The Big Fat Relaxed Indian Wedding

Aakriti and Kartik
Pacific Palms Resort
Bride and Groom: Punjabi Sikh-Gujarati Hindu
Photography: Greycard Photography
Videography: Robles Video Productions

Briefly share something about your wedding that could be helpful for future couples.
We spread out our events over 2 weekends. We could do that since both of our families are local and we didn’t have a lot of people coming from out-of-town. This gave us time to rest and relax in-between events and the celebrations lasted longer! We didn’t intend to have it that way – just turned out that way to ensure we could do everything that we wanted. 

How did you spread out the events?
We did our sangeet the weekend before the wedding. The wedding ceremony was the following week on a Friday morning and the reception was the next day (Saturday night).

What were your wedding events?
Our sangeet was a combined event for both of our families, at my dad’s best friend’s house – they’re like family to us. Traditional Punjabi songs were sung at the sangeet earlier in the evening and the rest of the night was performances and dancing.

Kartik’s side of the family did their own mehndi, pooja and pithi. My mehndi was at my parent’s house and the next morning was the chura ceremony, a traditional Punjabi ceremony.

We had a baraat and a Sikh ceremony on Friday morning at Pacific Palms. The ceremony was on their Wedding Lawn – it’s kind of in the middle of the golf course – so it was private and serene. Afterwards lunch was served in their outdoor tent. That’s a permanent structure which was great to have access to.

The baraat started at the back of the parking lot and made its way to the front of the hotel. The driveway there is too steep to do a baraat so it started in the parking lot.  And after the baraat we did milni in front of the hotel (not on the valet side). Milni is not a tradition for Kartik’s family but they were very open to it. My family explained and described it to them and it turned out wonderfully.

How did you do Anand Karaj at Pacific Palms?
We had staging for the musicians and the Book was placed higher than everyone else.

We arranged head coverings for everyone too. We had rumaal’s (handkerchiefs) made  in India, that matched the decor. We also set up shoe racks so that shoes wouldn’t be in pictures and lying around everywhere.

Since everyone sits on the floor for Anand Karaj, we arranged a sub-flooring with a covering on top, so people would be comfortable. The ceremony was about 40 minutes total. The biggest thing is working with a venue that will allow you to put sub-flooring down. Several venues were concerned about the impact on their grass. Pacific Palms let us to do it, but even they started tear down as soon as the ceremony was done – while we were still taking photos.

Tell us about the education process you went through for your families’ respective traditions.
We had several meetings to discuss our respective traditions. It helped to do those meetings at the venue – especially to describe an Anand Karaj because there are a few logistics that make it unique and different from Hindu ceremonies such as everyone sits on the floor and men and women are separated, no one wears shoes, everyone’s head must be covered. When we were at Pacific Palms we could show everyone where the Book, sub-floor, shoe racks etc. would be setup which made the flow of everything really clear for everyone.

His family shared the info with their relatives and friends – so by the time the wedding day arrived, there weren’t any surprises. Everyone knew what to expect.

We had programs printed that explained each part of the ceremony and we also provided a schedule of the day. Kartik was in New Orleans for a majority of the planning. So mostly it was me or my mom talking to him and his parents.

What made you decide to get married on a Friday?
The ceremony day was going to be a really long day. It’s long for pretty much all South Asian weddings. In our case we wanted to do a baraat, Sikh ceremony, serve lunch and then do an abridged Hindu ceremony. And the Hindu ceremony took place at Kartik’s parent’s home. Since we had so much going on in one day we thought it best to split up the ceremonies and the reception to different days.

Was getting married on a Friday an issue in terms of guest attendance?
Surprisingly no. We kept the wedding to close family and friends.We had about 350 people  there!

The reception the next day was about 560 people. And we were very relaxed – it was great! Everyone staying at Pacific Palms had checked in the night before the wedding. Kartik surprised me after the ceremonies by booking a room at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach. Because we only had the reception on Saturday night, we were able to spend the night there. Otherwise there just wouldn’t have been enough time.

And your sangeet? That was the week before the wedding/reception?
Yeah, since we got married on a Friday and both of our families are pretty much local we decided to do the sangeet the weekend before.

How did you decide on the Pacific Palms?
We quickly realized that a hotel was going to be best option for us vs. a banquet hall or estate etc.,– especially since we split up the wedding and reception. Hotels have so many built-in features and facilities that make them easy to work with i.e. audio-visual equipment, DJ can easily come in and do lighting, most can handle Indian food from an outside caterer. And if you need something like extra linens, chairs, etc. they have it readily available.


One venue I really liked but just didn’t work out was Hummingbird Nest Ranch. It’s beautiful! But for the reasons I mentioned that make a hotel convenient, this venue didn’t have. On the one hand that’s nice because that venue is like a blank canvas and you can do whatever you want with it, but at the same time you have to arrange everything from server staff to silverware.

We could have arranged all of these things but it was just a lot more work. Plus Kartik’s sister had her reception at Pacific Palms so his parents were very familiar with them and liked the property.

And as I mentioned we needed a venue that could accommodate a Sikh ceremony. There were other venues with beautiful outdoor spaces that met our capacity needs but weren’t really suited for people sitting on the floor for an hour. Pacific Palms has their Wedding Lawn and allowed us to set up a sub-flooring on top of the grass.

Advice for anyone doing a non-Gurdwara Sikh ceremony
Talk to the venue whenever putting sub-flooring on grass. They stop watering the grass 24-48 hours beforehand and get a little nervous about the impact on the grass. Tear down started immediately after our guests went to get lunch. By immediately, I mean they were tearing down while we took photos on the mandap.

What other venues did you consider?
Several venues were already booked for our weekend or couldn’t do Anand Karaj.

Four Seasons Westlake Village
Hyatt Regency Long Beach

The Langham Hotel in Pasadena
Anaheim Marriott
Hummingbird Nest Ranch

Where did you shop?
We went to India for 2 weeks. My mausi lives in Delhi. It was a lot easier having her there because she knew where to go. I got my wedding outfit from Meena Bazaar. We also went to the City Center Mall. Kartik wanted to pick out his own clothes so he got them from Cerritos (Southern California’s ‘Little India’).

The bridesmaids clothes were custom made in India.

Our invitations were made in India from a local printer that my nani knew. Since we were there for a short time, my nani already had them done by the time we arrived. 

What wedding planning advice would you give to couples?

  • You can never do things too early. Even though it seems like there’s plenty of time – those little details tend to pile up weeks before the wedding and then get overwhelming.
  • Hire a planner for the month-of or the day-of. There are so many events, people and details that things are bound to get overlooked. They will think of all the little things that you don’t think of. Also they have relationships with a lot of vendors.
  • Meet vendors in-person once you’ve narrowed down the options. Making sure you will work together and ‘click’ is important – you’re going to be working with them for several months.
  • Include your fiance´ in the planning process. It’s more fun working on the wedding together and that way no one feels like they’re doing all the work nor, that one person is getting to make all the decisions.

Our Wedding Professionals Team
We loved all of the great companies we worked with! They were fun to work with and professional!

Catering: Manohar’s Delhi Palace

Decor: Shawna Yamamoto Event Design

DJ: flew out from Vancouver, Canada (Harp) DJ Aftershock
 Kartik and I felt that a DJ is important in creating a fun atmosphere.We had seen him at some other events and weddings we’d been to.

Hair and Makeup: Dolled up by Lulu

Photography: Greycard Photography

Wedding Planner: Rakhi from Pink Rock Events

They had done the decor for the last 3-4 weddings I’d been to and I liked their work. I talked to other people they’d worked with and they were all very happy.

Videography: Robles Productions

Learn more about Pacific Palms Resort

Check out Aakriti’s lifestyle blog: A little Indiaa
She’s been immersed in so much wedding stuff, you’ll find more wedding thoughts there too!

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Telegu – North Indian wedding at Pacific Palms
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Sikh Ceremony in Washington D.C.

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