Their Own Private India – Idaho Style
Photography: Rachel Robertson
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Born in New Delhi, Gurmeet moved to the U.S. at age five, and lived in New Mexico until he returned to India for high school. Dev, born in Tucson to American Sikh parents, left New Mexico for India at age seven with her three sisters to learn the culture and the language.
The couple joke now that despite their roots, their formative years have made Dev more Indian than Gurmeet.
Once they returned to college stateside, the couple experimented with dating others, “but I always asked myself what more could I want in a relationship?” Gurmeet says. “I was dumbfounded for an answer.”
Dev agrees. “Seeing other relationships that didn’t work, we realized how lucky we were.”
A vacation in a backcountry yurt north of Ketchum under a New Year’s full moon convinced the pair to settle here. Gurmeet took a job with Marketron and Dev freelanced her photography while working for The Community School and The Wood River Journal. After a decade of courtship, they decided it was time to marry and build a family.
It was difficult to decide how to incorporate their diverse backgrounds into their wedding. The pair’s union had added familial significance as they would be the first among their respective siblings to marry.
“We weren’t sure about having such an elaborate Indian wedding,” Gurmeet says, “but then my mother started to explain why an Indian wedding would be so special.”
“The wedding is not about the two of you,” said Kulwant Kaur Singh.
“It is a union of our families.”
The pair were convinced, and gradually became excited by the uniqueness of the impending ceremony.
“This would be a normal sight in New Mexico,” Dev says. “But we thought an Indian wedding in Idaho would be a kick.”
As she had over the years, Dev’s mom, Hans Mukh Kaur Khalsa, kept the couple grounded and focused while helping Gurmeet’s mom round up the countless symbolic items needed for the marriage, and outlining the roles each family member would play.
Now it was time for the curtain to rise, and after retrieving his shoes, Gurmeet was ready. He met his relatives in Roberta McKercher Park to mount his horse. As is the custom, the youngest male relative—in this case five-year-old Rehan Singh—rode along, bringing all the enthusiasm of youth.
Cars slowed and cell phones were thrust out of windows to snap pictures of the unusual parade through Hailey.
At the inn’s gate, Gurmeet again had to get around Dev’s sisters, who danced teasingly on the opposite side of the fence, asking what he had brought for them in exchange for their approval. He wooed them with jewelry and they slowly opened the gate.
Guests removed their shoes and covered their heads in silk scarves as they entered the inn, where an elaborate series of prayers, movements, and exchanges would take place. As part of the ceremony, Dev’s father would place one end of a shawl on Gurmeet’s shoulder and the other in Dev’s hand to signify his blessing.
In a nod to their American culture, the couple shared vows later in the day, officiated by longtime friend and minister, Carolyn Precourt.
While spirited, sitar-tinged Indian music wafted across the lawn at the morning ceremony, and guests enjoyed the vegetarian lunch prepared by an Indian chef, the afternoon entertainment was spun by local fave, Eboni Iz Jammin’ and featured a dinner of savory items prepared by caterer Lauren Carr. Hailey’s Tara Bella created the floral design, with bowls of gerbera daisies on the tables, and arches and pathways lined with flowers.
Sitting in their Woodside home six months later, the pair mused that they had accomplished everything they had hoped.
“Both events defined us,” Dev says.
“We wanted to pay respect to our shared culture,” adds Gurmeet. “If Dev hadn’t been sent to India to learn about her Sikh heritage, I never would have met her.”
Jennifer Liebrum and her clan were honored to be guests at this lively and love-filled celebration of two people they adore.