What were your wedding week events?
Anand’s family arrived Monday night. Tuesday night we had them over for dinner at my parent’s house. Thursday morning we did the mandva and the pithi.
Thursday night was the mehndi at my parent’s house with Anand and his guests that were in town.
Friday morning we had a pooja at the Jain Center and Anand had his haldi at the Hotel Irvine.
Friday night was our garba/sangeet at the Jain Center and Saturday was the wedding and reception.
Were there any differences in your cultural traditions?
Not really. Other than what the events were called i.e.pithi vs. haldi. When we were giving instructions to people we made sure we communicated in Gujarati, Hindi, and English.
Did you have a time gap in-between the wedding and reception?
No, we started the baraat at 2pm and went straight into the cocktails and reception after the ceremony.
We were busy in-between taking photos. My in-laws did a ceremony of welcoming me into their family and home. Plus Anand and I changed for the reception and I had a new makeup look for the evening.
The cocktail hour started at 5:30p and the reception started at 7p.
What was it like planning from Chicago for a SoCal wedding?
The main thing was we tried to book vendors early. I went home every couple months the year we were engaged as I had some flexibility with my job – so I could go home for a week at a time. My mom and sister did a lot of work to check out venues and a lot of other decisions too.
How did you vet vendors?
We hired vendors mostly based off our friends’ recommendations. That was really key for us – knowing that people we knew liked certain vendors’ work as well as how flexible and easy they were to work with.
What were your criterion for the venue you selected?
- 400 guests
- Outside catering
- Outdoor ceremony
What did you like about the Hotel Irvine?
They recently remodeled the whole venue so it was like new when we had our wedding in May. Plus, it was convenient as it’s right next to the airport and there’s an airport shuttle. It’s pretty close to my parent’s house and their pricing was reasonable. They also have a back-up plan in case it rains.
Did you set up a room block at the hotel?
Yeah, we set up a contract – so we were financially obligated to fulfill a certain percentage – I think it was 80%. We originally asked for 80 rooms and ended up underestimating how many we’d need. We went way over our minimum. Anand’s family and friends all came from out-of-town and we had a lot of family from out-of-town as well. People could check in between Thursday to Saturday and get the same rate.
Did your guests rent cars?
Most didn’t. Since the hotel had an airport shuttle and we organized buses to take guests to/from the hotel to the Jain Center for the garba.
Share some of the personal touches at the wedding.
1. My cousins organized an ongoing scavenger hunt the whole weekend. It was for the kids and young adults and a means for our families to get to know each other.
My cousin got everyone’s phone numbers and created a WhatsApp group. He divided everyone into teams and mixed our relatives together on teams. Then periodically throughout the events he’d send out clues and the teams had to take a picture with the objects they found. So for instance, during the garba they had to find a hidden pair of dandia. People got really into it! My cousin personalized some of the clues too. You had to know something about Anand or I so the teams had to talk to people to find out the answers. There were different points for each clue and we gave a little prize to the team that won at our farewell/thank you brunch on Sunday.
2. The farewell/thank you brunch was at the Hotel Irvine in the hospitality room they gave us. We had that room from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. The room itself was free but they charged us every time we wanted to serve food. That was sort of a hidden cost that we didn’t realize would be included. We had to negotiate that with them on that as we hosted several additional meals. We had chai, coffee, and cookies available 24/7 as well – which they didn’t charge us for.
How did you have chai available 24/7?
When we were shopping in India, we found these instant chai packets are pretty popular now. So we ordered them from India and had them shipped to us. It was available all weekend.
3. We had a wedding hashtag. My name and Anand’s name meld together pretty easily. We gave sunglasses to everyone at the ceremony and we had them printed with our hashtag and date on the rims.
4. The decor and theme of our sangeet/garba — Pyar Dosti Hai– was based on where we met, the University of Michigan, and one of our favorite hindi movies, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. We made many of the decorations for this event and had friends and family help us with the set up beforehand.
Is there any advice that you’d give to future brides/couples?
Vendor recommendations were big for me since we were planning remotely. We really relied on the recommendations of our friends. Also, we got multiple quotes from vendors. You can do a lot of that work on email and over the phone.
Our Wedding Professionals Team:
Catering (Wedding day): Manohar’s Delhi Palace – reception. We had Jain food the whole weekend. Delhi Palace did a really good job. And they had never done a full Jain menu before. All of our food was Jain – we didn’t just have a Jain option.
For the appetizers, instead of different kinds of bhujia – he made falafels instead. We were able to come up with a lot of the shaaks where you wouldn’t notice the difference without onion or garlic. Jay Bharat catered everything else.
DJ: Sandeep Kumar – he did a wonderful job. He was there all day on Saturday.
Hair and Makeup: Angie Vaca. It was nice having someone dedicated to getting me ready.
Henna Dil Se – did hair and makeup my mom, sister, Anand’s mom and his sisters too.
Decor: Smita Mohindra from Ethnic Essence and she was our day-of coordinator for Saturday.
All of our vendors knew each other and work well together. They all took charge and knew what they were doing.
Congratulations Kaanan and Anand!!