Hello, Maharanis! Don't miss Sarah & Akash's wedding celebration in today's Platinum Guide Blog.

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How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
We met in St. Louis, Missouri. Akash had just finished the last stage of his medical training at Washington University, and I happened to be working as a lawyer for the hospital where he spent most of his time. Sometimes the world produces strange coincidences, and this one happened to be a particularly happy one. Akash quickly won me over with his intelligence, humor, and love of desserts.

Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
One Sunday morning in 2020, Akash suggested taking my dog Benji for a walk in Forest Park. Forest Park is a large and very pretty park in the middle of St. Louis, where we live, and it was nice to be outside during the early pandemic. After walking Benji around for a while, Akash got down on one knee and popped the question. I wasn’t expecting it at all! I was so shocked and excited that I plucked the ring right out of the box and put it on my hand myself. Akash tells me that I was so distracted by the ring that I never actually said yes, but here we are!

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.
Akash and I looked at various traditions and put together a wedding weekend that honored but modernized elements of a traditional Indian wedding in a way that would accommodate our diverse guests.

For example, we held a combined pithi and mehndi party for the bride and groom that gave my extended family a chance to meet Akash's extended family in a more intimate setting than a full blown wedding. We also hosted a welcome party on a yacht instead of traditional sangeet so our guests from out-of-state would enjoy a bit of California. Our food, too, was a mix of Indian fusion and non-Indian dishes. Finally, and I think this was Akash's favorite part, we eschewed the traditional horse-led baraat in favor of an exotic car. Not only was this easier to plan and nicer to animals, it made for some really wonderful pictures.

We did most of our wedding planning with the help of a dedicated planner, Monika Patel (@nikaeventsbymonika). Monika was worth her weight in gold and cared about us. There are so many behind-the-scenes details to get right and Monika provided tremendous structure to the planning process, which was especially helpful as we were in St. Louis and planning a wedding in Southern California. I also think that we got the response that we did from our vendors because they liked working with Monika.

So much of the actual experience with each vendor is unique from couple to couple, but I can share two general experiences. First, you should provide clear guidance and vision to your vendors, but don't be afraid to receive guidance from your vendors either. As an example, our wedding and reception decor was designed collaboratively with Kismet. We shared our design aesthetic and trusted their judgment for what would work and what wouldn't, and we were absolutely floored by the end result. Second, don't be afraid to ask questions. Indian weddings can be expensive and it is perfectly reasonable to ask about modifications or alternatives to food, design, and venue that help you stay within budget.

How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
Most of my outfits were modern, so I wanted my wedding lengha to be more classic. I decided early that I wanted a traditional red color and worked with a tailor in India to customize my lengha with a beautiful temple design that did not distract from the richness of the red.

For my welcome party lengha, I selected a Seema Gujral design that I purchased from KYNAH. I first saw the dress on KYNAH's Instagram and fell in love. After an online consultation with Aisha Rawji and a visit to the KYNAH pop-up in Santa Monica to try on it on, I knew I had the perfect, fun outfit for our welcome party.

My video visit with Aisha also pointed me toward my reception dress, another Seema Gujral design. Seeing it in person at the pop-up confirmed that the color and style would match the overall feel of our reception. The dramatic sparkles and tassels looked really beautiful under reception lighting and made for really great photos.

Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
For me, watching the baraat from my room's balcony was really special. It was great to see everyone having so much fun, and when Akash turned around and waved to me from ten floors below, I knew it was going to be a wonderful day.

Akash would tell you that his favorite moment was the start of the wedding, when I walked in with my brothers. Akash does not show his emotions often at all, but he admitted to me that he almost became emotional at that moment. Almost.

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.
Akash and I I generally have a more modern aesthetic, favoring clean lines and simple color schemes. We really enjoyed working with Kismet to create unique designs for the ceremony and reception.

For the ceremony we kept things simple and airy. Everything was white and acrylic with subtle gold accents. The raised aisle was lined with dozens of candles, which was a really stunning effect.

The reception design was also modern but slightly more elaborate, bringing in greens and muted pinks in addition to the white and gold. Hello Kismet even managed to hang two giant chandeliers on the stage! The look was finished off with a white and gold marbled dance floor and matching panels behind the stage. Overall, our events all favored a simple, modern, and airy design that gave a clean but sophisticated look.

Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
My primary advice is to relax and be flexible. There are inevitable hiccups in any wedding, especially during a pandemic. While I don't intend to advocate simply accepting everything that happens, I do think it is important to maintain perspective. As I've come to appreciate, most Indian weddings are at least somewhat chaotic, and yet everyone always ends up having a good time.

Hair & Makeup: Dolled up by Lulu | Venues: The Westin Anaheim Resort | Floral & Decor: Kismet Event Design | Hair & Makeup: Hair by Kate Frances | Catering (Wedding & Reception): Natraj | Catering (Welcome Party): 24 Carrots | DJ: 3D Sounds | Bridal Fashions: KYNAH | Bridal Fashions: Seema Gujral Design | Cinematography: Vanilla Film | Draping/Styling: Rupal Shah | Mehndi Artist: Beauty by Rachana | Coordinator: Monika Patel - Nika Events | Welcome Party Venue: Newport Beach/Hornblower Cruises | Candles: Vogue Candles | Desserts: Something Meetha | Dancers: Karmagraphy | Photography: Lin & Jirsa Photography