Indian Wedding at The Beverly Hills Hotel, California

Veena and Sanjay
Photographed by: Simone & Martin PhotographyLocation: Beverly Hills, California, United States

Three years ago, during a brief stay in Bombay, Veena’s father spent some time visiting with old friends, one of them being Sanjay’s uncle. The two friends agreed that Veena and Sanjay would be a good pair, and decided to play matchmakers for the two. They met in September 2000 and immediately began a longdistance relationship, as they were both living in separate cities and traveling frequently for work. Veena and Sanjay’s growing love for each other is proof that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and they should know, since they were often separated by extraordinary distances, between New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, even Lima, Peru and Bombay, India.

In October 2002, Sanjay flew to Washington, D.C. from Los Angeles to finally propose to Veena, and begin a new life together. Though they had considered hosting a wedding in Panama City, Bombay, and Washington, D.C., they decided to have the ceremony in Los Angeles since it was where they would be making a new home for themselves. All of the planning and decision-making was shared between the bride and groom, and even more extraordinarily, most of the planning was done during extended stays in different cities around the world! After visiting countless locations in Southern California, the couple was drawn to the very first place they saw, the Crystal Garden at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Veena and Sanjay wanted to plan a small, family-oriented wedding, with a combination of traditional Indian elements and contemporary, creative designs. With the assistance of family members and an inspired wedding florist/designer, a vibrant, multicultural, modern wedding was in the works.

The wedding events started on the evening of Friday, August 2, 2003, with the tradition of henna painting in Veena’s room. When Veena’s girlfriends stopped by to say hello, the evening quickly turned into a spontaneous all-girls night! On Saturday morning, a special prayer for the mothers of the bride and groom took place, followed by the Mehendi Party, with two henna artists. To the couple’s surprise, many men and young boys joined in the line of women and girls to get henna tattoos, and a DJ added to the spirits. That evening was the Sangeet, a pre-wedding celebration that revolves around music and dance.

The wedding ceremony took place on Sunday in the late afternoon, followed by a cocktail hour, dinner and dancing. The Hindu marriage ceremony consists of several steps, each with a distinct meaning and purpose. It is celebrated with lots of enthusiasm, zeal and fanfare, and Veena and Sanjay’s ceremony certainly lived up to the expectations.

While traditionally, the groom arrives at the wedding on a horse followed by members of his family, the couple adapted the tradition to a “Romeo and Juliet” theme. Sanjay’s friends, adorned with flower garlands, hoisted him on a chair and boisterously carried him half-way down the aisle where they all called out to Veena. In response to the call, the bride and her close women friends, adorned with floral bracelets, leaned over the balcony to see what was going on below and then escorted Veena to the ceremony. Veena was dressed in a deep red silk-crepe lengha and bodice with antique gold work and Swarovski crystals, with traditional gold wedding jewelry given to her by her mother. Sanjay wore an off-white Sherwani (traditional outfit) embellished with gold threads, with a red turban, and antique gold shawl, and the traditional wedding shoes called “mojaris.”

Overall, Veena and Sanjay were committed to making their event reflect their multicultural upbringing, and this vision came to life in so many incredible ways. Christian Science readings were incorporated into the traditional Indian wedding ceremonials; invitations were designed to represent the simplicity of western-styles and the vibrancy of Indian-styles. Guest attire was specified for each of the four wedding events, as Indian, multi-ethnic, western, or fusion; they chose Indian, English, and Spanish mission music; and foods from different parts of the world were featured during each occasion, including a Mexican buffet, Indian, Dim Sum, and American Fusion.

With so many cultures and customs to draw from, the couple shaped a celebration of their love that was an exceptionally creative fusion of the traditional and the contemporary, giving their guests a truly unforgettable weekend.

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