Defying The Forbidden Love – The Union of Michael & Maryam

“We believe that love is the will (the desire, choice/free will) to support (goodwill) with will (dedication, determination, willpower, strength of will).  Support, or love, are shallow unless they are deep, warm, constant, and everlasting.”–Michael Tuteur

As we grow weary of the constant barrage of negative press about the races, the overloading of who hates who for things they can’t possibly control like the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their sex and on and on…. We choose to show you the other side of the coin.  The world where people embrace their differences.  The world that is inspired by love, curiosity about race, cultural differences and actually excited about  everything that is opposite of their beloved.

As you will note I love the term beloved.   It just has a nice ring to it.  It evokes something endearing, soft, protective and enchanting to me.  But when writing this article, I wanted to share with you why this word means so much to me by describing this next couple.   I googled the term and this is how Google defines it- dearly loved.


Beloved: darling, dear, dearest, precious, adored, much loved, cherished, treasured, prized,highly regarded, admired, esteemed, worshiped, revered, venerated, idolized.

I felt it was the perfect term to describe how Michael Tuteur feels about his wife, Maryam.

In the Bible your associations can be used to define you and your character, for good and bad.  It also warns you about the effects of your association.   Well so far, for the sake of these series of articles, we will be sharing with you in these trying times in world affairs this statement holds true in a positive light because while last week we interviewed the love and marriage of Todd and Brandi and their love letter to their son; this week  Michael Tuteur wrote the most touching definition of love, family and acceptance.   It triggered me to reach out to him and explain his written statement, only to find that he had something very interesting to say.  This young professional Jewish man  had married a Muslim woman.  What you say??? Preposterous.

Yeah yeah… contrary to public opinion Jews and Muslims fall in love, get married and have children too.  This has been going on for years.  Can you imagine? How could that be one may ask?  One word, L.O.V.E.  Maybe two R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Those two things combined can cause a spark and ignite something and actually change the world.  Go figure.

While I try to make light of the situation, because I have to or I would go insane if I am forced to believe that we are that primitive in our thinking that we would want to continue in this destructive path of division.  And dare do it in the name of a higher being- God.    So I reached out to Michael and asked him a couple of questions to see where his head was and it was in the clouds and in love- and with conviction he shared his story of the basic thing the whole human race wants… Family and a sense of belonging.  I got chocked up and wrote his story at 4 in the morning after reading so much pain in our news, social media that has caused me much anxiety.

It was that simple- Family and getting love and support from your community.   Why didn’t we think of that… so with great pleasure please meet Michael and Maryam our new member of the WBM Family.

Name: Dr. Maryam Nazemzadeh (“she kept her last name, which I love and respect” quoted Michael) and Michael Tuteur

Cultural Background: Maryam – Iranian, Muslim (born in Iran, raised in Montgomery Village, MD)

Michael – American (German decent), Jewish (born in Philadelphia, PA)

Occupation: Maryam – Oculo-facial Cosmetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon.

Michael – CEO, Votenet Solutions, Inc.

“Just a note on her career.  I gush, but I admire my wife so much.  Maryam is literally the most remarkable person that I have ever met or heard of her life and her path to success has not been easy.  She worked so hard for everything.  She has sacrificed much.  She’s the kind of person who studied all weekend in college when others were partying.  She’s always finished at the top of her class.  She worked so many late nights at the hospital to help others.

To, me she is the definition of a what “the modern woman”, the modern person, is – when someone willingly chooses to support themselves and others with uncommon depth, discipline, dedication and determination.  Beyond her natural beauty, she has a will, a spirit, a force, within her that is unlike anything that I have ever seen.  It inspires me.  It has helped me to see what I too can aspire to and work to become.  She’s literally a Kim Kardashian lookalike (“we used to get stopped on the streets by people”) with the intelligence, athleticism/coordination, and drive of a world class surgeon.  Her smarts and her will are more remarkable than her outer beauty.  It’s a rare combination.

It’s funny, she loves watching beauty pageants so I watch with her.  As the pageants extoll the virtues of the “modern woman”, I always think to myself – it’s Maryam that should be in these pageants on the magazine covers inspiring and showing young women what they can become.  She is a role-model.”

Where did we get married: The Crystal Room at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, Washington, DC

What did you wear: Maryam – Monique Lhuillier dress with Badgley Mischka heels

Michael – Navy Blue J Crew Ludlow Shawl-collar Tuxedo with bowtie and cummerbund by Beau Ties LTD

 How did you both meet: We met randomly at a friend’s party just before we were supposed to go on our first date.  Maryam actually met my triplet brother before she met me.  He then introduced us not knowing that we had already spoken thanks to a setup by a mutual friend.

 The long story: My friend was dating Maryam’s fellow while Maryam was doing a residency rotation at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC.  When my friend introduced me to his new girlfriend at a birthday party for another friend, she immediately mentioned that she had the perfect girl for me.  She gave me Maryam’s number later that night before I left the party.

Maryam: When Lauren came into work the next day she proclaimed, “I met your husband last night.”

 Michael: I  called to introduce myself. We tried to meet-up for our first date, but we both had busy schedules and then I got sick and had to reschedule. As luck would have it, before we could even meet-up for our rescheduled first date, we both ended-up at the same party.

Mike’s triplet brother met me (Maryam) first and had no idea that our mutual friend, Lauren, had been trying to set us up.  He didn’t realize that we had already spoken on the phone.  Jon said, “my brother will love you.  You have to meet my brother”.  So he walked me over to Mike and introduced us for the first time face-to-face.

 They ended-up talking the night away at the party and later at a bar called Lost Society.  Michael always jokes that he was “lost” until he met Maryam.

Soon after they went their separate ways, with Michael sending  a text message to ensure that her taxi got her home safe and sound.  He felt a deep sense of worry and concern that night.  It was unlike anything I had ever felt prior.  From that night on, we’ve never gone a day without communicating with each other in some capacity.  He still have a vivid memory of Jon and Maryam talking and being struck by Maryam’s beauty and confidence. And, having a deep sense of joy watching her speak to Jon.  They laughed and smiled as if they had known each other for many years.  It warmed my heart.

For Michael, his triplet siblings are a big part of his life.  Finding someone, that they love and enjoy, and that also cares deeply for them, was very important and as luck would have it, after Jon introduced him to Maryam, he too, met the woman that turned out to be his wife.  Both of us met our wives on the very same night at  the very same party.  Pure magic.

What was the most important thing for you when planning the wedding? The most important thing was to fully present both Persian and Muslim wedding traditions and Jewish wedding traditions with respect, reverence, and balance.  They wanted to honor their upbringing,  heritage, and their parents and grandparents as a tribute to them.

They struggled to find any examples of combined Jewish and Muslim wedding ceremonies as well as officiates that could offer experience and advice, as well as to perform the legal ceremony.  Fortunately, Maryam is imaginative and creative and after lots of studying, thinking, and numerous discussions and drafts she designed a combined ceremony that gave equal time and space to both cultures and religions.  No corners had to be cut.  There were no sacrifices.  There would be no regrets for either of us.

She even created a special layout for the room that positioned the Chuppah and Sofreh so that one wouldn’t overpower the other.  There was so much balance and symmetry.  The transition from one ceremony to another was seamless.  The ceremony was full of surgical precision.

It was also important for them to acknowledge and reciprocate all of the love and support that we got from our guests over the last 30+ years. To honor them, they wrote and printed personalized messages on each and every place card.  We thanked them individually for their contributions to our lives and to our relationship.

 There were lots of little details and touches for their guests. They wanted them to have a rich and meaningful experience, so they tried to support them while they were busy celebrating us.

How did you honor your religions and cultures? We honored them in numerous way.  Prior to the ceremony we signed the Persian wedding contract and the Ketubah, the Jewish wedding contract. We had a full Persian wedding ceremony at the Sofreh that was officiated by an Imam – Dr. Sam Hashem Hosseini.  Every aspect of the Sofreh and all of its symbolism was explained to guests.  Michael even spoke some Farsi.

That was followed by a full Jewish ceremony under the Chuppah. Maryam performed the Seven Circles and Michael did the ceremonial breaking of the glass. There was plenty of Persian dancing and a spirited Horah.

What was your inspiration behind the wedding?  The word “will” has a lot of meaning to us.  Willard Hotel is our favorite hotel in Washington, DC.  It’s motto “hang in there” speaks to the fierce dedication, determination, and will required for love to flourish and endure throughout a lifetime of marriage.  We’ve always believed that when mutual love and support are paired with willpower and strength of will, then anything is possible.  Many will say it’s difficult to merge Judaism and Islam together and make it last for decades, but we think its very much possible so long as we have the will to support and uplift each other day after day and year after year.   When a person dies, a will gives one’s resources and financial support to their beloved. We think that’s the recipe for our living years too.  Every minute of every day offers an opportunity to give someone else companionship support, esteem support, emotional support, information support, instrumental support, etc.  It’s an opportunity to understand them, relate to them and to support their dreams.  Funny enough, we love the word “will” so much that we even honeymooned in “Anguilla” (pronounced Ang-will-ah).


All images courtesy of Arvin @ Arvin Photography.

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