debbie eko photography

virginia wedding photographer


Caleb & Elsa: The Beauty of Multicultural Marriage

Couples, Styled-Shoot, Weddings

the blog:

What do you get when you bring together…

  • a German-Mennonite couple
  • a Hindu/Christian marriage in India
  • a couple from a one-horse town in New York
  • and a family of eight kids in Colombia? 

These two beauties.

Everyone knows we each come into our marriages and friendships from differing families of origin and backgrounds that make us unique and distinct from one another. Often, though, we are assumption makers who judge a book by its cover and don’t realize the intricacy of the details that make up a person’s cultural story.

A few months ago, I asked Elsa & Caleb if I could photograph their handsome selves around Richmond, Virginia. I wanted to capture their multicultural beauty in some of my favorite spots in town: Main Street Station, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Taylor’s Hill Park.

As our photoshoot came to life a few weeks ago in April, I learned the biracial melding of their union is MUCH deeper and more rich than I knew! Learning their stories made me marvel at how God causes cultures and ethnicities to blend together to create new families.

It is easy to look at this handsome couple, waltzing around Main Street Station with the most stunning smiles and bouquet by Glamorous Events, without even knowing the depth of their beautiful backgrounds. My desire is that the details of their stories would cause you to walk away seeing multicultural unions and the God who brings individuals together with a new awe and wonder. 

Elsa’s story begins well before her birth, and the intricacies will make your jaw drop.  She wrote it out so I could best share it here: 

“My father was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. He came to the U.S. in his late twenties. He is the oldest of eight siblings and several of his family members had already immigrated to Texas. It was at a Bible school in Texas in the late 1980s that he met a pretty, blonde, blue-eyed girl. She was the daughter of Germans who had been a part of a Mennonite colony for generations (because they weren’t allowed to intermarry, they were 100% still pure German). But the family had immigrated to Canada a few generations ago. My grandparents had since exited the Mennonite colony upon the realization that the colony upheld many non-biblical beliefs. My Mom was raised as a missionary kid in Bolivia which is where she learned Spanish. But she was born in Canada, and as a result also held Canadian citizenship. To make things more interesting, my Dad didn’t speak English when they met in the 80s (only Spanish).”

My parents got married in 1988, and raised me and my older sister in Mexico, Venezuela, Canada, before settling in Texas in the mid-90s, where my younger sister was born. I have Canadian citizenship through my Mom and became a naturalized U.S. citizen through my Dad, so I hold dual citizenship.”

Isn’t this collision of cultures and choices such an incredible testimony to the fact that we look at people and have no idea where they come from? Colombia, Germany, Canada, Bolivia, and the U.S… all are countries whose cultures are interlaced throughout Elsa’s being and have impacted how she views her life.

I cannot help but sit back and marvel at this family God wove together to make Elsa who she is and bring her to be the blended woman who stood in front of my camera throughout Richmond, Virginia a few weeks ago.

Similarly, Caleb’s family background highlights the beauty of cultures being woven together across countries.

“My Mom is full American from a small town in western New York and my Dad is from a large city in southern India. My Mom’s family background might be considered very typical of her culture at large (small town white America in the late 1900s), but my Dad’s upbringing is not completely typical of Indian culture. His mother was a follower of Jesus which is already very countercultural for that area. My Father left India in 1988 and met my Mother at Clemson University soon after. They got married and raised us kids in North Carolina.”

We often make assumptions that differing cultures under one roof must mean constant clashing of values, but for Caleb that was not as much the case.

Though his parents came from different cultures and colors, he found they lived out very similar values within their home. “Though perhaps for different reasons, both Mom and Dad grew up in a context in which family, work ethic, respect, and discipline were very important. Their parenting was very focused on being a learner, and taking life, family, and responsibility seriously.” 

Caleb and Elsa’s interwoven stories came together when they were in High School at a national speech and debate tournament. Years later, they reconnected on Facebook, and went from dating to engaged to married over the years that followed.

Understanding the influence of their cultures within their marriage has been a learning curve, but one that they embrace.

Both within his family growing up and in his own marriage with Elsa, Caleb sees multicultural marriage as a gift.

“Just as any set of differences between people may cause strife, God also designed that they may create profound unity,” he shared.

“In human relationships across cultures, instead of dividing, people have the opportunity to draw near to those who are different from them, and embrace the things God may teach and refine in them through those relationships.”

Elsa agrees and adds the following, “Every weird encounter, awkward silence, and confusing family circumstance is an opportunity to value others above yourself. Keep laughing and keep your ‘palms up’ – keep them open to whatever God has for you. Don’t hold onto plans too tightly, and don’t try to imagine what your marriage will be like, because it will most definitely be different than you imagined.” 

My hope and prayer is that I will continue getting to photograph and learn from stories like those of Elsa’s, Caleb’s, and their families. We all have such tremendous testimonies that shout of the glory of God in how He weaves our human lives together. All praise to Him for the joy diversity can bring our hearts!

(Huge thanks to Elsa, Caleb, and their families for permission to share these parts of their stories. Also thanks to my hubby who joined us for our photo session around Richmond, and was the true MVP to all my needs that day! Huge applause to Main Street Station, VMFA, Taylor’s Hill Park, and other lovely parts of Richmond we thoroughly enjoyed photographing! And once again, Lenora of Glamorous Events hit it out of the park with her custom bouquet for Elsa!)

  1. […] cultures come together under one roof and create their own families is such a beautiful gift!! Caleb & Elsa’s story still gives me […]

  2. […] that keeps leaving you in awe of its innumerable locations for photo magic! Scott & Shannon, Elsa & Caleb, and others (more to be posted here soon!) are just the tip of getting to showcase beautiful people […]

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