Amie and Chirag
Bride and Groom: Gujarati and Marathi
Wedding and Reception:
Laguna Cliffs Marriott
Photography and Videography: Lin and Jirsa
Were there any surprises or unexpected circumstances at or while planning your wedding?
My grandmother fell the day before my wedding and I didn’t know until that night that she was in the hospital. And the next day while getting ready for my wedding I found out that she had to have surgery and wouldn’t be able to attend my wedding. I had to hold it together as the tears were ready to roll down my face. I knew that I had to keep it together because if I lost it – I would have lost it and not be able to compose myself. I had to just put it in the back of my mind. If something as traumatic as that can happen and I still had the most amazing day of my life – then your makeup being off or whatever else that could have gone wrong seemed meaningless comparatively. And unfortunately she passed away a couple months ago.
The DJ we booked cancelled on us a couple months before our wedding because he realized his cousin was getting married that same weekend. That was pretty upsetting. Those are the things that you don’t expect to happen that add unnecessary stress. And the thing is what can you do? He returned our money and that was the end of it.
To make matters worse was the way he handled the whole thing. He didn’t even tell us! We called him to ask a question and then he told us the bad news. The professional thing to do would have been to help us find a replacement. All these DJ’s seem to know each other. At the very least he could’ve tried to help us.
My entrance on the doli was unforgettable
My favorite part of the wedding was when I came out in the doli. My closest cousins and my brothers carried me.
I remember coming down and the music playing. I looked down and I could see the ocean, my mom on the stage crying and it was so magical as I was being carried to see my husband.
There was a balcony behind where guests from the hotel watched.
We took our families convenience and joy into great consideration when planning the entire wedding.
From our immediate families to our cousins – they were all eager to get involved and help – and we feel very blessed.
We started realizing we were wasting time because we were spending time on venues that couldn’t even accommodate our guest count. ShaadiShop would have been very useful for us!
How many venues did you consider?
We research 20-25 venues; narrowed it down it to 6-8 venues and visited all of them. We narrowed it down to two and then evaluated based on what we and our families liked.
What were you looking for in a venue?
- Ocean views (our top 4 were Hyatt Huntington Beach, Newport Beach Marriott, Hyatt Regency Long Beach and the Laguna Cliffs Marriott)
Ability to handle our guest count (300)
- The venue needed to have a very nice ballroom
- Availability on our dates
- Convenient for our guests
- Allowed my dog to be there the entire day
They only have 1 ballroom so the property was sort of “all ours” that day. We really liked that. And their ocean views were just incredible compared to the others + the cost factor.
The baraat was a big thing for us. We liked the space for the baraat too as it came up a hill.
How much time passed when you started looking for a venue and when you actually booked?
We researched, visited, and booked in just under 3 weeks. It was a pretty intense few weeks. I was in Thousand Oaks at the time so my husband was the one visiting all the venues.
It looks like you only considered Long Beach and South Orange County?
Yeah, so we wanted a venue that would be convenient for our guests. A significant number of both of our families and friends live in Orange County. We considered Long Beach but that was kinda stretching it. And we went with an Orange County property even though those venues are a little pricier – their convenience was important for us.
Did you have a sangeet?
We didn’t have a sangeet in the traditional sense. Instead we had a Friends and Family Dinner at Bella Colina in San Clemente. We invited our closest family and friends (100). We wanted them to meet before the wedding day so they wouldn’t meet for the first time at the wedding. Our siblings planned the whole evening. We had a Mexican buffet and my little brother DJ’d. Again to keep everything easy and convenient we decided to do this in South Orange County.
How did you select Bella Colina?
We figured for our dinner a country club would be a great idea. Bella Colina has beautiful views, could accommodate our number of people, flexible with food and we liked their food. We had make-your-own tacos (tofu, fish, and chicken), quesadillas, rice, beans, chips and salsa, guacamole, churros and ice cream for dessert + a bar. They were making margaritas and a lot o other great drinks. Bella Colina catered the food and it was amazing.
We booked them four months before the wedding. Luckily they were available as many of the others we looked at in Tustin, Aliso Viejo and San Juan Capistrano either weren’t available, didn’t have views we liked as much or we didn’t like the food.
How did you select the month to get married?
We got married in May because some months weren’t considered auspicious and some of our family members were busy in other months so it wasn’t that hard to narrow it down to May.
What were your other wedding events?
We did a pooja at my parents house the day before the wedding. We had to do pooja in Thousand Oaks on Friday morning. Our family from Orange County drove to our place and then drove back to Orange County to attend the dinner at Bella Colina that night.
The mehndi was small and really chill and fun. We ordered Bucca di Beppo and had our mehndi done and listened to music. It was at my parent’s home and I didn’t want my relatives to have to come to Thousand Oaks on Thursday night and stay in a hotel to attend the pooja the next morning.
The best part for him was the baraat. He was on a horse coming up a hill. All the attention was on him whereas mostly the attention is on the bride that day. And he enjoyed our grand entrance at the reception too.
What were some of the personal touches you added to your wedding?
Chirag’s best friend is Omi Vaidya (from 3 Idiots). He did a great job MC’ing our reception. He was really funny and many of our guests asked for his autograph and to take photos with him.
Chirag’s grandmother couldn’t attend the wedding so we recorded a video of her, giving her blessings, that was played during our slideshow during the reception – it was a surprise for our families – only Chirag and I knew we organized this. My mother-in-law cried when she was her mother – it was very touching.
Also, my aunt – my mom’s sister in India, who had planned to make her first trip to the US to attend our wedding, had an accident days before her flight and couldn’t come. Her recorded video sending her blessings and best wishes was a surprise for my mom and all of our family and friends.
My dog is a little guy – 12 pounds – was there all day. He was in the ceremony and made a grand entrance with us at the reception.
What was the timeline of your wedding day events?
Before the ceremony we took photos for about 2 hours with our families – mostly the people that attended the Friends and Family Dinner on Friday night. So we opted out of having a bridal party.
My entrance: 3:30
Cocktail hour: 5:30-7
We made bags of trail mix that we placed on each chair for our guests to enjoy during the ceremony.
How did you combine your respective cultures?
We met with the priest. We asked our parents which portions of the ceremony were most important for both sides and the priest combined everything. And the whole ceremony was in English.
Where did you shop for your clothes?
We went to Seasons in Santa Cruz in Mumbai. My husband went shopping with us every day for 14 days straight. Poor guy was so bored.
Do you have any wedding planning advice?
Our Vendor Team
Caterer: Manohar’s Delhi Palace. His minimum is 300 to book him – so we just made the cut off. He was our first vendor that we booked. He did the cocktail hour, reception dinner and lassi’s at the ceremony. The cocktail hour appetizers were excellent as was the dinner. We really loved the food.
Day-of Planner: Agape Planning – they were recommended to me.
Decor: Sheer Romance; Yogi Patel
My husband met with Yogi first and looked at his work. Most decorators don’t publish a lot of their photos online. My husband liked his work and Yogi was very responsive. He was honest with us. He did what he said and kept to the budget that we agreed on. We talked to him and one other company.
It was helpful to how him photos of things we liked and from there he shared his vision within our budget.
Photography and Videography: Lin and Jirsa
Makeup: Makeup by Ami; Ami Desai. She did my makeup on the wedding day. She did two different looks – one for the wedding and another for the reception. She did my makeup from 5:30-6:30 or so and the reception started at 7.