Ladies, buckle up because you are about to be blown away by the grand Indian wedding of Chhavi and Sumeet at the elegant The Westin Chicago Northwest! Le Cape Weddings had the privilege of photographing the newlyweds during their seemingly endless significant moments. Starting with a sweet first look that preceded a spirited procession where Raja Sumeet rode a lovely decorated horse from Maharaja Farms and concluding the first part of the day with the glorious ceremony. Maharani Chhavi showed off proudly an intricate mehndi pattern designed by Henna Moments which matched the lovely motifs of her bright red lehenga and transformed her into a real Indian princess! Behind every beautiful wedding is a talented wedding planner and the brilliant Abricoe Designs was the genius behind the elaborate events and ensures that their events come off exactly as desired! Contemplate the large image collection of this precious affair in our full gallery!
How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
Sumeet and I worked together on the same team and became really good friends. A few months later, after he switched teams, we carpooled out of town for a work trip and to my surprise, sang along to Bollywood music for the entire 2.5 hour drive. At the event, we got snowed in and ended up having a snowball fight! I knew right then that he was the one. He perfectly complements my type A, impatient, only-child self with his fun, patient, and kind demeanor.
Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
Our mutual friend had planned a rooftop party on a Friday after work. When I got to the rooftop, I was surprised to see Sumeet standing there in front of the most beautiful Chicago skyline and sunset. Behind him were balloons (I will forever be a child at heart), pictures of us and champagne. He told me about how that day was the first day he walked into our office and joined my team. That meeting turned into a friendship which turned into an amazing relationship that got us to where we were that day. The rest is honestly a blur. I was shaking and overwhelmed by everything. Sumeet got on his knee and proposed with the most BEAUTIFUL ring I have ever seen. Of course I said yes! Minutes later my cousin came out, followed by my parents, then my best girl friends, my high school friends, my college friends, my grad school friends, and my work friends. Everyone from my side I could've ever wanted was there to celebrate with us. Sumeet had arranged an entire party in his apartment afterwards. Somewhere along the way, I questioned why his parents and sister, who live in Maryland, weren't there. As we FaceTimed them, his sister told me that we were flying from Chicago to Maryland the next day! We flew out the next morning and I was surprised all over again! As we got to another celebration Sumeet had arranged, I was welcomed and surprised with a confetti gun entrance, open bar, the most delicious food, dancing, cheesy pictures, guestbook, speeches and so much more. Our engagement party was the most perfect event with all our friends and family that weren't able to celebrate with us in Chicago! Sumeet had even flown out my parents and cousin to Maryland to meet everyone. Our amazing weekend ended with a quick trip to the Mandir. After a quick blessing we went to a small lunch with close family and ended the day with a lot of fun future wedding talk. I couldn't have imagined a more perfect weekend!
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.
I am a planner at heart! I love every element of it! We finished planning details and signing vendors in just a couple months after our proposal. We used vendors our friends had used or ones that my aunt in the industry referred.
Venue: For our ceremony and reception, we chose The Westin Chicago Northwest as it was close to my parents house, had a hotel attached for guests, and had a beautiful outdoor area with a willow tree in front of a lake for our ceremony. Even though we ended up getting rained out and moving our ceremony indoors, it was still magical in their beautiful white tent. The reception ballroom is also massive and opens up to their atrium where we held cocktail hour!
Hair & Makeup: Carrie from Appease, Inc. was probably one of my favorite vendors to work with. She was so sweet, down to earth and so easy to work with.. plus she did a phenomenal job on ALL my looks. I felt like a princess the entire weekend because of her. My makeup always looked perfectly natural and my hair withheld all the crazy dancing I did in it. She even made my mom shine more than she ever has!
Decor: For decor we both wanted the ceremony and reception to be elegant and classy with hints of dusty rose, white, and green. Dream Occasions helped us bring our theme and visions to life. People raved about the beautiful, real flower arrangements everywhere for the reception. Dream also helped us get creative with little details like making a little bar lounge area, made private with flowing curtains.
Catering: My aunt is the owner of Mantra and Indian Garden in Chicago so I am of course biased. She went above and beyond for all the events with the most original food and presentation. Nothing was ever a simple buffet - it was all art waiting to be eaten. Our friends still rave about all the food. We both wish we could go back and be guests at our own wedding!
Mehndi: I found Sheetal from Henna Moments through Facebook and she was wonderful. She makes her mehndi herself and was so knowledgable about all the latest mehndi trends. She took inspo I showed her and paired that with her own creativity to give me some of the best mehndi designs i've ever seen!
DJ: Our DJs were one of the first vendors we decided on. After seeing them at other weddings, we knew we needed DesiBels to hype up all our events. They not only DJ and hype the crowd, but they add on a drummer, a saxophone player and a dhol player to really get everyone going. They even came to my parents house to set up equipment for our smaller events!
How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
I knew I wanted a traditional red lengha for the wedding and a more western gown for the reception. We went bridal shopping in Delhi and I found both my outfits right away! The red lengha was my dads favorite and even though I was hesitant about the price tag, he went ahead and ordered it when I wasn't paying attention. The reception gown I custom designed by putting together elements from a few different ones I found at Frontier Raas in Delhi (best part about shopping in India!). I had gone in with ivory in mind, but was sold on champagne color after trying it out. The main lady there helped draw out the design and made it a reality in just a few months!
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
My favorite part of the planning process was how much it brought everyone together as the big day got closer. It was overwhelming to see how much time and effort our closest friends and family put in to make our weekend special. It wasn't just about all the planning we did, but all the work that went on behind the scenes without us knowing. Planning our wedding wouldn't have been even half as fun if it wasn't for everyone that helped out and made the process more enjoyable for us.
What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?
It was really important to both me and Sumeet to make sure our friends and family were having fun and felt involved at all the events. We took extra time to make sure people important to us wouldn't feel stressed, rushed, or bored at any event.
We wanted our ceremony to mean more than Sanskrit words, so we got a woman priest (Anu Malhotra) that did most of our wedding in English so all our guests could understand! She also worked with us to only keep elements that were important to us, shortening our ceremony to about 45 minutes. Our ceremony might have been the first Indian wedding where everyone was quiet and focused the entire time!
For our reception, we had year table numbers with embarrassing pictures of us from 1990-2018 that people had so much fun taking selfies with! We also had a bar lounge area where people could take a breather. Lastly, we had a secret dance in the middle of open dancing. After people had been dancing for 20-30 minutes, we had a group of our close family-friends break out in a performance! It was so unexpected and people circled around to get great views.
Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
My favorite moment was from the Sangeet. My 4 guy cousins from India sang a song flawlessly, bouncing back and forth between english and hindi. I had no idea they could sing like that! I was already ready for tears by the end of it, but before I knew it, Sumeet hopped in and sang our first dance song with them. My cousin played the guitar while Sumeet sang. Safe to say the waterworks didn't stop after that.
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 smaller events, we wanted a more intimate setting and decided to throw our Haldi, Mehndi, and Sangeet at my parents house. They have a beautiful walkout basement and backyard so we were able to put up large tents. My moms coworker (Blissful Event Creations) decorated our house, basement, and backyard with amazing handmade decor. We also decided to combine all our smaller events to turn it into a ongoing party, and spread things out so everyone had time to really enjoy everything to its fullest. We planned unique activities to make each event fun for our guests.
For our Mehndi party, we decided to kick it off with catered Chipotle instead of traditional Indian food! This was such a hit.. who doesn't love Chipotle? With the help of close family, we turned this into a giant dance and group karaoke party!
We took an ordinary Haldi and turned it into a holi party after the haldi ceremony was done. We had water balloons and water guns ready for everyone to partake in. Kids and adults both had the best time!
Our Sangeet actually ended up getting rained out so we decided to move it to my uncle's hotel that day. We had choora ceremony, couples games, singing and dancing performances by all our closest friends/family, and open dancing with dhol to really get everyone going! The best part was all the street food from around India - from "Nepal" maggi station to "UP" chaat station to "Punjabi" grill station, it was such a hit!
Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
Google Drive is your best friend! I can't imagine planning this wedding without alllll our Google Docs. It really helped keep us organized and on track. Start with a budget and timeline and try to stick to it. Don't be too hard on yourself if things start to get off track, just use the timeline to get yourself organized again! Staying organized helped me set small achievable goals and not get too overwhelmed by all the moving pieces. Also, use the timeline to delegate tasks! Use your friends and family where you can. They'll feel included and you'll feel slightly less stressed.
Anything else you want to tell us? We'd love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.)
I ended up DIY-ing the bridal bouquets. It saved us probably about a thousand dollars on flowers, and was super easy to do! I ordered ready-made bouquets from Costco and all we had to do was cut the bottoms, tape it tightly with floral tape, and pin ribbon around the tape. It honestly took help of just a couple of my bridesmaids and 30 mins to make 7 bridesmaids and 1 bridal bouquet! And it only cost $100 total to make them all!
We also decided to skip cake because it always ends up being dry and after all the other dessert, guests don't end up eating it. It saved us hundreds that we used for other desserts and midnight snacks instead!
A toast to their love! See you in the next post!