Helicopter Indian Wedding

Photography: Braja Mandala
Videography: Avec Lumiere Productions

Can you share what your main wedding events?
Thursday: Mehndi at my parents’ home

Friday: Garba at the Calabasas Community Center. It has an outdoor patio along with the space for garba. It’s very pretty as it’s surrounded by mountains. They’ve had grabs and sangeets there before so they were well versed in our needs for food and decor.

Saturday: we took a break

Sunday: wedding and reception at the Marina del Rey Marriott

You arrived to your ceremony by helicopter?!?
Their ceremony space has a helipad so we decided to take advantage of that.  It was one of the main reasons we selected the venue. We chartered a helicopter out of the Santa Monica airport which was a 10 minute drive from the Marriott. The fun part was that NO ONE knew we were going to arrive by helicopter. Our bridal party didn’t even know!

Our wedding planner, Neha Shah, from Blue Lotus Insights did a great job of coordinating the helicopter so it stayed a surprise and the moment went perfectly! We arrived at sunset and all of our guests were already in the ballroom which overlooks the helipad. She arranged for Highway to Hell by AC/DC to be playing right as we landed. The curtains, in the ballroom, went up and everyone could see us land.

Deep did you have a baraat?
Yeah, but the space is pretty small and it’s on a major road with traffic. That’s the only somewhat downside about that venue. If you have a big wedding party for the baraat or want to have a horse, it can be pretty difficult. We had about 50 people from my side, so we were fine.

How did you select the Marina del Rey Marriott?
We started venue-searching a year and a half before our wedding and made a trip to California to visit venues. We ended up visiting 9 in one day, as we were on a time crunch.  the most important factor was something that really reflected ‘California’, as we’re pretty proud of our Cali roots.

  • we wanted something modern
  • something near cliffs and the beach

What other venues did you consider?
We looked in Orange County at Newport Beach Marriott, the St. Regis and the Laguna Cliffs Marriott. We met Neha (and loved her!) the same day we went venue searching and she mentioned the Marina del Rey Marriott. It had everything we were looking for + the helipad. 

Where were your events on the wedding day?

  • the ceremony was on the upper floor of the venue with 360 degree views of the city

  • the cocktail hour was in their atrium on the lobby level. It’s nice to do the cocktail hour in an outdoor space.

  • the reception was in the ballroom, upstairs, with city views

At what point did you hire Blue Lotus Insights?
We hired Neha from the get-go. She was recommended by a friend. We were both in med school and living in New York at the beginning of the planning process so we knew we’d need help. She introduced us to the venue and from that point onwards she was involved in all aspects of the wedding.

She recommended vendors and we scouted on our own as well. good about communicating with the families and keeping everyone involved. If Deep and I decided on a few vendors she’d actively reach out to our family members to get their input as well.

We found our photographer on our own – Braja Mandala. 

What were your highest priorities at the wedding?
After we booked the venue the first vendors we booked were photo and video were pretty important and the DJ.

What were some of the highlights of the day?
We had an the same number of bridesmaids and groomsmen so we paired them together and they came into the reception dancing to “Uptown Funk”. Everyone, including the uncles and aunties loved it too!

We made it a point during the vidai not to cry. There were a few people who shed a few tears but we didn’t want it to be tearful.

Deep: We had drinking games for our guests.  Tanvi and I had a drink of our own, and we asked our guests to order those drinks.  The bartender would then tally up which side had more drinks ordered and the winner was announced at the end of the night!

Also, for our guest book, we had guests sign a map made out of wood, telling us where to go in the world for our first vacation together and marriage advice as well.  We have that hanging up in our apartment as we speak!

Do you have any wedding planning advice?

  • Don’t get bogged down by details. Vendors know what they’re doing.
  • At the end of the day it’s a special day for you and your significant other so you should do what will make you and your significant other happy.
  • For the guys they have to be the rock for the bride and help keep them calm.
  • For us, giving ourselves a year and a half to plan the wedding was a really good decision.
  • Let loose and have a good time!

How did you do the reception seating?
We divided the reception hall – one side was his and the other was mine. For the table numbers, he took even numbers and I took odd numbers. This is a long process. We started with our closest family and friends and worked on it from there.

We had an escort card tree so the name of each person was on the card and setup alphabetically.

Did you have to work with different cultural differences?
We had varying traditions that we had to work through. Our mothers handled those differences internally and it worked out great!

Our wedding professionals team:

We had a live band at our garba – Mousumi. They are our family friends so it was really nice having them there. A singer who was a contestant on Saregamapa attended and did a sangeet at the end of the garba.  Since Mosumee aunty is good friends with my family he came to our home during our wedding week and did a private sangeet. He took requests and played the piano and the flute.

Cake: Martha’s cake. Neha recommended them. Their cakes were great but also were great to work with on pricing. We had mini churros with chocolate syrup and mini donuts and milk. We don’t get to try it but heard it was awesome! There was nothing leftover.

Catering: Mantra Cuisine – the food was delicious. He’s so flexible. The night before the wedding, Neha and I were reviewing the menus and we realized we didn’t have any snacks for the baraat to have when the entered. And we called him at 11pm the day before the wedding and asked him if he could bring something and he did and didn’t even charge us for it.

Clothes: We went to India a year and a half before the wedding. I got my garba outfit and panetar designed from a smaller designer in Ahmedabad. Once I decided to work with her we communicated through whatsapp. She would send me photos.

My reception dress, my dad went to India 6 months before the wedding and he sent me photos and he brought it back and I got the alterations done here in SoCal.

What about your clothes Deep?
I basically got my clothes two weeks before the wedding. I bought my sherwani when I went to India in December. I wanted a blue tux.

Decor: Shawna Yamamoto Event Design – they’re so creative. That’s what we loved about them. They mixed in what we wanted and incorporated their own designs as well. initially we gave them photos of things we liked and sharing ideas. We didn’t hire them until 3 months before the wedding and we finalized the decor 2 weeks before the ceremony. We wanted it white with accents of yellow.

We wanted our mandap to have a wow factor. It was die cut which wasn’t easy to have done. We were getting quotes that were pretty expensive. So that caused the delay in hiring the decorator. We were trying to figure out how to get what we wanted at a lower cost. What ended up happening is Shawna Yamamoto Event Design made the structure with several removable parts.  Shawna and her associate Nicole really made it happen and brought our wishes to life. The mandap has removable pillars and pedestals that can be customized for future users.

And we heard that they’ve already booked another wedding that will use it as well.

DJ: Sandeep from 3D Sounds. They did a great job as DJs and lighting. I definitely recommend spending
extra money on lighting. It really adds to the look of the ballroom.

Hair and makeup: Dolled up by Lulu

Mehndi: Seema Shah who owns a beauty parlor in Simi Valley.

Photography: Braja Mandala. Photography was one of the most important things to us.
We took our time to find the right company and are very happy with our photos!

Video: Avec Lumiere – he was amazing about getting capturing all the right moments

Congratulations Tanvi and Deep!

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