After a long battle, this Dubai-based couple convinced their families love can overcome all differences.

Garima Joshi and Junaid Shaikh were the perfect example of a pair of star-crossed lovers. She was a Hindu, he was a Muslim. Their families were dead set against their relationship.

The couple met at Symbiosis International University in Pune, India, back in 2006. They shared similar interests, and became good friends, but it wasn’t until they met again in Dubai after graduating that they fell in love.

From the very beginning, they encountered challenges due to their different religions. Shaikh’s parents were unable to accept the fact that he wanted to marry someone outside of Islam, while Joshi’s family were worried about what others might think of the pairing.

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“Challenges is a small word to describe what we went through,” Joshi told Emirates Woman. “It was more like an ongoing battle for two years – yes, it took us two whole years to convince our families that all of this was achievable.”

After a period of “constant disagreements” – but also a whole lot of patience and prayers – the pair finally got approval to marry, getting engaged just two months before their wedding.

“It was the first time our families were meeting and we were so nervous,” Joshi said.

“It was probably the most tense moment that Junaid and I have shared in our lives.”

By the end of the night, however, they were amazed to see how their families had come together.

“It didn’t feel like it was the first time they were meeting. It seemed as though they’d been friends from before.”

To keep things simple on their wedding day, the couple decided to ditch the religious ceremonies like the nikah and the pheras, and enjoyed a brunch instead.

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“Our families, siblings and best friends gave toasts, sang, and even danced. It was very relaxed, laid-back and beautiful.”

Joshi said as she and Shaikh walked together for the first time as a married couple, they could see their families and friends all standing together and smiling.

“There was so much happiness, blessings and love in this moment and I got teary-eyed,” she said.

“My thought was, ‘this day that we’ve been planning for so long is finally happening, and all these lovely people are here to celebrate with us!”

Her advice to other couples in a similar situation was to make sure the person you want to spend the rest of your life with is “worth fighting for” – and never give up.

“It took us so much strength and willpower to convince our families, we didn’t think this day would come,” she said.

“To be honest, I only believed that we were married once the last event of the wedding was over. That is when I said to myself, ‘yes, it’s done and sealed!'”

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Images: Shutterdown Photography