Maharanis, things are about to get better as Mounica and Evan are about to say their heartfelt "I Do’s" at the splendid Ballroom at the Ben! Studio Nine Photography + Cinema arranged a sweet pre-ceremony photo session which resulted in the most epic portraits of our dashing duo’s first glance! The talented photo team snapped all the glory of the ceremony, where the newlyweds showered each other with rice and flowers in a fairytale setting superbly done by JP Decor! I especially love the charming flower wall that served as the backdrop for the marriage solemnity. Groom-to-be, Evan, looked sharp and sophisticated in an embroidered gold sherwani that gave him a traditional yet very fresh and modern look to lead his Cuban-style Baraat procession! Philadephia’s celebrated planning firm, Tum Hi Ho Events, was in charge of handling all the arrangements and planned the whole lovely affair! You MUST go straight to the full gallery for all the ceremony action!
How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
Evan and I met in Philadelphia in the Spring of 2014. He was in his last year of dental school and I was in my third year of medical school. Our first date was at our now favorite wine bar in the city - Tria. We really hit it off and looked forward to spending more time together. I knew he was "the one" when our relationship seemed so effortless. It was also when he was moving back to Tampa after graduation for work, and we both knew without hesitation that we felt committed to one another and that we would do long distance. I then moved down to Florida after graduation for residency. The rest is history!
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.
Planning our wedding felt extremely overwhelming at first. We didn't know many vendors or really even where to start. We were also attempting to combine different elements into a traditional Indian wedding, as my husband is Cuban-American. Luckily, I had a long engagement and started with online websites, Pinterest, Indian bridal magazines, Instagram, and just asking around for advice. I also went to a bridal show for some inspiration. My mother and sister did a lot of research and ended up planning a lot of the details - including venue, food, decor theme and more. My aunt Shravani in India also helped immensely with the planning and coordinated outfits, invitations, and more.
I had in mind that I wanted to book Studio Nine for photo/video based on their previous work, and started there. We went back to Philadelphia for a quick trip and toured different venues. We fell in love with the Ballroom at the Ben and thought it would be perfect for our wedding. After that, we just spent time contacting different vendors for the day of coordination, DJ, hair and makeup, decorators, etc. We went with people who we felt had a lot of experience, were responsive, and the easiest to work with. They were all extremely professional and our guests raved about every single one!
How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
I knew I wanted the classic colors of gold and red incorporated into the decor and into our outfits. I wanted something timeless and romantic. My mom and sister went to India for a week and went shopping with my aunt in Hyderabad. They all have great taste so I trusted them to pick out my wedding outfit, and they did a great job. They bought a deep pink Kanjeevaram (silk) Sari in Hyderabad.
My reception outfit was from Shyamal & Bhumika. We saw it online, messaged them through WhatsApp, and did the measurements via facetime! They shipped it over and it fit perfectly.
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
I felt that the planning process was very stressful, but at the end of the day, it was all worth it. My parents, sister and I were able to spend a lot of time together planning. It was also fun to introduce our culture and traditions to Evan's family, and they embraced everything wholeheartedly.
We also had a large number of family and friends that helped us execute our vision. Without all of those people, we would not have been able to pull it off. It was amazing to see them all step up and help my parents the weeks leading up to the wedding.
What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?
All of our guests told us they had a great time at all of the events - and it really showed! They appreciated how organized everything was, thanks to Tum Hi Ho Events. Our DJ/emcee from M4U Events was amazing and the dance floor was never empty. Mirchi Mt.Laurel also did a great job with the food, especially incorporating some American elements into traditional Indian cuisine.
Overall, we felt that this day was not just about us but really about everyone who attended and supported us throughout our relationship. We wanted everyone to feel welcome, enjoy new traditions/customs, and have a great party. There was nothing but joy and good vibes over the weekend, and we are grateful for everyone who made it so fun and enjoyable.
Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
My favorite parts of the ceremony were the "Thalambralu," when we showered each other with rice and flowers. I also loved the ending of the ceremony, "Sapthapadi” when we took our seven steps around the fire. It felt very spiritual and peaceful.
My favorite parts of the reception were our first dance. We also got married on Father's Day, so after I danced with my dad, we asked all the fathers and daughters to join us on the dance floor. Everyone danced to “You’ll be in my heart” to Phil Collins. Looking out and seeing so much joy and love on the dance floor made me extremely happy.
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.
We started on Friday night with a combination Sangeet/Mehndi ceremony. We decided to make this a “Cuban” themed sangeet as Evan is half Cuban. The décor had lots of tropical elements, and flower arrangements were done by Evan’s father, Frank Prado. We put forth our best Bollywood effort, and the groom’s side also participated with salsa dancing and ended with a Conga line.
The following day, my side had the “pellikuthuru” ceremony at my house. This was followed by lunch at our local clubhouse. On the same day, as much of Evan’s extended family was new to the area, they all gathered for a Bus tour of Philadelphia in the morning. Evan’s father had rented out a double-decker city tour bus that showed our guests the historical and must-see modern sites. They ended with lunch at Pietro’s on South Street.
Sunday, June 17th, was then the big day. Everyone gathered with Evan at Washington Square Park for the Baraat. Evan was on his horse, and everyone paraded down Walnut Street, took a right onto 9th street, and ended at the venue. They had Cuban hats, maracas, and personalized sunglasses on the way. We encouraged everyone on both sides to participate and they had a blast.
We had had the ceremony and lunch, followed by the reception in the evening.
Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
Enjoy the ride, even if it's a stressful one. I would also say to be open to compromise, as everything ends up falling into place at the end, and it will be a wonderful day.
Anything else you want to tell us? We'd love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.)
Venue: Ballroom at the Ben - Philadelphia - we loved the central location of the ballroom and its traditional, classic, timeless beauty. Ott, our maitre'd, was also amazing and made sure everything went perfectly!
Photo/Video: Studio Nine Photography - Zach Blum and team, and they did an excellent job.
Coordination: Tum Hi Ho Events - Kept everything running smoothly and on time! This was absolutely one of the best investments we made towards our wedding and could not have imagined the day without them.
Entertainment: M4U Events - kept the dance floor packed all night! We had quite a few people tell us it felt more like a concert than a reception.
Florals: JP Decors, New Jersey - They did a beautiful job with the mandap and flower wall, as well as the bouquets and centerpieces. We had hot pink, ivory, and regular pink roses, as well as hydrangeas and orchids.
Catering: Ceremony and Reception: Mirchi Mt. Laurel--New Jersey - Lunch was more South Indian brunch style, with pasta and burgers as well. Dinner was Indian, including fish, goat and chicken curry dishes. We also had an Indian staple – Biryani, as well as samosas and chicken and lamb kebabs.
Cake: Bakers of Buffington – Downingtown, PA - We had a four-tier cake – each tier had a different flavor. Flavors were carrot, red velvet, chocolate chip and marble with various fillings
Invitations: Gampa Brothers – Secunderabad, India
Seating Chart: Declaration of Invitations – Bryn Mawr, PA
Brides Hair and Make up - Sonia Chaudery – Instagram: @soniacmakeup