It’s usually taken for granted that a wedding ceremony and reception will take place on the same day. However, the large and involved nuptials of Neetu Madan and Neil Tolaney inspired the bride to divide the two proceedings. “Indian weddings are full of traditions and ceremonies from the onset of the engagement,” explains the bride. “I really felt that by separating the two events I would be able to enjoy every single moment of each.” With that, the couple elected to have a private ceremony on New Year’s Day, followed the next evening by a reception on a larger scale. The assistance of a consultant along with the input of Neetu’s mother allowed the couple to focus on the larger decisions, such as which customs to include and how to ensure their loved ones were involved. “I wanted to make sure that our immediate families had central roles in the wedding,” says Neil. “Neetu and I are both very close to our families, and their alignment – which came almost naturally – was extremely important to us.”
The initial event saw the bride in a traditional Indian lengha, which was heavily embroidered and featured crystal embellishments on shimmering rose fabric. Dozens of sparkling wedding bracelets glittered on her wrists, and a pearl necklace and earrings gleamed against her skin. A classic pairing of roses and stephanotis blossoms comprised the bride’s bouquet, while maids in alternating Western and Eastern attire carried creamy blossoms down the aisle. A floral gate delicately laced with roses, hydrangea blossoms, and ivy marked the entrance to the garden ceremony site at the Four Season’s Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. “Although Indian weddings usually incorporate bright colors, I have always found classic whites to be the most elegant,” says the bride. Silky floral arrangements set on swirling wrought-iron stands lined the way to a rose-covered mandap, a Hindu wedding structure which symbolizes the home. Chairs were arranged beneath the formation to accommodate the bridal couple and their parents during the vow exchange, which pulled the couple’s favorite rituals without strictly adhering to custom. “I wanted our ceremony to reflect my Indian heritage but also incorporate traditions of a Western wedding,” Neetu explains. “We chose to blend [those elements] that were meaningful to us and yet still made for fun events for our guests.” One custom in particular could not be overlooked: the exchange of garlands between the respective families. “In the spirit of families coming together, this was a wonderful tradition that Neetu and I insisted on observing,” says Neil. “It was great to see our loved ones having fun with it!” Another cherished ritual proved especially emotional for the bride: “When my father placed my hands in Neil’s hands, and holy water passed through my father’s fingers to Neil’s, I was a mess!” Neetu admits. “Thankfully my makeup artists anticipated that!” The beautiful day concluded with ceremonial sweets and a delightful lunch, at which the entire wedding party was seated at an enormous table built expressly to accommodate them.
The reception the following evening was a gorgeous compilation of rich fabrics, rosy hues, brilliant facets, and glints of gold. “I’ve always loved the Beverly Wilshire ballroom – it is classic, elegant, steeped in history, and yet maintains a young, modern, and hip vibe,” asserts the bride, who was dressed in Western attire for the event. Guests collected their seating cards from a table adorned with graceful peacock figurines that were artfully positioned around a towering arrangement of roses and orchids. Crystal candelabras crowned with mounds of pink flowers topped tables draped in alternating linens of gathered pink silk and sleek plum satin. Individual vases holding fragrant white flowers were arranged at the base of each centerpiece, and hurricane candles gave a romantic glow. Each table was numbered and labeled with the name of a Parisian location cherished by the wedding couple. “Neil and I took a trip to the South of France together when he visited me in Paris where I lived after law school,” clarifies Neetu. “It was one of the best trips we’ve ever taken together, so we wanted to incorporate some elements from the adventure into our wedding.” Golden boxes wrapped in plum ribbons contained custom favors of handmade truffles by L’Etoile Chocolatiers, and Gold “Chloe” Chameleon chairs at every table completed the elegant scene. “Everywhere I looked there were things I had mentioned to our team of wedding professionals, and I was shocked they had remembered little details and incorporated them into the ballroom,” says the bride.
An elegant dinner service was followed by the unveiling of a beautiful five-tiered wedding cake that boasted alternating layers of exotic gourmet chocolate, vanilla, and hazelnut, with fillings of red-raspberry marmalade and buttercream. “I wanted it to be simple, elegant, and heavenly in every flavor,” asserts the bride. Professional dancers delighted guests with their spectacular costumes and graceful movements. “Making sure our friends and family had a fabulous time together was very important to me,” stresses Neil. “The celebration featured a lot of entertainment, great food, and fine beverages, all of which was geared at the coming together of the most important people in our lives.”
Throughout the sequence of events, Neetu and Neil kept the focus on what was most important: their loved ones and each other. “My mother’s advice was to remember that Neil is the most important person and our relationship is the most important – and no wedding details should ever disturb that,” recalls the bride. “When I reached the top of the aisle and I immediately saw Neil, I felt almost overwhelmed with joy. I then looked around and saw our families and closest friends, and I knew I couldn’t be any happier.”