When Ashita Batavia and Mark Lundquist first crossed paths in a doctor’s waiting room, romance was the last thing on their minds. But after finding themselves sharing a student-housing elevator, then later bumping shoulders at an Independence Day barbecue, it was finally clear the two were destined to meet. “There were fireworks the third time we met – literally and figuratively!” laughs the bride.
When it came to planning their dream wedding, the pair desired a venue in their beloved New York City that had character and history. However, Ashita’s demanding schedule as a medical resident made some assistance necessary. “My bridesmaid very authoritatively handed me a pile of directories and bridal magazines – including Inside Weddings – and we discovered our venue just a few weeks later,” she says. The dramatic gothic-revival architecture of an art foundation and studio won the couple over instantly. “Once we saw it, there was no turning back,” says the bride.
Her fiancé helped Ashita with the remainder of the planning. “I was involved in everything from the beginning,” notes Mark who happily advises fellow grooms to do the same. “You’ll be a star in your wife’s eyes.” The services of a day-of coordinator helped ensure things went smoothly during the wedding itself.
The couple elected to have two ceremonies, the first of which was a Hindu service that reflected the bride’s heritage and honored her family. Traditional colors such as warm reds, saffrons, and golds were utilized. A mandap of luminous champagne fabric set the stage for the nuptials, while persimmon-hued lighting cast an enchanting glow. The bride awed in a lehenga of crimson-and-ivory brocade. Mark was regal in a coordinating sherwani of the same fabric.
As the room was transformed for the second service, guests nibbled on tea and pastries while viewing a humorous video montage produced by the groom. Mark confesses that he couldn’t resist sneaking a peek to see how the crowd was reacting to his work of art, which featured interviews from the wedding party, clips from romantic comedies, and images of the couple. “I’m proud to say it got more than a few laughs,” he boasts.
Once the room was relit in a scheme of teal and gold, the non-denominational Western ceremony began. The bride wowed in a romantic silk gown that reflected Grecian elegance, a plume of jeweled colors tucked in her hair. A calla lily from her white bouquet adorned the lapel of Mark’s formal tuxedo.
A close friend of the couple served as their officiant, providing one of the most memorable elements of the day for both bride and groom. “There was not a dry eye in the house, including my own,” shares Mark. “I could feel my heart racing the whole time,” agrees Ashita, “I just felt… love.”
Cocktail hour was held on the moodily lit wrap-around balcony of the venue. Loved ones enjoyed live entertainment and dining stations featuring upscale takes on classic Bombay street food. Custom cocktail napkins embossed with playful factoids were a huge hit, as was a seating chart for the reception crafted by the groom to resemble a scientific poster as an ode to his graduate studies in pharmacology. Test tubes and beakers were filled with flowers and positioned around place cards that steered guests to their seats in the main room.
Rectangular tables were draped in white linens overlaid with gold brocade. Trios of modern vases filled with crimson blossoms added a rich note of color, and a single white candle floated in the water of each vase. Round tables were placed on the periphery of the space and cloaked in shimmery gold. Hanging tea lights illuminated sinewy willow centerpieces that reached five-feet tall and featured arresting scarlet blooms. The room was awash in a cobalt-purple glow, and sculptural chandeliers were suspended overhead.
A buffet-style dinner featured Indian dishes prepared by one of the couple’s favorite New York City restaurants. “Their food reminds us of my mother’s cooking,” shares Ashita. For dessert, a multi-tiered red velvet cake featuring dulce de leche filling, vanilla cream frosting, and a design inspired by the fabrics used in the couple’s Hindu ceremony provided a sweet conclusion to the meal. A custom cake topper of two darling primates perched on a log served as a playful nod to the bride’s nickname, “Monkey.”
The couple ended the night with a final dance on the very stage upon which they had exchanged vows hours earlier. “It was a beautiful moment, made hilarious by my two-year-old and five-year-old nephews joining us and performing their own interpretive dancing,” muses Mark. It was an apropos finish to an evening filled with the perfect blend of laughter and heart.