We had a pretty quick turn around between our engagement and wedding day – about 6 months. My brother is in med school so he’s not in town often and I wanted to get married in the summer – so we decided to get married in July.
How did you decide to get married on a Friday?
At first I was aiming for a Saturday in mid-July but the pandit we wanted wasn’t available. So we decided to do it on Friday, which ended up being a blessing in disguise as a lot of vendors weren’t even available on that Saturday.
There were 160 people from out-of-town, so for them it wasn’t an issue. We knew that the people for whom it was important enough, would come and make the necessary arrangements for work etc. And they had 7 months to work it out. We ended up having about 350 people at the ceremony.
Tell us about the room block at the hotel.
Out of 440 people there were about 160 people from out-of-town.
We set up a contract and got a good room rate but that obligated us to fill a certain percentage of the rooms. It wasn’t a problem – we sold it out. And we did a contract instead of a courtesy room block because we needed so many rooms and in the courtesy room block they only give you 10 rooms at a time.
How many rooms were in the block?
It was a little difficult to estimate. We estimated about 80 rooms and I think that ended up being pretty accurate. It worked out but it required a lot of our time to follow up with people. The Newport Beach Marriott sells out during summer and is a popular vacation destination so it was definitely an active effort for multiple members of my family to follow up with guests to book their rooms.
Since we did so much with them and for so many people, they were willing to negotiate on the attrition rate. We had the whole wedding day + after-wedding brunch, lighting + sleeping rooms through them.
What were all the wedding week events?
It started with a pooja and rehearsal on Sunday, the weekend before the wedding. On Wednesday my husband’s family had a janeu and a formal engagement at my in-laws home. In the evening we had a mehndi in Anaheim Hills at our really good family friend’s home. Thursday was the sangeet at Tandoor. We arranged shuttles for everyone to/from the sangeet. The wedding and reception were on Friday at the Marriott.
You did several unique things during your wedding and wedding week. Share those:
1. Rehearsal. Sure. Well it’s not that common to do a rehearsal but I was pretty insistent, as timeliness is pretty important to me. So we did a rehearsal at the Marriott.
2. Family Style Dinner. We served dinner family style – it was more expensive than buffets but it was worth it. I just don’t like people standing in line waiting for food. A wedding is a formal occasion and there are few opportunities to be formal in general.
It is more per person and less variety. We had 2 entrees, 3 subzis, naan, rice, papad, raita.
And we received several compliments from people who really liked the family style dinner and the food. Afterwards we had a pretty large dessert selection.
Do you have any advice for others who want to do family style dinner?
It’s important to select a caterer who’s done family style before. If they’ve done it at your venue – even better – but it’s not a must. It’s not common; most venues have never done an Indian wedding family style so they’ll also be pretty reliant on the caterer too.
The caterer should tell you everything they need in terms of equipment, labor, and time. For instance our caterer told us to look at how many servers are included in the contract. Most suggest 1 server for every 3 tables but for family style you need more.
3. Opened up the dance floor before dinner. At the reception, we did our entrance and immediately had 1 performance that included the wedding party and our siblings. Then we opened the dance floor for about 45 minutes and then people sat down. We did speeches, our 1st dance and showed the same day edit while everyone ate. I found this worked really well and people had a lot of fun.
4. Hired an MC and flew the MC and DJ out from New York. The MC works for the Wendy Williams show. They’re a team we saw at a wedding we went to. Music and making that part memorable was really important to us. And since they came from the east coast they didn’t bring their sound equipment so we rented that from Nick Datwani from Legacy Events. Nick DJ’d the sangeet, provided the dhol player and all of the sound equipment.
5. My clothes. I wore my mom’s sari for the wedding. It had a lot of sentimental value for me.
Preserving your wedding dress for your daughter is more of a Western concept, but I was able to convince my mom. We did update the sari – had a new border put on it and added some bling. My engagement, mehndi and sangeet outfits were from India and I got my reception gown from LA. My colors were mixed metallics gold, silver, and rose gold. Red and gold are my favorite colors + I’m a USC alum (our colors are cardinal and gold) so it was perfect! I wore some combo of these colors at all of the events.
Our main focus was that people have fun, never get bored, enjoy the food and beverages – at the end of the day that’s kinda what they remember. It was a hot, summer day so we had parasols, body spray, sunglasses, and lassi, nuts, namkeen and more at the ceremony.
Was there any education that your families went through about your respective wedding traditions?
There was some education. I’m Punjabi and Vikram’s family is Sindhi. For instance milni was important to my family so we guided my in-laws through that.
Do you have any wedding planning advice?
At the end of the day all that matters is that it’s the union of you two. None of the decor etc. matters. Don’t let the politics of planning the wedding get in the way of what it’s all about, which is the union of two families.
Bridal Makeup: Lynn Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bridal Hair: Lucy Contact: 818-659-5225, Ashikian Lusine; email@example.com
I loved my makeup and hair people! They brought a team of 5-6 people to do me, my mom, mother-in-law, my grandmother, my sister-in-law, and the bridal party
Sangeet DJ, dhol player, sound equipment: Nick Datwani, Legacy Events
Reception DJ + MC: DJ USA
Cinematography: Imagique Weddings
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