Shivani and Joseph, California, USA
No thumkas! The sangeet at this couple's multi-cultural wedding was planned more like a Comedy Central 'roast' with fun anecdotes & jokes.
College sweethearts Shivani, a wedding photographer, and Joseph, an electrical engineer, felt sparks fly at their first meeting. That led to a deep friendship and ensuing romance spurring them to tie the knot at a beautiful ceremony in California that celebrated both their cultures. Here, bride Shivani shares some highlights of the wedding celebrations.
How They Met
“I first met Joseph in college via mutual friends. But, I knew it was real from the start itself since he saw me in the post-shower ‘crazy South Indian frizz and curls’ state and still asked for my number. And, once we got to know each other better, there was no looking back!”
“We dated for six years before Joseph popped the question to me at my favorite Italian restaurant, where we had celebrated our first Valentine’s Day and several of my birthdays. A lot of girls dream about their proposal, but in my case, I always grew up knowing that I wanted to propose too, however unconventional it may seem. To pop the question to Joseph, I proposed to him on the basketball court where we were surrounded by his friends who each wore a jersey that spelled out ‘Will You Marry Me?’ And, of course, I also presented him with a ring.”
“Having worked in the wedding industry as a lead photographer for many years, I had a pretty clear idea of what we were looking for in a venue. With our limited guest count, there were only a few venues that would be fit for an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception. And, Hotel Irvine was the perfect venue since I’ve shot an array of Indian weddings there and was completely assured that my vision would come true there.”
Sharing her dilemma of sourcing stunning traditional outfits to match her vision and the stringent time limit she had to work within, Shivani shares, “I actually had just six days in Calcutta to find three outfits for myself and 40 outfits for my bridesmaids, bridesmen, and family members. It was possibly the most stressful part about the wedding as we frantically searched for the perfect outfit that was in sync with my vision. Honestly, I did not find anything that matched my imagination since I very specifically wanted to wear a mustard yellow unconventional lehenga and it was one of the only things that I was not willing to negotiate on for my wedding. In the end, I zeroed in on getting one custom made that matched my theme. Also, all my jewelry for the wedding was also custom made and my sister very graciously lent her necklace to me for the reception which she’d worn at her own reception too!”
When it came to building their dream team, Shivani and Joseph went ahead and chose Kismet Event Design for the floral decor, Lin & Jirsa for the photography, Shilpa Patel Events for the co-ordination, and lastly, Dolled Up By Lulu for the makeup.
“I grew up learning and performing Bharatnatyam since the age of five. Hence, the last thing I wanted was to have a sangeet where people danced for me. Also, in my personal opinion, a conventional sangeet isn’t as personal as I want them to be. So, instead, we decided to host a comedy roast since I’m a huge fan of the roasts aired by Comedy Central. It was a very memorable evening where our friends shared their hilarious and teasing anecdotes.”
Revolving around the ‘roast’ theme, the food menu was replete with spicy treats, and the decor consisted of red and gold balloons.
“Being a tomboy since childhood, I’ve never really felt accepted by females as I grew up playing sports and video games. This was also true throughout my college years as some of my closest friends are male. Keeping this in mind, my bridal party was a mix of cultural diversity, age, and gender.”
“When it came to selecting the theme for my wedding, we focussed a lot on light, structures, and objects. Both of us are keen observers of light since Joseph is an electrical engineer and I’m a photographer. And, since I’m not the ‘white roses and green bushes’ kind of girl, my brief to Kismet our florist revolved around our shared love for light.
Also, we made sure that we had symbolic representations of our family backgrounds in the wedding mandap. To execute this, we had the way to the mandap lined with Persian rugs since Joseph is half Persian. This also signified the beginning of a new journey where I entered a new family. The Persian tradition of having a cup of honey in the wedding spread was also included where immediately after the wedding, the couple dips their pinky finger in the cup of honey and feeds it to their partner at their Sofreh Aghd (Persian wedding feast). To symbolize my background, I made sure that there were pipes included in the mandap’s structure as my grandfather had three sons, all of whom came to the states to become engineers. Adding a final flourish to the decor were lanterns that dangled around us bathing us in light.”
An indoor event, the reception saw an intricate Persian rug serve as a stunning backdrop as the newlyweds took their positions on the center stage to be greeted by their loved ones. The lanterns were a part of the decor here too, and were hewn with light golden wood that contrasted delightfully with the rich green foliage.
Advice For Couples
“Initially Joseph and I faced a lot of challenges, which in retrospect were the small things, like, not knowing how your outfit will look like or fit, what the favors will be and, of course, the nonexistent guest accountability to RSVP. But, other than that, since I’m from the wedding industry itself, it was quite easy for me to source vendors who would execute my vision.
And, as cliche as it may sound, just breathe through any hiccup and remember to enjoy the day. It is so rare to get such a varied group of people that you’ve met through different paths of your life to surround you with so much love and genuine happiness. So embrace all of it.”
The Wedding Makers
Venue: Hotel Irvine, California, USA
Event Co-ordinator: Shilpa Patel Events
Florist: Kismet Event Design
Caterers: The Fry Girl Inc (Desserts)
Accessories: Janvier – Diamond Concierge
Makeup & Hair: Dolled Up By Lulu
Mehndi: Neha Assar
DJ: 3D Sounds- Event Production
Lighting: 3D Sounds- Event Production
Photography: Lin & Jirsa
Videography: David Huynh Photography