Be ready to sigh ladies, because Julia and Jay's fusion wedding storyline chronicled by the brilliant Jorge Santiago Photography will deeply touch your heart! These high school sweethearts started their wedding journey with a “Leap Day Proposal” on February 29th, (Yes, you read that correctly, Julia embraced the rare occasion and popped the question to Jay!). Their special day at the gorgeous Urban Room of the Omni William Penn was an absolute dream come to true, decorated by Pearl Celebrations, the majestic hall featured an elegant long aisle runner that led to a marvelous white mandap that created an inviting ceremony ambiance. Maharani Julia was ready to immerse herself into the marriage rites with glamour and grace, wearing a mesmerizing silk saree and an astonishing mehndi design by Kadambari Arts, while exquisite jewelry festooned her to complete the ultimate south Indian assemble. Explore our full gallery and follow me into the second part of this fascinating fusion wedding!
Pittsburgh, PA Indian Fusion Wedding by Jorge Santiago Photography
How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
Jay and I actually met for the first time in 4th grade when I started at the elementary school where he was a student! To be honest, I wasn't the biggest fan of Jay for the first several years we knew each other, we were in a lot of the same classes and extracurricular activities, and I always felt a major rivalry with him. Jay was smart, athletic, and musical, but was always so nice and humble that I couldn't even feel justified hating him for it! In eighth grade, Jay considered transferring to private school, and I was so excited that my "competition" might be leaving. Luckily for us, that didn't work out and Jay ended up sticking around at our public school for high school.
Around 11th grade, as Jay and I developed our separate interests and began to pursue different goals, the competitiveness I had once felt with him began to fade and I realized- all the things I hated him for in middle school were actually...really awesome qualities. Over the course of that year I developed a major crush on Jay, but being the sweet, oblivious kid he was, he had NO idea.
Finally, in September of our senior year just before homecoming, Jay and I were called down to the guidance office to be given some sort of academic award. The guidance counselor, who also happened to be my volleyball coach (and knew about my crush on Jay), slyly suggested that the two award winners go to the homecoming dance together. On the walk back to class we laughed about the attempted set up, and I mentioned that I did actually need a date for the dance. I was so nervous (let's be honest-what awkward 16-year-old girl in that situation wouldn't be?!), but I vividly remember Jay putting a reassuring arm around me and saying "you're my girl!" I'm not sure if I knew right then that he was "the one", but I definitely knew that it was the start of something really special!
Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
By the time 2016 rolled around, Jay and I had been together for about 7 years and we were starting to seriously discuss long-term plans. At that point, we had established that we definitely wanted to be married to each other, but hadn't really figured out the specifics of the proposal or engagement. I'm not sure how or why this came to me, but in early February of that year, I had a brilliant and sort of ridiculous plan-what if I proposed to him?! I love planning surprises, and this would be QUITE the surprise-it seemed perfect!
Not knowing whether or not this was an acceptable move, I did exactly what everyone does when they don't know the answer to a question-I googled it. In my internet research I discovered that, traditionally, there's only one day every few years when a woman can propose to a man--Leap Day--and as fate would have it, 2016 was a Leap Year!
This was all wonderful and thrilling except for the fact that, by the time I figured this all out, it was February 19th. In a panic, I called Jay's brother Rajeev and his wife Shweta to run my idea by them-I figured that if they thought it was a little too out there, I'd just give it up and stick with a traditional proposal. I was expecting a lot of questions or at least some hesitation, but they greeted my proposal plan with nothing but MAJOR enthusiasm! Their excitement gave me the push I needed, and I decided to move forward my plan. The next step, however, was much more intimidating.
I knew I was going to chicken out if I didn't do this right away, so immediately after I talked to Raj and Shweta, I picked up the phone and called Jay's parents. They answered the phone and I awkwardly explained the Leap Day tradition and told them all about my plan. They definitely had more questions than Raj and Shweta, but after talking it through for a few minutes they got on board and gave me the go-ahead for the Leap Day proposal!
Jay and I both tend to be pretty low-key, so I decided against doing a grand public proposal and opted for something a little chiller. The morning of Leap Day I told Jay I would make him breakfast (which was unusual because I never cook). I planned to put together a beautiful breakfast, make a heartfelt speech, and give him the super cool antique ring that I'd picked out for him. However, by that morning, I was a nervous wreck and realized that there was no way I would be able to keep it together for long enough to say any of the lovely things I was planning. While Jay was in the next room, I hurriedly whipped up some of the saddest scrambled eggs I've ever made, wrote "marry me?" on the plate in sriracha sauce, and called him into the room. At that point I was so nervous that I literally couldn't speak, so I just sort of tossed the plate at him. He looked at it briefly and kind of chuckled before doing a huge double take and realizing what was going on. I handed him the ring (still unable to speak) and...he said yes!!
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
Jay's parents are absolute superstars and did all of the heavy liftings throughout the wedding planning process, so the whole thing was actually pretty enjoyable for us! There were definitely a ton of really fun moments throughout the last two years of planning (who doesn't love shopping and tasting cupcakes?!) but I think one of my very favorite aspects of the process was going through the specifics of the ceremony with Jay's mom and dad and learning the symbolism of each step in the ceremony and each item on the altar. Jay's family has always been incredibly open and welcoming, but getting to share in their traditions in such an intimate way and work together with them on all of this was really special!
Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
Jay and I are both generally pretty low-key people, so there were definitely some overwhelming moments throughout the course of the wedding weekend. In retrospect though, some of the most stressful moments were my favorites because Jay and I were able to bond over the nervousness we were both feeling and work as a team to get through it!
I have especially fond memories of the moments just before our big entrance into the reception hall. We were both in a panic because we'd picked out an entrance song with some swear words pretty prominently featured at the beginning, and we realized we hadn't told the DJ to play the edited version. There really wasn't anything that could be done about it so we just stood there cracking up waiting for the song to start and picturing all of our guests absolutely scandalized by Drake and Future. It ended up working out fine (the DJ thankfully just played the chorus) but in that stressful moment, I felt so close to Jay because we were both in this awkward, kind of hilarious position and just had to roll with it the best we could!
Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
Don't sweat the small stuff! Things inevitably will go wrong, but I can almost guarantee that no one will notice! Apparently, during our ceremony, the priest's lens fell out of his glasses and he couldn't see to read the program, so Jay's mom ended up whispering the directions to him for most of the ceremony. We were right next to him while all of this was happening and we didn't even notice, so I know for a fact that none of the guests had a clue. That (and all of the other small mishaps that went unnoticed throughout the weekend) just goes to show-no one attending your wedding is there to scrutinize every small detail-they're there because they love you and they want to celebrate your marriage. So relax and enjoy everything will be perfect (even if it's not perfect)!
Check out the second part of this story coming up next!
DJ: Magic Mike DJs | Photography: Jorge Santiago Photography | Sangeet Venue: Omni William Penn | Ceremony & Reception Venue: Omni William Penn | Planning & Design: Rana Khan - Pearl Celebrations | Floral & Decor: Rana Khan - Pearl Celebrations | Hair & Makeup: Louise Pittavino | Catering: The Taj Mahal | Mehndi Artist: Kadambari Arts