Kelly and Mohammed had two ceremonies for their wedding. A civil ceremony at the Cape May Ferry Terminal in Cape May, New Jersey and a Nikkah ceremony in Pennsylvania. This was to honour both religions, Kelly being Catholic, and Mohamed being Muslim.
How they met:
Mohamed and Kelly both worked at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Inc. They quickly became best friends, running together after work and going to the movies. They began celebrating family holidays with each other (Ramadan and Christmas) and the rest is history. Eight years later they are now happily married!
A few days before Christmas, in December 2014, Mohamed picked Kelly up from work and told her there was a show he wanted her to see at the Franklin Institute, a popular science museum in the city of Philadelphia. After watching an incredible astronomy show about the night sky, the lights came on in the theatre and Mohamed said he had one more star to show Kelly. Before Kelly knew what was happening, he pulled out a small black box from his jacket pocket and proposed.
Our wedding was such a special time in our lives. We originally planned to have one ceremony incorporating both religions and cultures, but Mohamed’s family really wanted to have a Nikkah, which is the muslim marriage ceremony. We decided to adopt the attitude of “two ceremonies, twice as blessed” and we’re so happy with how everything turned out.
“My Nikkah dress was from a small indian bridal shoppe in Edison, New Jersey. The veil piece was from Zanzibar, Tanzania and was hand stitched with a gold trim.
My mom picked out my white wedding dress for me to try on. Seeing it on the hanger I wasn’t too sure but as soon as I tried it on I knew I loved it. My mom absolutely loved it too. It was perfect for our beach wedding, lightweight, flowy, and it just had that beach wedding feel. The lace at the top with small flowers and the sweetheart neckline are my favorite aspects of the dress.”
The Groom’s outfit
“Mohamed’s Nikkah outfit was also from Zanzibar. For the Cape May Wedding, Mohamed said grey suits would look nice for the groomsmen and I thought it would look great with navy bridesmaids dresses. Mohamed picked up his light grey suit and navy tie suit from Express. The boutineers were handmade by my sister, another fun DIY project for our wedding.”
Theme and colours
“Our wedding colors were navy and coral and “the beach” was our wedding theme. We gave out miniature beach balls and sunglasses for party favors as well as little buckets of blue candies. We also had a beach-themed candy table which all our guests loved. Our wedding cake was made by friends of my grandparents and it had blue and coral starfish and seashells, two hand-painted adirondack chairs, and brown sugar “sand.””
“To save on wedding costs and to fit our theme we decided in lieu of flowers we would make our own seashell bouquets. My sister and I both inherited my mom’s creative gene and Mohamed’s aunt we loves doing DIY projects so we were destined for success. My cousins and grandmother who live in Cape May collected seashells for us from the beach, from garage sales and craft sales and gave them to us. We went to craft stores in the area to pick up the rest of the supplies and spent an entire day making the bouquets. We each put charms on our bouquets that were meaningful for us. My Pop-pop had passed away six weeks before the wedding and there were a few ways we honored him at our wedding. I put a small picture of him on my bouquet as well as a four leaf clover and a golden anchor charm. It really made my bouquet so special and I felt like my Pop-pop was there with me on the big day.”
Favourite part of the day
“The ceremony. Originally the ceremony was supposed to be held on the beach, but a rainy day and 40 mile per hour winds changed that idea and we moved the ceremony indoors! It was still our favorite part – specifically saying our vows to each other. We decided to write our own vows to each other and it was incredibly meaningful. Our officiant, Christopher, is a really good friend of ours and has been a mentor to us throughout the years. He became an officiant to perform our wedding and we were so thankful to have him with us. To open the ceremony, my mom read a verse from the bible and Mohamed’s uncle read a verse from the Quran.”
Easiest part of wedding planning
“The easiest part of wedding planning was finding the location. Even before we got engaged Mohamed said we should get married outside because it makes for a beautiful location for a ceremony and it’s “interfaith friendly.” I’ve always felt that you can be close to God in nature so I was completely in agreement. When we got engaged we both knew Cape May was a great location. It has always been a special part of my history and when we started dating Mohamed would visit to celebrate holidays with my family and spend our days at the beach in the summer.”
Hardest part of wedding planning
“The guest list! Our venue only allowed for 80 guests so it was a little challenging narrowing down our guest list. When we decided to have the Nikkah separately and in a local spot, it helped us with our guest list because we were able to invite family members that weren’t able to make it to our Cape May wedding.”
Is it harder to plan a wedding when the couples are from different faiths/culture etc?
“Planning a wedding in general can be challenging because you are bringing two lives together in one celebration. Mohamed and I knew from the beginning we wanted our wedding to highlight three things: our faith, our family, and our love. While at times it was challenging to find ways to honor and respect both religions, we always tried to patient with each other and with our families. We stayed grounded by reminding ourselves that despite all the little details, the only thing that truly mattered was at the end of the day we would be husband and wife and we would be surrounded by our closest family and friends.”
Advice to give to other multicultural couples
“I told Mohamed in my vows that throughout our marriage I would continue to respect our differences in our faith and culture, but that I would forever honor the things we have in common. I believe that’s the key to an interfaith marriage. When you focus on the common ground between you, you will always find happiness. Our wedding was a beautiful event that incorporated that Catholic and Muslim faith, as well aspects of irish, Zanzibar and indian culture. We both feel incredibly proud to be an interracial and interfaith couple. There will always be differences that set us apart, and they are unique to each relationship, but when love and respect are at the heart of your relationship that’s all that matters.”
“Since our wedding was such a celebration of love, family and culture, we decided to go big for our honeymoon and travel to Tanzania and Zanzibar. We did a safari in Tanzania and a day hike on Mount Kilimanjaro before flying to Zanzibar to meet our extended family for the first time. We were welcomed with open arms and spent two weeks visiting with family, celebrating Ramadan, and immersing ourselves in the Zanzibar culture. It was definitely an adventure of a lifetime, and our first time out of the country as husband and wife.”