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A Queer Indian Filipino Wedding Day – Cole and Shilpa

A Queer Indian Filipino Wedding Day – Cole and Shilpa

Multicultural Indian Filipino Lesbian Queer Wedding at Barr Mansion in Austin Texas captured by Riley Glenn Photography

Blending their Indian and Filipino cultures together, Cole and Shilpa incorporated Havan and Haldi traditions into their ceremony to make it truly unique.

Tell us about the proposal.

Cole had worked on the wedding ring for quite some time with designer Aimee Kennedy who specialized in recycling gold and stones. She is the designer of a ring that caught our eyes on the Hallmark TV show, The Good Witch. After securing the ring, Cole wanted to ensure the day was perfect for the proposal. However, they were so nervous that they ended up locking Shilpa out of the house during an interview!

Nonetheless, Cole had called in their best friend to set up a zoom meeting with Shilpa’s sister and closest friends. They picked up their favorite food (no dining in thanks to COVID), and Cole sang the song, “Ek Ladka ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga,” from the new movie featuring a beautiful story of acceptance in a South Asian family for their lesbian daughter. After the song, Cole brought out the ring that was disguised as a Christmas tree ornament hanging on the tree and asked Shilpa to marry them. Shilpa definitely thought she was getting another puppy but was still very excited to take the next step with Cole. 

There was a little pre-wedding stress, tell us about it.

ALL of the insanely delayed delivery times were so stressful.

Shilpa’s Mangalsutra from India was delivered at 2 pm THE DAY OF THE WEDDING, 1 hour before the ceremony began. Our Mahal Kita (means I love you in Tagalog) neon sign was delivered at 7 pm THE NIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING, which went behind our sweetheart table.

Our baraat outfits (also from India) came in the week of the wedding, and thank goodness – no alterations were needed. With COVID, customs (going out of India and into the US), there were so many moments we thought we weren’t going actually to have what we needed for our weekend.

What was the inspiration behind the vibe of your wedding?

Our wedding vibe was definitely modern/DIY/queer Bridgerton. We adore the show, and Cole is a massive fan of historical drama. We loved the show’s music, colors, and elegance and wanted to incorporate that into our day! So we included moody furniture pieces, staged photos, and elegantly modern yet classical music.

Did you undertake any DIY projects for the big day?

Yes! We worked really hard to ensure that the vendors we supported were local, women, or queer owned. For example, we handpicked our flowers from a local flower shop, and both of our Aunts made the flower arrangements for the day, including our Jai Malas. Our gifts were golden tea cups and saucers from an antique fair we meandered through in Fredericksburg, TX, that our local garden shop made into succulent teacup treasures. We also repurposed, thrifted, or re-used items to lessen the impact on the environment. For example, Cole’s wedding 1940s suit was thrifted from a vintage pop-up, and Shilpa’s wedding dress was purchased from Second Summer, which specializes in pre-owned gowns. In addition, our cousin painted and wrote the names of each of our guests for their seating arrangements, and Cole made their own boutonnieres for their wedding crew.  

Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.

Cole took inspiration from Anthony and Colin’s outfits in Bridgerton. They wore a 1940’s suit jacket, a high-necked shirt, gold shoulder chain, cravat, and side-laced black shoes. The outfit was perfect but needed to be altered to Cole’s size and body shape. Clothes fitting the way they like them to fit is always challenging, and funny enough, Cole’s original tailor didn’t finish the outfit on time. So they had to take it to another tailor the night before the wedding to be finished!! 

Shilpa, three days before her big sister’s wedding, went wedding dress shopping, and of course, the gown was on a mannequin, ready to be tried on. She was the first to wear it down the aisle and even try it on in the store. The golden and antique hues perfectly complemented the copper tones of her skin and eyes.  

Talk to us about the big day! 

Our wedding day was magical and seemed to go by so fast! That week in December was full of rainy and cloudy days, but our wedding day was perfect, with sunny and clear skies. We were lucky that none of our family or friends were impacted by COVID and that we were throwing the event just before the Delta variant would spread across the world just a few weeks later. Shilpa shuttled over to the venue earlier than Cole, in a fabulous party shuttle courtesy of Austin Choice Limo, to take photos before Cole arrived. Cole came later with the two pups and their crew and the events started to roll smoothly into each other. 

First, we kicked off the celebrations with our Baraat, starting at opposite ends and dancing toward each other on horseback! Then, Cole led the finely dressed party guests into the building while Shilpa changed into her wedding dress. Everyone walking down the aisle was immaculately dressed and took to their spots perfectly in the ceremony. Samir, our cousin/officiant, conducted a beautiful and heartfelt ceremony incorporating our loved ones. 

After the ceremony, guests grabbed our signature cocktails and mingled with Barr Mansion apps while we took epic photos on the property. Later, we enjoyed our first dance in the ballroom and danced the night away while cutting the cake, playing the shoe game, money dance, and other shenanigans. Finally, we were sent off with everyone holding a sparkler! BEST DAY EVER!

What are your favorite moments?
  1. The baraat! How often do you see a queer Punjabi girl dancing her heart out to their almost spouse on a horse?! The sun came out, Shilpa’s grandma looking down on the two of them, and it was the PERFECT thing. 
  2. The ceremony! I mean how can we not list it? We had one of our favorite people wed us, the person who brought Cole and Shilpa into each other’s worlds, wrote beautiful words for us, and we got to include our family and friends in the vows we made towards each other. It was a beautiful, unique, and amazing moment. 
  3. THE DANCE FLOOR!!! Any time you’re looking for us – that’s where you’ll find us! Gettin’ down, singing, jumping, drinking bottles of champagne, laughing, and having the times of our lives!
Do you have a stand-out vendor?

Definitely our photographer, Riley Glenn! Not only is Riley’s work incredible, she immersed herself in our events which helped everyone feel comfortable and fall absolutely in love with her. In addition, she went out of her way to become a part of our community, even dressing in traditional South Asian wear and helping set up a complicated entrance sign. Her work will always have a lasting impression on our friends and family as they continue to see her photos of our special day around our home. Also, She was so organized that it inspired us/pushed us to be better prepared for our wedding logistics. 

Did you incorporate any family or religious traditions into the day?

Yes! Many of them! 

  1. The day before the wedding, we held a Havan and Haldi ceremony. A Havan is a type of Hindu prayer, led by Samir Trehan, our officiant and lifelong chosen family, to wish Cole and Shilpa all the good things in the world, to protect us from evil things and thoughts, and to make sure our energy and spirit are cleansed before taking on the next chapter of our lives. The Haldi is an opportunity for our friends and family to mark us with a skin cleanser, so we are ready for the big day! It is typically a mixture made with Haldi (or turmeric), but Cole and Shilpa were both allergic to that mix – so we used a ridiculously expensive organic mask from the spa! Our cousin, Komal, made a TikTok that summarized that part which you can check out here
  2. After the Havan and Haldi, Shilpa had her chooda put on by her grandpa. These are the red and gold bangles that she continued to wear 40 days after the wedding day (never taking them off) as a symbol of continuing the well-wishes and ausparity into their newlywed lives. 
  3. During the ceremony, we incorporated many aspects of Filipino culture like having sponsors declare their support of our love, the lighting of the unity candle, we had the veil and cord symbolizing unity and an unbreakable bond, we had the 13 coins not just pass from Cole to Shilpa, but back from Shilpa to Cole, as a promise that we will do what we can to give each other a rich life filled abundance – an abundance of care, love, affection, and everything else good in the world. 
  4. During the ceremony, we also incorporated many aspects of Indian culture, like having Jai Malas we put around each other’s neck, also a symbol of unity. We included a few prayers in Sanskrit declaring the union and happiness. Cole put a Mangalsutra around Shilpa’s neck that she’s not yet taken off – as a symbol of their unity and to protect them from the evil eye, hence the black beads on it. Cole also put red sindoor in the middle of Shilpa’s part in her hair as another symbol of their new wedded life. 
What does marriage mean to you?

As people who are pretty radical in their thinking, marriage has, and we believe, will continue to take many definitions, meanings, and experiences. Marriage to us means we get to share our love not just with each other but with the people in our communities. It was an opportunity to bring our families and friends together and truly celebrate what it means to be in our community.

We often look back at the day and are in disbelief at the unwavering support we had from our family and friends who just LOVE our LOVE for what it is. A love that is pure, genuine, thoughtful, and lasting. Part of the disbelief is because we didn’t always have this support – as you can imagine coming out to Shilpa’s family wasn’t necessarily a walk in the park. As one of the first people out in her family, it caused a lot of hurt, pain, and isolation for them and for us. But, with a few key pillars like Shilpa’s sister, aunt, and cousins – the rest of the family turned a new leaf over the course of the past several years. This growth and journey that led us to now being married – is a true gift. Marriage is being each other’s family for forever, always, and for everything in between.

Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

As a queer #Indipino couple, we are honored to be featured and to share our story. On the surface, it can look and feel like everything was picture perfect (because our photographs are perfect), but it took us six years to get to this. A LOT of what ifs, conversations, discussions, arguments, and disagreements led us to being as close as we’ve ever been. Figuring out how to continue to be us in a pandemic, in a state that is the most threatening to Queer, Trans, and Non-binary people, through hurtful comments and people who judge without reason. But, we’ve found community, love, and support, which will always outweigh the rest. This is just a reminder for anyone reading this that if you genuinely love someone and you are good for one another – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise AND if anyone tries to take control of your wedding – take that shit back… it’s about YOU (the ones getting married). 


Dancing With Her Recommended Vendor
Photography by Riley Glenn Photography

Riley Glenn Photography is a Lesbian and Gay wedding photographer in Austin Texas Vendor website tile

Accessories Olive + Piper 
Cake & Venue Barr Mansion
Dholi Dholi Anuradha
Dress Second Summer Bridals, Badgley Mischka 
H&MU Bonita Brides
Horses Fantasia Carriage
Officiant Samir Trehan 
Rings Aimee Kennedy, Score Custom Jewelry 
Shoes Antonio Melani Cole – Leatherable 
Suit Vintage 1940s Blazer
Videographer Double Knot Pictures

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Dancing With Her acknowledges the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this nation. We acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people whose Land on which our company is located and where we primarily conduct our business. We pay our respects to Ancestors and Elders, past, present and emerging. Dancing With Her is committed to honoring Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, waters and seas and their rich contribution to society.

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