If there is a word to describe the city of New York, that would be "mystic". There is always something going on in every corner, so much that a sensory overload will definitely happen if you happen to be wandering around its streets! Today, we will focus on one single event that has us completely sighing. Puja & Saad's incredibly luxurious and elegant gala was everything you want out of an Indian style celebration, and of course, we know that there is nothing greater than a wedding! Our talented friends from Studio KSD have for us a film that, as we will see, showcases everything that went on for our couple's day of magic. The stunning bride took the Maharani style up a notch and came out looking out of this world. Flawless Beauty by Pauline in the hair & makeup department and Mehndikalogie with the Mehndi design, were the absolute glam dream team of the night. Their striking work made our Maharani even more beautiful! This bash is a total dream so be sure not to miss it, ladies! Also, don't forget to check us out because if today's filmy left you wanting for more, just wait for the picture gallery from our friends from Salwa Photography! Drop-dead gorgeous!
How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
My husband, Saad, and I met when we were students at Cornell Law School. As a first-year student, I attended the school’s South Asian Law Students Association’s orientation meeting. That was the first time I met Saad, a second-year student, and co-President of the organization. But, we left the meeting as acquaintances after barely saying a word to one another. Our second meeting was similar—months later, we encountered each other by chance in our apartment complex and learned that we were neighbors. Even though the signs were there, we still did not connect until we attended a South Asian Law Students conference in New York City months later. Somewhere over bonding about our shared cultural identity and penchant for the law, we became friends. Over the next four years, we grew from friends to best friends. Even after Saad moved to New York City to begin work, we kept in touch daily. Upon my graduation the following year, I also moved to New York. Once reunited, Saad and I enjoyed exploring the city, laughing while reminiscing about our law school days, and discussing our careers over dinner and Broadway shows. Still, despite our shared South Asian American identities, we never considered each other as life partners because of our differing religious backgrounds.
All of that changed on my 26th birthday. With Saad’s help, I threw a birthday party. Unbeknownst to Saad, I even invited two of my girlfriends, who practice the same faith as Saad, thinking that they might hit it off with him. As the party began to wind down, at the end of the evening I asked my friends what they thought about Saad and if they had gotten his phone number. They said: “He seems like a great guy. But Puja, he’s in love with YOU.” At that moment, my mind began to race. I spent the after-party thinking more and more about it, and finally, when I could not hold it back, I told Saad that maybe there was something more between us. We spent the next month talking about how our relationship could materialize despite our different religions. We soon realized that we could not imagine a world where we were not together, and our relationship turned into a whirlwind romance.
Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
After two years together, Saad planned a surprise proposal. He told me to prepare for a vacation to an unknown destination and to pack some dresses and heels he had bought me for our dating anniversary. The day before we departed for our vacation, Saad gave me a hint—a Venus Et Fleur flower arrangement. I guessed correctly that we were headed to France, but little did I know what else that meant! Once in Paris, Saad told me to be prepared for an early start the next day. The following morning, at 7 am, Saad told me he was taking me for a tour of the Palace of Versailles. When we reached the Palace, Saad directed me towards the Palace gardens. We both took in the serenity and vastness of the gardens as we were the only two people present so early in the morning. It felt like we were royalty walking through our garden.
Saad directed me towards a secluded area of the garden for the proposal. As a historical romance novel enthusiast, I had read descriptions of this garden, Bosquet de L’Encelade. Even though I suspected Saad was going to propose, I was so enamored by the garden that I began to wander until Saad was able to pull me into a corner and kneel on one knee to cap the fairy-tale moment!
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.
Saad and I knew that we wanted to have a traditional South Asian wedding to pay homage to our shared culture. But, we also wanted to get married in New York City, where our relationship began. So, we decided to select a venue that would have city views during our nuptials and allow for Saad to parade to the venue on a white horse in his Baraat, a traditional welcoming procession led by the groom. We selected the Mandarin Oriental due to its floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing Central Park and the New York City skyline, and we decided to have our Baraat in Columbus Circle. Though we decided to have a smaller than a typical wedding for a South Asian wedding of 120 guests, we turned to Sonal J Shah to assist with coordinating our events because they spanned multiple days. We also selected Atlas Floral to execute our selected color palette for the Hindu wedding ceremony of traditional gold combined with a modern twist of 100s of real blush pink roses and hanging crystals. For the reception, we opted for an elegant and glamorous touch with a real rose and crystal-filled ceiling, custom bars with floating candles, a white dance floor with our initials in gold, and a custom-made stage with a backdrop of hanging flowers and candles.
How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
To keep in line with our vision for a traditional South Asian wedding, for my wedding ceremony outfit, I knew I wanted to get married in a classic red Sabyasachi Mukherjee wedding lengha. His designs provide old-world glamour reminiscent of the richness of our shared motherland, pre-colonial South Asia, during a time when maharanis and rajas held court and festive soirées. Accordingly, my mother and I spent two weeks in Mumbai during which time we selected not only my lengha from Sabyasachi Mumbai, but also my wedding jewelry with uncut diamonds and emeralds from Tanishq, and my wedding shoes from the Sabyasachi collaboration with Christian Louboutin. Moreover, we worked with Vanshik to custom make Saad's cream and silver sherwani, Saffo (headpiece), and shoes.
For the reception, I knew that I wanted to wear a modern ballgown. I turned to Manish Malhotra, who is at the forefront of creating modern Bollywood ensembles. I ultimately selected a two-piece champagne-ivory lengha with a tulle bottom and hanging Swarovski crystals that Manish Malhotra custom made for me into a one piece floor-length ballgown.
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
To me, the most enjoyable part of the planning process was selecting our outfits. Because all of my family, on both of my parents' sides, lives in America, I never had the opportunity as a child or young adult of traveling to India frequently or updating my South Asian clothing wardrobe. So, our wedding was my chance to actually visit India and source my own outfits that I had pictured in my head for years! My mother and I experienced Mumbai together for the first time, and though it was overwhelming, we spent two weeks carefully selecting pieces for myself, Saad, my sister, and my father. The results speak for themselves, and we are so proud we were able to pull it off!
What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?
One of the best moments of our wedding was the Baraat. We received permits to shut down Columbus Circle so our guests and Saad could enjoy the Baraat uninterrupted. It was such a unique experience for our guests to party on the streets of Manhattan! Saad says that it was surreal riding a white horse through the middle of the city on his way to get married.
Our reception was also something guests were blown away by. Saad and I revealed no details to our guests at all about the color palette, let alone the 100s of real hanging roses that we had directed be suspended from the ceiling. When the doors opened to the reception, our guests were just in awe.
Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
In the months leading up to our wedding, we learned a great deal about our religions’ wedding practices. One would assume incorporating divergent practices would be difficult. But for me, this actually made me fall in love with Saad even more. During our initial meeting with the Hindu priest, Saad listened so intently that he remembered on our Hindu wedding day that the end of our final phera (circle around the fire), Hindu superstition says whoever sits down first after completing the phera rules the household. On our wedding day, I completely forgot about the game! So, at the end of the phera, Saad waited for me to sit down first and "win." Because of moments like this that, when we reminisce about our wedding, we are filled with a sense of completeness—we had a picture-perfect traditional South Asian wedding in the city where we fell in love and we married as best friends. It was truly the wedding of our dreams.
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 our sangeet and Garba, we opted to charter the Atlantica Yacht and circle the Statue of Liberty as we danced the night away.
Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
Have a vision and stick to it! I think it is so easy to be influenced by what you see on social media or blogs. While it is important to source these channels in order to come up with a vision, once the vision is created, I think it is important to stick to it, even if it may seem difficult at times. For me, I had a very clear color palate selected for my bridesmaids, and even when it was difficult to find that color, I still stick with it and ultimately found what I needed. That being said, I think it is also important to change your vision if needed. I realized peonies were going to be difficult to source the time of year we had our wedding, so I decided to use other flowers instead.
Anything else you want to tell us? We'd love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.)
For my henna I decided to combine our South Asian culture, New York, and our jobs as attorneys. I had the scales of justice and a gavel drawn alongside a maharani and maharaja and the New York City skyline. I also included the Eiffel Tower, where we took our engagement photos, and a peacock, the national bird of India.
More to come in no time, stay with us!