by Prachi Gupta
Sanjoy was approaching 30 when the pressure to get married suddenly intensified. According to his parents, “I was coming to that age,” he says. Sanjoy’s family had emigrated to the U.S. when he was seven; following cultural tradition, they began to look for eligible partners back in Bangladesh, where they’d come from. But Sanjoy, who lives in New York, envisioned a different path to marriage for himself: “I told them that I want to find someone, and I want to fall in love, and I want to get married like that.”
So in mid-2019, they made a compromise: “If I don’t find anyone by December, then I will agree to an arranged marriage,” he told them. Sanjoy turned to online dating with the hope of finding a future bride who shared his Hindu background. But two months went by, and nothing promising had materialized. “Come August, my parents were ready to book tickets to Bangladesh,” he says. The clock was ticking.
Later that month, Sajuti left her office in Philadelphia, got on a bus with a friend, and headed to New York to visit family. Like Sanjoy, Sajuti hails from Bangladesh. At age 26, while marriage was likely on the horizon, it was not her top priority. But on that trip, her friend, who was on “all the dating apps” convinced her to download Bumble. About a week later, she matched with Sanjoy, and sent him a simple “Hiii.”
Their text exchanges took off and soon they followed each other on Instagram, where Sajuti noticed they shared a lot of mutual friends. When they talked on the phone for the first time, they discovered they hailed from the same town. “We were from the same Bengali community. We grew up going to the same temples,” Sajuti says. “Our moms grew up together. The more we talked, the more we realized we had in common.”
The first date, however, was what they both describe as “a complete fail.” Sajuti met Sanjoy in New York after work, and “she just had this mean look on her,” he recalls, before adding with a laugh, “She was like “no no, this is how my face looks.’” Sanjoy was winging it: he suggested going to LaGuardia Airport to watch the planes land. Picturing a large, open field with a clear view of planes swooping low overhead, Sajuti thought it sounded charming. They stopped at fried chicken fave Popeyes to pick up food and then parked by the runway. But it was too dark to see any planes, and the airport was next to a highway, not an open field.
The date was anything but romantic. Then it got even worse: They drove to Whitestone Bridge, parked near New York’s East River, and talked for two hours—or so Sanjoy thought. Sajuti had fallen asleep. “I was just rambling about my life, and she was just knocked out,” Sanjoy says. He figured there would be no second date.
“When I went home, I felt so bad,” Sajuti says. To make up for it, she asked Sanjoy out for another date the next day. “We went to a better place this time,” she recalls— not Popeyes—“to get desserts.” Over the next month, they deepened their connection. “When we first started dating, we didn’t tell anyone,” Sanjoy says. They had both wanted to avoid involving their families until they were confident about the seriousness of their relationship. They texted all day, every day, and FaceTimed after work, even leaving the video on as they slept in order to greet each other as they woke up in the morning. They continued to see each other every weekend, and even celebrated Durga Puja, a Hindu festival, together. “Everything just fell into place,” Sanjoy says. “It just felt right at that point.”
Aware of his looming deadline, Sanjoy came to Philadelphia near the end of October 2019 to tell Sajuti about the deal he had made with his parents about marriage. Sajuti, it turns out, was on the same page: “I don’t want to be called boyfriend and girlfriend,” she says. “I just want to be husband and wife, that’s the ultimate goal.” It was decided: they would be getting married.
When they each told their parents at the end of October, the families were relieved—and surprised. “They were shocked that we picked each other,” Sanjoy says (of course, pleasantly so). The families, old friends, met each other again—this time, as future in-laws. That December, a Hindu priest blessed the couple in an engagement ceremony and they planned the wedding for June 2020.
“My mom had 300 people on her list. Her mom had 300 people on her list. This was excluding our friends,” Sanjoy says, laughing. “We couldn’t take anyone off the list—we grew up with them.” They ultimately found a venue that would hold at least 700 people, booked a decorator, and had arranged for services at the temple. “We had three venues ready for the wedding,” he says.
Then COVID hit New York and businesses shut down, forcing them to indefinitely postpone their wedding reception. In June, when venues began to re-open with limited capacity, they decided to hold an intimate wedding ceremony at the temple. Although it was not the ideal blow-out either had planned for, they enjoyed the intimacy and the ability to create their own decorations. They still plan for a large reception when the pandemic ends—one that’s even more grand than the original. “We’re planning on doing our reception bigger than it already was,” Sanjoy says. “An all-day event.”
As for Sajuti, the couple’s love story has made her a believer in the power of the internet, in this case to reunite families separated long ago. “I actually didn’t believe in online dating,” Sajuti says. “But I ended up meeting my husband on Bumble.”