- A Scottish groom learned Hindi to surprise his Indian partner during his wedding speech.
- Alastair Spray and Angie Tiwari met on Hinge in 2018, became engaged in 2021, and married in June.
- At their Scottish-Indian wedding, Spray debuted Hindi skills he’d learned with an online tutor.
A Scottish groom says he secretly took language lessons to surprise an Indian bride by delivering his wedding speech in Hindi.
Alastair Spray, a 28-year-old researcher, and Angie Tiwari, a 30-year-old sales director who also works as a yoga and meditation coach, told Insider they met on Hinge in 2018 and became engaged during a trip to Seville, Spain, in 2021.
The couple planned a Scottish-Indian wedding in June that consisted of multiple events and rituals. Tiwari told Insider they hosted 150 guests for an official wedding ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. According to the St. Paul’s Cathedral website, only select, eligible couples with a relationship to the British Empire or the monument can marry there by securing a special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Tiwari said they were one of around 30 couples able to marry at the venue that year as Spray’s father holds a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), an honor awarded by the Queen.
After the ceremony, they had an intimate meal at an “unassuming Indian restaurant” and a mehndi (henna ceremony) at home in London. Spray and Tiwari said their next wedding events took place in West Lothian, Scotland. This included the Haldi ceremony, where the bride and groom are covered with turmeric to bless them and make them glow.
The couple said they hosted an outdoor sangeet celebration in the evening, where Scottish and Hindi music played, and cèilidh and Indian dances brought the two families together. The following day, they held their main Scottish-Indian celebration, including their outdoor Hindu wedding ceremony, at a 250-year-old roundhouse and granary among 75 guests.
Spray told Insider that he typically enjoys public speaking but he struggled to think of a meaningful idea or a funny format for his wedding speech. An idea later presented itself when he decided to brush up on Hindi.
“Angie speaks little bits of Hindi around the house and taught me a few things,” Spray said. “It was obvious that when we have kids, it’s important for them to learn Hindi so I was thinking I should probably start soon.”
Spray said he spent six months learning in private to surprise Tiwari during his wedding speech
He said he started learning on Duolingo but struggled with it, so he found an online tutor in India via the e-learning platform Preply.
“It was quite a challenge to have these one-hour lessons every week without her hearing or noticing. I had to time it just before lunch on a Friday and make sure the door was closed,” he said.
The seven-minute speech, Spray said, mostly focused on his love for Tiwari and how welcoming her family had been. He added that the speech also included some jokes and touched on how beautiful Hindi is as a language.
Spray said he was committed to learning the language for life, not just for the speech. He said he wrote the speech, practiced it with his tutor, and recorded it on his phone to listen back and memorize it. He said his tutor would also make him read the speech and correct any mispronunciations.
He started the speech in English and revealed he had a “nice secret” to share, before telling their guests that he had been learning Hindi for months. He said that after the reveal, one of Tiwari’s aunties joked: “So you understand what we’ve been saying about you this entire time?”
During their religious ceremony, the couple had to repeat lines in Sanskrit, and the pandit – a Hindu priest – told Spray his pronunciation was “top-notch,” said the groom.
Tiwari told Insider the big reveal was the most memorable part of their wedding because she didn’t see it coming. “I have never been hit with such a surge of emotion in one go. I really had to keep it together,” Tiwari said.
She noted that Spray is often full of romantic gestures but this one was especially impactful: “Tears were just streaming and streaming. It was the most out of a movie, old-school romantic thing ever but it’s also very Alastair.”
She added: “It showed such a dedication to our relationship, to our love, to our future life together, and my culture.”