My New York City weekend was truly beyond words, but I will try my best to give you all a sense for the flawless 4 days we spent in the city, with friends, and celebrating a wedding in the most incredible style. Spoiler: get invited to an Indian Wedding. NOW.
Before I get to the weekend recap, happy Passover to all who celebrate, and congratulations to all that ran Big Sur Marathon and the London Marathon! Thank you as well to Katie for hosting Marvelous Monday.
Returning to New York City and the Epicness of an Indian Wedding
I literally have started this post 7+ times. I usually consider myself pretty good with words, but I don’t even know how to verbalize and introduce this weekend. Maybe I will start by taking the opportunity to thank our friends for getting married in NYC and thus for giving Alex and I the reason and excuse to go to New York City for a long weekend.
And thank you as well for being Indian and the most generous and fun people of all time. Because next to my own wedding, this has probably been my favorite wedding weekend that I have been to (not that I didn’t love other wedding weekends, but this one was just… otherworldly!).
I guess I’ll start at the beginning? According to Julie Andrews/Maria von Trapp, it is a very good place to start. But this is a long one, so buckle up!
Thursday morning, Alex and I worked out at home and then headed to Midway for our flight to LaGuardia. I knew as soon as I landed that I was truly back in New York, and nostalgia–everything from the CIBO Express vendors to the Auntie Anne’s stand and Tea’s Tea tea and Snapple and Schweppes–flooded me. The minute we walked outside (to a beautiful day, no less), I saw cherry blossoms and NYC taxis. Our hotel wasn’t far, and I was feeling antsy, so we went for a walk through the neighborhood and looked at houses, grabbed a few things from the drugstore, and I think I called attention to every cherry blossom tree I saw.
Then it was time to return to the hotel and get ready for the Sangeet, which, in extremely minimalist terms, is an Indian rehearsal dinner. I wore this incredible dress that the bride leant to me (our first taste of the incredible generosity we experienced the entire weekend). And yes, I am wearing workout pants, lol.
After several failed Uber attempts (WTF uber) we were offered a ride (another moment of generosity) by a fellow guest who turned out to be the sister of Alex’s co-residents!
I could spend hours describing the party, but it wouldn’t do it justice with regards to the amount of fun, love, laughter, dancing, color, food, and kindness. And hugs, haha. I got henna done on my hands, danced like I had any idea what was going on, and ate and drank until I could hardly move. Maybe one of the best parties ever.
Friday was “my” day: I woke up, did blogging things, had a snack, and then ran on the treadmill (I was a little tired and wanted to make sure that I kept to my paces rather than go too fast, get lost, etc), then Alex and I had breakfast and took an Uber (finally) into the city, dropping us off at 61st St and 2nd Ave (Upper East Side).
We made a beeline for Central Park while walking by some of my old routes (my girl Courtney used to live at 63rd and Park, so I know the area really well), then Alex and I spent about 2 hours going through Central Park, my old running routes where I fell in love with running, my cherry blossom alley next to the Reservoir, and just talking and strolling in the perfect day. We were so lucky to be in NYC in the peak of blooming season!
We exited CP in the Upper West Side (another area I know like the back of my hand) in order to have lunch at an old haunt (not as good as it used to be, but great for nostalgia and deja vu!) and then headed up to my old apartment and Columbia University’s campus. I don’t know how to describe the experience as anything other than surreal. I spent so much time going back to Charlottesville and UVA that I never had that true separation–I’ve not been to NYC or Columbia in 4 years, and so much changed during (more than just that I mentioned in my post) and has changed since that time.
We finished our walk in Manhattan along Central Park North and then picked up a cab to head to Jackson Heights to pick up some final pieces for my sari before returning to the hotel for a rest, some work, and to get ready for the main wedding.
Of course, I had no idea how to do a sari. It is simple, yet far more complicated than it looks! Luckily, the lovely mother of one of the people that we met on the bus (again, generosity) took myself and one other girl under her wing, whisked us off to the bathroom once we got to the venue, and fixed us up properly. #goals
Then, it was time for the wedding! It was a traditional Hindu ceremony, starting with the Barrat, or groom’s processional–our friend rode in on a large grey horse as we danced and cheered and sang around him, then he followed the ceremony protocol and we all went in.
The wedding then took the next 3 hours.
We were bored out of our minds. We had a great time. SERIOUSLY.
Indian weddings are totally different than Western weddings: Western weddings typically last anywhere from 20 minutes (like Alex’s and mine) and 1+ hours (for a traditional Catholic wedding Mass), and you are expected to be somberly attentive the entire time. At Indian weddings, the attendees mill about, eat and drink, talk, and socialize the entire time. There are particular moments when every one pays attention (the bride’s processional, the dropping of the cloth, etc), but otherwise, you see as much or as little of the wedding as you want! I would say Alex and I spent our attentions equally.
There was an afterparty, but we got back to the hotel at 11, and after being on the move all day, we were beat and decided to save our energy for the next day.
Saturday dawned rainy and humid, but a pleasant temperature for running, which is exactly what we did with Sarah, one of my good friends from grad school! Sarah and I sat next to each other in studio–she was there for the coining of “Suzlyfe” and many other shenanigans. We caught up during our run, and before we knew it, we had run further and faster than she had since track during school, and then Alex was feeling good feeling great, so I joined him for an extra mile.5 and he ran (together with the first run) his longest run, and I ran my fastest and furthest since my injury! A great way to start the day, which only got better with the reunion of much of my Columbia grad school family for brunch.
Sarah and her hubs put together a fantastic spread of artichoke and spinach frittata, mixed berry baked oatmeal, and potato pancake and my other friends contributed bellinis (with 3 different puree options!) and fresh mixed berries.
Alex and I ate way too much (and enjoyed every bite) while catching up with my friends and before we knew it, it was time to head back into Manhattan to meet two other friends! By the time we left Sarah’s apartment, the sun was coming out, and by the time we got off the Subway in Manhattan, it was a GORGEOUS day.
We met up with Courtney (who is from Connecticut but grew up spending tons of time in NYC, also, it was her birthday!) and Alex’s little brother from his fraternity for a walk in Central Park and drink in Tavern on the Green.
Then it was time to get back to the hotel in Queens for a brief rest and getting ready for the reception, a HUGE event that much of our Chicago Northwestern residency family was able to come in for. When I say huge, I mean about 600+ people.
We had dinners number 1 and 2 during the cocktail hour. Can I just say that I had the best Indian food I have ever had during these 3 nights. I totally wasn’t expecting that–using catering can be meh, but each night was incredible and COMPLETELY different. This night was the most lavish, for certain, and Alex and I swore off eating. For an hour.
The reception was, of course, incredible, and filled again with laughter, love, speeches, and, of course, MUCH dancing and even more food. And then more food. Did I mention the food yet? Because there was a lot.l I thought about doing a WIAW with it, but I had too many plates, too much randomness, to even start. Just know that food was had, never ending, and AMAZING. We danced until our feet hurt and we were dead, then came back and fell into bed.
I woke up hella early on Sunday (for no reason), and so I came down to work on some things and have coffee before our flight home, where we did what was necessary to get our weeks off to some sort of a start.
The only way to summarize this weekend is to say that it was a weekend I will never forget–from returning to New York City and Columbia after nearly 4 years, to spending time with so many people that we have come to call family, to the most incredible wedding events that I’ve yet been to, and with every single moment underlined with love and kindness (and food!), all I can say is that my latest bite of the Big Apple filled me up.
But it also whetted my appetite for more! Next time, we need to do the rest of Manhattan 😀
Whewf, talk about a recap. Thank you all for sticking with me for so long! How’s that for a welcome to the week!A surreal return, the most lavish wedding, and more food than @suzlyfe's ever seen! #weekendrecap #mimm Click To Tweet
Have you ever been to an Indian Wedding? What is the most culturally different experience you have every had?