Our baraat took over Union Square, SF! Priyanka and Shaun, Westin St. Francis

Priyanka and Shaun
Bride and Groom: both are Telegu, Hindu
Sangeet: Sir Francis Drake Hotel
Wedding and Reception: Westin St. Francis Union Square

Priyanka and Shaun live in Houston. She’s originally from the East Bay area and he’s from Houston.
Their Union Square 
SF wedding was destination-like.

What would you say was one of the highlights from your wedding?
Shaun’s baraat. It literally took over Union Square. The baraat started on the side of the hotel on Post Street and came around to the front.

Shaun was on a horse but we hired all of these pedicabs (aka rickshaws) too and all of Shaun’s friends were dancing in them with confetti canons. There was a dhol player too.


The double decker tourist buses and cable cars stopped to watch. Plus…it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend – so Union Square was packed that day. It was quite a show of 350 people dancing in Union Square.

Our ceremony was on one of the upper floors of the hotel in the Alexandria Ballroom. After the baraat guests made their way into the elevators to head upstairs. My wedding planner and her team helped direct traffic, so it wasn’t hectic nor a problem to move that many people upstairs.

How did you plan the wedding?
I was in San Jose, Shaun was in Dallas and our wedding planner was in Vegas. Throughout the planning process we had conference calls between our families and our coordinator. Shaun visited periodically too. It worked out fine despite the distances between everyone involved.

How did you decide on the Westin St. Francis?
We knew we wanted to get married in the city. Much of Shaun’s side came to California and/or SF for the 1st time so we wanted to show them a really great time. We were so fortunate that they took time off to attend our wedding so we wanted to make it as convenient for them as possible. We were looking for ease of access from the airport, a lively area that would give them an opportunity to experience SF and sightsee easily. And of course, a venue that was desi-friendly – allowed us to have a horse, Indian food, and could accommodate our 500 guests.
There aren’t a lot of venues in the city with that kind of capacity.

What were your wedding events?
We had a sangeet/kick off party at the Drake Hotel. We set up a room block there in addition to one at the Westin.
The ceremony and reception were at the Westin. Cocktails and the reception were on the bottom floor in their Grand Ballroom. It’s a gorgeous space! It looks like one of those old school opera houses – with balconies.
We had a time gap in-between the wedding and reception. Our mahurat was 11:45am and ended at 1:30pm, then we served lunch. During the break guests toured the city and had time to go back to their hotels to change/freshen up.

Were there any differences in your respective wedding traditions?
Yes, a few. Even though we’re both Telegu there were a few differences – not in the customs themselves – just how they’re implemented. Luckily the pujari knew both of our customs.
How did you meld your respective traditions?
We just talked between our families and shared what was important to each side and  communicated what we wanted to the pujari. It was seamless. For example, in my tradition the bride does not enter in a basket with her uncles carrying her; nor does she wear a white sari. These are traditions on Shaun’s side. So our compromise was my uncles entered with me, carrying a canopy overhead. And I didn’t change into a white sari but the pujari draped it over my shoulders.
Where did you shop for your clothes?
I went to Hyderabad for 3 weeks. I wanted to wear our family’s precious jewelry – stuff my mom wore so in India I mostly bought clothes. My mehndi outfit was made from one of my mom’s saris which we got done in India.
Even my gown that I wore at the reception – I got from India.

Did you have bridesmaids and groomsmen?
Yes. I had bridesmaids and my husband had groomsmen and grooms-women.
The men wore dhoti’s and the women sari’s.
My bridesmaids wore traditional South Indian saris. I really like yellow so the bridal party wore a mixture of yellow and pink.
Do you have any advice that you’d pass on to couples that are planning their wedding?

  • Having patience is probably the best thing to have during wedding planning. There’s a lot of people involved and a lot of moving parts. Have patience and listen to each other.
  • Try not to put things off to the last minute – especially securing venues, vendors for photographers/videographers.
  • Especially for venues in popular cities like San Francisco where there’s always something going on, booking early is important

How did you select your vendors?
Shaun is an event planner so he organized most of our vendors. He worked for Prashe Decor at the time, so his knowledge and connections within the industry were very helpful.

Caterer: Peacock Indian Restaurant
We really liked how diverse they were in what they offered. We went to several tastings and originally wanted dosa. They can accommodate vegetarian items and traditional Hyderabad dishes too.

They catered pretty much the major wedding week events. The pendlithila and pendlikoothuru – our haldi ceremonies. The only that wasn’t catered was our brunch on Sunday at the Drake Hotel’s restaurant. I really like their restaurant, Scala’s Bistro.

Decor Design: Shaun Rao

Decor: Prashe Decor

Dessert: Sweet Tooth ConfectionsThey’re in San Jose and I heard about them from a coworker. I didn’t want a cake, I wanted pie since we got married on 3.14.15.

DJ: DJ Prashant Entertainment from Dallas – he was amazing.

Hair and Makeup:
Photographer: Hiram Trillo Art Photography. We brought then in from Texas as well.

Pri_Shaun_wedd0521Videographer: Scinema

What a gorgeous, fun wedding! Congrats Priyanka and Shaun!

Check out these other Bay area weddings on the ShaadiShop blog. 
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