Having to essentially reinvent their original wedding vision due to the Covid pandemic, Amrita Singh and Amar Singh were still able to create a wedding celebration that they were thrilled with, all while keeping their friends and family safe.
During the planning, Amrita wasn’t worried about the requirements of any given checklist, as she knew Amar was always very helpful and would ultimately do everything he could to ensure their big day was still everything she wanted. Early on in their courtship, he had gone above and beyond to prove his commitment, going as far as purchasing moving boxes and helping Amrita move on their third date. “It was clear he was a real contender as The One,” Amrita smiles.
Amar explains his extreme chivalry. “During the third year of a radiology residency, every resident in the country goes for a one-month course in DC. Having spent my whole life up until that point in the Texas dating scene, when my turn came, I decided to hop on dating apps and give the East Coast a try,” he tells. “If I am honest, I was mostly expecting to meet people and have fun exploring a new city. Yet, there was a casualness to the conversation and a genuine connection with Amrita. This was one of those rare encounters that felt easy… Goes to show, life can happen when you least expect it; be open to it.”
A year later when Amar and Amrita visited Richmond, Virginia, under the guise of a job interview for Amar, the couple stopped at a magical spot while strolling through the Maymont Japanese Garden. “He suggested we take a selfie and while I was reversing the camera, he held up the ring, which I saw in the camera. When I turned around he was down on one knee, and I said yes, of course!” remembers the bride of the wonderful whirlwind moment, which was well-documented by a professional photographer hiding nearby.
The affianced pair had always planned to wed in the backyard of the bride’s family home, with some of the other traditional Indian festivities held at other venues; however, they had to pivot their plans a bit. Instead, the majority of the events were hosted at the private residence and other aspects were completely cut out. Amrita explains, “We changed the schedule by having the sangeet and mehndi party combined at my parents’ house on Friday night, the ceremony on Saturday morning, and the formal reception indefinitely postponed.”
In addition to rearranging their nuptials to be entirely outdoors, they also had to figure out Covid tests for guests, Zoom broadcasting for those unable to attend, and staff to administer temperature checks upon arrival. “There isn’t much the pandemic left untouched as far as the planning and experience of the wedding,” says Amar.
“The palette for the ceremony was based around the wedding outfit that I fell in love with when I was in India.”
An elegant and colorful décor scheme was arranged for the sangeet, inspired by the fun outdoor markets in India. The couple had purchased adorable dupattas (fabric) to fashion into clutches while in India and offered them to guests for carrying their choice of customized mask and hand sanitizer – to match with the “market” theme. There were also other clever elements to showcase the concept: “scooter” cocktail tables and a “taxicab” bar area.
Pops of color were highlighted in every bit of the gorgeous tented wedding space from impressive chandeliers with dangling tassels to tufted velvet furniture and gilt lanterns alongside collections of punchy florals. The purpose of the sangeet is to perform traditional Indian dancing, which the couple and their families thoroughly enjoyed. “The music was lively and energetic with dancing carrying on into the middle of the night,” describes the groom of the merry evening.
For the traditional Sikh ceremony (known as Anand Karaj, meaning “blissful union”) the following day, the bride and groom desired a more formal look with shades of pink and neutral colors. “The palette for the ceremony was based around the wedding outfit that I fell in love with when I was in India,” illustrates Amrita in reference to her beautiful blush-and-gold gown. “The bridesmaids and groomsmen wore ensembles with a mix of mint green, cream, champagne, and gold.”
Since many of the guests were unfamiliar with Sikhism, the couple made sure the ceremony was translated in English, so all attendees would understand the customs. “We also laid out the ceremony details and descriptions in the program to help everyone follow along,” adds the bride who made her grand entrance on the arm of her father donning a pink turban to complement her attire. “Also, traditionally Sikh weddings are held at the gurdwara (Sikh temple), so it was very special for me to have my ceremony at the house I grew up in.”
An all-white tent with ivory-carpeted flooring was bedecked with vanilla-colored sofas made cozy with silk throw pillows. The aisle, which was heavily sprinkled with cream rose petals, led to a stage with a magnificent backdrop for the vow exchange. Cherry blossom branches interspersed with roses, orchids, anemones, and more florals weaved around the pillars of an arch that boasted a chandelier with hundreds of blooms affixed to satin ribbons suspended overhead.
Guests enjoyed a brief luncheon with delicious fare before departing. Afterwards, only the couple’s closest friends stayed to relish in a more relaxed after-party. “Pizza, beer, cocktails, fireside s’mores, ice cream sandwiches, and the company of friends… Good times without all the fanfare at a much more enjoyable pace,” reminisces the groom of the intimate gathering.
The décor was spectacular and finely detailed in every way, but it was having their loved ones present to witness their union that meant the most to the newlyweds. Many of the bride’s favorite memories of the day were highly emotional moments: the first dance, the father-daughter dance, and the doli ceremony (ceremonial sendoff by the bride’s family).
“Weddings can at times end up feeling like a production and party for the guests more than for the people involved. If you can do less and slow things down, it will add depth to the small moments that make an experience memorable,” emphasizes the groom. “And at the end of the day, if you want to be happy, make sure the bride is happy!”