Beautiful + Cultural Indian Wedding in New York City

Meghna and Harish

Photographed by: STAK PhotographyLocation: New York City, New York, United States

Once Harish Sarma made the decision to propose to his girlfriend, Meghna Saxena, he had his hands full keeping his plans under wraps. First, his mother to let slip that a “surprise” was on the horizon. Next, well-meaning loved ones began pointing out how close the couple must be to getting engaged, forcing Harish to roll his eyes and protest the idea in order to throw Meghna completely off track. Then, Meghna herself got concerned over Harish’s apparent revulsion at the idea of being wed someday. “She went off on me one night and demanded to know why I always seemed so disgusted when people brought up the topic of marriage,” he recalls. Under the guise of responding to Meghna’s complaint about their lack of quality time together, Harish took her to dinner followed by a stroll on the Brooklyn Bridge where he finally proposed. “I went deaf and dumb at that moment and I could not speak,” Meghna recalls. “I was in utter shock.” Nodding her acquiescence, Meghna never did get the words out. “She claims she was delirious from shock,” Harish smirks, “but I maintain that I still need a formal answer.”

Meghna and Harish chose to conduct two separate wedding ceremonies so that each could take part in the traditional wedding rituals of their respective Indian cultures. “Coming from a conservative South Indian family, core religious rites and wedding conventions were something I had always imagined at my wedding,” Harish explains. “It was for this reason that we opted against having a blend of North and South Indian rituals at one ceremony.” A South Indian ceremony took place during a week of events that culminated in a formal North Indian wedding at the legendary Plaza Hotel.

The bride’s sophisticated lengha was crimson in color with gold accents and exquisite embroidery. Her scarlet veil was edged in dark green and detailed with silver beading, and Western-style open-toed pumps were perfectly coordinated to the color palette of the ensemble. The bridal party was clad in buttercup saris embellished with green, and both Meghna and her maids held pretty nosegays of fuchsia roses and coral orchids. The bridal bouquet featured pale pink calla lilies arranged among the blooms, and the stems were tied with a length of ivory ribbon. The groom, who wore a shimmering sherwani adorned with beading and maroon accents, was carried into the hotel by attendants at the conclusion of his baraat (processional) to the ceremony site.

The ornate Terrace Room at the Plaza provided a stunning backdrop for the ceremony. “I had never seen anything like it before,” confides the bride of the space. “Specifically, the artwork and gold-work on the ceiling of the room resonated with me.” Gilded pillars illuminated from within and topped with red roses lined an aisle trimmed in gold, while amber lighting imbued the room with a dazzling glow. A magnificent mandap made of glittering columns and golden fabric was crowned with crimson flowers and set with gilded chairs for the North Indian Hindu ceremony. “It was important to us that our guests felt connected to our wedding through an understanding of the rites and rituals,” asserts Harish. “The pandit (priest) did a great job of explaining in both English and Hindi what was happening at each stage so that all the attendees could follow the proceedings.”

Seating cards for the reception that followed were arranged on a donut-shaped table from the center of which sprung a dramatic floral display. Flowering branches burgeoned from a massive arrangement of blooms in shades of purple, lilac, lavender, and plum artfully arranged at the top a lattice. The ballroom was awash in color due in part to a vibrant lighting design of orange, fuchsia, amber, and gold. Bright yellow roses dotted bunches of purple blooms arranged on tabletops, candleholders, and towering pillars of crystal-draped glass. Tables swathed in purple were topped with cutwork overlays of glistening spun gold. Each gilt-edged china place setting featured a menu card tucked in a shiny gold napkin topped with a sparkling purple brooch and an engraved thank-you card. The couple’s sweetheart table for two was draped in gold and set on a platform bordered by flowers.

Guests were treated to a multi-course dinner of authentic Indian cuisine as well as Western selections. The multi-tiered wedding cake was cloaked in lavender fondant, trimmed with delicate gold work, and topped with a gorgeous burst of intricate sugar flowers. Speeches were limited to just a few loved ones, including a beautiful toast provided by Meghna’s father. “My dad is not a very outwardly emotional person but this speech conveyed his happiness and hope that Harish and I have a wonderful life together in a very emotional way,” shares the bride. Another address that was particularly touching came from across the sea. “One of my best men was not given a U.S. visa to attend the wedding, so we asked him to record his speech, which we then played at the reception,” Harish explains. “To this day, people still tell me how much they loved his speech.”

Hours of dancing concluded the beautiful event, with guests celebrating well into the night on custom flooring emphasized with the couple’s monogram. “Take some time at the reception to just be with your husband and reflect on what has happened and is happening that moment,” Meghna advises. “This day only comes once in a lifetime.”