When these two high school sweethearts started chatting on AOL IM, who knew that sparks would fly! After 10+ years of dating, it was on the last days of a Europe trip, in Prague, that a fancy lunch date led to a proposal. A true surprise for the bride, she instantly said “YES!”
They were supposed to get married in 2020 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, but the wedding got postponed multiple times due to COVID-19. They finally decided just 2 months before the wedding, to cancel their Cabo wedding date and move it to Southern California, where they reside. And within a few weeks, with the trusted team of Ethnic Essence by her side, the bride and groom created an elegant, beachside affair in Dana Point, California.
Despite the short timeline, the bride wasn’t going to settle for anything cookie-cutter, and she wanted something unique for all her wedding events. The vision for the decor was more a boho-chic vibe, pampas, and earthy tones all throughout the ceremony, she wore a royal blue Sabyasachi and her groom wore pink, and a jungle theme for the reception. The guests were just in awe of the beautiful celebration and enjoyed the one-of-a-kind experience.
“The most enjoyable part of the planning process was bringing our theme ideas together for all our events. It's so fun to be able to do that with your family and get everyone's input on little details you never would think of. That was my favorite part! I felt like we all got closer as well - I kind of miss the chaos of planning! It felt like a full-time job!”
Congratulations Sonam & Milan!
How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
We met through mutual friends while we were both in high school! Milan was just graduating and I was in my sophomore year. One of my friends told me about this "really cute Indian guy" that goes to this high school and that I should meet him. We actually started messaging each other on AOL instant messenger! It was like a modern day dating app story set in the 2000's. We finally met in person after a couple of weeks and from there it was history. I would say I knew he was the one right away, but my 16 year old self didn't know any better. I think throughout the 10+ years that I have known Milan, I have never met anyone who I have connected with so much - on an emotional, spiritual and physical level. Our sense of humors match perfectly - it's like I am talking to my other half at all times. What I really love about our relationship is how different we are, yet how similar we are. Our core values really align, and what differentiates us is our personality types - I am very extroverted and Milan is introverted - it's what makes us US!
Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
We were on a trip to Europe before jetsetting to the middle east for our friend's wedding. Our last stop before heading to the wedding was Prague. We had already spent about 10 days in Europe, so I really didn't expect anything. The last day in Prague, Milan told me he wanted to go to this fancy lunch place. I got ready and Milan put on a suit - I was kind of surprised he would dress up this much for lunch, but didn't think anything of it. We were walking down the Charles Bridge and Milan stopped and asked if we can go down near the river to check out the view. I was excited because I love a good photo opportunity. We went downstairs and he asked this couple to take a photo of us - then we got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife! I was so shocked!! It was so perfect. Turned out - the couple who he asked to take a photo of us, were actually our photographers for the proposal! Of course, I said yes!
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 were supposed to get married in 2020 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, but the wedding got postponed multiple times due to COVID-19. We finally decided just 2 months before our wedding, to cancel our Cabo wedding date and move it to Southern California, where we reside. We made this decision due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. Since we only had 2 months, we had to act fast. Luckily, my mom was good friends with Smita Aunty, the owner of Ethnic Essence. I looked at her work via Instagram and her website - and also asked a few people who have used her what they thought. I instantly fell in love with her work. Ethnic Essence was by far the best wedding planner ever! The amount of work and attention to detail they put in in just TWO months was incredible. They truly made our Cabo dreams come to life in Southern California! Our venues were so perfect - we had our wedding in a more intimate setting in Dana Point, CA at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott. They were such great hosts and were able to close down the park near by for any events so we can have our peaceful wedding. My hair and makeup girls were amazing - Diana and Nancy Alba. I could not have asked for better hair and makeup girls for my wedding- I love the way it all turned out! My outfit and Milan's were both Sabyasachi - the one detail that I really wanted with our Sabya's was that they were both unique. I went for a Royal Blue color for my wedding lengha because I just loved the way it looked on me and thought it would really stand out while I was up on the mandap. With Milan's, his outfit was Pink, which complimented mine. It was such sweet color combo, and I am very happy with the way it all looked! Uniqueness, was something I wanted throughout all my wedding events! The Decor for our wedding was more a boho chic vibe - pampas and earthy tones all throughout the ceremony. Ethnic Essence took my outfit and vision and brought it to life!
With the reception - My favorite event of all. We had our dreamy jungle theme that Ethnic Essence brought to LIFE! It was amazing and SO unique just like I wanted. It was the same vibe I would have wanted in Cabo - they really worked so hard to make sure we could have our dream theme! I wore my beautiful Falguni and Shane Peacock outfit which was one of the first outfits I bought on my trip to India in early 2020. The stunning glitter/silvers on that lengha caught my eye immediately. Hair and Makeup for my reception was done by Oscar. We all danced the night away and wish it never ended!!
How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
I selected my bridal lengha knowing I wanted a Sabya. I just truly believe that all Sabya's are meant to be wedding dresses and I love the elegance of the lengha's there. I didn't have a favorite color in mind, but I knew I did not want to wear red or pink or gold! I wanted to fully stand out and choose a color that no one really wears because I feel like that's how I define myself - my uniqueness. I saw a Royal Blue lengha that I instantly fell in love with and chose it right then and there. I actually got my lengha on Jan 1 2020, so it felt lucky and meant to be! The color looked stunning.
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
The most enjoyable part of the planning process was bringing our theme ideas together for all our events. It's so fun to be able to do that with your family and get everyone's input on little details you never would think of. That was my favorite part! I felt like we all got closer as well - I kind of miss the chaos of planning! It felt like a full-time job!
What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?
Our guests LOVED our event decor! I still get compliments on how unique looking our reception was. I think they really liked going to a wedding they haven't really been to before. meaning it wasn't a "been there seen that" type of vibe!
Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
My dad sang to me at our reception before out father daughter dance! I was so surprised! It was such a sweet moment. I wish I could relive it again!
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.
For my haldi event - we went for a yellow/marigold vibe - more traditional. That was the kick off to the week - it was simple and sweet and our guests already loved our decor and food.
For my mendhi event - we did some special details - we did a little boho chic with a peacock chair and I got to wear my dream Aisha Rao lengha! We had some details like a Chaat-cuterie bpard which I saw on tik Tok last minute and HAD to have our decorator recreate it!
For my Sangeet - we didn't have much decor because the venue was already decorated, but we had a little mendhi teepee where people could do their mendhi and our family made us an arch where people could take photos. The highlight of the sangeet was definitely my Shyamal and Bhumika outfit! It was so fun and very on point got my Sangeet! We had about 15 dances too which was a l ot but it went by so fast! So lucky to have so many friends and family participate!
Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
I would say start planning early! Get your venues locked down early and all your vendors. They get booked up so fast and then you miss out on the opportunity!
I would also say, your fiance and you should always be on the same page. It's so important that you both are always aligned in regards to decor, vendors and the guestlist!
Lastly, hair and makeup trials are SO important! I did about 3 makeup trials with my same vendor before my wedding just so I know exactly how it's going to look. I definitely did not want to be surprised the day of!
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 our photographers, Lin and Jirsa! They were so professional and so kind! Best photographers in the game.