Sarina and Neal had a wedding straight out of a fairytale in one of the most historic and beautiful US cities - Washington DC! Their ceremony and reception took place at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel which featured beautiful spaces for events and portraits by Rodney Bailey Photojournalism. In order to pull off a wedding of this caliber, Sarina and Neal took about a year to plan every glamorous detail. Plus, they brought in an all star team of planners from Engaging Affairs to ensure no stone lay unturned! For her ceremony, Sarina was the most spectacular of brides in a hot pink lehenga embellished with heavy jewels. Bridal Elegance by Suman Khosla brought their magic brushes to dazzle Sarina up further. She was breathtaking in her rosebud lips, sultry eyes, and glam updo. Floral and decor was executed by L'Ambiance Weddings, who definitely lived up to their name as they transformed the space to resemble a luxurious pink castle, resplendent with gleaming chandeliers and rich florals and draping. Deep hues and lush blooms adorned every surface, which gave a soft, mysterious effect to the event. The duo’s Hindu and Sikh ceremonies were meaningful and emotional, and guests cheered as they were pronounced husband and wife! We'll be posting details about all the action at Sarina and Neal's action-packed reception, but while you wait, check out the full gallery by Rodney Bailey Photojournalism below. And scroll on for our interview with the main Maharani herself!
How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
We met through a mutual friend, also named Sarina. We casually hung out for about 2 months. On the way back from a beach trip, we decided maybe we should "DTR" (Define the Relationship) as we were enjoying each others company and looking forward to what was to come. The Memorial Day weekend beach trip became a tradition of ours, until 2017, when it became our wedding weekend.
Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
Neal went to UVA for undergrad and decided to take me there for Valentine's Day in 2015. We had such a great time at the wineries and loved Pippin Hill Winery specifically for its amazing view. On April 29, 2016, my mom got the greatest 60th birthday gift, as Neal popped the question at Pippin Hill winery. We went home that evening to see both of our parents, wish my Mom a happy birthday and then celebrated the next night with our family and closest friends.
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 got engaged at the end of April 2016. We did not jump into planning right away. We wanted to enjoy and relax some and decided we will start the planning in June, giving us about a year for the process. We had a full service wedding planner and were really involved in the planning. It was a full time job and more! We had contemplated doing a destination wedding, checking out many venues in Miami on the beach. In the end we decided home is where the heart is. It just made more sense given that both of our families are from the DC area. We had a vision and worked hard to make that happen. We kicked off our events with a Miami themed all white cocktail party at Bethesda Country Club, the following day was a Mehendi Ki Raat at Neal's parents backyard in Potomac, MD. A few days later I had my ladies Mehendi at my parents house in Potomac, MD as well while Neal had his Yagneopavit ceremony (thread ceremony). The next day we packed up and headed to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in DC to get settled for wedding day. The next morning I got up at 345 AM, started hair and makeup so I could be ready to watch the baraat and milni from the balcony overlooking the front circle at the Mandarin. We had two ceremonies: the Anand Karaj (Sikh Ceremony) followed by the Hindu ceremony. Following the ceremonies we had lunch catered by Bollywood Bistro. The next day we had our wedding reception in the Grand Ballroom of the Mandarin, catered by Moghul. For the ceremony, our colors were hot pink, gold and coral. I absolutely love bright colors and our decorator, L'Ambiance Weddings, definitely made that happen. For the reception our colors were navy and gold and went for a regal living room theme. At midnight, we changed into comfy custom after party outfits and headed to the Gallery Room, which overlooks the Potomac River. We ended the night with an after after party in Presidential Suite. All of the events were amazing and epic, just like we wanted. The most important part was the people. We have the best friends and family!
How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
I knew I wanted bright and non traditional colors. My mom and I went to India in January 2017 with hot pink, orange and coral in mind. I really wanted two tones as well, not just one solid color. Nothing ready made was my style so I got my lengha made in Delhi at a bridal boutique. For the reception, Neal and I wanted navy and gold as we love that combination. I ended up seeing a lengha that was perfect at Manish Malhotra and designed the blouse to go with it.
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
Probably picking a venue and date! That is when things start to fall into place. Before that you are super stressed and cannot have a clear vision. The whole process was stressful but that is because we are perfectionists. Everything came out amazing but there are always hiccups. I tell my friends who are in the planning process to be prepared for it because it is bound to happen and most likely no one else will notice.
What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?
I was very particular about the look of the ballroom for our reception. We wanted regal, classy and sexy. We got tons of compliments. I am very pleased with our decor. We also loved having our unique touches such as canvas photos, a strings trio playing music and specialty cocktails for cocktail hour. Then during the main reception we had a candle wall, large floral initials on the place card table, a photo booth with a custom logo background, a cardboard cut out, saxophone player, Cyr wheel performer and stilt walkers. We got custom after party outfits made and got late night food from Bolt Burger. A lot of people complimented the food (Moghul). We did a tandoori quesadilla station as we both love Mexican food. We also made sure to have top shelf options at the bar. I don't know what people enjoyed the MOST but it seems like everyone had a great time! Again, to us it the people.
Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
Yes, our "first look." We did this at 730AM in the garden at the Mandarin. Neal was more emotional than me. Normally it is the other way around so we were laughing. I didn't want to mess up my makeup and I just wanted to get the ceremonies over with! Since we couldn't see each other after I had my mendhi done, I just wanted to get the ceremonies done so I can be with my favorite person 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.
Our first event, the Miami themed cocktail party was a great way to kick off the events. Neal wore a white tuxedo and I wore a long white gown. We had latin dancers, latin food, a congo player and great music. Then the next night, we had a traditional sangeet type event with dance performances and singing. It was such a fun weekend with two different but equally amazing events.
Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
Try on your full outfit and jewelry prior to get comfortable in it, make a list of groups for photos, get comfortable heels, be prepared for everything to not go perfect, always add an hour or more buffer time for hair/makeup, enjoy the moments, do an engagement or photo session with the same photographer you will be using to get to know each other and be ready for your face to hurt from smiling for a million photos!
Anything else you want to tell us? We'd love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.)
Our cake was from Fluffy Thoughts Cakes. It was beautiful! We told the owner our colors and vision and she drew it up and made it happen with our custom logo. We were really pleased with the design. We really loved our photographer as well-- Rodney Bailey Photography. Highly recommend them.
The gorgeous reception up next!