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Love Conquers All

July 6, 2015
Love Conquers All

I had been chatting with SORRISO weddings and portraits for a while and she was telling me how excited she was to shoot her first multicultural wedding. The day of the wedding, she messaged me at 5:30am with devastating news, I couldn’t believe what had happened, my heart sank and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. 

When Sim emailed me wanting to share her story, I jumped on board straight away. I felt that this story was too important not to tell and others in similar situations may find it useful. Let’s begin by getting to know this couple…

Sim and Sam met two years ago in Birmingham. Their first date was in Sim’s favourite coffee shop and it all went from there. All the answers below are from Sim in her own words.

Wedding Planning

We decided we wanted to have an intimate civil ceremony in Derbyshire as that’s where Sam’s family live and where Sam grew up. We had our ceremony in Ringwood Hall with our immediate families of 17 guests. The religious ceremony was planned to include all our family and friends – a total of about 400 people.

The planning wasn’t too bad really, mostly peaks of stress but overall it was made easier and more enjoyable because we used people we knew – so the cake, the flowers, the photography and menhdi were all done by friends or family of friends. It was really important to keep it close so that we could have creative control, because who’s better to take your photos than someone you know, right? In hindsight I really enjoyed the wedding planning – for both ceremonies.

British Sikh Fusion wedding

The Wedding Day

The civil ceremony was lovely, we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. It was a real opportunity for our immediate families to get to know one another. For the religious/ cultural wedding it started pretty perfectly. My mendhi looked amazing, thanks to my dear friend and professional mendhi artist. The jago party on the Friday was a lot of fun.

The Anand Karaj (Sikh wedding ceremony) was booked at our family Gurdwara, Guru Nanak Gurdwara, in Smethwick.  After the formalities at the jago party, my dad had to leave to go to the Gurdwara to meet the committee and representatives from the Sikh Youth Birmingham. Meanwhile Sam is in Derby with his family and friends having their own pre-wedding celebrations.

Dad was then requested to bring Sam to Birmingham as the Sikh Youth Group wanted to meet him face to face. Sam agreed and was collected, by my dad, at 9pm from Derby.

When Sam arrived, at around 10pm, he was met by about 30 young men representing the Sikh Youth Group. Sam was then taken into a room with three of the Gurdwara committee and two from the Sikh Youth Group. One of the Sikh Youth Group representatives then began asking questions about Sam’s faith, which he felt he answered well and honestly. The questions then became more personal, asking inappropriate questions about our personal relationship.

Sam recalls him then saying ‘it’s people like you that are taking our girls’

From here it was clear that the issue of the marriage wasn’t religion but race by simply making a divide of “us and them”. The representative then went on to say that he couldn’t promise there wouldn’t be protests, if the wedding was to go ahead, or that they wouldn’t turn violent and our guests wouldn’t be hurt. 

The committee brought my dad back into the room and explained that they weren’t prepared to go ahead with the wedding due to safety concerns and explained that they weren’t prepared to involve the police. This was explained to my father and husband at 10:30pm the night before our wedding was due to take place. I found out at 11:30pm when they returned home.

British Sikh Fusion wedding

The Worst Part

The worst part is how Sam was treated and the inappropriate questions he was asked. The fact the committee made up their minds about our wedding the night before is the most heartbreaking part. They treated our wedding as a bad thing.

Sam decided that he wanted to come into Sikhism, he included Singh in his name, started to learn Punjabi and visited the Gurdwara to develop his understanding of the faith. The faith that I have grown up in and the faith I am proud to say has its foundations on the teachings to accept all and treat everyone as equals. A religion that is about defending and not one that threatens violence.

We wanted to have an Anand Karaj with all our family and friends, in my family Gurdwara. We were not doing anything wrong. We are two people that want to spend our lives together, The Sikh Youth Birmingham passed their judgement and were given permission to do so when the committee was unwilling to defend us. They act as a pressure group and use their own personal agenda to stop weddings that they are personally not happy with, which is clearly represented in their hateful online videos. A video that focuses on people of two different skin colours, and interestingly only white men and brown women- not the other way round which reflects on the comment “it’s people like you taking our girls.”

Another thing I don’t understand is that at no point in any of this did the Gurdwara or the Sikh Youth Group ask to speak to me. No one wanted to hear my point of view. How very weak of them to shy away from the other part of the relationship.

British Sikh Fusion wedding

How we felt

Sam felt completely out of control of the situation, he was asked to provide ID of his new name and even wrote a letter to the Gurdwara outlining his faith. He was rejected from our family Gurdwara and threatened by a group that prides itself in defending the religion.

Overcoming the situation

After hours of discussions and emotional turmoil in understanding that the wedding wouldn’t be taking place, we decided we would do the Anand Karaj at home. We were fortunate to bring the Guru Grant Sahib Ji to our home and the ceremony was conducted with pure love. We were married in front of our Guru and a small handful of our family and friends. While it wasn’t what we planned and many of our loved ones weren’t there to witness our marriage, my parents, family and friends couldn’t have done anymore. We all believe it was love that made the wedding happen, that’s pretty special. 

Having said all that it is important to outline that our day was taken and we won’t ever get that back, that’s very hard to forget

Advice for multicultural/interfaith couples

Sam and I are not an interfaith couples because we wanted a Sikh ceremony, neither of us wanted any other religious ceremony. However we are clearly a mixed race couple and sadly so many people hate that. So many people don’t agree with us sitting together and will do everything they can to ignore and reject us. We wanted our wedding to represent us and so having the civil ceremony and the religious suited us. Our advice would be to do what you think is best for you and stay strong to it. Hate and negativity is something that some people can’t let go of but don’t let that stop you.

Will we learn nothing?

Something has to happen to ensure that our story isn’t repeated. The Sikh leaders, and other religious leaders, need to understand that these types of marriages are taking place and it’s not going to stop. If we continue to reject people from the religion then we aren’t going to achieve anything.

We need to contain extreme groups like the Sikh Youth Birmingham because if we don’t then they become the leaders, and that’s not a religion I personally want to be involved in!

I call for our Sikh leaders to make a stand and ensure that we have proportional representation. I wonder how our story would have unfolded if it wasn’t 30 young men meeting Sam but a mixture of men and women and if there was even just one women forming the questioning panel where we were threaten and asked personal questions.

There is a reason we have religious leaders, they need to be forward thinking enough to encourage different people to learn and understand this religion that is so beautiful and so welcoming.

Conclusion

What Sam and Sim had to go through is very heartbreaking and this story can be seen as controversial. All I ask is that you see the situation from their point of view. Positive comments only, any negative comments will not be approved.

View their full wedding here

Photography: Hello Sorriso

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13 Comments

  • Reply Rachel Gupta July 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    That’s such a heart-wrenching story. I’m glad to hear Sim and Sam we’re able to marry in a (much) smaller ceremony at home. My general motto is if at the end of the day you’re married, then your wedding was a complete success, but goodness what a trial!

  • Reply Sikh by Nature. July 9, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Anonymous.

    The Irony is that the sister of one of prominent members of Sikh Youth Birmingham married out of religion/faith/caste and non of the members turned up to protest this wedding.

    The Gurudwara (The Doorway to the Guru) is supposed to be open to all. We as sikhs cannot say who can and cannot be blessed by the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

    If some wishes to have a wedding their using the customs of the Sikh Faith then they can as long as they respect the process.

    If someone wishes to have their funeral there, they also can irrespective of religion etc.

    Sikh Youth Birmingham DOES NOT REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF SIKHS.

    I myself am a Amritdhari (Baptized) Sikh, but I am Human first.

    I feel sorry for Sam, but remember these fanatic did not succeed. I hope that you feel that you can tell you children the true spirit of humanity, and instil in them to recognise this in all faiths.

    I wish you both all the best.

  • Reply British Sikh Fusion Wedding | Secret Wedding Blog July 21, 2015 at 7:00 am

    […] story and the unfortunate events this couple had to go through. Make sure you read about their love conquers all story and how they overcame the cancellation of their […]

  • Reply F August 8, 2015 at 6:21 am

    I’ve just shared this story on Sunny Hundal’s facebook status which is about a wedding in Southall being disrupted due to the same reason. https://www.facebook.com/sunnyhundalorg/posts/873451222724962

  • Reply Are you planning an interfaith Sikh wedding? | Secret Wedding Blog October 7, 2015 at 10:26 am

    […] I shared the Love Conquers all – story of Sim and Sam – who had their wedding stopped by protestors (which you can catch up with here) – […]

  • Reply Rupa arya October 9, 2015 at 8:00 am

    heartbreaking story , instantly had an emotional response that surprised even myself . I am also getting married in 18 months time and am in a loving mixed race relationship. Just realised how fortunate I am that family and community have accepted us , although my parents go to religious prayers every Saturday for the last 40 years and some of their friends have literally walked away faces turned away disgusted with the happy news that both my sister and I have decided to marry for love outside of our faith. I hope and pray that you are blessed in this life with everything your love brings . There is nothing more pure and innocent then true love and that is the only thing that matters. It is not enough to be part of a religious association and pride oneself to be part of an identity simultaneously that preaches racism and intolerance. This is the antitheseis of practising religion. We are all made equal . Ps congratulations you make a beautiful couple .

    • Raj
      Reply Raj October 8, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Hi Rupa,
      I’d love to hear how your wedding planning is going. Thank you for taking the time to comment on this beautiful and heartbreaking wedding story x

  • Reply Lifestyle Shoot with Sorriso Weddings & Portraits | SWB November 5, 2015 at 7:01 am

    […] Priya kept saying over again, “I love my job”, ‘I love my job” – that was a subtle indicator that she loves what she does 😉 I would definitely recommend Priya for any photo shoots or wedding photography that you require. She is so lovely and you won’t regret it. Check out her work that was featured on the blog before here. […]

  • Reply Looking back at 2015 | Secret Wedding Blog January 3, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    […] do I even begin with the amazing outcome from this wedding? Sim and Sam’s wedding story was featured on the blog with photography from Sorriso Weddings and Portraits. The […]

  • Reply Secret Wedding Blog | Fusion Multicultural Interfaith Wedding Blog February 18, 2016 at 7:01 am

    […] mainly last year with the big uproar in interfaith Sikh weddings where I shared Sam and Sim’s Love Conquers all wedding. Their wedding was stopped the night before the big day and I wouldn’t wish any couple […]

  • Reply Nick June 2, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    I can see the reasons why Sikhs wouldn’t allow it, if the couple are not going to live their life or try to take steps to live their life accordingly then its a selfish meaningless process. My friend ( hindu) married a catholic girl and had to pretend he was committing to the faith and even attended church every Sunday leading up to the Marriage – again meaningless act if he has no intention of really committing to the faith, just so that they could have a Church wedding,
    This video makes some valid points and helps put things in perspective https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNzLN02MxFQ worth a Watch

    • Raj
      Reply Raj June 6, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      I can see why Sikhs wouldn’t allow it, but the way they went about it for Sim & Sam’s wedding was wrong.
      Thanks for commenting and sharing the video.

  • Reply Secret Wedding Blog | Fusion Multicultural Interfaith Wedding Blog June 19, 2017 at 7:02 am

    […] has been shared on the blog before. Remember Sim and Sam’s wedding features – part one and two? Oh and maybe you’ll notice that all the photography of me *blushes* was shot by […]

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