TAKING THEIR TIME
Icelyn and Sita’s love story has had so many dimensions. It all began 11 years ago, when they met through a mutual friend at a Caribbean basement party in Brooklyn. “Her smile and beauty captivated me from across the dance floor,” Sita remembers. Sparks flew and weeks of passion followed. But the timing wasn’t right. So they cooled things down and tried to be just friends. Eventually, Icelyn and Sita realized that they were meant to be, but it took seven years until they got to the point of “deciding to go on a journey together,” which ultimately led to their marriage in August 2013.
Although Icelyn and Sita come from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, they still find plenty of common ground. As the couple simply puts it: “We are so different, yet the same.” Icelyn comes from a Jamaican/Nigerian ethnicity, whereas Sita is of Indian/Trinidadian heritage. They are also quite different in their practicing religions of Christianity and Hinduism. “Though we come from different backgrounds and upbringings we both have a love of music and a passion for our own management professions,” they say. Icelyn, 34, is a hotel manager of a global brand, while Sita, 36, is a VP and branch manager of a Fortune 500 company. Apart from this shared career-driven mindset, they obviously share many joys in their relationship—and in each other. Sita’s favorite thing about Icelyn is her captivating personality. “No matter where Icelyn goes, people are drawn to her. She is the warmest, most caring person [I have] ever encountered,” says Sita. Icelyn’s favorite quality in Sita is her divergent view on life. “Sita and I are opposite in ethnicity, religion and upbringing. Because of that, we see and take the world on differently, due to our life experiences. Sita has a way of allowing me to see people and the world in a different way. This has allowed me to continue to grow in a way I’ve never imagined,” says Icelyn.
The couple got engaged nearly four years ago. With Icelyn’s family’s blessings, Sita surprised Icelyn with a proposal in April 2011. As luck would have it, New York State passed the Marriage Equality Act later that year. “This allowed us to plan the wedding of our dreams. We did not want to skip on any experiences leading up to our nuptials.” When they had an engagement dinner in February 2012, their family members and closest friends came together for the first time. Not surprisingly, that was a momentous event for the couple. “This was one of the most important moments in our lives because it was the first time our families saw how many people supported our relationship,” they explain. “We come from a Caribbean background, where homosexuality is not accepted. The biggest driver of the acceptance was because, individually, we both are very family-oriented. Family is extremely important to us, and we take the time to nurture those relationships. From that moment on, we felt a different level of respect and acceptance of our relationship from our family and friends.”
Icelyn and Sita wanted to be very traditional in their wedding plans, which was (and still is) challenging for same-sex couples, even in New York City. In a city known for its diversity—and a state that was the seventh to legalize gay marriage—Icelyn and Sita thought it would be simple to get married traditionally within their cultures. But this was not the case. When it came to planning their wedding, they found themselves challenged right to the end.
Part of the overall challenge involved logistics. “Hindu weddings are traditionally several days long with many different rituals,” Sita explains. “We had family and friends coming from all over the world to attend our wedding, so to accommodate everyone we decided to combine our two wedding ceremonies into one day. This was going to be very complicated to accomplish two full weddings in one day!” And the logistics were just the beginning. “We had challenges every single step of the way,” Sita continues. “With so many gay marriages happening in NYC, we didn’t expect the challenges ahead of us…”
Then there was the not-so-simple matter of getting the wedding officiants to marry them. “We needed to find a Baptist minister and a Hindu pundit. After much Googling, we could not find those specific types of officiants. Every Baptist church [and] minister we approached turned us down or the board of the church would not approve,” they tell us. A friend recommended the couple to a Baptist church in Brooklyn that has a large gay following, but that didn’t pan out. “The church stated that gays were allowed to worship, as they don’t turn anyone away, but they don’t believe in performing same sex marriages,” they say. “Months went by and still we were told no so many times from both Hindu pundits and Baptist pastors, we thought the wedding wouldn’t go on.” Finally, with less than a month before their proposed wedding date, a pundit referred by a close friend agreed to perform their Hindu wedding. “My mother being there every step of the way supporting me helped with the pundit agreeing to perform our ceremony,” says Sita. “We had to then go with a non-denominational minister for the Christian ceremony. Icelyn was never able to get any Baptist minister to agree to marry us.”
IT TAKES TWO
Even if it wasn’t exactly the Hindu/Baptist wedding they’d originally intended, Icelyn and Sita tied the knot in two separate wedding ceremonies in one day to honor their individual heritages and religions. The brides felt blessed by the attendance of their family and friends who came to witness their union. After a beautiful bridal shower in Battery Park at the harborside restaurant Battery Gardens, their wedding took place at the Inn at New Hyde Park, a Long Island venue they found “breathtaking and amazing.” And how would they describe a wedding with two brides, two mothers of the brides, two involved families, two separate wedding parties and two wedding ceremonies back- to-back? According to them, it was complete mayhem. “From glam squads running back and forth to two different bridal suites to missing dresses, Icelyn was so stressed out…” Sita recalls. After the actual ceremonies began, though, everything fell into place. “Once my song started (‘Endless Love’ by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross) all the chaos was behind me and I was walking [down the aisle] to marry the love of my life,” Icelyn remembers. The nuptials included both their mothers in a touching candle-lighting ceremony to symbolize the joining of their two families. After a wonderfully multicultural reception, with a Hindu-designed cake and a money spray dance (a traditional Nigerian wedding custom) the couple was ready to start their honeymoon in Hawaii!
A BRIGHT FUTURE
It’s amazing that these two strong and beautiful women from immigrant families have overcome obstacles, brought together their divergent cultures and created everlasting love in the face of many challenges. “[We] are blessed to be Americans that can have the opportunity to have a legal marriage in its fullest,” they say. “We have friends in the Caribbean that are unable to live their lives freely…who had to flee their country with their lives at stake due to their sexuality.”
So what does the future hold for this happy couple? For starters, they’re starting a family of their own and buying a house together. They’d also like to own a business and achieve financial independence, in order to retire early and enjoy life more. They’re also believers in giving back to the community; both find time to volunteer for NYC Pride.
Icelyn and Sita’s love story is such a beautiful one, full of pure heartwarming magic and true inspiration. We hope their story lasts forever.
TAKING THEIR TIME