On Nov. 21, Aditi Chaturvedi ’10 married Parag Rastogi, her high school sweetheart and a senior at Purdue, at the Orchards Hotel on Main Street in Williamstown. The 21-year-olds have been together since their senior year of high school at the Doon School in Dehradun, India.
The couple got engaged in July 2008 and had originally planned to get married in India after graduating in the spring. Sometime in October, however, they started tossing around the idea of tying the knot a little sooner. “For a lark, we thought why the hell not? It came out of nowhere,” Chaturvedi said.
Earlier this semester, Petya Miteva ’10 discussed the prospect of Chaturvedi getting married sooner when Miteva was consulting her about studying Indian relationships and marriages for the Watson Fellowship, said Miteva, who is from Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
The two, who met as first-year international students, got to talking about Chaturvedi and Parag’s engagement, and discussed the legal benefits of an earlier marriage; as married Indian citizens, the pair could stay together in the U.S. or the U.K. if one of them obtained a student visa or work, even if the other did not.
“She said that they wanted to get married anyways, so why not just do it now?” said Miteva, who, at the wedding, caught the bouquet and hit it off with one of the bride and bridegroom’s high school friends, a student at Worcester Polytechnic.
Chaturvedi and Rastogi are the first of their friends to be married, and the decision surprised them. “It’s considered crazy to get married this early,” Chaturvedi said. “Only conventional, religious people do, and we’re completely unconventional.”
Chaturvedi considered hyphenating her last name but decided that the 17-letter “Chaturvedi-Rastogi” was too lengthy and has opted to remain Ms. Aditi Chaturvedi.
The Doon School, a boarding school in Northern India, is an all-boys school, which Chaturvedi was able to attend because her mother, Priya, teaches piano there. In a school where assemblies routinely began, “Good morning boys and girl,” Chaturvedi stood out.
“I had a lot to choose from,” she said.
The newlyweds met during their first year at the Doon School because they were affiliated with the same boarding house. “He was the first guy who talked to me like I was a human being,” Chaturvedi said. They participated in school plays, debate and the newspaper together, and quickly became best friends. In December of their senior year, Chaturvedi and Rastogi were both in Delhi during the holidays, and he suggested that they go out to dinner and a movie as friends while they had some time off. Halfway through the movie, he turned to her and said that he loved her.
“Needless to say we didn’t finish the movie,” Chaturvedi said.
The evening that the pair first got together took place on the same day that Chaturvedi received her acceptance letter from Williams. “Dec. 15, 2005 was, until Nov. 21, 2009, the happiest day of my life so far!” she said.
Because they got together so late in high school, the couple has spent most of their time as a couple in a long-distance relationship. “From the beginning, we’ve been living apart,” Chaturvedi said. They visit one another during all their breaks, a practice which they will continue when Rastogi, who studies civil engineering at Purdue, stays in the U.S. to pursue a master’s or a Ph.D. next year and Chaturvedi heads to the U.K. for a master’s in philosophy.
The couple was able to live together for 16 months before, during and after their junior years while Chaturvedi studied abroad at the London School of Economics and Rastogi studied at University College London.
In the summer of 2008, before moving to London, the couple was visiting their high school campus, where Chaturvedi’s mother lives. As is characteristic of an Indian July, it was raining on Chaturvedi’s birthday, July 12, but Rastogi suggested they take a walk despite the weather. Strolling through their favorite spots in school, they stopped at the main field and Rastogi suddenly fell to his knees. Chaturvedi thought he had slipped in the mud, but instead, he showed her the silver and sapphire ring and asked her to marry him.
That original engagement ring is lost now, after Rastogi accidentally dropped it down a grate at the Westbahnof Train Station in Vienna while the couple was traveling. Chaturvedi received a new, opal ring in Greece.
The ring wouldn’t be the only misplaced wedding item, however. Twenty minutes before the 3 p.m. ceremony was slated to start, the bridegroom realized that he had forgotten his dress shoes in Indiana, and had to borrow his uncle’s, leaving the man sitting in the front row of the groom’s side in his suit and his nephew’s white sneakers.
For the ceremony, Rastogi’s family flew in from India, and many of the couple’s old school friends who attend college in the U.S. came to Williamstown. The ceremony itself combined Indian and American influences: Chaturvedi’s American-style wedding dress was red instead of white, because red is the Indian wedding color whereas white is traditional for mourning. Rastogi’s relatives threw flowers on the couple after they recited their vows, and newlyweds cut a traditional American wedding cake, which Lee Park, professor of chemistry and Chaturvedi’s host mother, helped to prepare.
Because she had so little time to plan the wedding, Chaturvedi enlisted the help of some skilled Ephs to pull off the event. Elliot Schrock ’11 videographed the event, Danny Yuxing Huang ’11 was the photographer and Adrian Rodrigues ’10 deejayed the reception. Lindsey Parham ’10 was Chaturvedi’s maid of honor, and wedding guests included numerous other Williams students, as well as the families of Park and Keith McPartland, professor of philosophy and Chaturvedi’s thesis advisor.
The wedding of a current student nowadays is rare, but for Chaturvedi and her husband, getting hitched was the natural extension of what they already had together. “We didn’t see any difference between a committed relationship and marriage,” she said. “I don’t feel any different than I did two weeks ago.”