The colorful Sikh - American wedding that joined Ruhi and Charlie’s lives resulted in the most delightful and inspiring wedding day! This northern Michigan couple chose The Homestead Resort to celebrate their wedding weekend, this natural spot was the perfect place to gather their dearest and nearest to witness a fantastic Sikh wedding ceremony al fresco. The warm summer environment combined with the bright blooms Sweetwater Floral added to the arch framing the ceremonial scene are the perfect way for the crowd to witness the ceremony under equally colorful tents. Ruhi exuded amazing radiance in a light pink lehenga that harmonized with the mehndi patterns Ekta Kansara outlined on her hands. While the dashing groom Charlie pulled off a great look with his cream outfit and feathered maroon turban which turned him into the epitome of the Punjabi groom. Nathan English Photography took every snap of the glorious ceremony which was wonderfully planned by the expert team of Utsav Planners, Inc.! See all the wonders that this Sikh fusion wedding has in our full gallery!
How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
We met in College (Albion College) and our relationship stemmed from a very strong friendship. When we met, we knew there was a spark but we were both at a time in our lives where a relationship wasn't the best fit. We spent every minute together and became each others' 'person'. I knew Charlie was the one when we were both at a party on campus in one of the fraternities. We were both on the dance floor hanging out with a group of friends when suddenly the fire alarm goes off. Everyone started flooding out this one door and it was getting a bit crowded. Next thing I know, Charlie is literally sweeping me off my feet and yelling "I have precious cargo" and moving people out of the way to get me out. We finally get outside and it is pouring rain. Charlie walks me back to my room and we had every girl's dreamy-the notebook love story-kiss me in the rain first kiss. Neither of us was really expecting it as we were just friends, but hey, when the timings right :) Things started transitioning from a more friendship to flirty relationship and it wasn't long before Charlie took me on a walk around campus where we sat on our bench and we both confessed our love for each other. During summers away from school, we both lived 5 hours apart, but Charlie always took the train in because we couldn't stand to be apart for too long. Every day our love for each other grew stronger and the rest was history... :)
Charlie is someone I can truly be myself around. He celebrates my successes and encourages me through my defeats. He never judges and always listens. He has always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and has been my rock while I finished school. He is the love I have prayed for and everything I could ask for in my Husband and future Father of our children. He is the Jim Halpert to my Pam Beasley.
Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
Early on in our relationship, we talked about our bucket lists and I had mentioned to Charlie that it has always been a dream of mine to go on a Hot Air Balloon ride. Fast forward 4 years and I had just finished my first year of my Master's program and Charlie surprised me with a trip to Northern (Traverse City) Michigan. We have always been avid admirers of Michigan Sunsets and Charlie suggested we watch the sunrise during this trip. We woke up at 4:30 am on Saturday and headed to this great 'spot' Charlie had researched. We drove around for about 15 minutes and ended up in a gas station parking lot. As we pulled into the parking lot our headlights moved past this truck with a massive basket in the trunk. I remember my heart beating really fast and I started crying. I looked over at Charlie and he was crying too. Call me CRAZY but the thought of a proposal didn't even cross my mind! I was crying because I was finally going on a hot air balloon and this incredible man was making it happen for me. People ask all the time, "how did you not know?" and I tell them that we had talked about getting engaged after I finished graduate school and I still had a year left!
We met the incredible crew and they drove us over to the Interlochen airport where we would take off. The sun started to rise, the balloon's fire roared and before we knew it we were 60 some feet in the air. All of Northern Michigan was below us and it was absolutely breathtaking. Our pilot suggested we take a picture as the sun was in the perfect spot and that was it... Charlie started dropping to one knee and those words I had waited my entire life, "Ruhi, will you marry me?", rang in my ears. All I saw was the man of my dreams, my future and without any hesitation screamed yes.
In Hot Air Balloon history, you often can't plan your landing; therefore, you will land in someone's backyard or any lot of land for that matter. Pilots often carry a bottle of champagne with them as a peace offering so as to not upset anyone whose land they have landed on. Our trip ended with a landing in someone's backyard and a bottle of champagne. Of course, this time we were celebrating something far more exciting :) We popped a bottle of champagne, toasted to our future and head on our way to spend the rest of the weekend sharing the news with family/friends and exploring Traverse City as a NEWLY ENGAGED COUPLE.
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.
Goodness wedding planning... I'll tell you the easiest part was putting together a mental picture of what how you want everything to be, but when it came to actual decision making I was a mess!
Venue: I remember thinking it was crazy when people were asking me if we had chosen our venue when we weren't even a day out since the proposal but I quickly learned why. I had called 5+ venues and everyone was booked until 2019. Northern Michigan is a very special place to both of us and given that the proposal was up north we wanted to have the wedding there too. We landed on The Homestead in Glen Arbor [which family and friends had told us was an incredible place] and booked the first date available! They had a salon onsite, Lily Jade, where I also reserved hair and makeup for all the girls.
Outfits: this was by far one of my favorite parts of all the wedding planning. My husband and I traveled to India with my Mom to pick out outfits for us and the bridal party. That trip was special in so many ways with one of the biggest reasons being watching Charlie experience India and sharing memories with him in my homeland. I have to share this as it's something I'm so blessed to have and that is a husband who is so loving/caring of who I am and where I come from. Charlie has always embraced the Sikh culture as his own and often says, "I'm pretty sure I was Indian in my past life", and I don't think he's kidding. This trip was memorable on so many levels and I'm so blessed my Mom was there with us.
Decor theme: Gold, Cream, Coral, COLORS. That's all that mattered to me. I knew I wanted a colorful, bright, summer wedding. Sam, from Utsav, was great with helping me select linens, etc. and Kalin, my florist, made my vision come to life. Our flowers were BEAUTIFUL.
I made it a point to really sit down and think through the little details that often get lost in the grand scheme. Place cards, signature drinks, table numbers, signage, etc. were created by me. I highly encourage DIY projects for Brides. If you have the time and the means to do so, create some of the stuff on your own and get your family involved - it's a great way to reminisce and bring everyone together. In fact, I enjoyed this part of wedding planning so much that I now sell signage, place cards, etc. to other brides :)
How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
A lot of trial and error! Poor Mom and Charlie. I didn't have a set color in mind which probably made it more challenging, but I just knew I needed to have that bridal moment. What we had discussed was picking a lighter lengha for the ceremony as it was going to be outside and hot! After some hundred try-ons later, the baby pink and gold lenghas were chosen. My Mom is amazing with design and whatnot and she suggested a wine contrast with the pink lengha. Every childhood dream and day of dress-up finally came to life. I felt so beautiful and elegant and wouldn't trade it for anything.
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
Coming up with the dances! Everyone knows that's a huge part of wedding receptions in Indian weddings and I was so excited. My Dad and I practiced our dance together and it was so special. I had asked my Dad which song he wanted to have our dance together to and he suggested I Loved Her First by Heartland. BUT we couldn't just do that song... so we added in a Bhangra/Bollywood component as well. There were tears but lots and lots of laughter. Mom, Ruchi and I all practiced my surprise dance for Charlie together and Mom helped choreograph our sister dance. In the stress of wedding planning, we were able to laugh and goof around and listen to Bollywood music and just escape. Another moment where so much joy was shared.
What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?
Every guest we have spoken to, both during and after the wedding weekend, has told us how mesmerized they were. A Sikh wedding was something they hadn't witnessed before and they didn't fail to tell us how they could feel the love that surrounded us. Some had also told us that although there was the language barrier and they couldn't understand everything that was being said during the ceremony they felt a sense of connection. Our reception? Well, that was a party. There's nothing more electrifying than Bollywood/bhangra music! About halfway through the reception, the DJ announces the entrance of The University of Michigan Bhangra Team and Charlie and I are genuinely confused. We look around the room and my Dad looks at us and mouths "surprise". This was something he and my step-mom had planned for us! This was also something the guests could not stop talking about.
Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
I couldn't possibly pick one because there are three that I will never forget and words cannot express how grateful I am to have had these moments with the people I love more than life.
The Choora ceremony the morning of the wedding was something so incredibly special. Growing up, I had been to weddings or watched Bollywood movies where the bride wore her red bangles and it was finally my turn. I had always known this would be something I would have but never truly understood the process/meaning behind it. The girls woke up early in the morning and my Mom had everything organized. We listened to Paath, my eyes were covered, and one by one the bangles were placed on my wrist. Mom, tears in her eyes, kissed my hands and showered me with blessings. How blessed am I to have a Mama who raised me in such a beautiful culture? Someone to have taught me grace, poise and love and everything I will carry on as a woman in my husband's home. I thank God for giving me such an amazing mother. Ruchi and Mom sat right in front of me and we all cried together. Everything, in this moment, was becoming so real.
It was time for the ceremony to begin and I was walking down with my sister and bridesmaids. We're making our entrance and my sister squeezes my hand extra tight and I look over at her and she's crying. She leaned over and whispered to me, "I am so happy for you, Ru". Over the years my sister has been very protective of me and has made sure I never settled for anyone/anything less than I deserved. We got even closer to everyone and I had my head down, taking in every little moment and thanking God for everything when Ruchi says to me "Ru, there's your forever" and I look up to Charlie. Handsome as ever, decked out in his sherwani and sera. Is this actually happening? THIS is what I had always dreamed of and everything I have ever wanted in my life partner was standing in front of me. Charlie has and always will be my best friend, partner in crime, shoulder to cry on, biggest fan and love of my life. Right before we did our garland exchange, Charlie lifted his sera with a smile wider than I have ever seen. I know at that moment we both felt something to powerful. We whispered I love you to each other and took the step towards our future.
Lastly, this moment was with the three most special people in my life. It was around 11:30 am the day of our wedding and I had just finished getting ready. My Mom and Sister (God bless them) had spent all day with me making sure every need was met and all that everything was falling into place. I absolutely loved having so much girl time with my favorite girls. Life was moving and changing so much and these moments were becoming far and few so we truly tried to cherish every waking second. I had imagined (before ever even meeting Charlie) that I would share a first look with my Dad. Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you how much my family means to me and how much of a Daddy's girl I am. The general 'rule of thumb' (if you will) at weddings is that Mom/Sister stay actively involved in decision-making and Dad writes the checks (sorry Papa) and as willing as Papa was to go with the flow and make things happen the way I had always dreamed of sharing a special moment with him. After all, this was the day he would be giving away his first-born. The moment was PERFECT. My sister and bridesmaids were all lined up with their eyes closed, dad with his, and Mama (already crying because... she's a Mom :) ) and Nathan (our photographer) said "you tell them when" and a couple of deep breaths in and I sobbed "ready". Everyone opens their eyes and immediately... Papa starts crying. THIS was the moment that I knew will forever be ingrained in my mind. I'm crying while typing this. He gave me the biggest hug and told me how beautiful I looked and how proud he was of me. I owe so much to my father. He has always taught me that no dream was ever too small and the sky was the limit. Compassion, patience, and love are all traits my Papa has instilled in me. I thank God every day for him. I look up from hugging him and I see my Mom and Sister. So much love and joy surrounded me at that moment and I honestly wished I could have stayed their forever. A wedding is about celebrating the love with your soulmate and I knew Charlie and I would share that forever, but given all the recent life changes our family had been through, that moment, that togetherness was something I wouldn't trade for the world.
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.
Decor-wise, I'm a HUGE advocate for DIY. I have always enjoyed crafting/painting/etc. and figured what better time to put those skills to work then for your wedding. I had all these ideas brainstormed but didn't really have the best means of making them. So, Mom bought me my first Cricut machine and let me tell you - by far one of the best investments ever made. The memorial picture board for grandparents, place cards, seating chart, mini tissue boxes, programs, signs for dessert, guestbook sign.
Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
Take the time to plan out the moments you know you'll want to cherish forever. The little details that sometimes get missed are the ones you'll regret not having/capturing the most. Make a list and share them with your photographer/planner/MOH. It's so easy for brides to get wrapped up in the chaos of wedding planning and you don't want to look back on your day and say "I wish I had..." about anything. Take the time to spend time with your family. They may not express this to you but they want to have you to themselves for as long as they can (one last time) and you'll be so happy you did. Never forget to tell your Forever how much you love them- guys are very patient during this time (I know Charlie was).
Anything else you want to tell us? We'd love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.)
We do want to take a moment to thank some people:
To our parents: thank you for raising the woman/man of our dreams. Everything we are we owe to you and we thank you for the never-ending love and support you shower us with. Thank you for making this day so special for us and turning every dream into reality. We love you more than words can describe and thank God for you every day.
Nathan, for your beautiful photography and friendship. We were so happy to have shared all of our moments with you and could not have asked for a better person to capture everything.
Uncle Rico, for our Mandap. Something we will always cherish. Uncle Rico built our mandap out of wood from Charlie's Grandfather's home. This place was and always will be special to Charlie and it's incredible that we'll now have a piece of it forever.
Kalin, for bringing my vision to life. You are blessed with talent and have such a contagious personality. If you're in Michigan and need flowers for your wedding - CALL HER.
Sam, for keeping me sane! You were my rock and thanks to you we didn't feel any stress and we're happy to now call you a friend.
Ekta, for the incredible Mehndi. It was exactly how I have always imagined it being. Thank you!
Jerrin, for being our hype man and making the reception an unforgettable night! The lighting, the music, everything was perfect.
This wedding is not over until the dance floor is empty! Check out the grand reception in our following feature!