When Nemi Shah and Garrett Blumberg became friends at Georgetown University School of Medicine, what was most apparent was how much they had in common. Yet for all their similarities, when it came time to plan their wedding four years later, the honorable blending of their differences—Nemi is of Indian descent and Garrett is Jewish—was a top priority. Hailing from Florida (her) and California (him), they decided to marry in Dallas, where they’d couples-matched for residency and began their life together. “The one thing I had always wanted for my wedding was to be outside, with good friends and good wine,” says Nemi, who imagined an intimate secret garden amid the Nasher Sculpture Center’s lush surrounds. After a November 2, 2019, ceremony that combined the best parts from both their cultures, guests dined on Indian fusion fare and boogied to the Emerald City Band. And while work often has them going in opposite directions, it’s where the medically minded pair are going together—next stop, San Diego!—that counts.
The Best of Both Worlds
One of Nemi’s top priorities when planning her wedding was finding a way to incorporate customs from both her and Garrett’s backgrounds. In the midst of a 24-hour on-call shift, the busy bride-to-be began researching Jewish and Indian wedding traditions—and found a number of similarities. “I liked the idea of combining our cultures in a way that highlighted the parts that were similar,” she says. “I designed the ceremony to take the rituals from both cultures’ weddings that echoed the same themes.”
The pair married under what’s known as a chuppah in Judaism and a mandap in Indian tradition. The number seven—sanctified in both cultures—was incorporated through the Jewish tradition of Hakafot (circling each other seven times to provide protection) and the Indian ritual of Saptapadi (taking seven steps, each representing a sacred vow). Finally, they placed floral garlands around one another’s necks in an Indian ceremony called Jai Mala, while Garrett’s mother wrapped them in a tallit, a prayer shawl that symbolizes the love surrounding the new couple.
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