Happy Monday, Maharanis! We hope you had a fantastic weekend. We were dying to come back to you with another love memoir. Today we are honored to feature the beauty surrounding Vishaka & Harrison's fusion wedding celebration. In this first episode, we are heading down to the Chinmaya Somnath for their traditional Hindu ceremonies. A perfectly chosen place to host this magical event that, without doubt, brought many new and unforgettable memories to these soulmates by becoming one single unit through love. Underneath a beautiful and lighted mandap, our lovebirds swore their eternal love. The place looked impeccable as the phenomenal talent from Shagun Weddings surrounded every corner with fantastic flowered decors and ornaments that gave a traditional look but, at the same time, a warmed environment. The most remarkable moment of the night was when our Maharani appeared at the entrance and walked through the aisle with her dazzled presence. She was looking way so beautiful as she rightly chose Styles By Swati - Salon SBS for her beauty needs. What a perfect choice! Not to mention the incredible henna art design that Mehndi With Heena created for her. You can relive this moment thanks to the professional work of Akbar Sayed Photography, who will make us sigh with the images they captured and with the film that features the highlights of these events. So make sure to visit today's gallery.
How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
We met at a trivia night in Dayton, Ohio, shortly after the Air Force stationed us both here! The rest is history.
From the Bride:
Harrison always makes me feel safe and protected. He made me feel comfortable being my true self since day one, and before I knew it he broke my walls down and was my best friend. I never had to doubt he would stand by me and stand up for me, but also encourage me to be my best self and grow with me.
From the Groom:
Vishaka always puts me and my needs above her own from the first day and every day since. Her love inspires me to be my best self and I've known from the beginning that she was the woman i wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
He proposed at Disney World, during HIS birthday dinner, on the shores of the Grand Floridian resort while watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks across the lake!
Because it was his birthday I told him he could pick any restaurant that sounded good to him and he said he would make the reservation. When I found out the time of the dinner reservation I was initially super stressed out because we would be missing the Magic Kingdom fireworks, which would start around 15 minutes after our reservation time. He apologized and said he really wanted to eat at this one restaurant and this was the only reservation available, I softened up a bit and told him that we could just watch fireworks at the park the next night. Little did I know that our dinner reservation was at a restaurant with a patio across the lake from Magic Kingdom! He had planned with the restaurant for the waitress to offer to take a photo of us because it was his birthday, at which time they brought out my ring on a platter tucked into Cinderella's slipper along with champagne! Not only did he sneakily manage to capture our big moment with photos, but we also got to watch the fireworks from the patio of the restaurant with the show's audio streamed straight to the restaurant speakers! It was a fairytale night.
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 did our mehndi party at my parents house and kept it at an intimate 70 guests (haha!), whereas our wedding ceremony and reception sat at 200-250 guests.
Wedding day started off with a 3AM wakeup call to start hair and makeup for myself, my mother, and the bridal party. Although it was such an early start to the day, we enjoyed each other's company and my amazing day-of coordinator made a Starbucks run for us. (I absolutely love planning and I wanted to have a say in every detail of our big day, while being respectful of the traditions and rituals that my parents cherish and value, so finding balance was really important. We got a wedding coordinator involved fairly early in the process so that she could make sure all of our voices were heard and so she could bring my vision and planning to life on the big day while my groom, our families, our bridal party, and I were all able to truly enjoy the day. Definitely one of the best investments in wedding planning- we love Anisha from Our Day Events and are so grateful to have her team as part of our dream team!)
We had a tradition-meets-glamour Tamil Brahmin Hindu ceremony in the morning, followed by lunch. This was at a Hindu community center. It felt more spiritually focused than a hotel ballroom but was also a more elegant and private venue than a temple. Because it is a long ceremony and our American guests as well as many of the Indian guests don't know about the beautiful meanings behind the traditions, we did a lot of research with the help of our priest, and put together a narrative script for my cousin (who was my Maid of Honor) to read through so the guests would understand the significance of each phase of the ceremony.
Manju Mehta from Shagun Weddings was great to work with because she makes sure she gets to know each couple and each family to truly personalize your decor and bring your vision to life. She went through every aspect of decor with me from lighting to fabrics and layout of each event space. She also toured the venues with us to ensure that we would get what we wanted. One of the tricky things with a big ceremony like that is when close family members and the bridal party are actively involved in the ceremony it is often hard for guests to be able to watch the ceremony. We rented out special 2 feet tall risers for the whole mandap and jhoola/oonjal (Swing) so that no one would have to stand up or move around to be able to watch our ceremony.
The guests had a few hours of downtime to rest, and in the evening we had cocktail hour, followed by a Christian ceremony at the reception venue that led us straight into our reception. This venue was the embodiment of glamor-- marble floors, grand staircases, and huge chandeliers with an AV system that was out of this world. I really wanted cold sparks (indoor fireworks), and they were able to make that dream come true, but also able to include versatile uplighting, dance floor lighting, and fog/cloud effects for our first dance. The AV systems were incorporated into the venue, so planning for our DJ and lighting and special effects was easy because it all came part of the package!
The evening was basically a luxurious fairytale dream. My family is very traditional in their Hindu background and my husband's side of the family has non-denominational Christian backgrounds, so we wanted to be able to incorporate both traditions into our big day. We are both active duty Air Force officers (which is how we met in Dayton, OH) so he wore his mess dress uniform (or as I like to call it his "Prince Charming getup") for our Christian ceremony and reception.
The trickiest part of wedding planning is figuring out priorities and budgeting. Although parents are often as generous with their wallets as they are boundless with their love, it is important as an Indian-American woman to be able to contribute to her own wedding and minimize unnecessary expenditure when possible. Instead of getting a multi-tiered traditional wedding cake in a few flavors, we opted for a unique twist with Nothing Bundt Cakes! We got a cupcake tower from Amazon, had them place our bundt cake on the top tier, and filled the remaining tiers and our dessert table with bundtinis (their version of cupcakes) in 7 or 8 different flavors! We bought gold cupcake liners from Hobby Lobby in lieu of the dark brown standard ones the bakery uses so that they would tie into our decor theme a little better, and that small detail made a very pretty difference. We also had a variety of Indian pastries on platters, so our guests had a vast repertoire of desserts (and flavors) to indulge in. There were several things we definitely splurged on -- especially venues and photo/videography, but we wouldn't change that for the world. Our venues were beautiful, our decor was true to our vision, we had a dream-come-true day, and above all of it we have breathtaking photography and videography that artfully capture our memories.
How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
For our Hindu ceremony in the morning, I have been dreaming of a luxurious red kancheepuram silk saree from Chennai Silks since the moment I saw it on a commercial several years ago. It was part of their Vivaaha collection and my mom actually went to India to get it for me! I felt so elegant in that saree.
My favorite part was my 9-yard saree which is traditionally worn during the second half of a Hindu Brahmin wedding. I didn't want a cookie-cutter maroon one, but I wanted it to be fun and true to who I am while paying respect to our roots. I actually ended up getting a saree made straight from the silk looms of Kancheepuram with multicolored checkers and a border in my favorite colors: hot pink with gold embroidery!
I knew there was no way I could pull off wearing an all-white gown in front of my parents and 200 of their best friends (as all-white is often considered inauspicious), so my white gown dreams came true in the form of the most beautiful ivory lehenga I've ever laid eyes on (thanks Meenal aunty from Meenal's Indian Fashions in Herndon, VA!).
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
We scripted our Christian ceremony ourselves (as in, I did it with his help in selecting scripture readings) and a close friend of his from college (the United States Air Force Academy) also happens to be an ordained minister so we had her officiate our Christian ceremony. It was a really special and personal touch we were able to add to our day.
I also really enjoyed putting together the narrative for my MoH to read during our Hindu ceremony. Not only did it help our guests understand the phases of the ceremony but it also helped us better understand and appreciate the traditions that we were honoring.
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.
We DIY-ed a lot of stuff! We got blush and gold gift bags in bulk from an online outlet, designed and made our own Thank You stickers using Avery software to put on the bags, and even made our seating cards for our guests at the reception with Avery software and cardstock.
With the help of some of my bridesmaids, I was able to make a sign for the shoe room at the ceremony venue, welcome signs for the ceremony and reception venues, a Pinterest-style sign for free seating at the lunch, and a sign in memory of my great-grandmother for her seat at the wedding ceremony.
Using the Audacity app, I cut the music for several of the dance routines: our first dance, another choreographed Bollywood duet we did, a bride and maid-of-honor duet dance, as well as the music for each of the bridal party entrances and our Christian ceremony entrance! I actually counted the number of steps at our reception venue and timed the counts of music for us to make it down the stairs at the same time and meet in the middle for the ceremony. It all takes time and hard work but all the personal pieces made our day so special.
Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
We had an unforgettable day that still feels like a dream, and we hope it helps inspire other couples to believe you really can have all you want in your big day if you plan for it and make it happen-- no matter the different backgrounds you come from, it'll be a beautiful dreamy union of you and the person you love and choose and fought for, but also your families. Remember that the people you include in your dream team for your dream day should be the people you want and trust to make the best of the day for you.
Anything else you want to tell us? We'd love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.)
Instead of bouquets we did diyas (clay lamps) for each of the bridesmaids to carry down the aisle. We used LED candles inside the lamps and the outside of the lamps were decorated with mirrors and intricate Indian paint patterns.
Mehndi with Heena was an amazing decision for us. Heena aunty and her team were stellar in personalizing my Mehndi and making each woman's experience so special. She included every unique detail of my and Harrison's love story and life into my henna design, and even did a beautiful pattern on his hand with my name written in it. Fabulous genuine high-quality art which I will remain forever grateful for.
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