Today's shimmering Indian wedding is brought to you by Two Birds Photography with the lovey-dovey look into Maharani Akshali and Shubang's multi-day celebration. The festivities kicked off with a polychromatic sangeet night where guests danced the night away. I love how so Bollywood this couple went while Akshali still maintained that modern Indian bride charm I have come to absolutely love. Makeup by Mariah and Blushing Bride Hair & Makeup utilized their talents and painted a gorgeous bride that just GLOWS on my screen. This was just a sneak peek of the fun to come! I have all the lovely memories in our full gallery

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How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
I met Shubang standing in line for a Haunted Forest on Halloween night in our college town of Ames, Iowa. I was visiting campus as an alum and the line was so long we started chatting. Next thing you know, he’s at my surprise birthday party and giving me rides around town - we kept running into each other all weekend and hit it off. We kept in touch throughout the Fall through text until he visited me in New York over Christmas. That’s when we went on our first date and he asked me to be his girlfriend while walking along the Hudson at night. 4 years of long distance and multiple trips later, we are finally married and living together! 

Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
We were supposed to get engaged in the Fall, but Shub surprised me by gifting me a skydiving experience for my birthday - 4 months ahead of my actual birthday! I jumped off the plane and little did I know the whole family was hiding and setting things up for the big surprise. When I landed, Shubang, his sister, and my brother were all there at the bottom waiting with a giant banner that said “Will You Marty Me?” and a gorgeous rose-gold ring! 

Tell us how you went about planning your wedding, and your overall experience with the Venues, Hair & Makeup, Outfits, Decor Theme, and all of the other important details.
We did something unique in that we actually had two weddings to honor both of our cultures. We had a smaller, traditional South Indian Tamil wedding on Thursday and Friday, followed by a more fusion, North Indian-American style wedding, and reception on Saturday. So, we had two sets of vendors for each wedding. For the Tamil Wedding, the venue, decor, and outfits were very traditional, complete with kanchipuram silk, nawaari (9-yard) bridal sari. For Saturday, I defied tradition a bit and went for a more fusion look - instead of a traditional red lehenga, I opted for a custom white and pink floral ghagra that I had custom made in India from my cousin’s friend to match our rustic floral decor theme. We had a very patient and understanding decorator who created for us a wooden mandap frame with white and pastel draping. Since most of my color theme on Saturday involved lots of soft pastels and pinks, we went with burgundy for our bridal party and flower girl dresses. We also decided to mix things up by having western outfits for our bridesmaids and groomsmen to contrast with Indian outfits for us!

How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
I had a dress design in mind for years before I got engaged, actually - I saw a non-traditional, white floral a Sabyasachi ghagra on the cover of a Vogue India Magazine in 2016 and ever since I saw it, I fell in love. I think a lot of people were surprised when I didn’t wear a traditional red or red and white panithar ghagra for my wedding, but I was really set on my dream dress and was holding my breath that someone could recreate what I saw in the picture years ago. Luckily, one of my bhabhi’s best friends, the talented Amrita Saluja, was an up and coming fashion designer in India and she was up for the challenge! She was so patient with me as we went back and forth on WhatsApp and video chat over the course of four months to bring it to life. I got to try on the blouse when I went to India a few months before the wedding and saw it come together - it was gorgeous and even better than I had ever imagined.  

What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
My favorite part was being able to pursue a creative project after so long. Before I became an urban planner, original career goal was to be some sort of designer - either fashion or graphic design. So, I loved being able to channel that into our wedding planning through custom designing my own dress, invitations, website, decor approach, and even photo album. Although it was a lot of effort to design everything from scratch, it was also incredibly fulfilling to watch everything come to life. Our families were so instrumental in making our wedding week happen. It definitely wouldn’t have come together without them! Family was a really big part of our planning process.  

What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?
I think all my relatives loved how well organized and on-time everything was, which was incredible given how many people were involved and how many different events we had!

Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
Something funny now to think about - I actually lost my engagement ring in the parking lot the first day of the Tamil wedding. The entire first ceremony me and my family were all so tense and Shubang had no idea why! Luckily, my cousin and brother went out and searched the whole lot and miraculously managed to find it! The day was a lot merrier after that :)

For events other than your ceremony, please tell us as much as you would like about the decor, style, dances, and all the special details.
The decor for every event was different because different people organized each event. We decided to have a smaller, more informal Sangeet in a beautiful Airbnb house that Shubang’s family rented nearby - his family did a great job with all the DIY decorations! For the Tamil Wedding on Friday, we had a more traditional look and feel. Something I loved was incorporating the Tamil culture into our guests’ meal. We served lunch on real banana leaves for each guest - that was a very unique touch that I loved. On Saturday, we went for a more fusion theme and incorporated both Marwadi / North Indian and American floral rustic looks into the decor. We had a traditional ceremony and Baraat with a modern, fun reception to end the night. 

Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
Oh gosh, so many! I would say the biggest piece of advice would be that it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and sucked into all the wedding madness. Try not to go down that rabbit hole! Remember why you are getting married in the first place and leave the rest to your wedding coordinator ;). Be sure to eat well the week of your wedding and get some sleep! I was up till 3 am the night before my wedding getting things ready and I really advise NOT to do that. 

Anything else you want to tell us? We'd love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.)
I loved all of my personal florals on Saturday, especially my hair piece. Big thank you to Grace from Vale of Enna for patiently working with me to get florals pieces that we loved!


The Indian wedding and reception are tucked away right around the corner! 

Bridal Fashion: Ceremony Dress: Atirma by Amriti Saluja | Bridal Fashion: Reception Dress: Pix Boutique | Bridal Jewelry: Tanishq Jewellers | Cakes & Treats: The Baking Institute | Catering: Ashyana Banquets (Friday and Saturday event) | Catering: Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago | Cinematography: Old North Film Company | DJ: DJ Bharat Oz | Floral and Decor: Personal Flowers: Vale of Enna | Floral and Decor: Decorator: Poonam Creations | Hair and Makeup: Makeup by Mariah | Hair and Makeup: Blushing Bride Hair & Makeup | Invitations & Stationery: Minted | Photographer: Friday Ceremony: Moments Freezer | Photographer: Saturday Ceremony & Reception: Two Birds Photography | Planning and Design: Rosanna Catapano Event Design | Venue: Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago - Friday | Venue: Esplanade Lakes by DoubleTree - Saturday