Kissing Menus and a Glamorous Gown – Anu and Gaurav’s Destination Wedding

Journey with ShaadiShop to a black tie, fun, destination wedding at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay.
Bride and Groom: Punjabi Hindu – North Indian Jain
Photography: The Youngrens

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Anu is a law student and a fashion blogger, The Tea for Two, from Boston. Gaurav is from Toronto. They live in Boston. Got engaged at the end of September 2014 and got married January 3, 2015!

And…the two of them planned everything themselves! No parents and no planner!

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Share a quick outline of your events.
We kept it to 3 days starting, with a pooja, engagement ceremony and haldi. Our bigger events started Friday night with a rustic dinner at an Italian restaurant in Half Moon Bay. By that time all of our guests had checked in to the Ritz and we arranged transportation to and from the restaurant. 

After dinner everyone was taken back to the Ritz for the sangeet. I quickly changed from my gown to an anarkali suit and everyone had a great time dancing the night away. After the sangeet, boxed snacks were delivered to our guest’s rooms. After all that dancing everyone was hungry again! Curry Up Now was our vendor and it worked out very well. We had to get them approved by the Ritz-Carlton, but that was a simple process.
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The next day was the ceremony in the late morning. We served heavy snacks before, during and after, and we kept it to one hour.

You’re Punjabi Hindu and he’s North Indian Jain, were there any cultural differences you worked out ahead of time? Yes, Jain ceremonies typically don’t have a lot of idols – only Bhagwan Mahavir. There were a few other differences but they were minor so it wasn’t time consuming or hard to organize.

Cocktails were in the evening, which gave our guests a few hours to rest and change as the reception was a black tie affair.  

Tell us about your reception.
We wanted it to be sophisticated and fun. For us that meant:

1. 4 course plated dinner. We didn’t want a buffet and we didn’t serve Indian food. The Ritz catered it.
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2. We wanted our guests to be involved. We had a kissing menu. Instead of clinking glasses to get us to kiss, our guests had to select an activity from the menu and everyone at the table had to participate. Menu items included doing a dance and singing a song. Gaurav and I were a bit worried that people wouldn’t go for it. Believe it or not, every table did it!

3.We named each table with something that was significant to us, as opposed to numbers. The table names became conversation starters.
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4. We added a twist to the common game, “how well do the bride and groom know each other” by sourcing questions from our guests.
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5. Not only did we assign tables but assigned seats as well. When creating the seating chart, our rule was, you should know the person to your left, but not to your right. And we assigned based on each person’s personality, interests etc. It took forever but was SO worth it as so many of our friends forged new friendships that weekend.

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6. Instead of a photo booth, we had a red carpet and a step-and-repeat wall with our emblem – like the ones you see at movie premieres. Our guests had a blast, posing, and getting their photos taken like they were walking down the red carpet.

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How did you get this done in such a short amount of time?
Honestly it was hard planning from so far away with such little time. For those few months, it was all that we did. some decisions made it easier:

1. We narrowed down the venue quickly. We already knew we wanted to get married at the Ritz-Carlton so we didn’t spend a lot of time looking at other venues. The hotel and surrounding scenery are gorgeous and sophisticated; and it’s not very far from the airport.

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2. There were 80 guests. Our rule: if we haven’t talked to you within the last 5 years…you’re not invited.

3. I got all my hair and makeup done at the Ritz’s salon. That not only saved me time from looking for vendors but my Ritz rep. managed all the arrangements for me.

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Anu and GauravAnu and GauravAnu and Gaurav 4. The reception dinner was catered through the Ritz. That saved a lot of time as they took care of everything. It was fantastic! We were so happy!

5.  Met with our vendors. We made a 4 day trip out just to meet and finalize vendors. That was worth it. Meeting them in-person to share our vision and getting to know them, put us at great ease during the wedding weekend because now we had a relationship.

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0103151100597 0103151100595 Did you have a backup plan in case it rained?
Yes! The plan was to move the ceremony into the ballroom. It took a bit of nagging and pulling to get the Ritz on board with a flame indoors. They do a lot of desi weddings but not many during winter. But we were persistent.   

And they let us because:
1. the forecast was no rain
2. we hired a fire marshal to be present. (cost us $300, the Ritz arranged it).

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We also talked to our mandap decorator. Setting up a mandap indoors vs. outdoors is slightly different. Luckily our vendor told us they wouldn’t charge more if they had to do it indoors last minute.
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What advice would you give to other couples planning their wedding?
1. Spending money on great photography and photographers that will make you feel comfortable and listen to what you want, is worth it. After the wedding the photos keep your memories alive!

2. Get the bride’s clothing and jewelry taken care of early on. This is so important to every bride so the earlier it’s taken care of the better.

3. Bride and groom be clear with each other and willing to compromise.

Our vendors.
We were really happy and recommend all of them.
Boxed food: Curry Up Now
Cake: Studio Cake
DJ: Music Mantra DJs
Wedding Gown: Oscar de la Renta
Rehearsal Dinner Dress: Marchesa
Hair and Makeup: The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay
Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas
Mandap: Avasar Mandap
Panditji: Kemchandji (Fremont)
Photography: The Youngrens
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik

Don’t forget to check out Anu’s blog with great advice for brides and everyday fashion, The Tea for Two.

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