Two words: quintessentially royal. How else could you describe a couple who was the first ever to be engaged at the top of the Freedom Tower, on the day of its opening? Shivani and Nilesh’s happily-ever-after began on 11 June, spanned over three events, and was captured by the talents over at Everlasting Moments. With their pechant for royalty, The Castle was the perfect Sangeet venue, where families doubled up as multifaceted performers dancing to the tunes of DJ BK Trehan, along with garba, raas and bhangra! Shivani’s stunning deep green halter neck blouse with a purple lehenga further accentuated the vibrancy of the event. The Sangeet wasn’t the only event where guests had a wild time dancing - Nilesh’s welcome was an absolute ball, thanks to Echo Lake Stables’ Baraat, and Harsh Tevar’s dhol. Imagine Lifestyles turned up Nilesh's swag by a notch with their exotic cars. Our Maharani entered the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott in a gold palanquin for the ceremony, officiated by Pandit Prabhakar Sharma. Props to Wedding Design for the stellar decor! The Mandap featured shimmery drapes, crystal lights, and a beautiful two-dimensional floral Lord Ganesha on the draped white backdrop; credits go to Pauline Robles for the draping and styling. For the ceremony, Shivani was dressed in an exquisitely embroidered red and gold lehenga from Delhi’s Ushnak Mal Mool Chand, and gorgeous Kundan jewelry from Tanishq. Nilesh donned a festive white and red sherwani. We were in awe of Ruchi’s Mehendi’s intricately detailed mehendi, and the cake by Palermo’s bakery which featured airplanes to represent the “airport wedding.” Speaking of delicacies, guests were treated to Indian delicacies by Bukhara Grill. This elaborate wedding had Elite Events taking care of Day Of Coordination duties, Parekh Cards to churn out invitations and wedding stationery; Singhar by Ayesha beautified all the bridesmaids and family, and Nazzakat dressed up all the bridesmaids in fab sarees! The reception, also hosted at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott, featured the Same Day Edit video by Everlasting Moments, which added an element of surprise for the guests. “We still hear comments months later about how amazing DJ Juicy was, months after the wedding,” gushed Shivani.
We spoke to our Maharani, who shared exclusive noteworthy moments and insider details with us:
How did you meet your Raja and when did you know he was "the one"?
Nilesh and I met while we both attended Binghamton University. Nilesh was a year older than me, and I spotted him at the first Indian Student Union meeting on campus. We officially met days later at a house party. We started dating a few years later. Despite being a little nervous, Nilesh did all of the right things when I brought him over to meet my parents, and I knew at that moment, he was the first and last guy I would ever bring home to my parents.
Do you have a super romantic proposal story or engagement memory?
I'm biased, but I think I am one of the luckiest girls because of our epic proposal. We were the first couple to ever be engaged at the top of 1 World Trade Center (The New Freedom Tower) on May 29th, 2015, the opening day on the 102nd floor. Nilesh had rented out the floor for just us two. Nilesh had told me weeks prior to the opening, that his job had raffled off tickets to the opening day of the Freedom Tower, and that we would get a private tour, as well as an opportunity to visit the observation deck, followed by a cocktail hour with his company's partners. I HAD NO CLUE this was all a set-up. Once the proposal was over, our event manager said "Congratulations! You're the first to be engaged here!"
Tell us about your wedding style. When you sat down to really figure out how your dream wedding would look, did you start with one central color, a palette of colors, or a theme that served as your inspiration?
I was always a traditional girl- I favored reds and golds. I based our ceremony a lot on the red/orange/gold lehanga I had bought from Delhi, India, and I based our reception color palette on the turquoise/baby blue I wore at night.
What did you enjoy most about the process of planning your dream Indian wedding?
SHOPPING and solidifying what a great team my husband and I make. I LOVED shopping in India. I love visiting my family there, and pairing that with wedding shopping was such a beautiful experience. My mother and father both joined me for my bridal lehanga shopping and picking out jewelry. It was such a memorable experience.
How did you choose your lengha or lenghas? Did you work with a certain designer? Did you spend hours on the internet first?
I chose three lehengas for the sangeet, ceremony and the reception. All of them were purchased in Delhi, between Karol Bagh and South Extension. I set up extensive Pinterest boards and did lot of research online about the best places to shop in Delhi, but I ended up buying the best ouftits at family-recommended shops. I didn't want a custom lehanga because I had heard stories about girls who didn't like the final product, but I wasn't worried because I knew my outfit would find me in all cases, even if it was completely different from what I envisioned, which is EXACTLY what happened.
Looking back, was there a really special moment that you remember from your wedding that stands out as the most magical?
I still get chills when I watch videos our friends took of us walking around the fire. I've dreamt of that moment since I was a little girl- what it would look like, how it would feel, who he would be, and the reality versus the dream couldn't be more closely matched.
Did you and your Raja have a special song that you danced to as your first dance? How did you choose it?
We to Pehla Nasha from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander. I'm a huge Bollywood movie fan and I've been dancing and singing the songs ever since I was 5. That song is so special to us because it was the first Hindi song Nilesh sang to me.
How about hair and makeup? Did you already have a style in mind or did you work with a specialist to find your perfect look?
I went to one makeup/hair trial before going to Pauline who ultimately did my hair and makeup for the wedding day. I had an idea for my ceremony hair style because I wanted to stay traditional with my hair up and covered by my dupatta. For the evening, I originally had no idea, but my first stylist helped formulate an idea, and Pauline was the one who perfected it.
Did family or friends help out with certain special details that really added to the event?
Both sets of our parents were our rocks throughout this process, and without them the wedding would not have been possible. They were extremely supportive and encouraged us to have the wedding we always dreamt of, but were so considerate of the other side at the same time. Without their consideration we wouldn't have married the cultures- Gujarati and Punjabi- as well as we did. Our older brothers and our sister in laws were equally as supportive and helpful, running around for us when we couldn't. Our close friends and cousins enhanced our sangeet with their incredible dances with the hours they put into preparing for our special day.
Come back tomorrow for a complete rundown on yet another splendid wedding!