Senior Op-Ed: Changes in My Life Between Two Family Weddings


Verma attended her cousin Brett’s wedding in July 2022. Photo: Zoe Verma ’23.

When I was younger, there was nothing I enjoyed more than seeing my extended family. I would race into my grandparents’ house, waiting to be welcomed by the smells of my aunts’ cooking or the yells of my cousins playing football in the house. But things are different now. Things have changed. And one place I felt this difference was in two of my cousins’ weddings, one of which was in June 2019 and the other in July 2022. And in between these two weddings, so much changed. 

My cousin Sunil was married in a small Pennsylvania town in June 2019 to his now wife, Greta. My siblings and I got to be in the wedding party, and we met all of our cousins’ friends and family at the event. The wedding was the perfect amalgamation of my family’s Indian culture and Greta’s American culture from Pennsylvania. There was both a Hindu ceremony and a Christian ceremony, we wore both saris and bridesmaids dresses as members of the wedding party and the reception offered Indian and American food, playing both Indian and American songs. My cousins and I, all of whom are Indian, even got to perform a dance for the bride and groom, allowing us to spread our culture to Greta’s family. 

This wedding was truly a blast. Zero complaints. All nine of us Verma cousins were there, along with my grandfather, aunts and uncles. Everyone just had a great time. There was, of course, the typical drunk uncle who proceeded to put a glass full of scotch on his head and dance around with it, trying to see if it would drop. And it didn’t! So all good! And then there was my uncle jumping on my cousin’s back and making them both fall flat to the ground, grinding the wedding to a brief, terrified halt. But everyone was fine! So, all is well! And then there was the fact that half of my cousins forgot their entire dance. But the girls did well, so it’s ok! And everyone had a good time. So all good, right? Not necessarily.  

Between June 2019 and July 2022, too much changed. My brain hurts. It is hard to come to terms with all of these changes that have occurred in an environment that was so stable for so much of my upbringing. For one, my cousins have started having kids. Wonderful. No, really, wonderful! I love kids, so it is nice to have babies in the family. But it also changes the dynamic. I grew up with my cousins as ridiculous teenagers and young adults, and now two of them are fathers, one of them a father to two children. Not only that, but our grandfather continues to grow older. As I write this, in just a few days, he will be 91. We are all very thankful that he has made it this far, but it is hard to watch him struggle sometimes, especially when we know he wants to be involved. Finally, one of my cousins — arguably the cousin that I was closest with for the first 15 years of my life — I simply do not talk to anymore. I have not talked to him for almost 20 months. Why, you ask? I do not know. I have no answers. But all I know is that it absolutely changed the dynamic of my next cousin’s wedding. Oh why, you ask? Because he was not there. 

My cousin Brett married his now wife Kayla in Honolulu, Hawaii last July. It was an absolutely incredible experience, as we traveled to Hawaii, met her family, explored the culture, and had a family wedding! Just like Sunil’s wedding, Brett’s wedding was the perfect amalgamation of different cultures. There was a Hindu ceremony a few months before the actual wedding, and then there were Indian, American, Hawaiian and Chinese elements to the entire wedding, as Kayla is Chinese-Hawaiian. It was truly a beautiful experience. And, of course, us cousins had to keep up the tradition of performing a dance for the bride and groom. Though this dance — like the whole wedding — was missing one cousin. Despite this, we pressed ahead. 

Yet again, the wedding was absolutely amazing. Few complaints. A few more than last time, but maybe simply because I am older and now more perceptive to things. There was, again, an uncle with a glass of scotch on his head, and there was the occasional bickering between sisters. But there were also differences between this wedding and the last one. For one, my grandfather and one of my aunts could not come to this wedding because it was so far away and too hard to get to. Additionally, one of my other cousins returned home right after the wedding to get back to his son and pregnant wife because, as is natural, our family is simply changing. Which is great! And finally, there was one missing cousin, as I have mentioned. Not the most great, not the most wonderful, but we were still able to enjoy our time at this beautiful wedding. 

So if you have made it this far and are now wondering what I have learned from these weddings and all the time in between them, I am too. These weddings have been significant markers in how I think of the past five years, especially in relation to my family. But they have allowed me to learn one important thing that I think absolutely applies to my family but can also be applied to many situations in life. And that lesson is: things change. And that is alright. Things are supposed to change, and things can’t stay the same. Just because something may not be as it was when you were a child does not mean that thing is not still good or fun. You simply have to find the parts of these new, changed things that are good and fun. For a long time, I expected my family dynamic to be exactly the same for my entire life, in the same way you may expect your friend group to be the same all throughout high school. These are things that simply do not happen. And that is alright. You just have to adjust along with them, and you will still have a good time. Believe me — I have found this good time with my family despite the many changes that have occurred around me, so I know it can be done, despite how impossible it may seem.