Engagement Shoots Interfaith Multicultural Stories

Sundas and Duy’s Multicultural Story

March 30, 2017
Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

I thoroughly enjoyed blogging Sundas and Duy’s multicultural story, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. The best thing, I asked them the following questions and they both answered the questions. Fascinating seeing their different perspectives, lets dig in!

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

Where are you both from?

SUNDAS: My parents are from Pakistan, but I was born in Houston, Texas

DUY: My parents are from Vietnam, but I was born in Methuen, Massachusetts.

What religion are you?

DUY: We are both Muslim! My family is Catholic.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

How did you meet + your first date?

SUNDAS: We met in high school orchestra. We both played the viola, and I was good friends with one of Duy’s cousins who also played the viola. We were officially together the day before our school orchestra left for our trip to Disney World, so I guess spending time at Disney World counts as our first date.

DUY: We first met in the orchestra room and I found my older cousin talking to her and another one of his friends. Initially I was snarky with her because my cousin and his friend high-fived me for doing so. It took a while for us to get to become girlfriend and boyfriend.

I remember I had asked what her type was and she had replied “Not Asian and not younger.” But nonetheless I kept getting closer to her and here we are! I would say that we were lucky enough to have an orchestra trip to Disney World so soon after we started dating, which is a first date unrivalled.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

How did you find dating someone from a different faith or culture?

SUNDAS: I always knew I didn’t want to be with someone who was from the same culture as me. My friend groups have always been very diverse, so I don’t think it ever crossed my mind that I couldn’t be with someone of a different culture. It felt very normal. But as our relationship grew, we had several discussions about religion and culture, and I think we have both become more open minded and accepting because we are together. Dating someone from a different culture has forced me to think about why we do the things we do, and not just do them because they are “tradition.”

DUY: Faith and culture wasn’t something I saw or paid attention to whenever I was with Sundas.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

Were your parents accepting of your partner?

SUNDAS:  My parents have been very supportive of my relationship with Duy. He has spent a lot of time with them, and I know that helped because they know who he is and they can see that we love each other.

DUY: In the beginning it was difficult for my parents to accept any person as my girlfriend because they wanted me to focus on my grades. As the years have gone by, I know that they’ve become more and more comfortable with her as my future spouse. It was quite an amazing day to hear my mom say that she believes Sundas to be a great person and wife.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

Were there any issues from extended family or the community?

SUNDAS: Surprisingly, my extended family and community has been extremely supportive. Everyone is excited, even my grandma who lives in Pakistan! She told Duy that he “sounded very handsome” over the phone in her extremely broken English.

DUY: Unfortunately, yes. I was frankly disappointed to find that my family [older generation mainly] was so engrained in tradition that made it harder to accept any form of change, especially when it came to religion. Family image seemed to play a more important role than the happiness of marriage. Fortunately, her parents and family have been very supportive as well as my own cousins.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

The proposal

DUY: I honestly surprised myself with how in-depth I could go into with the proposal. I had always imagined her walking down a trail that led to me, but this idea eventually evolved into a scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt involved several locations around the Katy and Houston area and the clues were to be handed to her by those close to her.

A month before the proposal I asked her two best friends from San Antonio, Evana and Stefan, to see when they would be available to come down on a weekend to surprise Sundas for a proposal I was planning. About a week or more before the proposal date I had asked one of her close friends, Tiffany, to take Sundas to a nail salon, also for picture purposes, and try to inconspicuously get her to dress up for the occasion.

I then asked the orchestra directors at Cinco Ranch High School and Tompkins High School to help me by letting me use their room, since the school isn’t accessible on the weekends. I then asked some of her other friends Michelle, Cleo, and Aimee to be clue givers at certain locations. Michelle was so helpful when coming up with ideas.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

Now, I especially loved the movie Up and loved the idea of the “My Adventure Book” that was shown in the movie. So, I started looking up several guides on how to make my own “Our Adventure Book” from scratch. I filled the first few pages with envelopes to fill in with the clues that I had planned for Sundas to receiving throughout the day.

The first clue and scrapbook was given by Tiffany at the nail salon, which led Sundas to the Cinco Ranch Orchestra room where we first met.

The second clue was given by Michelle, the clue then lead her to the Tompkins Orchestra room, where she was surprised by her students that she teaches.

The third clue then lead Sundas to the center of La Centerra, an outdoors mall where we had taken some memorable photos at, when she was met by Evana.

The fourth clue lead Sundas to an area at the Villagio, another outdoor shopping center, where we had our first fancy dinner date at.

The fifth clue was given by her friend and co-worker Aimee, that lead Sundas to a location downtown called the Spindletop, an amazing restaurant with an amazing view.

The sixth clue was waiting for her at the top of the restaurant where Stefan was waiting to give her the final clue.

Finally, I had decided to make a new memorable spot for us located on top of a picturesque hill/fountain. I gave her the final clue and filled in the last blank with a spoken “Will you marry me?” Oh yeah and all the clues had rhyme in them, which took a lot longer that I thought would take.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

Was the parent’s permission asked?

SUNDAS: We talked about getting married together, and then we had meetings with our families separately to tell them that we wanted to get engaged and to give them an opportunity to express their concerns or share their thoughts. We had already decided that we were going to get engaged, but we felt that talking to our parents before the proposal was the best way to respect their cultures and their feelings.

So no, technically, we did not “ask” them for permission, but we did try to make them feel that we wanted to respect their thoughts. After Duy proposed and everyone was comfortable with the idea of us getting married, we had a combined Pakistani and Vietnamese engagement ceremony where Duy’s parents asked my parents for my hand in marriage.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

Wedding planning: how did you decide on having 1 or X amount of ceremonies?

SUNDAS: In my culture, there are three days of wedding ceremonies, but we only wanted to have one. After lots of back and forth between our families, we decided to go with three days of festivities so that everyone could feel that their culture and traditions were adequately represented. We will have our Islamic wedding ceremony (Nikkah) on Day 1, our Pakistani/American fusion ceremony and reception on Day 2 (my parents are taking care of this), and a Vietnamese dinner/reception on Day 3 (Duy’s parents are taking care of this).

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

Did you have any difficulty in finding a place of worship to perform the ceremony?

SUNDAS: No, my local imam is more than happy to perform our ceremony. We will actually be holding the religious ceremony at my parents’ home.

Did you have any issues with regards to language barriers?

SUNDAS: I do feel that language barriers play a role in our relationship with our parents. Because I do not speak Vietnamese, I often wonder if Duy’s parents truly understand what I am trying to say, and if they feel the same way when they are talking to me. I am sometimes afraid to ask them to repeat themselves because I didn’t quite catch what they said and I do not want to offend them. Duy also has several members of his extended family who speak very little or no English. I do wish I could speak Vietnamese so that I could communicate with them.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

How did you decide on food catering?

DUY: We wanted our wedding to feel very casual, and I loved the idea of food trucks. I told Sundas about it and she was very excited about the idea. We have been trying several food trucks to find one that we both really like. We are also going to have a coffee bar because we both love coffee. We’re always trying to find new coffee spots around town, and our vision for our wedding is that people have a chance to get to know us through attending, so what better way to have them get to know us than by trying our favorite roast?

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

What traditions were you determined to have?

SUNDAS: I know I wanted to wear a Pakistani, Vietnamese, and American dress. I also knew I wanted to have henna done on my hands, so I booked an artist for that right away. We’ve talked to the bridesmaids and groomsmen about doing a choreographed dance, but we don’t want to force them to do anything they’re uncomfortable with. But other than that, I think our wedding planning has been fairly non-traditional (daytime ceremony, food trucks, Disney theme, etc.)

DUY: After attending several of my own family members’ marriages, I loved the idea of the tea ceremony being performed and I know my parents would love that to happen as well.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

How much of a say did your parents have?

SUNDAS: My parents have been super supportive of everything that I wanted to do. They’ve never really mentioned anything about having “a say” even though they are paying for our Pakistani/American fusion ceremony and reception. That being said, I do want to hear and honor their opinions- they have helped me pick everything thus far, including my dress, venue, and the food.

DUY: My parents initially wanted us to have a much more traditional style wedding that neither Sundas nor I were imagining our wedding to be. This disagreement eventually lead to us having several days so that each culture was represented in a manner that each family felt was needed.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

How did you decide on entertainment?

SUNDAS: We met in high school orchestra, and I’m an orchestra director now, so we knew that music would be an important part of our wedding. I knew I wanted live string orchestra music during the ceremony. We decided that we wanted to perform the duet from up called “Married Life” because Duy’s proposal was “Up” themed. We decided to do this in lieu of a first dance because PDA is really frowned upon in my family’s culture and we did not want to disrespect them. Also, since music is such an important part of our relationship, it is only fitting that it is included in our wedding!

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

Most stressful part of wedding planning?

SUNDAS: The most stressful part about wedding planning is hearing everyone’s opinions and trying to decide where you want to compromise to make others happy, and where you cannot budge because you had a vision for your own wedding. Its hard, because you don’t want to disappoint anyone in your family or your future spouse’s, but at the same time, it is YOUR wedding and you have your own ideas!

DUY: This has to be trying to appease everyone while maintaining our own vision of what we wanted our wedding to be.

Sundas and Duy's Multicultural Story

Advice you would give to other couples planning their multicultural – fusion – interfaith wedding?

SUNDAS: It really helps to have people to lean on for support-friends, coworkers, siblings, etc. Find those people in your life (they are there!). You would be surprised at how many people are willing to listen. Let everyone share their opinions, but remember that this is YOUR wedding and a celebration of YOUR love! One of my cousin’s gave me great advice for trying times through wedding planning- “Know that you can only make one person happy at a time during YOUR wedding planning- you have to decide in this particular moment, will it be yourself, or your spouse? Those are your only two choices.”

DUY: Always remember that marriage is a beautiful and amazing part of your life and that happiness is what you should surround yourself with. Communication is key whether it be between you and your future spouse, you and your own family, or you and your family to be. Learn that appeasing everyone at the same time may be impossible at times.
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Photography: Taylor Elizabeth Photography

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5 Comments

  • Reply Rich Howman March 31, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    I love these images – great urban backdrop too!

    • Raj
      Reply Raj April 2, 2017 at 8:42 am

      Thanks Rich!

  • Reply Hull Wedding Cars April 2, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    it is really important to have traditional culture events at your wedding because these are the natural customs.

  • Reply PParekh April 5, 2017 at 4:51 am

    Excellent post!! Even in India, Interfaith weddings are seen and there is nothing wrong in it. I loved the post and the images ! By this we can say that our world will actually respect each and every culture.

    • Raj
      Reply Raj April 5, 2017 at 8:11 am

      Thanks for your comment Parekh. You’re absolutely right, we need more people who think like you in this world 🙂

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