Neena and ChintanHotel Irvine
Photography: Greycard Photography
Videography: Avec Lumiere Productions
Why did you split your wedding and reception over two days?
We got married on a Friday and had the reception on Saturday. We thought it would be a really long day otherwise; and we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it as much if everything was on one day. This was probably the best decision that we made.
How did you decide on the Hotel Irvine for your wedding and reception?
I worked in the same complex as the hotel so I always knew about it. One factor that disqualified several venues was our guest count. We had almost 600 people. There aren’t a lot of venues in the South Orange County area that can accommodate that many guests.
We looked at several venues. The Hotel Irvine was still under renovation when we went to tour it, but we liked the location and they showed us drawings of the final space; which we liked. We were confident they would complete renovations in time of our wedding. It was nice to get married in a totally new/revamped place and one which none of our friends had gotten married at.
What was your experience like at Hotel Irvine?
We had a really good experience there. We liked that each function was in a different space. The ceremony was outdoors. Lunch after the ceremony was in the Pavilion and cocktail hour and dinner were in the foyer and grand ballroom, respectively. It felt like several events, even though, we were at the same venue on both days.
Wedding Day Rain
It started to sprinkle pretty early in the morning – around 8 or 9a while we were taking our pre-ceremony photos. The mandap and ceremony space and canopy were already setup and it would’ve taken at least three hours to tear everything down and reset it up indoors. We decided to take our chances. Our vendors went to the ceremony site with towels to wipe off the light rain. Luckily the rain stopped and it ended up being a nice day.
Tell us about your decor.
We hired Bloom Box for our ceremony and reception. We wanted a very soft, romantic, and timeless look for our reception. It was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. The owner, Fayaz, incorporated gold angelic feathers with floating candle orbs and individual rose buds. I actually saved the gold feathers to put into a shadow box as a keepsake!
We hired Aruna Gorajia for the mehndi night. Their company put up a tent with festive pipe and draping. Our colors were sky blue, bright orange and bright yellow. My mom also did a lot of decor herself as she’s really creative. She covered large boards with beautiful fabrics and decorated the entrance to our home with jewels. My dad got stickers made that said Neena and Chintan’s mehndi.
Where did you get your clothes from?
My wedding and reception outfits were both designed by Ekta Solanki. Working with her was one of the best decisions I made about the wedding. Chintan’s wedding outfit was created by Frontier in Cerritos, CA, and his tux was custom made by Requisite Clothing. We had Vitha Clothing in Cerritos make our bridal party outfits and pre-wedding events (mehndi and pithi).
Wedding day clothes
One day I was perusing Pinterest and came across a gown I LOVED for the reception – that’s how I discovered Ekta Solanki from Haute Couture Bridal, based in India and the UK. I worked with Ekta Solanki. Ekta and I probably sent each other about 40 emails before I signed my contract – she was a breath of fresh air because she was more than happy to talk as much as necessary to make me feel comfortable, allowed me to talk to her past clients, and knows fashion. I literally felt like a princess at both the wedding and reception. She was amazing to work with. She was extremely responsive, knowledgeable, and attentive.
I told her what color shades I was looking for and she mailed me swatches with several options as well as presented ideas for my dupatta. She sent me an actual size mock up of my dress – no work on it – just to try on for measurements. She asked me for so many measurements too, which I appreciated because it showed how thorough and detail orientated she is. I placed the order in September and got both outfits in February. She also had me give her final measurements before she mailed my outfit – thank God we did because I had lost quite a bit of weight so she was able to make the alterations before I got my pieces.
What was going through your mind as you walked down the aisle?
It was such an emotional time. I remember I kept saying to myself, “don’t cry, you’ll ruin your makeup!”. I was so fortunate as my grandmother was there to bless us on our wedding day, as she passed a month later. I will never forget the way she looked at me when we saw each other for the first time on the wedding day.
What were some of the highlights of your wedding day?
There were so many! The overwhelming love we felt from our family and each other, having our grandparents there, and definitely stress from the rain (which supposedly is good luck… not gonna lie, we could have done without it, lol).
For the reception, as guests entered the ballroom we had screens project details about our hashtag and encouraged people to download the WedPics App, which displayed their images from any and all of our events (#Cheena2015). We also assigned unique passwords for each guest to RSVP to our personal website that we created. That was time consuming, but we had fun with it. For our friends the passwords were reminiscent of inside jokes.
Mantra Cuisine catered our mehndi function and reception. They also provided a bartender for our mehndi function. Their food is so unique. It’s fusion and fashion together in food. They blend Indian dishes and flavors with things like pasta and they make it right in front of you. We also had an ice cream station and a separate dessert station as well. At midnight, we surprised everyone with grilled cheese sandwiches and later that night, had pizza delivered to the hotel.
Do you have any advice for future couples, currently planning their wedding?
1. Pick and choose your battles when it comes to the many stakeholders involved in your wedding.
2. Decide what your non-negotiables are and stick to them.
3. Decor can really transform any space. Keep that in mind when selecting your venue. For your reception, consider draping just the back wall vs. the whole perimeter of the ballroom.
4. Something will go wrong on your wedding day. no matter what, keep smiling and enjoy your special day.
5. Take a minute to soak everything in at each event.
We didn’t get to eat much that day unfortunately, but from what we heard, our guests really liked Jay Bharat’s food. We also had a few Mexican food options which they made.
Ekta Solanki (reception gown)
Ekta is a DREAM. The fact I could not travel to India, I was so so so thankful to have found her. I was able to be a part of the design process every step of the way and she made me feel like a princess. She was able to send fabric swatches and we would Skype every 1 – 2 weeks. She’d also text me photos with updates on the progress of my outfits.
Vitha Fashions (Neena and Chintan’s mehndi + pithi outfits + bridesmaids saris and groomsmen kurtas for the ceremony)
Frontier Heritage (Groom’s sherwani). They did a great job at matching the swatch provided by the bride. It fit great.
Groom’s Tux: Requisite Clothing (Custom Made Tux for Groom for Reception) – Jeric did a phenomenal job in making a custom tux. He’s not only well equipped with the current fashion trends, but he allows you to put your own style in your design.
Coordinator: Neha Shah from Blue Lotus Insights.
Our wedding + reception simply would not have been possible without Neha and Amanda. They literally went ABOVE and BEYOND and were vital to our wedding. We cannot be thankful enough for them and we are so glad to have become friends with them even after our wedding.
Decorator (Mehndi function): Aruna Gorajia from Sonali Flowers
Decorator (Wedding + Reception): Bloom Box. Fayaz is a visionary. We were mind blown at our reception… our jaws literally dropped when we walked into the ballroom. It was such a fairytale.
DJ: Special Occasions LA
Parag was AMAZING. He was a “must have” for our events. Within a week of our engagement, we contacted Parag and said “we have no clue on when we are getting married – probably sometime between March – June of next year, but if you’re not available on the date, we aren’t getting married that date.” He was one of the largest assets to our wedding and it would not have happened without him. We are so thankful for him and were so fortunate that we were able to become good friends with him and his wife Sabina through all of the wedding planning.
Draping of clothes: Rupal Shah – she draped my lehenga as well as saris for my mom, Mother-in-law, and my bridesmaids.
Flutist: Anis Chandani
Hair and Makeup (Mehndi function): Maria Higgins did my hair and Pricilla Palafox, a freelancer makeup artist I occasionally use for makeup. Maria was incredible. She spent the night with me on Thursday night, which was so wonderful to have her there early on Friday. And on Saturday we even dyed my hair at the hotel because my highlights didn’t match as well with my outfit.
Hotel Irvine: We worked with Ebi and had such an awesome experience. He would always invite us over during the construction to see updates and was so kind. And, he worked fantastically with Blue Lotus.
Invitations: PD Invites
Panil was phenomenal. He was very easy to work with and we were very pleased with our order. There was actually a grammar error on my husband’s family’s last name (talk about a nightmare)! We had about 6 people proofread our invites and NO ONE caught it… we received our order and FREAKED. Panil was able to get the new ones made ASAP and charged just for shipping; not the additional labor. We are so thankful for his professionalism.
Mehndi: Rachana Desai from Beauty by Rachana
I’m not a fan of mehndi and Rachana did such a great job at keeping it minimal but intricate.
Officiant: Mahesh Bhatt
I’ve known Mahesh Uncle for almost 15 years, his daughter, Arti and I, grew up together. Needless to say Mahesh Uncle HAD to be our priest. He did such a great job at explaining the significance of each ritual, and he even spoke in English (since I am not fluent in Gujarati).
Photography: Greycard Photography
John shot our pre-wedding events + wedding day, and Lawrence shot our reception. They were both so fun to work with and Lawrence was really great about coming up with different poses and ensuring every person looked their best in the photos.
Videography: Avec Lumiere – I knew early on I wanted them to shoot my wedding. Duc is such a natural. His work is flawless and we are OBSESSED with our same day edit. He ensures that every couple’s video is unique to their personalities and families.