Interfaith wedding in Digbeth

Mia and Ankit’s Christian/Jain Fusion extravaganza with rock salt candles, Saris, Ginger Parkin Bundt cake & Afternoon Tea. More images to follow of the happy pair…

This blog post isn’t only to prove that whatever your theme or colour I will choose my outfit and fit right in, or to show you images of me befofre my Covid-19 fitness regime! Well, there is a little bit of showing off to be honest because when Lockdown began here in the UK in March I realised I wouldn’t be riding Thelma or Daisy my vintage bikes for a while and took up running. I don’t like running at all. I’ve been running since March and I still hate it. I’m not the person who would say they LOVE running. I basically do it for vanity, so that I can wear my favourite gold suit. #goals. I know its shallow and I should be interested in my ‘Stats’ or whatever they are, but there you go. What did happen though is that I discovered Punk Rope Skipping while I was about it, and re-connected with my love of Pilates. Both or which I really do love. The skipping makes me feel about 5 years old, and the Pilates is just all kinds of wonderful. All silver-linings in an otherwise dreadful year in which I didn’t do any weddings at all. Anyway, I look a little different these days and will have to buy a new outfit for your Special Day. Poor me.

Back to Mia and Ankit! Mia and Ankit had waited a long time since they fell in love at Uni. By the time they rang me they had been through a lot of Ups and a lot of Downs, and like the rest of us it hadn’t been plain-sailing. A lot of my Brides and Grooms, far from being Bridezillas or longing for the limelight are actually truly anxious about the whole business of being centre of attention. They don’t like it at all, some even find it so terrifying they put off marrying their significant other for much too long. If you are are one such Bride or Groom do get in touch because there are many, many tricks all of which are tucked up my sleeve for you to help prevent overwhelm. This is one such couple.

This couple were educated and intelligent and full of creative ideas, but also anxious to make it the perfect day and not to offend anyone. They love each other, but they also love their families. They are kind, loving individuals and an amazing team. I loved working with them. They were determined to make it work for everyone without compromising their own values.

I often find that my couples have not inherited the same beliefs as their families. They are of a different generation, education and upbringing. This applies to every culture. Some still hold dear some of their family traditions and culture but with regards to religious belief invariably those beliefs don’t make sense to them in their own reality. None of this prevents them from honouring and respecting their backgrounds or the beliefs of those they love. So, you can see, it is a fraught business. Its also my favourite work because all that negotiating and navigating pays off. I almost always cry with joy on the day. This is because it is so vital in our communities that we find ways of doing this. When I see two disparate cultures uniting over tea and cake, I know the value of my work. Some consider Ceremonies obsolete. They ask why we need them at all. We need them because Human Beings need ceremonies. They are of the business of forging and strengthening relationships and communities. That can never be a bad thing. They bridge difference, they create good will and they establish shared experiences which can be healing. Mia and Ankit found their ceremony very healing. For them it was a brave step and they found it challenging to get there. But in the end we had a beautiful day.

"Part of the complication for these two with regard to the Wedding was that they came from such different backgrounds. As ever this was not a problem for them, but posed a challenge for their families."

Mia and Ankit

“A lot of my Brides and Grooms, far from being Bridezillas or longing for the limelight are actually truly anxious about the whole business of being centre of attention.”

So how did we do it?

Mia came from a nominally Christian background, and Ankit from a Jain background from the Seychelles. These are two quite different worlds. By the time we created their ceremony together here in Birmingham and had the ceremony at Fazeley Street Studios in Digbeth these two worlds were enmeshed for Mia and Ankit, who were and are deeply in love and had been for many many years. But for their families, living respectively in the UK and the Seychelles it was taking time to adapt. We decided to cut and paste and borrow and craft from the traditions we already had and to create a new way of doing things. In Jainism at weddings it is traditional to walk around a fire 7 times whilst tied together. Attitudes towards gender relationships vary across cultures and generations. Traditionally the Bride walks behind her husband and tied to him. We decided to see what we could do to bring that up to date for a British context in the 21st Century. We had a think about how to build a ‘fire pit’ in the centre of Brum in a wedding venue. So we decided to use Rock Salt candle holders and to put them beside the chair of each guest for them to bring up and place on a round table. Slowly the table became filled with candles and with each candle placed another blessing was offered silently to Mia and Ankit wishing them well. Then we created vows which went with the seven circles around the fire and they were tied together bu walking together as a team. It was magical and moving and inspiring, everybody loved it. I know I did.

I remember looking at the family as they had their photos taken and seeing an array of colours and smiling people and shedding a tear as I though “my work here is done”. Interfaith, or Fusion Weddings are a bit of a speciality of mine, as I studied Theology and Religion at The University of Birmingham, a multi-cultural context if ever there was one! I had a particular interest in Contemporary Spirituality in Britain and so this kind of work is of particular interest.

Do get in touch if you relate to Mia and Ankit’s Story and thing you’d like to combine a slice of Yorkshire Ginger Parkin with the beauty and colour of the Seychelles or whatever other wonderful combination you are!