Colorful City-View Wedding Featuring Indian and Japanese Traditions

Akina and Nirav
Photographed by: Clane Gessel PhotographyLocation: Hoboken, New Jersey, United States

When Nirav Mehta transferred from his firm’s office in New York to Tokyo, he had no idea it would lead him to meeting the love of his life, Akina Uchida. A little over a year after they started dating, she took him home to meet her parents. When Nirav had some alone time with her mother and father, he took the opportunity to tell them he wanted to marry their daughter. “Akina hadn’t told them I wasn’t Japanese,” he notes. “I think that they were still in shock to find this 6’2” Indian-American guy in their house speaking fluent Japanese, but when I asked, they were more than happy to say yes.”

Four months later, the couple was legally married and had a small reception in Tokyo. However, they wanted to celebrate stateside as well. “It was important for me that we could have a big Indian wedding that all his relatives could attend,” confirms Akina. Nirav agrees, adding, “I wanted my parents to have a great time.” They, along with his sister, were incredibly helpful when planning the event on the waterfront of Jersey City due to the distance of the guests of honor. Though the majority of the nuptials featured traditional Indian customs, aspects of the bride’s Japanese heritage were brought in as well. “Since it was a bright, sunny day, we handed out Japanese-style parasols, put the Japanese flag on the wedding cake, and had people’s table cards held in brightly colored origami cranes,” Akina explains.

When guests arrived to the waterfront ceremony, they were greeted with a magnificent sight. Not only did the water and New York skyline make for a stunning backdrop, but the vibrant décor was truly marvelous. “Nirav and I love nature, and we wanted lots of brightly colored flowers and greenery,” the bride shares. “Of course, red and orange are auspicious colors for an Indian wedding, so we wanted those, along with other complementary colors, too.” Pink and yellow blossoms framed the modern aisle runner with a large floral print and led to the striking mandap. Even the seats were colorful, with Chameleon Chair Collection providing rows of chairs with pink, orange, and yellow cushions.

The reception that evening incorporated the same vibrant hues throughout. Roses in sunset shades were encased in the Lucite sweetheart table, while vertical and circular floral arrangements accented with greenery decorated round tables and bright candles in the same colors adorned the rectangular varieties. “I wish I had counted the number of roses!” says the groom. In addition to the décor, a lot of thought was put into the striking confection. Four of the tiers were modeled after Indian-style cushion seats and the final tier was a cube with the Japanese flag on each side. The topper was an elephant and the whole cake was adorned with elegant sugar flowers.

“This being a huge Indian wedding, we knew we needed all of Nirav’s family to do a big dance, including plenty of traditional Bollywood songs,” reveals the bride. “They even found a Bollywood movie set in Japan, and used the main song, 'Love in Tokyo,' as the grand finale!” The newlyweds also danced their way into the reception for their entrance, having changed into corresponding navy ensembles. In addition to Indian music, revelers danced the night away to hip-hop from the ‘90s and early 2000s, evoking nostalgia for the groom and his peers. Among the attendees was the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, who even spoke at the reception. “[It] was a real honor,” affirms Akina.

For those preparing for their own nuptials, the bride advises couples to be clear about what they want, without getting too caught up in the details. She asserts, “You’ll be the shining star of your day no matter what!”