Sherestha and Raj were proceeding to the US to pursue their higher studies at the same University. Before their departure, the University had organized a meetup for students from India which is when Sherestha and Raj first met. She tells us more: “We both reluctantly showed up for the meetup on a Sunday afternoon, only four students had turned up, so all of us chatted there. I didn’t expect to see him again, but we bumped into each other on campus two months later. That is when we really hit it off and got to know each other better while exploring the beautiful New York city! After spending quality time with each other, we realized we share so many common interests- reading, travel, food and the outdoors. He was my rock during my seven year long intensive PhD program, and I knew I had found my companion for life! Raj proposed at the top of the Cape May Lighthouse in New Jersey, and the rest as they say is history!”
At first, Sherestha and Raj decided that they would have a small wedding with just 10 people at Sunset Cliffs in sunny San Diego. However, “as we pondered upon this ridiculously non-traditional Indian wedding idea, the look on the faces of our very traditional Indian parents flashed before our eyes and we realized this is not a great idea. Also, the thought of our friends and family in India and the Middle East not being able attend our wedding was not fun! So, we decided to have the big fat Indian wedding, which both our parents had always visualized!” says Sherestha.
Raj’s parents are from Andhra Pradesh but they’ve lived in Delhi for a very long time, and Sherestha’s parents are from Uttar Pradesh but have lived in Oman for close to 30 years. After discussions with both families they felt the most convenient location for the wedding is Delhi. Says Sherestha, “Our wedding was held at a small farmhouse near the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. We initially planned on choosing a hotel for the wedding ceremony but not being able to have any flexibility with choosing our own decorators, caterers, and entertainment company was a big no-no. We also loved the idea of having the wedding outdoors! Raj and his family arrived in a beautiful 1935 Chevrolet Phaeton; I arrived in a beautiful carriage adorned with flowers (my mothers idea!) along with my bridesmaids and family.”
Sherestha luckily got the chance to go on a month’s business trip to India six months before the wedding. She says, “During my time off, I was able to shop for clothes and meet with some vendors. Here are more details on them.
Makeup Artist- Simran Kalra was my makeup artist for all the functions. I think she is a thorough professional and an amazing bridal makeup artist! I felt her work is flawless and she knows how to apply just the right amount of makeup to enhance one’s natural beauty! And she will not leave until you’re absolutely happy with your look!
Wedding Photographer- We spent a lot of time online searching for candid wedding photographers in Delhi and finally we chose Mahima Bhatia. She has an uncanny knack for capturing the little details that may not seem important at first, but after you see the captures you realize how beautifully they tell the story! The pre-wedding shoot experience was great fun too; me and my husband are not used to getting ‘attention’ but she put us at ease and we enjoyed ourselves while she clicked away.”
My advice for to-be-weds
Family and friends network- Make a list of family and friends who have organised or helped organize a wedding recently. Reach out to them whenever you need practical advise or suggestions. If you are living abroad it helps a lot if your parents live in India so they can do the follow-ups. Delegate several tasks to your best friends and siblings/cousins. In most cases, brides and grooms don’t get more than 2-3 weeks off for their wedding/honeymoon, so planning in advance is key to ensure most things go on as per schedule.
– Keep an open mind. From the very beginning I swore to myself that I would not wear a red lehenga. Within the first 15 minutes of entering Frontier Raas in Delhi, I found my wedding lehenga- red and blue in color. You might spend all the time obsessing over something that looks perfect in your mind during the planning stage, but if you see something unique and different and you like- go with your gut and buy it!
– Be prepared, some things might go wrong. We wanted all the men (including Raj) from both families to wear grey suits with a light blue shirt, dark blue tie and a red boutonniere on the left lapel of the suit. The tailor did a very bad job and all the suits ended up being ill-fitting or too tight. Two days before the wedding, Raj and I frantically looked for outfits for him to wear at the wedding! We found the PERFECT outfit at Study by Janak and literally begged the store associates to alter the outfit and have it ready in a day. When it was ready, it was as if the outfit was made just for him!
– Be organized. Input everything in excel sheets. That’s all it takes. Create a ‘day of the wedding’ timeline too so you know what needs to be struck off the list at different times. One of the biggest mistakes we made was to assume that our driver knew the route to the wedding location in a farmhouse in Southwest Delhi. He had no clue! After a million panic attacks, we finally made it through Delhi’s overcrowded streets but the baraat had already arrived. I ended up hiding in the car in the parking lot with my bridesmaids until the wedding planner gave us the green signal to enter the venue. Until then no one in my family had seen me in my bridal attire. After entering the venue and seeing the happy look on my parents faces, I breathed easy and was ready to enjoy the big day!
– Think of it this way- You’re probably going to head back abroad after the wedding, and you might never have all your friends and loved ones sharing memories, good food, laughter, tears and joy in the same place again. So it’s important to take in as much happiness as you can during this time and not sweat the small stuff. My grandfather passed away a few weeks after the wedding and I always remember the huge smile on his face during the different ceremonies, the blue jacket I bought for him for the wedding reception which he absolutely loved and the happiness he felt in being around his whole family. It makes me so happy to know that he was there to bless us on our big day.
For our new blog post series, ‘Long Distance Wedding’ we’re featuring couples living abroad who planned a wedding in their hometown in India. We want to hear your story, how you shortlisted venues and your experience with the wedding planner (if you hired one) and other vendors. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your wedding photo and required details (below), and we’ll get in touch if you’re selected to be featured.
Name of Bride and Groom
Where you’re based or where you were based when planning the Wedding
Where (venue + city) you got married and when (date)
Photos Courtesy- Mahima Bhatia