Time for another feature wedding, ladies, and today we head down to New York for Christine & Sanjay's stunning contemporary fusion wedding! The couple decided to pay homage to both of their backgrounds and came up with a series of ceremonies planned by the one and only Bells N Rings Events, that were definitely filled to the brim with elegance and style. For this first installment, we will be witnessing everything that went on for the Catholic ceremony and the lovely photo shoot afterward. Who took the amazing pictures? You might be asking. Well, such talented visual mementos could have only been done by Peter Nguyen Studio, of course! And wait until you take a look at Maharani Christine's dazzling and classic white bridal gown! No wonder why Raja Sanjay fell head over heels for this Vietnamese princess! Want to see more? Then head to our gallery of the day and let yourself be enchanted by these two lovebirds' lovely vision! See you there!
How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
We met when I moved from California to NYC to go to pharmacy school and Sanjay was in medical school. We started off as friends and study partners before we began dating but both focused on our career and life goals. I’m a bit of a wild card... but I knew he was the one when I realized that he would never try to change me or expect me to fit the mold of what a wife is supposed to be. Sanjay lets me be exactly who I am and doesn’t allow any perceived gender roles, the expectations of society or the patriarchy, or what anyone else thinks to influence who I am or who I want to be. It’s a priceless thing to be loved, wanted and accepted for exactly who you are and nothing less. I never thought of myself as the marrying kind... but Sanjay’s the kinda guy you wanna marry.
Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
Planning to propose to Christine was the easy part, but executing the surprise while avoiding Christine’s nosy ability to sniff out secrets was the hard part. With the help of family, friends, and Christine’s best doggo, Zipper, Sanjay set up a fake engagement photo shoot for Caroline and Chan using Christine’s role as Caroline’s bridesmaid as the perfect excuse. It worked! The girls spent the previous day getting dolled up and bonding and Christine suspected nothing. On the day of the photo shoot, everyone arrived in his or her preplanned places and the photo shoot got underway. Several shots in, the photographer poses Christine with Sanjay, who suddenly gets down on one knee… and with perfect timing, Zipper trots over with a sign reading “Mom, we love the big guy, can we keep him?” Christine says “YES!” and the couple finishes off a stunning sunset proposal photo shoot. Afterwards, they arrive home to a surprise backyard BBQ engagement party with family and friends and catering from Christine's favorite Taco Lady.
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.
It was important for us to incorporate both our cultures (Indian and Vietnamese) and religions (Hindu and Catholic) into our wedding. We also have a very diverse group of family and friends, so we wanted to be able to partake in and feel included in our ceremonies, events, food, and music. We hired an amazing wedding planner (Meghna from Bells N Rings) who helped us hand pick each vendor, our venue, and our caterer. The food was beyond amazing (with enough delicious variety to satisfy our every diet) and the music had everyone on the dance floor. We were the first wedding at The Conrad to close down a small street in NYC for a Baraat and LeighAnne, our coordinator helped make every single detail a dream come true. I had four outfit changes for each event (Calle Blanche - white wedding dress for the Catholic ceremony, Jacky Tai - Vietnamese ao dai for the Tea ceremony, ShreeDesignerSaree - lengha for Hindu ceremony, and Harleen Kaur - reception dress). Meghna did an amazing job helping to coordinate all the bride’s side of the family flying in from California and made it work with the groom’s side of the family, who is originally from New York. It was a lot of work but worth every bit of planning to have all our family and friends share our day with us.
How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
I used Instagram and word of mouth recommendation from friends to help narrow down the style and look for the Hindu ceremony lengha and Catholic ceremony white wedding dress. I knew the Catholic ceremony dress would be traditional white and I went with Calle Blanche because I love their aesthetic (graceful, smooth lines with intricate beadwork and illusion lace). I selected ShreeDesignerSaree because they worked closely with me to customize my style preferences and bring the dress I imagined to life.
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
The most enjoyable part of the planning process was combining all our cultures and traditions and creating a four day wedding weekend that we shared with our family and friends... and most importantly, learning more about each other and our cultures and religions while creating a space where all our guests could learn about our backgrounds and each feel included throughout our union and celebration.
What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?
Hands down, the food and the music. Everyone (regardless of diet: vegetarians, omnivores, religious restrictions, etc) raved about the food. The music reflected our diverse tastes: from Bollywood to Bachata to old school hip hop to current pop singles, everyone hit the dance floor and stayed there. We still have guests who can’t stop talking about both. We have already recommended both our caterer and our music/media team to several friends for their current engagement planning.
Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
Our first looks. We were lucky enough to have three, one prior to the Catholic ceremony, another prior to the Vietnamese Tea ceremony, and the last one prior to the Hindu ceremony. Each time was emotional and unique. We were married three times in three different ceremonies over the weekend... I think we are probably the most married couple of all time!
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.
The Catholic ceremony theme was moody jewel tones. I had 10 bridesmaids (BriMas) and allowed them each to pick their own dresses and shoes in whatever style and material was most flattering to each. All of my BriMas were a rainbow of different backgrounds, skin color, sizes and all held a unique place in my heart. I wanted their outfits to reflect that. Some wore velvet or lace or sequins but each stood out. The color theme fit well as we were married at The Parish of the Holy Name of Jesus-St Gregory the Great and it had a very beautiful dark Gothic Revival/Medieval architecture to it. This theme carried into all our events which allowed our wedding party their choice of outfit style. Our entire wedding theme embraced the darker, moodier colors of autumn which we felt were more representative of the taste of the bride and groom. Our wedding party choreographed dances that wowed us and all our guests.
Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
Stay true to yourselves. Planning a wedding is stressful enough as it is, and trying to blend and balance two different and uniquely special cultures and religions made it even more so (especially with family expectations!) It’s fine to listen to everyone but at the end of the day, it’s YOUR (bride and groom) choice, so do what feels right for you. Also, it really helped having an amazing wedding planner who volunteered to be our buffer for times when we had to say no (sorry mom, the wedding planner says that’s just not logistically possible!)
Anything else you want to tell us? We'd love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.)
Wedding jewelry was gifted to the bride from her family... with the exception of the mangal sutra, which the groom designed and created with a jeweler into something simple yet elegant to suit the bride’s tastes so that his bride could wear it everyday. It is a gold lotus flower suspended between the mangal sutra beads (detail pictures available). The bridal mehndi was done on Wednesday night to allow full color maturation while the mehndi night was open to friends of the bride and groom so everyone (all ages, male/female, etc) could share in the unique custom. And so the bride could spend time with friends and family instead of tied to one place getting the bridal henna done. The food was deigned with the bride and groom and the caterer, Chef Anand, from scratch and included both Indian and Vietnamese cuisine as well as others (ie: a taco bar because the bride grew up eating lots of Mexican food in California). Make up and hair choices as well as outfits of each bridesmaid and groomsmen were unique to each person’s preferences to further embrace and emphasize our diversity and shared appreciation for each other. We carefully selected our officiants to further this goal. Both the Catholic and Hindu ceremony made the effort to explain every step of the ceremony by the pandit and priest to help our guests understand and learn a little bit about the background of the bride and groom.
Stick around for part two!