After Dream Wedding, Canadian Newlyweds Discover Deep Family Bonds During Pandemic

Their pandemic living arrangement with in-laws is a blessing, they say.

Chetna Bansal and Shane Singh have two marriage proposal stories. The first proposal, three years after they met on Tinder, was storybook scenic — a romantic bike ride along a rugged canyon in Singh’s home province of B.C. — but the second was more true to the couple’s “no-frills” approach to life: After putting their engagement on pause to take things slow, they agreed to get married over plates of homecooked Thai curry last May.

“We’re not into the frills because the frills don’t last,” Bansal told HuffPost Canada. She got candid about their love story in a HuffPost Canada short film before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that documented the the realities on what it’s like to go shopping for an Indian wedding on a fleeting timeline. Watch the video above to see how Bansal and her parents fared during their search.

Many nuptials take at least a year of planning to pull together. It took six whirlwind months for Bansal, Singh and their loved ones to throw their dream wedding.
Many nuptials take at least a year of planning to pull together. It took six whirlwind months for Bansal, Singh and their loved ones to throw their dream wedding.

As many Indo-Canadian bride-to-bes know, weddings are marathons. Getting through them takes loads of prepwork, along with several show-stopping outfits that bear special significance during the multi-day wedding’s events. Even for those like Bansal, who was easygoing about the grand scheme for their Hindu celebration, a trip overseas is still needed to find the best options.

“I tried to plan out and make an itinerary for India and my mom wonderfully told me, ‘There is no such thing as an itinerary for India,’” she recalled, smiling.

And while the deadlines and stresses were “emotional,” the couple says everyone who attended last fall helped them celebrate the real reason weddings are special for many immigrant households; a chance for families to come together for the love shared by a couple.

Newlywed life isn’t so simple, thanks to the pandemic

Fast-forward to May and married life looks drastically different than the couple imagined. For one thing, Bansal feels lucky they sped-up their planning, since following the traditional Indian wedding route meant she would have held her wedding this month. A pandemic is not an ideal time to congregate with loved ones.

The newlyweds normally share a downtown-Toronto condo with their dog Shiloh, but have been living with Bansal’s parents in Markham since March, because Shiloh needed more room. Living with in-laws tends to get a bad rap in pop culture, but it’s the norm for many cultures to have multiple generations living under one roof.

Along with her mother and father (pictured to the right of this photo), Bansal and her husband co-habit with her aunt, uncle, cousin, as well as her sister (seated in the middle).
Along with her mother and father (pictured to the right of this photo), Bansal and her husband co-habit with her aunt, uncle, cousin, as well as her sister (seated in the middle).

In fact, the couple have found an unexpected upside to living with Bansal’s parents. Singh, already comfortable with his in-laws, has found himself bonding with Bansal’s parents more than ever nowadays. Just a week ago, Bansal recalls seeing her husband being affectionate with her mother.

“I was sitting with my mom, Shane came in and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to bed.’ He kissed me on my forehead and then he turned and kissed my mom’s forehead,” she said, laughing. “It melted me! I don’t think that would have happened if we weren’t living here.”

Singh has also discovered newfound common ground with her father. Singh was raised in Vancouver by a single mom from Fiji. Bonding with the older man over biking has become a source of quality time for the two.

“I’ve never grown up with a dad, so calling them ‘Mom and Dad’ instead of ‘auntie and uncle,’ which is sort of traditional for Indians, that’s kind of new,” Singh told HuffPost Canada.

As for the parents, they’ve also taken to the new living arrangements in stride. While they weren’t expecting to be with their child and her husband every day, they’re grateful to be together, just as they were during the wedding. And it’s all thanks to the couple’s pet, who loves all the attention, space, and is “living her best life.”

“I say thank you to Shiloh every day! Because she’s alive, you guys are here,” Bansal said her mom told her. “It’s a lot of small moments that are really sweet. The relationship is deepening.”

HuffPost Canada’s “Born And Raised” is an ongoing series featuring the stories and perspectives of second-generation Canadians. Want to join the conversation? Email us at bornandraised@huffpost.com.

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