Egyptian mummies are not typically associated with bold, romantic gestures, but that was just the case for Sheeba Chacko and Satish Patel. After dating for seven years, Satish was ready to propose. He planned a romantic day for his beloved, beginning with a morning of pampering at her favorite spa followed by a visit to the “Opening the Vaults: Mummies” exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum. With the help of the museum’s staff, Satish planted a diamond ring in a glass exhibit case. “I saw a plaque within the case that said my name at the top, some words in the center, and Satish’s name at the bottom,” the bride joyfully recalls. “I could not read all the words at the time because my eyes had filled with tears!” Needless to say, Sheeba said “yes.”
The couple married at an awe-inspiring celebration in their hometown of Chicago, saying their “I dos” among more than 500 friends and family members. Incredibly, the show-stopping affair was planned in a mere four months. Sheeba and Satish, both Indian but from different cultural and religious backgrounds, designed their ceremony to include a diverse array of customs. “We felt that we needed to make our wedding ceremony best represent us,” the bride explains. “[We wanted to] represent ourselves as a blended cultural couple, and maintain our religious convictions.”
The ceremony began on a bright Saturday afternoon, with the groom arriving in traditional Gujarati fashion – by horse. The baraat custom sees the groom leave his home and travel to the wedding location with his family members, all the while carrying a petite bouquet and enjoying festive music. Upon his arrival at the wedding venue, Satish was lifted from his horse-drawn carriage by relatives, as custom dictates that the groom’s feet must not touch the ground. After receiving a blessing from his soon-to-be mother-in-law, Satish headed into a candlelit room and prepared to say his vows.
Bridesmaids, groomsmen, and Satish donned intricately crafted traditional Indian attire. The bride, clad in a breathtaking off-the-shoulder trumpet gown adorned with sparkling metallic embroidery and beading, stunned her groom as she made her grand entrance. “When I saw Sheeba for the first time in her wedding dress walking down the aisle towards me, my jaw dropped!” Satish gushes. “She looked beautiful.” Sheeba was just as taken with her groom: “Moments before I saw him, I remember trying to peer through the curtains to see the room’s décor, but as the curtains opened, all I could see was Satish.”
After sharing emotional vows, the couple exchanged wedding bands in addition to other symbols of their commitment. Satish bestowed a necklace upon Sheeba, comprised of a thaali – a gold chain accented with black beads – and minnu, a small pendant containing seven raised dots (representing the couple, both sets of parents, and God), which hung from Sheeba’s thaali. “We had our jewelry designer custom-make a more modern version of the thaali and minnu, which was then given to me during our ceremony,” the bride reveals.
The jaw-dropping venue was flooded with deep burgundy and violet light, creating an incredibly romantic atmosphere. High above guests’ tables, atop clear acrylic centerpieces, candles flickered, emitting a warm, inviting glow and drawing eyes up to the venue’s stunning cavernous ceilings and the red rose-strewn pièce de résistance suspended from the ceiling. “We also set our tables in an ‘X’ pattern throughout the room,” Sheeba adds of guest seating, which was a suggestion from the couple’s event designer. “This allowed our guests to talk to more people than just those at their own tables.”
Both Sheeba and Satish agree that their day was perfect. “I can honestly say that I was able to enjoy each moment as it was. The day was not a blur to us and we remember every moment,” says the bride. “We spent many years praying that despite our differences, those who came to our wedding were those that were truly happy for us – and we wanted to celebrate with them!” Indeed, it was a day filled with love.