What was a driver for how you planned your wedding?
My biggest constraint in wedding planning was time. I was doing rotations, doing an internship and applying for residency – all while living on the East Coast. So when I got engaged I did a few things that helped make the wedding planning process easier:
- I let my parents take charge of ALOT. They went to India and bought all of my clothes, jewelry and the invitations.
- I had several friends who got married recently so I reached out to them for vendor recommendations.
- I made decisions quickly. FOMO didn’t kick in for me. I looked at a few options, evaluated, made a decision and moved on to the next thing.
- I put faith in my vendors
What was your planning environment?
Pavan and I met during undergrad at UC Berkeley and those four years were our last in the same city for a while. We both moved to the East Coast after undergrad and then Pavan moved to SF. I only recently moved to SF.
Our families are on opposite coasts too – so all of the primary stakeholders were spread across the country. That’s important to mention because our parents were pretty involved in our wedding planning process.
Why didn’t you hire a wedding planner?
For us hiring a planner would’ve meant having ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’. Because we got married at a brand new venue, the owner was very involved in every aspect of our wedding. She became kind of like a surrogate planner. Plus she’s very experienced and involved in the decor of almost every South Asian wedding in Arizona so she knew what she was doing.
We couldn’t do a lot of stuff until last minute because the venue wasn’t ready. I knew things were going to be a bit chaotic but I embraced it and it all worked out. You can spend a lot of time on all of the little details and in the end I knew I wanted to marry Pavan so I kept focusing on that. I didn’t have time to worry about the details, so I didn’t.
We had about 1.5 years to plan the wedding. We did an engagement party with a traditional Telegu engagement ceremony in Ohio, where he’s from, and a North Indian style wedding in Arizona, which is where my family is.
As I mentioned our venue was brand new. They literally got their permits a few days before our wedding. The woman that owns the venue is a family friend and when I got engaged she approached my family about doing the wedding at her new venue. And we really liked the idea! So we didn’t even look at other venues.
What was great about it was that I could design the day exactly as I wanted. For instance our 1st dance was to a live piano performance played by Pavan’s cousin.
When did you find time to go shopping?
I didn’t! I was busy applying for residency. God Bless WhatsApp! My parents went to India and bought all of the clothes, jewelry and invitations. They sort of knew where to go shopping because they had shopped for my sister’s wedding, so they were able to go back to those same stores. I gave my parents very concrete photos of what I wanted.
Was your ceremony indoors or outdoors?
It was supposed to be outdoors. Then a couple days before our wedding I made a judgement call to move the ceremony indoors. I was a little disappointed, but more importantly I didn’t want our guests to sit through a ceremony in the blazing heat. In the end it was a good decision because it went up to 95 degrees that day!
We ended up doing the ceremony in the foyer with a small dia. During the ceremony we put rice etc. on the side of the dia and afterwards the panditji burned it for us.
How did you select your vendors?
Photographer: Ushna Khan Photography; I knew the photographer, I’d seen her work before. So I booked her right away.
The DJ: The DJ was booked all through electronic communication. Pavan handled all of that – we didn’t meet him in-person. Our friend, who used to DJ, recommended we look in LA. We hired Sandeep Kumar and we were so happy with him! He is so talented, experienced and professional. Our program ran late and ended up having surprise performances and he ran with it. He was calm and flexible. DJs will send you tracks of their mixes and we wanted older school Hindi music and hip hop and some DJs said they don’t do that – so we ruled them out. Sandeep played exactly the kind of music we wanted.
Caterer and Cake: Since the venue is owned by an Indian aunty, they already had a relationship with a caterer whose food we liked and the caterer did our cake as well.
All I did was bring in an outside decorator. And I gave my input of my overall concept for the decor that they just ran with it.
The owner hired some very well known, talented designers – people who were involved with the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. They also hired a chef who was from a JW Marriott in Texas. He’s Indian and cooks Indian food plus a diverse range of other cuisines and cakes.
The venue has two rooms – the larger room seats about 800 – so it’s perfectly suited for South Asian weddings.
What were your other events?
I wanted a traditional mehndi at my parent’s house. We had cushioned mats (gaddas in Hindi) laid out on the floor and everyone sat on them with loads of pillows and cushions around. And Aunty’s sang old Hindi and wedding songs. It didn’t turn into a dance party.
Friday night was a friends event with jazz music and Mexican food on at my parent’s home. Our friends did speeches that night before heading off to the hotel closer to the wedding venue. The venue is about 45 minutes from my parent’s house so we stayed at a hotel nearby.
There were 450 people at the wedding. About 200 were from out-of-town. So we set up room blocks at nearby hotels. It was spring training that week so we booked room blocks at three different hotels. We told specific groups of our friends and family which of the 3 hotels to book. And we insisted that our guests who came from out-of-town not to give us gifts because we knew they were spending a lot of money to attend the wedding.
Was there a time gap between the wedding and reception?
Yes, we got married on Ram Navami so the auspicious time to get married was pretty narrow.
We had an hour to get the ceremony done. Since it was such a short time window, we did the phere and mangal sutra after we were technically married.
The ceremony was kind of early in the morning so we had about 3-4 hours between the wedding and reception.
Do you have wedding planning advice?
Have someone that’s in charge the day of the wedding to deal with questions, so the bride and groom and their families aren’t bothered. That person MUST understand South Asian weddings.
Take a moment for yourself before and after the wedding. I remember saying to myself, “I’m married!”.
Being flexible will make your life easier!
How did you do hair and makeup trials since you weren’t in Arizona?
I did the trial pretty close to my wedding day – like a month and a half before the wedding. Again I worked with artists that were recommended by a friend. And I only did one trial. And I had separate makeup and hair artists.
There are few people in Arizona that do mehndi so it was kind of a given.
So happy for you Sasha and Pavan! Wishing you a lifetime of happiness!
|Rental||Madi/Us 2 U||(480) email@example.com|
|DJ||Sandeep Kumar||(909) firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Photographer||Ushna Khan||(602) email@example.com|
|Hair||Amber/All Done Upfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Florist/Event Design||Jessica Barry||(480) email@example.com|
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