display, but not all the warblers that pass through Chicago? I was also fascinated by the number of birds displayed in their non-breeding plumage, since some birds look very different during breeding and non-breeding season! Unsurprisingly, it was much easier to get a good look at birds when they’re stuffed, labeled, and all right next to each other compared to when they’re alive, flying, and usually only hanging out with their own kind (I found this extremely helpful for the sparrows in particular), so it was a good opportunity to familiarize myself with the differences between various birds in the same family.
The reception followed, and it was a blast. I got to try new foods, had even more gulab jamun, and danced so much I woke up sore on Sunday. If that’s not a sign of a great wedding, I don’t know what is 🙂