Rustic Bayfront Indian Wedding

Ashmi and Suraj

Marina Village San Diego Conference Center and Marina
Photography & Videography: Gloria Gonzalez Fotografia

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What was your vision for your wedding?
We wanted something intimate at a venue that had meaning for us. And something more rustic. We also wanted to enjoy the weekend and hang out with our friends. The way we set up everything was to be able to spend time with everyone throughout the weekend.

Other criteria were:

  • Allowed us to bring in outside vendors
  • Outdoor ceremony
  • Rustic
  • Waterfront
  • Allowed BYO everything

The Conference Center has a nice outdoor lawn with a marina backdrop. The lawn we chose was the flatter of their two lawns which could seat more people. It’s also on the water, so it was very scenic.

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They have several spaces to select from for the reception. We selected their second largest room, which accommodated about 200 people.

One of things we loved about the venue was their cocktail hour space. Our cocktail hour was actually about two hours and there were two levels for the guests to enjoy. The top floor had ocean views where guests could see the sunset. On the top floor hors d’oeuvres were all tray passed and downstairs was the buffet. There were bars on each floor too. 

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What a creative and beautiful idea!
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Night Out instead of a garba/sangeet
We didn’t have a garba or a big event the day before the wedding. Instead, we did a casual dinner for about 70 of our cousins and friends at a restaurant in San Diego. It was so fun! It was like going out with all your best friends at the same time. We rented the outdoor patio of a restaurant overlooking Mission Bay. 

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Events close by
We also didn’t want the wedding week to be stressful. So we did all of our events relatively close to one another. The mehndi was at the Crowne Plaza Mission Valley. It was a small, intimate event with about 20 of my local friends and 2 mehndi artists. We catered food from El Cajon Deli which is a family-owned, very veg-friendly restaurant. As for the mehndi itself, I wanted Arabic style mehndi that had a lot of open spaces – not too dense. It only took about two hours to do and I really liked my mehndi artists.

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Ashmi-Suraj-Indian-wedding-mandap-varmala-San-Diego-mehndi

Who organized your wedding?
Suraj and I did everything ourselves. We had a day-of coordinator that attended our rehearsal, the day before the wedding as well.

What made you do a rehearsal?
We wanted everyone to know what they were doing the day of the wedding. We didn’t want them to be surprised or confused.

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What was the wedding day schedule?
8:30am: hair and makeup artists arrived at the hotel to get me, my mom, and my sister ready
10am: bridesmaids arrived at my suite to get their hair done

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12:30pm: our first look and photo shoot
1:45pm: we hired a bus to take the wedding party, me, and Suraj to the venue. It was super fun, like a party bus in the middle of the day! It was only 4 miles to the venue but there was traffic since it was a Saturday in summer so it took about 20 minutes to get there.

2:30pm: baraat chauffeured in a 1941 Packard – a cool classic car and there aren’t a lot of them around anymore. We invited everyone to join the baraat not just Suraj’s side.

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3pm: wedding ceremony

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4pm: after the ceremony, Suraj and I changed at the venue. They gave us changing rooms which was really convenient so we didn’t have to go back to the hotel. I wore a Sue Wong dress at the reception and wore my hair half up and half down. My bridesmaids wore dresses and the groomsmen wore suits.

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Where did you shop?
I went to Mumbai, specifically Santa Cruz. I didn’t want a traditional panetar so I picked out a rose colored sari with rose colored embroidery and got a custom made blouse with tissue gold. We couldn’t bring that back with us as it required more time to make. So they shipped it to us.

We also wanted coordinated outfits for the wedding and reception. I bought all the groomsmen kurtas with vests and tangerine colored saris for the bridesmaids. I wasn’t picky about shoes. I just told them to wear pearl or ivory colored shoes and pearl or basic jewelry.

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It was hard to get the bridesmaids saris done. Most saris are readymade and it was hard to get 6 of the same thing. You have to find a designer to make the saris and the original designer we found flaked on us. We ended up having to find a new designer and that took time. Luckily one of my family members knew someone so we got it done but it was hectic. I got the saris at 7pm Saturday night and my flight back home was at 1am.

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What advice would you give to future couples planning their wedding?

  • Know what you want
  • Have control of as much as possible
  • Outsource stuff that’s complicated
  • Don’t go overboard. When you start looking at wedding blogs and magazines you can get sucked in and feel like you HAVE to do certain things. There were times when we just said, ‘let’s take a step back and really think about this’. A lot of times we realized there were things we didn’t need.
  • Figure out what will reflect you and your personalities – for example, for dessert, in addition to the Indian sweets, we served ice cream from a local creamery and cakes. And, we wanted a very simple mandap as we had the water and marina as the backdrop.
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Our Wedding Professionals Team
Most of our vendors were friends of friends or connections we already had. 

Caterer: Mantra Cuisine

Coordinator: We had a day-of coordinator from Holly Kalkin Weddings
Our coordinator had never done an Indian wedding before. We met in person twice before the wedding and walked through everything and they did a fantastic job!

Decor: Kumba Entertainment

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DJ: Fusion Sounds
DJ Sandeep Sandhu from Fusion Sounds; he brought a dhol player with him.

Hair and Makeup: Loli Romo- she’s a friend of a friend. She mostly does makeup for film but will do it for people she knows. I wanted a very natural look and I loved it. Scott Springsteed – he does one of my friend’s hair. She suggested I hire him for my wedding. I did a trial and really liked it, so I went with him.

Mehndi Artist: Tejal from Henna San Diego

Panditji: Shukavak Dasa
Shukavak Dasa, we booked him a year and a half in advance because we wanted him in particular. Our guests were ethnically diverse so we wanted the ceremony to be clearly explained, understandable, and enjoyable for everyone.

Photography and Videography: Gloria Gonzalez Fotografia
Our photography/videography team was an amazing team from Mexico that we learned about from a friend. They’d never done an Indian wedding before, but we liked that. We educated them on some of the traditions and they also researched on their own as well. They did a fantastic job! We did three photo events with them – an engagement shoot, the wedding day, and an after-wedding ‘trash the dress’ shoot.  Gloria enlarged one of our engagement photos for us to display at our wedding. Since they only cover San Diego weddings and events it was a great opportunity for them to open their services up to the Indian market. 

Congratulations Ashmi and Suraj!
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