Joe and Ganga wanted a wedding ceremony that would tell their love story while combining the traditions from their Catholic and Sri Lankan Buddhist cultures. They were married at Philadelphia’s Top of the Tower this summer, surrounded by family and friends who had traveled from all over the world to witness the start of their marriage.
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Joe and Ganga wanted a wedding ceremony that would tell their love story while combining the traditions from their Catholic and Sri Lankan Buddhist cultures. They were married at Philadelphia’s Top of the Tower this summer, surrounded by family and friends who had traveled from all over the world to witness the start of their marriage.

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The best of both worlds, the bride wore two dresses for the occasion.

For Joe and Ganga, when love came knocking, it was easy to let it in. When Joe and Ganga met for their first date, they made plans to meet for drinks at the Black Sheep Pub, on the corner of 16th + Spruce Street. This particular location was selected because Ganga and Joe had discovered that they lived in the same neighborhood, on the same street, just two blocks apart. Joe was Spruce + 17th and Ganga was at Spruce + 15th. 

Leading up to this date, Ganga’s sister Dunisha, impressed with everything she knew about Joe and his genuine nature, was excited for Ganga and encouraged her by saying, “now THAT sounds like the kind of guy you need in your life!”

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Ganga with their dog, Daphne

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Conversation flowed easily between these two, and Ganga says, “Needless to say, it was a great first date.” Joe agrees, and says that “since our first date, we have been inseparable … we do everything together.” He says, “since that first date, things still continue to get better and better.” Living so close was certainly an advantage and they developed a very close bond early on. It didn’t take long for them to realize they were perfect for each other. 

Shortly after they moved in together, Joe left work early and came home to clean up and prepare for Ganga. He lit some candles, made sure “Marry Me” by Train was playing softly in the background and when Ganga walked in the door, he was holding a ring box. Joe went down on one knee…but then he says, in the weight of the moment, his mind went blank and he “completely forgot what he wanted to say.” Thankfully as a doctor, Ganga is used to reading vitals signs and physiological clues – and she understood Joe perfectly and accepted. They spent the rest of the evening calling friends and family and enjoying a take-out meal so their dog Daphne could celebrate with them.

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The high-fiving couple, Joe and Ganga, made sure that their pup Daphne was also represented on their wedding cake.

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Their Wedding Ceremony Joe and Ganga stood on a traditional Sri Lankan poruwa or “wedding stage” as way of honoring Ganga’s Sri Lankan heritage as well as their desire to build a family together.

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Remembrance: A week before he passed away, Ganga’s father, Indran Ranasuriya told her that he “would send someone to her”. And he did, just a few weeks later Joe came into Ganga’s life. Always close to her heart and in her thoughts, as a remembrance to her father, Ganga had a brooch pin made with her father’s portrait and fixed it to the bouquet she carried throughout the celebration.

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Nuptial Knot In this beautiful Sri Lankan tradition the bride and groom’s pinkies are bond together with a golden thread. This is done as a reminder that the bond of love is a precious one, but one that is fragile and must be protected and cared for. Water is used to bestow a blessing of purification on the new commitment. Ganga’s Uncle Ranjith was asked to tie the couple’s nuptial knot using this delicate gold thread, then said a marital blessing as he poured water over their bond pinkies–making sure to collect all the drops in this heirloom brass pitcher and bowl set.

Joe places a wedding band on Ganga’s finger, “She’s warm and friendly, hardworking and organized, intelligent and very goofy. She’s got an infectious laugh and you love her dimples when she smiles. Everything Ganga does, is done with love. She’s the ‘sweetest, funniest and smartest person’ you know.”–Alisa Tongg, Celebrant

Joe places a wedding band on Ganga’s finger, “She’s warm and friendly, hardworking and organized, intelligent and very goofy. She’s got an infectious laugh and you love her dimples when she smiles. Everything Ganga does, is done with love. She’s the ‘sweetest, funniest and smartest person’ you know.”–Alisa Tongg, Celebrant

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“May your future be a bright one, and may your love for each other provide an example to those around you.”–Alisa Tongg, Celebrant

At the conclusion of their ceremony, Ganga and Joe lit an oil lamp to signify the start of and their shared hope for a bright and energetic future.

For the future, Joe says that he hopes that they “will keep joking and having fun as they grow old together.” And Ganga adds, “I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s my best friend. We do everything together, we want the same things in life and want to achieve those dreams together…”

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Thank you to Anthony Duca, for being so generous and sharing these images from Joe and Ganga’s colorful and lively wedding celebration. All photographs by Duca Studio.

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