A Celebration of Love

December 23, 2019 / Saanya Pherwani


“‘Still’, Morrie said, ‘there are a few rules I know to be true about love. If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble... And the biggest one of those values, Mitch? Your belief in the importance of marriage and weddings.’”
— Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

It is somewhat impossible to imagine popular culture without weddings. Weddings are romanticized depictions of commitment and devotion, which the world, like Albom, places a lot of importance on. Growing up, my first encounter with weddings was when I watched my parents’ wedding video from 1995. Like an antique montage, the wedding tape brought 90s Mumbai to life; in the chaos of the wedding, I could see an entire city. My mother, adorned in heavy jewelry, makeup, and traditional Indian attire, confidently smiling at the invitees, was a modern-day bride. My father in his wedding suit stood somewhat in the background; yet, he perfectly complemented my mother. Occasionally, the camera would catch my parents stealing glances and shyly smiling at each other.

After that, weddings crept into every literary passage I read or movie I watched. Conveniently, I chose to ignore the history of weddings and their basis in economics over love. Imagining that weddings were anything other than a fusion of two cultures seemed disdainful to what I was used to. Instead, I sought to explore weddings across different cultures and imagine that all of them led to love. I decided that apart from love, people’s belief in commitment, fertility, and stories unite weddings.


I have always thought of commitment as couples’ unspoken devotion to each other, making it ironic that so many wedding traditions honor commitment through elaborate symbols. Yet, these symbols constantly remind couples that love is a decision, and every relationship requires mindful effort.

The first of many symbols for commitment is a wedding ring, a universal sign to the world that the wearer is committed. To the wearer, the ring serves as a tangible reminder of their marriage and promises. Rings are also symbolic of the nature of love. The circular design signifies that this commitment must never come to an end. Yet, if, like the couple’s lifelong bond, the ring’s shine wears off, it can be cleaned and polished.

However, elaborate gift-giving is not a consistent part of my parents’ 24-year marriage. Like in most South Asian relationships, love is often feltmore than it is expressed. Instead of symbolizing their commitment to one another, my parents often seep it into their routine. Every Sunday, my mother cooks my father’s favorite dish. Every Sunday, my father acts surprised. Nineteen years after observing this, I now realize that my parents’ weekly exchange both breaks societal norms of suppressing love and sticks to the norms by making love seem so routinely. Maybe, that is exactly what commitment is about.


Since the beginning of time, we have explored and glorified reproduction. Our questions, assumptions, and thoughts about fertility are clearly observable in ancient myths and civilizations. Therefore, fertility and marriage represent two of the most important themes in human history and are likely to be intertwined. However, an interesting symbol unites weddings across the world in depicting fertility‒ food.

Similar to a wedding ring, the most popular way to wish fertility upon the married couple is by throwing rice their way. The ancient Romans started this custom, gradually making rice a universal symbol of fertility. But, other cultures use food items prominent in their culture. For example, Italian weddings end with candy and sugared nuts thrown at the couples, while Moroccan weddings end with raisins. Furthermore, one of the most noticeable symbols of a wedding is the wedding cake, which originated as a way to ensure fertility.

Cultures across the world have elaborate food rituals woven into the ceremony itself to mark the matrimonial milestone. Given the importance and scarcity of food when these rituals originated, wedding feasts symbolized opulence and fertility. In recent times, these diverse symbols convey optimism for the future.


You can argue that much of the human experience is worthless without stories connecting people. At weddings, stories help the audience relate to the couple’s journey, making it more compelling and personal.

Most couples use wedding photographs to convey this story. Extensively elaborate shoots capture subtle events in the couple’s life. Given the universality and power of photography and its vast commercial market, a fair assumption generalizes wedding photography across cultures. However, in reality, each culture desires something photographically unique to convey its story. In my parents’ wedding and many other Asian weddings, the photographic focus is often on the family.

The color palette in wedding photography, decor, and dresses also richly contributes to the story. The color white is symbolic to traditional western weddings, a color I associate with tradition. While the color red symbolizes prosperity in Chinese traditions and is considered auspicious in Hinduism. On the other hand, sociocultural influences from several neighboring cultures help create a mixed color palette in Turkish weddings. Often, color palettes help show the couple’s reverence to each of their traditions.

The relevance of stories at weddings helps explain how cultures reinforce societal norms. Similar to symbols of commitment, through stories, we can preserve our history, which is why many century-old wedding traditions are still practiced. Yet, at the same time, through stories, couples can convey that their love transcends conventional societal boundaries.

To me, weddings are a resplendent blend of the old and new, and unity and diversity. Despite the differences in languages, rituals, and customs in the world, weddings are united in the themes they convey. Like my parents’ wedding, each one is a celebration of love, and I like to think that that’s what life is about.

Writer: Saanya Pherwani

Andrew Zhao

Jeanette Hoelscher & Cruz Rendon

Mariam Ali

Sophia Santos
ABOUT                  CONTACT                 STAFF                FAQ                 ISSUU