Tag Archive | "Marriage"

Marathon-ing After Marriage

Kesang Sherpa after finishing the 26.2-mile marathon

By Linda Ong

In mid-October, Kesang Sherpa rejoiced at her weddings in South Asia, but on Nov. 6, the Brooklyn resident celebrated what she now considers an even greater feat — completing her first marathon. Sherpa crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon in just under six hours.

“I wanted to do something for myself,” said Sherpa. “I’m really happy with how I did.”

Sherpa, dressed in a fluorescent green jersey and black running shorts, was one among 47,000 participants who ran the 26.2-mile route through Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan. Crowds lined the streets of the city, cheering on runners with words of support, waving brightly-colored signs with runners’ names, and clanking instruments when runners passed by. For Sherpa, her husband Sonam Ukyab, was her biggest fan. Throughout the day, Ukyab tracked Sherpa by checking “JoinIn,” a mobile application which allowed people to track runners on their phone.

“I’ve been following her all day,” said Ukyab, wearing a black parka jacket and jeans, with a camera in hand to document his wife’s accomplishment. “But, I was only able to see her at Long Island City and 87th Street and Fifth Ave.”

At both mile markers, Ukyab said that Sherpa looked fresh and energetic.

“She did well,” said Ukyab. “I’m so proud of her.”

In June, Sherpa began to train for the marathon alongside other runners who represented “Team For Kids,” a charity that provides low-cost or free school and community-based health and fitness programs to children in New York City. Sherpa said she was initially worried that she wouldn’t be able to raise enough money.

“I thought to myself- ‘how am I going to raise $2,600?’” she said. “But, from the support of family and friends, I collected about $3000.”

Three evenings a week, Sherpa practiced with other Team For Kids runners in Central Park. However, Sherpa had to take an abrupt break from her marathon preparation for not one, but two elaborate wedding ceremonies in South Asia.

“We married in traditional Tibetan culture — we wore chubas,” she said referring to a traditional Tibetan robe that is bound around the waist by a long sash. “The prayer ceremony that precedes the reception, itself, lasted about four hours.”

In early October, the newlyweds had one reception in Darjeeling, India, where Sherpa’s family resides, and another in Nepal, where Ukyab’s family is originally from.

“We flew back to New York City right after,” she said. “But, I missed three critical weeks of training.”

Due to this gap in training and pre-existing knee problems, Sherpa said she was nervous in the days leading to the Sunday’s marathon. Overall, she said she is satisfied with her performance, and that Michelle Blake, her friend and running partner, provided Sherpa with much support. It was only after two-thirds into the marathon that Sherpa said she felt challenged the most.

“Once I hit mile 20, I thought to myself: ‘I have mile 21, 22, 23… it’s never going to end,” she said. “I asked my friend Michelle, ‘Can we walk?’ But, she encouraged me to keep going.”

At around 5:15 p.m., Sherpa crossed the finish line and Ukyab and her family were waiting to congratulate her.

“It’s motivational watching Kesang, especially for her nieces and nephews,” said Lakpa Sherpa, Sherpa’s cousin, who donated towards Sherpa’s fundraising goal for Team For Kids. Lakpa came with her children towards the end of the race to embrace her cousin. “She’s the only runner in the family, so it’s important.”

The newlyweds said they are considering running the marathon together as a couple in the future.

“We have never done that before- we might start fighting,” said Ukyab, laughing. “But, I know it would be fun.”




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The Recession: No Match For Fusion Weddings

By Sarah Laing

The date had been carefully chosen by an astrologer for optimal good fortune. The bride wore red. The groom arrived on a horse. There were 700 guests, wined, dined and entertained over four days of ceremonies, parties and meals of table-groaning proportions. The final bill would top six figures, footed by the bride’s father.

For Preeti Nanvaan, this is a “pretty typical wedding”. But in an age where a CNN Money poll reports the average American wedding has 100 guests and costs $25,000, Nanvaan is clearly no ordinary wedding planner.

That’s because Nanvaan is referring to a typical Indian wedding, an adjective that makes all the difference when it comes to nuptial size and scale.

“Indian weddings are all about the formality, the color and the pageantry. Back in India, it would have been an open invitation to the whole village, so in America they’re actually pretty scaled back,” said Nanvaan.

Preeti Nanvaan, 33, has been working with New York’s South Asian brides for the past seven years. Born in America, she grew up in a traditional Indian home. She says this was the best training she could have had before founding her company, Preeti Exclusive Creations.

“Indian brides today are trying to find that happy medium – keeping traditions they value but also having the modern wedding of their dreams,” said Nanvaan.

Achieving that old world / new world balance is Nanvaan’s specialty, what she calls “East meets West fusion”. To achieve this, Nanvaan focuses on the bride and groom’s personalities, and works with them to find innovative twists on cherished customs.

Namrata Shah was one such bride. Working with Nanvaan, Shah and her now-husband had a very traditional temple ceremony, followed by a reception at Cipriani on Wall St, which included cigar rollers and a desert bar. Shah always knew she wanted a wedding inspired by the over-the-top sparkle and spectacle of a Bollywood musical, and strove to combine contemporary glamour with a strong grounding in Indian culture. She found Nanvaan invaluable in making this “modern-day fairytale” a reality.

“I really loved when Preeti made us walk over and made sure we got some cotton candy. If she had not done that, I’m not sure I would have gotten to enjoy my own candy bar!” said Shah.

For Nanvaan, these kind of moments that define her job. She makes sure vendors arrive on time, and deliver what they promised. She stuffs envelopes with invitations, books hotel rooms and herds guests from event to event. She even soothes the raging Bridezilla, often playing amateur therapist.

“I had one bride who was really upset her parents weren’t attending because she was marrying outside of her culture. We had long conversations at 11 o’clock at night – I was her counselor,” said Nanvaan.

Nanvaan charges according to the level of involvement required of her and her staff. A late-stage entry into the process, where the couple merely requires logistical help on the day costs roughly $3,000. The number rises according to guest count and the intricacy of the events planned. Nanvaan has delivered several final invoices over $50,000.

Wedding planning is a seasonal business, lasting from March to October, during which Nanvaan can have a wedding every weekend. An average year of work nets earns her about $70,000.

The recession has affected Nanvaan’s business, although the importance of weddings in Indian culture has helped cushion her bottom line.

“Weddings are certainly getting smaller, and there are more laid off brides who have the time to plan,” said Nanvaan. “People consider the DJ and the caterer to be essentials. A wedding planner is a luxury.”

For some brides, like Debbie Barreto, a wedding planner’s services remain essential.

Barreto can remember the feeling of panic she felt when she attended a wedding expo, overwhelmed by all the options. Barreto had the special challenge: she was Punjabi, her fiancé was Puerto Rican.

Enter Nanvaan, and her specialization in optimizing compromise. Her key to nuptial bliss is negotiating cultural common ground.

For Barreto’s wedding, this meant lots of alcohol, and great food – think arroz con pollo served alongside biryani. And of course, red accents galore, a color considered lucky in both cultures.

“The dance floor at this wedding was a real party – it went from salsa to bangarah, merengue to Bollywood,” recalls Nanvaan.

The wedding industry in New York’s South Asian community is seemingly as convivial. Nanvaan regularly lunches with her major competitors, and refers clients their way often. Priyanka Prakash, of Fifth Avenue Events, a relative newbie, speaks highly of planners like Nanvaan “at the top of their game”.

Maybe Preeti Nanvaan’s success lies once again in the details. When she plans a wedding, the service doesn’t end with the honeymoon send off.

“I always wish all my couples a happy anniversary, every year, whether it’s a card or a text,” said Nanvaan.




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At a Manhattan Bridal Garden, Customers Purchase Wedding Gowns for Charity

One bridal store in Manhattan sells designer gowns for half the price. It sounds like a bride’s dream- almost too good be to true. Olivia Smith reports. Produced by Eleonore Hamelin.

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Video: A Chinese Wedding Photoshoot, Months Before the Wedding Day

Many consider it to be bad luck if a groom sees a bride’s wedding dress before the wedding day. Chinese brides have no such concern — engaged couples take photos in tuxedo and wedding gown months before the ceremony. John Light reports from a Chinese photo studio in Flushing.

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