As part of our community series, we’re hoping to connect you with all-around badasses in the South Asian community. This time we're doing a couple spotilght. We've interviewed our beautiful customer, Liz Gilman, who is here to share the story about how she met her husband Mike.
At LUKH, diversity of thought, culture, identity, etc. is what inspires us everyday. We hope to share inspiring stories and helpful resources to continue fostering this inclusion in our community.
How did you two meet?
Mike and I met back in 2014 over a summer break in college! We worked in two different restaurants under the same management - he worked at the craft beer and wings restaurant and I worked at the sushi and martini restaurant. The staff of the two restaurants would get together every week for a Sunday Funday. We have been inseparable ever since!
What type of couple are you?
I mean there really is no other way to describe Mike than my best friend. We love spending time outdoors: we've been fly fishing together for the past year, and love taking our dogs for hikes! I actually faked him out with our first look and wore my fly fishing gear out! We're also huge foodies, so we're always on the hunt for great places to visit and most importantly, eat. Mike loves Indian food too, so always trying to find a good saag gosht everywhere we go!
How did you tell your family you two were dating?
Mike was actually the first boy I ever told my family about! He asked me out on a date and I called my mom immediately because something felt different about him. About a month later I brought him on our vacation to introduce him to my family.
How did your family respond when you started dating? Were there any challenges? How did that change over time?
I think because he was the first boy I introduced my family to, my brothers we're a little skeptical haha they individually grilled him to figure out what he was about. I had some extended family that gave me a hard time because he is white, but I had no patience for that. I think for the most part everyone came around once they got to know him. He is really respectful of our culture: he calls my family by their Indian respective titles (Ammamma, Mama, Daddy, Anna, Akka, etc) and took the time to understand our cultural differences.
Tell us about your proposal story.
Mike is a little extra so he does everything big, and I'm a little aloof so I totally didn't catch on to anything haha After I graduated from college, we went to Jamaica for his dad and stepmom's 10 year anniversary. While we were out there, he planned a surprise candle light dinner for the two of us out on the beach. The sun was setting, there was a photographer, and I was totally not getting it! We had joked about proposing to each other so many times that when he got down on one knee, I pushed him and said "stop" because this wouldn't be a funny place to joke about it. To this day, we don't think I ever actually said yes!
What type of wedding did you have? What what inspired it?
We had a lot of traditional Indian elements to the wedding, but overall we wanted the wedding to be almost like a big reunion for all our friends and family. We kept it at 90 people and wouldn't have wanted it any bigger than that. It was the perfect number - we were actually able to spend time dancing and catching up with everyone! It was really important to me to have a lot of tradition in our wedding. I am the one of three kids, and the only daughter so I wanted to make sure my parents knew how important our culture is to me and that I plan on continuing these traditions. I wore a lengha for the ceremony that was made from the saree my mama wore at her wedding, and Mike's ring is made from my Ammamma's wedding bangles!
I also wanted to break a few of the "norms". I didn't like the whole idea of being "given" to the groom, so we had our officiant ask "who presents this couple" instead and all our parents got to chime in. I also had both my parents walk me down the aisle and both of them gave toasts.
How did you help your friends/family of different backgrounds feel culturally included at your wedding?
I invited my bridesmaids, Mike's family, and his groomsmens' girlfriends and wives to be part of getting henna done and also had them come to my Haldi Ceremony. It was really important to me to invite them into this part of my life! Mike had his Haldi Ceremony too and it was so beautiful to share that with him. I know it meant so much to me and my family.
Now looking back, is there anything you wish would have known or done differently?
The only thing I would go back and do differently would be having a wedding planner, at least for the day of. It would have been so great to just pass the baton to someone else for the day haha
Are there any words of wisdom or guidance you'd like to offer to other mixed couples?
Remember that you are blending families and if your culture is important to you, don't sacrifice that! I didn't realize it when we first started dating, but as we grew closer I saw how unbelievably important it was that Mike took the time to not only understand our culture, but fully immerse himself in it. I think another huge thing is to not let your family or other people in the Asian community shame you for marrying someone outside of the community. It doesn't make you "less Indian" for doing so. There will always be people talking behind your back, but if they don't support you being happy - are they really the kind of people you want in your life?
photos by @ronyriverx