Maharanis, Thursday is here, and with it, another romantic story comes your way! Christine & Shivam are a gorgeous couple who said "I do" to a new journey as one soul. They decided to host their wedding celebration at the exclusive Brooklake Country Club. My dears, this place has magical views, gorgeous sunsets, and the best part, you are assured of their undivided attention because they host only one wedding at a time. I think this place is excellent for making your romantic wedding a reality! Every wedding plan deserves the best team. Our couple went with Blissfully So, and their choice was great! This team planned the wedding perfectly and teamed up with Nirali Decor and SK Floral Expressions to create the perfect flowery ambiance for every event. Maharanis, I cannot emphasize enough how charming every detail of the wedding and the reception was. Our couple looked happier than ever! Along with this phenomenal planning and decoration, the musical touch was perfect. Thanks to the enthusiasm Amit Kapoor delivers, every single guest danced and celebrated the love Christine & Shivam have for each other. Now it is time to talk about the impressive hair and makeup by Cindy Naylis-Pin It Up & Pout and the beautiful dress Indian Ethnics designed for our lovely Christine. She looked like the gorgeous Maharani she is. Ishan Fotografi is the perfect duo conformed by the talented husband and wife behind the most incredible photographs of this remarkable wedding. But don't take my word! Take a moment to enjoy the jaw-dropping gallery we have put together for you. I promise you will love it, not to mention that you'll get tons of inspiring ideas!

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How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
I first met my groom, Shivam in spring 2012 through a community service organization in college, called Circle K International, and we saw each other over the years at various Circle K events. After graduating college we both moved to New York City around the same time in 2015. When Shivam realized I was also living in the city, he asked me to meet up for happy hour after work one day. For two people who didn't really know each other, we ended up talking for over four hours. We finally went on our first official date a few months later, and that was all I needed to know he was the one.

Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
Shivam was dropping all sorts of hints before we got engaged so I had a pretty good feeling it was going to happen soon. We were celebrating our dating anniversary and Shivam had wanted to recreate our first date. He made plans to go to a nice brunch restaurant in the Meatpacking District and then walk the high line together. We ended our walk on a pier along the Hudson River which is when he got down on one knee and pulled out a beautiful ring. He surprised me later that night by taking me to a bar near my apartment where all our friends had gathered to celebrate with us.

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 knew I wanted a wedding that honored both cultures and religions, and I knew that was easier said than done so... Shivam and I both agreed we needed to have a long engagement! We got engaged in June 2019 and took our time deciding on a venue and date eventually booking for May 15, 2021. We found a venue near where I grew up, the Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park, NJ that was so flexible in meeting all our needs with number of guests, Indian and American catering, etc. I knew I wanted to have a Hindu ceremony in the morning with a break, then a Christian ceremony in the evening followed by cocktail hour and reception. To make it easier for guests, we decided to have the Hindu ceremony at a hotel in the morning so that after the ceremony, guests could change at the hotel before shuttles would take them to Brooklake for the evening events. We decided on the Westin Governor Morris in Morristown, NJ which was just ten minutes from the evening venue. In January 2020 we had finally booked the venues, and both our families were happy with our plan for the wedding. 

Of course by March 2020 we faced totally new challenges due to the start of the pandemic. At first we thought we would be fine for May 2021, but as the date got closer we knew that plans would have to be adjusted. The pandemic definitely took a lot of the fun out of wedding planning, but I tried to keep things in perspective that we were very fortunate that our family and friends were all healthy. I like to plan as much as possible far in advance, but we held off on a lot of planning because there was so much uncertainty due to the pandemic. In the end, we went ahead with May 15 and cut our guest list in half due to the restrictions at the time. We got very lucky that the vaccine rollout started to pick up by March so we encouraged our guests to get vaccinated in time for our wedding (even helping some guests to schedule appointments). We ultimately had about 90% of our wedding guests vaccinated in time for our wedding which made us feel a lot more confident to move forward with it.

My in-laws also arranged to have the wedding livestreamed which ended up working out so well! Shivam and I had many friends and family tune in to the livestream, and they really enjoyed that they could still be a part of our wedding even if they could not physically be there.

How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were very helpful taking me shopping for my Indian clothes and jewelry shopping. I looked at several different lenghas, and eventually decided on a traditional red lengha from Miss India in Edison, NJ. I loved the heavy gold work in the dress because I knew I most likely will never wear a dress like that again. In the evening, I wore a traditional Stella York ivory wedding gown that I picked out shopping in NJ with my mom and sister.

What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
As our wedding date got closer, my mother-in-law took my mom, sister, aunt, and cousins to Edison to shop for Indian clothes. We ended up having so much fun shopping together! I was happy my family got some of the Indian shopping experience and both families got to know each other better. 

What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?
I think our guests really appreciated that we truly had a fusion wedding. For many guests, it was their first time attending an Indian wedding, and they loved getting to see the baraat and Hindu ceremony, and dressing up in traditional Indian attire. For many people on Shivam's side, it was unique for them to get to attend a Christian wedding ceremony so they really enjoyed seeing that part. Shivam and I also wrote our own vows for our Christian ceremony, and many guests told us that they really enjoyed this because they got to know us as a couple better. I was overall so grateful that we were able to have our guests experience both wedding ceremonies on the same day. This was my original vision for our wedding to be a true celebration of both cultures and religions, and I was really happy that our wedding was unique in this way.

Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
Years ago when I went to my first Indian wedding, I remember LOVING the baraat. It's like having a big party in the parking lot before your wedding, and why wouldn't you want to kick off your wedding day with a party in the parking lot!! For this reason, having a fun baraat was SO important to me (although I know the baraat is for the groom's side, not the bride).

For our wedding, my sister-in-law helped Shivam and I plan some "flash mob style" dances to surprise our guests at the end of the baraat. The groom's side still started the baraat as usual, but I told anyone from my side to join too. I waited for the baraat to reach the site of the ceremony with some of my family members. It was a really nice time to relax with my family and take in the day before things got too crazy. As the baraat reached us, I could see Shivam dancing with his parents, and it made me so happy. I felt so lucky in that moment to be marrying into such a beautiful culture with such fun traditions.

My sister-in-law arranged for a few different groups to do some choreographed dances when the baraat reached the ceremony, and I joined the dances at the end. Our guests LOVED the surprise performances. It was a part of the day, where I had to remind myself that I wasn't dreaming, and this was actually my wedding.

Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
My advice for brides-to-be is to make sure you don't lose sight that your wedding day is really for you and your partner. There is so much that goes into planning a wedding, and so many people are involved. It's easy to lose sight of what the day is really about. I had a few really special moments with my husband throughout our wedding day, but I wish I had carved out more time for us. I think your wedding day is one of the few times where you're allowed to be a little selfish so try not to worry too much about your wedding guests. If your budget allows, maybe hire someone who can help throughout the day so that you don't get caught up worrying about the random little details and can enjoy your day more.

Anything else you want to tell us? We'd love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.)
This should go without saying, but just in case... There are a lot of important details that go into planning a wedding, but THE most important part is the partner waiting at the end of the aisle for you. Wedding planning is really tough, but all of us brides should try to keep things in perspective and remember, we are already the lucky ones because we found our partners.

Best of luck to all the brides planning their weddings

My dears, that is all for today! Come back tomorrow for more love and romantic stories!

Venues: Brooklake Country Club | Photography: Ishan Fotografi | Husband & Wife Wedding Photographers | Wedding Bands: Blue Nile | Ceremony Venue: The Westin Governor Morris | Planning & Design: Blissfully So | Floral & Decor (Wedding): Nirali Decor | Hair & Makeup: Cindy Naylis-Pin It Up & Pout | DJ: Amit Kapoor | Cake & Treats: Conca D'Oro | Invitations & Wedding Stationery: Truly Engaging by MagnetStreet | Floral (Reception): SK Floral Expressions | String Players: Romanza Music | Engagement Ring: James Allen | Wedding Attire: Indian Ethnics