Happy Tuesday, darlings! Today, we are delighted to share Ahimsa & Rishi's wedding celebration with all of you. And believe us, there is so much beauty, and flair packed into this intimate event celebrated during COVID that it seemed taken out from the pages of an Indian fairytale. Everything surrounding this celebration hosted at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest had perfection written all over the place. Utsav Planners, Inc. took care of the planning and decor, while Michael B. Anthony took care of the spectacular floral arrangements. This winning combination created the perfect setting for this life-changing event, and the final result was nothing less than exceptional! Although everything was mesmerizing, nothing compared to Ahimsa's royalty look. So big kudos to Kim Quraishi and Amanie Mokdad for the glamorous hairstyle and makeup designed for our lovely Maharani. And we cannot talk about beauty and royalty looks without mentioning the artistic Mehndi designed by Ekta Kansara. It was amazing! After the ceremony, this wedding transitioned into a reception party enlivened by DJ Ice & Fresh Productions. In between dances, emotional speeches, and the delicious treats prepared by Sweet Heather Anne, this festive night got to an end. But if you can't get enough of this lovely couple, don't miss today's jaw-dropping gallery by Ray Anthony Photography. It will make your heart melt, and you will get tons of inspiring ideas for your wedding!

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Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
Rishi pulled a fast one! He and I were slated to vacation in Thailand in mid-September. Leading up to the proposal, Rishi and our friends began dropping obvious, but ultimately untrue hints that the proposal was happening in Thailand. It did the trick because I was super confused and primed for the actual proposal. During Labor Day weekend, Rishi flew from San Francisco to DC to visit. On the proposal day, Rishi first took me for brunch to Ted’s Bulletin in Eastern Market. The spot has a special significance for us because it’s where our close, mutual friend Ronak introduced us on a snowy night over chocolate under the pretext of a low-key hangout. After brunch we headed to a health policy lecture across town near the iconic Meridian Hill Park. The talk was a ruse. Right before we got to the “talk,” Rishi made up an excuse to see a friend at the park. As soon as we arrived, and he asked me to stand near the fountain, it finally hit me that he was about to propose. As I anxiously walked to where he was, he first delivered a beautiful speech, got down on one knee, and proposed. When I called my parents to tell them the news, I suddenly saw them there, along with Rishi’s parents and Ronak all running over to congratulate us! I was in complete shock and overwhelmed by all the love. Later that night, Rishi planned a surprise dinner with our close friends and family at a restaurant in Georgetown, and we ended the night dancing near the Georgetown harbor.

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 didn’t plan one wedding, but actually three. Once COVID-19 hit, after much deliberation and carefully tracking the COVID-19 restrictions, we chose the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti Eagle Crest in Michigan for our venue. The hotel had a beautiful outdoor area nestled amidst a breathtaking scene of pine trees, a golf course, and a lake where the wedding would be held. The hotel also offered a great backup option in case of inclement weather. Although autumn weather in Michigan is unpredictable, we were lucky with a gorgeous sunrise and sunny, blue skies for the entire duration of the wedding.

For our decorator and wedding planner, we chose Utsav Planners. They were our life savers and incredibly supportive as we went through the various options and the inevitable stress surrounding trying to plan a wedding in the midst of a global pandemic. Because they had experience in this realm, they were knowledgeable about precautions to take and came up with unique ideas for our décor and wedding. Their attention to detail, dedication to our wedding vision, and flawless execution the day of our wedding helped us be present to really enjoy our wedding festivities.

Rishi and I were committed to ensuring the safety of our guests during the pandemic. We requested (more like demanded!) that they and our vendors get tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of attending our wedding. We emphasized physical distancing protocols throughout the wedding and ordered colorful, décor-consistent filtered masks for our guests. We were grateful for the opportunity to celebrate our love during the pandemic.

I chose a unique color scheme of green, orange, purple, and blush for the wedding because they encompassed and reflected autumn undertones and beautifully complemented the fall colors. Given our respective cultural backgrounds, I also incorporated two underlying themes of traditional South Indian and North Indian décor for the wedding luncheon. Because both of us are drawn to Indian classical music, we included music-related themes intertwined with fragrant, bright flowers for the table centerpieces. Our cake decorator (Sweet Heather Anne) designed various Indian instruments on our cake to tie the theme together. My goal for the overall wedding aesthetic was vibrant, elegant, and timeless.

I was also keen on bringing an extra personal touch to our wedding and many of our friends were able to bring their personal touch to our wedding. Prior to the wedding, my close friends and family from around the world created a compilation of bhajans (devotional songs) which we played throughout the wedding festivities. Many of my friends were able to participate in the Milni ceremony (joining of the families). My uncle and three close friends walked me down the aisle under a vibrant phoolon ki chaadar (blanket of flowers). My family friend, Supriya (www.supriyakharod.com) designed our beautiful wedding programs, which we also electronically sent to our guests who were watching our wedding live on YouTube. My childhood friend Asha (www.instaetchstudio.com) designed lovely navy wood coasters adorned with sitar, tabla, mridangam, nadaswaram and thavil engravings as wedding favors.

Our two close friends checked all our guests’ temperatures before the wedding, handled other wedding logistics, and helped to prevent any technical glitches for our family and friends watching our wedding virtually. Our close friends played classical music throughout the entire wedding to help set the mood and tone of the wedding. Our family friends also helped immensely by organizing the priest’s items for the mandap (altar) and gauri puja (prayer to Goddess Parvati), and taking care of some wedding logistics. My friends and family brilliantly collaborated together to successfully steal Rishi’s shoes (#operationhappyfeet). And last but not least, our family and friends collaborated to bring us personalized wedding messages and dances that we watched as a virtual celebration in the evening.

Our caterer Suvai delivered traditional and mouth-watering South Indian breakfasts on the morning of the wedding while restaurant Rangoli created a beautiful array of North Indian appetizers and entrees for our wedding luncheon.

Because we were unable to go shopping in India for our wedding attire, I selected a traditional two-tone kanchivaram sari from Hyderabad after countless Whatsapp calls and pictures. Rishi also purchased his gold sherwani (suit) with a purple pagri (turban) and dupatta (stole) from Bangalore and Delhi. For my mehendi (henna) event, I selected a vibrant-colored lehenga from a store in Chicago. I was fortunate enough to have the best of the makeup, hair, mehendi, and sari tying artists in the Detroit metro area. Amanie Mokdad did the bridal party’s makeup, Kim Quraishi did the bridal party’s hair, and Ekta Shah Kansara did my mehendi and tied saris for the bridal party. DJ Ice and Fresh was our DJ, who absolutely rocked Rishi’s baraat and our wedding. Ray Anthony was our photographer, and District Media was our videographer. Michael B. Anthony and Aishwarya Flowers were our florists, and we got our cake from Sweet Heather Anne.

We planned our wedding across the country living in California under COVID-19 restrictions, and it was an intense wedding planning process. Our parents’ endless support and involvement combined with Rishi and my dad’s strong negotiation skills helped us execute the wedding plan. I learned a lot more than I ever needed to know about contracts, how to search for the right vendors based on our vision for the wedding, and planning sufficient numbers of backup options. It really helped that all of our vendors were talented, incredible to work with, supportive, and made our wedding planning process smooth.

What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
I enjoyed planning the wedding with Rishi and I think we got a chance to better understand each other through this process and grow even stronger together as a couple. The profound love, guidance, and encouragement we received from our family and friends, from making the decision to get married in October, to being on call and helping us with every small wedding detail, made the experience much more enjoyable and easier to surpass.

What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?
The best compliments we got after the wedding were about the ambiance, sophisticated décor and delicious food. But I think what blew everyone away the most is that we ran the entire program on time…perhaps a first for an Indian wedding!

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 hosted a 20-25-person nalangu and mehendi ceremony the Thursday before the wedding in my backyard. We used fresh marigolds, mango leaves, banana trees, and rangoli as traditional décor for the nalangu on our patio in the morning. The mehendi color scheme was orange, green, yellow, and red to create a colorful and fun ambiance. We used a vibrant backdrop with multi-colored pillows, urlis, and umbrellas as décor. The mehendi was in a tent with outdoor seating in the vicinity. Krishna Catering & Restaurant catered our lunch and Suvai catered our dinner which included different types of chaat and various types of dosa with all the condiments, and dessert. Ekta Kansara did my beautifully designed mehendi and hair and Amanie was my fabulous makeup artist. It was an exciting kickoff to the wedding festivities!

Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
Don’t fight what’s beyond your control. Know that you did everything you could for your wedding and surrender the rest. Remember to enjoy the festivities and be present for the entire wedding celebration.

Planning a wedding during a pandemic can be difficult and frustrating, but know that virtually all couples face the same set of challenges. Do not hesitate to reach out for help. Having friends and family as a support system is also incredibly helpful to help you stay sane during the wedding process and wedding. Oh, and make sure you actually eat on your wedding day!

We are preparing something special for you, so make sure to join us tomorrow for more!

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Planning & Design: Utsav Planners,Inc. | Floral & Decor: Utsav Planners,Inc. | DJ: DJ Ice & Fresh Productions | Venues: Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest | Florist: Michael B. Anthony | Garland & Hair Flowers: Aiswarya Flowers | Welcome Sign & Wedding Party Favor Coasters: InstaEtch Studio | Priest: Shastriji Giriswami | Hair: Kim Quraishi | Makeup: Amanie Mokdad | Catering (Mehendi): Taste of India Suvai | Catering (Wedding): Rangoli Indian Cuisine | Cake & Treats: Sweet Heather Anne | Cinematography: Media District | Draping/Styling: Ekta Kansara | Mehndi Artist: Ekta Kansara | Wedding Programs: Supriya Kharod | Wedding Favors (Chocolates): Corden Chocolates | Photography: Ray Anthony Photography