For a couple as committed to their families as Trina DasGupta and Quinton Pillay, it seemed only fitting that the two became engaged on Father’s Day. Since his passing, Quinton and his family used the day to commemorate his late father’s life. However, after deciding it was time to propose to his long-distance love (for half of their courtship, Trina resided in New York while Quinton lived in South Africa), Quinton realized the holiday would be the perfect occasion to pop the question. “I wanted to take what had previously been a sad day and make it a happy day for both of our families,” he explains. Quinton called Trina’s dad to obtain permission; then, he asked for Trina’s hand in marriage during his family’s annual celebration.
The wedding planning quickly became a family affair as well. As her parents’ eldest child and only daughter, Trina’s future nuptials had been a topic of discussion since she was a young girl. “My dad and I jokingly negotiated the guest count when I was 16 years old!” she laughs. Though the couple considered hosting the event in New York or South Africa, Trina’s hometown of New Orleans ultimately proved to be the most meaningful location – as well as an enjoyable destination for the 550 guests, many of them traveling from all over the world.
The ceremony, held in an elegant event room at a historic tree-lined park, represented a harmonious blending of Western and Indian customs. The traditional mandap structure was composed of carved white wood and draped ivory fabric for a fresh, modern feel, while the abundance of roses and hydrangeas that adorned the construction boasted a vivid shade of red – the customary Indian wedding color. Quinton’s sister painted the pink and crimson lotus image that graced the center of the mandap. Rows of gilded chairs with alabaster cushions completed the fantastic scene.
Trina and her bridesmaids were clad in rose-and-gold saris, with the bride’s embellished with rows of intricate embroidery. Bridesmaids carried ceramic lotus bowls filled with rose petals, which they tossed on the bride and groom upon their arrival. Trina and Quinton worked with their priest to design a ceremony focused on the most important elements of a Hindu wedding, including both Bengali and South Indian traditions to represent each of their family’s heritage. In an effort to incorporate Western and personal elements, the couple also added a ring exchange and recited their own vows.
The party began immediately after the ceremony. A jazz parade featuring Mardi Gras floats and the acclaimed St. Augustine High School marching band led guests to the sophisticated reception venue. “Everyone at the hotel was taking pictures and someone even told me it was their dream to be part of a St. Aug[ustine] performance,” Quinton reveals.
An elephant constructed of green moss and thousands of colorful mums, carnations, and orchids welcomed loved ones to the cocktail hour and provided a hint of the magnificent event to come. Before making their way into the ballroom, guests were encouraged to share advice and wishes for the newlyweds on cards affixed to a whimsical “wishing tree,” which was composed of birch and willow branches, camellias, magnolias, and ribbons.
The glorious celebration could only be described as a floral wonderland. “The vision for the reception was about bright, vibrant colors and ensuring everything was classy and not over-the-top, but still opulent,” explains Trina. Illuminated with deep purple overhead spotlights, the tables were covered in beautiful silk linens and decorated with one of three striking assortments of hydrangeas, roses, snapdragons, orchids, and peonies in shades of pink and coral. The first collection was adorned with low floral arrangements that surrounded a single ornate gold stand, topped with a white pillar candle in a glass hurricane. The next set of tables featured tall slender fixtures bedecked with a lush, fan-shaped selection of flowers that cascaded down the sides. The third design consisted of centerpieces in turquoise, hot pink, or yellow LED trees, which Trina’s dad had spotted in a New Orleans shop and thought them to be so lovely that he insisted they be incorporated into the décor.
A live band, Indian dance troupe, and a showing of a same-day edit wedding video entertained attendees well into the night. At 9PM, a Kabuki curtain drop revealed a surprise: a separate “dessert lounge,” which offered sweet treats and DJs who spun music and kept the party going until 5AM. Favors distributed to guests at the conclusion of the celebration brought the newlyweds’ romance full circle. The couple designed a book of love poems, which included verses Quinton sent to Trina while they lived on separate continents. Partygoers were reminded of Trina and Quinton’s impassioned romance by the poignant quote that graced the cover: “Love knows no boundaries and no distance; miles and obstacles mean absolutely nothing in the face of love.”