Indian Wedding Yacht Reception

{How Sonal and Sohil Met}

Sohil and I met 8 years ago through an outing with common friends. I was a senior at UCI and he was working in the area.  I always knew him as bartender guy because his roommates and him would have parties at their apartment in Irvine.  He claims he never met me until that day where we happened to sit next to each other when hanging out…started chatting, and as they say the rest was history!


{The Proposal}

We’ve literally grown up together in our 20’s so we know every little quirk about one another.  He knows I’m a type A, a control freak, and a planner.  I knew the proposal was going to happen soon because he went to request my hand in marriage from my family.  I made sure my nails were done every week for at least 2 months.  For the proposal weekend, he tricked me into planning the proposal (sort of) thinking it was for his birthday weekend (clever and sweet for him to use his birthday to celebrate us).  Let’s just say I was completely surprised and it was the best weekend ever.

{New Venues}

Sangeet: Marina City Club
Ceremony: The Marina del Rey Hotel
Reception:  The “Entertainer” by Hornblower Cruises

At first we considered a destination wedding in Bali or Maui. However as we thought through everything we wanted, plus the logistics we decided doing it in California would be best. We live in the area, so we wanted our guests to experience our home through fun venues. And we ended up getting married on Bali Way, so in our way we brought Bali to us! 🙂

Each venue was unique and surrounded by the marina with outstanding views. Each of our 3 venues were within half a mile of each other.  We’re not traditional ballroom people, so we wanted the locations to express our personalities and each had some sort of personal connection to us.  Additionally, we wanted venues that no one has really utilized previously for an Indian wedding to make it even more special for us to be the first. It was also super convenient for our out-of-town guests given the proximity to LAX. The tradeoff was that we had to be very hands-on with the venues. There was a lot of education on our part about the agni pooja, the baraat, and food, in particular.

Venue Testimonial: I’m all praise for our venues.  Each was easy to work with and very accommodating.  It was the most perfect weekend ever (and the weather couldn’t have been more gorgeous).  A lot of the credit goes to my coordinator for keeping me stress free.  I’m very hands-on and planned pretty much the whole wedding, but my coordinator built up my trust and I was able to let go on the wedding day and enjoy.

{New Ideas}

Our cake: Susie Cakes (delicious!) made four circular cakes, that put together formed an Indian bride and groom wearing our wedding outfits! This was one of my favorite details of our wedding! 

Grand entrance: Our reception was on a yacht and we made our grand entrance via a gondola.  The DJ announced our arrival and everyone watched us as we approached the yacht as the sun set.

Harmonica player: at our sangeet before the dance performances.  He specializes in Indian songs – people loved it!

Representin’ Duke: We both went to Duke for our Masters in Business Administration, so we had the yacht replace their flag with a Duke flag.


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{Clothes, Jewelry, Mehndi

My ceremony and sangeet outfits were from Meena Bazaar in Cerritos. My reception outfit was custom made by India Boulevard, a startup based in SF. I love ele’s and their zardozi work!? Tres bien or perhaps I should say, first class! And I love supporting entrepreneurial ventures so when I heard about India Boulevard, I decided to try it out.

For the ceremony I wore a pink lehenga which looks fab against my skin tone. For the reception my husband and I wore royal blue and gold, to pop against the off-white decor. For the sangeet, our outfits were pretty much pink/fuscia, that contrasted with fun and colorful décor. I LOVED all of my outfits but my sangeet lehenga in particular!

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Mom’s Wedding Jewelry}

My ceremony jewelry had sentimental value as I wore my mom’s wedding jewelry gold choker style necklace and the gold set my dad’s family gave my mom during their wedding.  Lucky that it all matched with my outfit!

I glammed it up for the reception with diamonds all around – tikka, necklace, and earrings to keep it all classy and sophisticated against my royal blue outfit.

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My mehndi went up to my knees and elbows.  It took 7 hours!  As I mentioned, we both attended the Duke MBA program, so I made sure our school mascot was well represented in my mehndi!  Sohil got mehndi on his hand, too – what a trooper!


Ombre – dark red/maroon all the way to an off-white for the wedding and reception for the décor.  

Ombre colors was a new idea, and I loved it because for the reception it allowed me to have multiple center pieces on one table and pretty much every guest could take one home. We placed pictures of us at each table as well in front of the centerpieces to personalize the event.

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{ProTips }

ProTip: Don’t get too many people involved in every decision – it just complicates things because you get too many opinions.

ProTip: Make your out of town guests really feel like guests.  I made sure to have a welcome dinner, provided welcome bags, and arranged to cover Uber drives (via a special code) to and from each of the events.  We also made sure they were fed every meal possible. Simple things like that leave a huge impression on them that they were well-taken care of.

{The Ceremony}


 {The Reception}

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{Our Vendor

Cake: Susie Cakes
Their cakes are delicious – and they were down the street from our venues so we knew we wanted them.  They made our dream cake.  We didn’t want the traditional tiered cake, but instead something unique and you’ll see from the pics our bride/groom cake came to life!

Welcome Dinner: Thai and Mediterranean Food from a local restaurant/Panini Café
Sangeet: Jay Bharat
Wedding Ceremony: The Marina del Rey Hotel
Reception: Hornblower Cruises

The food was great!  Everyone commented on how delicious it was and thankful it wasn’t indian food at every event.  We had a Mexican theme for our wedding cocktail hour – quesadillas, chips and salsa, mango salad, a yummy horchata drink.  For the reception we had traditional Indian food by the yacht’s caterer and it was very high quality and tasty.

Sangeet/Wedding: Meena Bazaar, Cerritos
Reception: India Boulevard

Meena Bazaar is a newer store opened in Cerritos, but I’ve been to their locations in India.  Since I didn’t have the chance to visit India to shop (nor did I want to…so far and so overwhelming), my mom and I decided to do our shopping here. I was thrilled by their selection and happy with my choices.  My mom bought her outfits from there, too.

I always like to encourage rising Indian entrepreneurs and when I found out about India Boulevard (online site based out of SF), I immediately reached out to them.  The quality of their work is amazing and they have amazing customer service.  My mom was a little apprehensive with the idea of getting a custom outfit made online and Google Chatting to make sure I got my measurements correct, but the end product was simply amazing.  My niece has claimed she wants that outfit when she grows up. Ha!

Décor: Flower Duet
The owner of Flower Duet, Casey, is such a lovely person to work with.  We didn’t have too many demands with our décor – simple yet trendy.  Casey was very flexible and much more affordable than most decorators.  We appreciated that she didn’t have any minimums – especially since we knew our venues would be good enough and not require much décor.

Sandeep Kumar for Sangeet & Wedding
Austin from Hornblower Cruises for Reception

Sandeep Kumar was hands down, the best. He really kept the crowd pumped up and everyone really enjoyed themselves. Music on the yacht was great – Austin kept our guests entertained.  The only complaint we received was that our guests wished they could dance longer!

Hair/makeup: Dolled Up by Lulu
Dolled Up by Lulu has very talented artists.  Catrina was the makeup specialist and Rosie for hair.  Both of them were so pleasant and calming – essential qualities for anyone stepping foot in the bridal suite.  I loved how they dolled up my family and me!  Not to mention, they were timely and very professional.

Mehndi: Beauty Secrets
I LOVED my mehndi.  I worked with Khatidza from Beauty Secrets to arrange a mehndi artist during my welcome dinner for myself, my family, and out of town guests.  We then had her artist come again during the sangeet.  Everyone really enjoyed how their mehndi turned out.  I especially loved how dark my mehndi was – it truly made me feel like a bride.

Photography: Matei Horvath Photography
Hands down the best photographer in the business.  He’s charismatic, artistic, funny.  We were in awe with the finished pieces he produced from our wedding.

Cinematography: Avec Lumiere Productions (visit them on ShaadiShop!)
Amazing cinematography, and just so pleasant to have around on your wedding day.  We loved his work, and are so happy he captured our special weekend so beautifully.

Planner: Lindsey Shigenaga from Bridal & Event Lounge (visit them on ShaadiShop!)
Lindsey planned our wedding with us over a course of a year.  She really helped make the events pleasant for not only me, but for my entire family.  She kept us organized and on time.  She was seriously the best, and I’m so thankful to have met her!

Officiant: Arun Dwivedi

{Wedding Highlights Video!}

Congratulations Sonal and Sohil!



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