Nikita and Karthik’s Santa Barbara Beach Wedding

{Nikita and Karthik}

Nikita and Karthik, SF Bay area residents, came to ShaadiShop interested in a wedding that would create a staycation feel. We helped them look from Napa to Santa Barbara.

They had two weddings! A South Indian wedding at Livermore temple on the auspicious date and a North Indian based wedding in Santa Barbara. This way they got to celebrate the two traditions separately and accommodate their auspicious date which fell on a weekday.

{How They Met}

We met the very first day of undergrad at UC Berkeley. By their wedding day they’d known each other for close to 8.  It wasn’t hard to get to know each other at school as they took classes together, had similar interests and became very close friends. And you know how the story goes after that. 🙂

Nikita shared all the details about their wedding. Enjoy!

{How He Proposed}

Karthik completely surprised me with a very fun proposal at UC Berkeley! He setup a scavenger hunt throughout Berkeley with 10 significant locations to us – from our favorite restaurants, to our study spots, to Taco Bell – and at each of these spots were some of our best friends that had flown in from all over the country. To top if off, between each spot we travelled via party bus. It was an incredible day with our friends and family!

{Venue Selection}

ShaadiShop helped us find venues that would create a staycation feel. They helped us look from Napa to Santa Barbara. The thorough info they provide about each venue along with important details to consider was so helpful! ShaadiShop is a great, new and free service for anyone planning a South Asian wedding!

{The Venue}

We wanted to do a mini-destination wedding near a beach where our friends and family could stay and we would get to spend time with them. This venue was perfect for that. It’s a beautiful venue on the beach and perfect distance for us to make it a mini-destination wedding.

In particular I loved the main rotunda at the venue which was bright, spacious, and designed really well for an Indian mandap. In addition because of the versatility of the venue we didn’t need to go outside the venue for any of our events.

The venue had done several South Asian weddings so that was a plus. Given it was a multi-day event with multiple events during the day starting with the haldi and puja it took us a while to get the whole contract together as we had to be very specific. Getting the requirements for the food set up was a bit tricky. Santa Barbara itself doesn’t have a lot of Indian restaurants so be ready to get food from elsewhere.

{The Ceremony}


Wedding: Pink and White – Contemporary
Reception: Amber lighting and light colored flowers – romantic


{Unique Details}

  • We got pretty creative in our food, challenging the vendor (Amber) to make new items and display them in different ways. In our tasting itself we worked out creative ways to display the food.
  • We did a circular seating arrangement at our reception with no stage. It made it a fun cozy feel and easy for us to interact with our guests.

Before the wedding day, we did a fun girls vs. boys competition on the field. We played fun games, had referees, and it was a great way for the two sides to know each other.
We planned out each day pretty much in 15 min increments and had a very good idea about the schedule. We also had a family friend be a volunteer for each major event. For example, a lead for the puja set up before the wedding, a lead for the breakfast area, a lead for the clean up of the mandap etc. So while we had vendors doing more of the heavy-lifting, we were able to have someone closely make sure things were on track.

ProTip: One of the easiest ways for the actual wedding day to get off track is your hair/makeup taking too long. Give yourself ample time for this so that the whole day doesn’t get off. For our 9AM baraat start, I started getting ready at 4AM. It was barely enough time to get ready and take some photos before the actual ceremony.

ProTip: Also make sure your photographer is good at planning and logistics. I didn’t realize how much impact an organized photographer can have on the schedule – Vijay was great for that.


Dancing: My favorite moment had to be dancing at the reception with our friends. I think we danced until 2AM! Nothing beat just seeing all our friends and family and getting to spend time with them.

The haldi was one of my favorite events. We did a joint haldi (bride and groom event) which is rare. It was such a fun way to commence the wedding festivities and have both sides super involved. The haldi is a North Indian ceremony and Karthik’s family got to experience it.

Pre-sangeet photo shoot: Right when the sun was setting before our sangeet, we did a mini-photo shoot on the beach. Not only was it breathtaking, but also nice to get a breather before all the activities. It was almost like our ‘first look’ for the weekend.

Reception: Sitting at the reception and seeing our parents and friends speak was touching. It truly takes a massive community to throw an Indian wedding and it was in that moment that we realized how much everyone had done. Until then everything is hectic. And at the reception you can breathe and take it all in. Having everyone you love around the world in one place is just! I also loved Karthik’s speech during the reception.

{Vendors + Testimonials}

Did a fabulous job all around. They spent a lot of attention to detail and going above and beyond the traditional dishes.

Wedding Lehenga – Om Prakash from Chandni Chowk in Delhi

Sangeet & Reception lehengas were from Shappur Jhat in Delhi. Shappur Jhat has a lot of upcoming designers and they custom made my lehenga in 8-10 days. My reception lehenga was very light which I loved because I was exhausted by that time and it made it so much easier to dance!

Shawna Yamamoto Event Design
Loved her style and way of working. She takes your vision and executes it flawlessly. I love how she is using contemporary designs and greenery in her work.

LuLu, from Dolled Up By Lulu,
Loved her! I wasn’t able to do a trial with her but she understood what I wanted and my look came out perfectly.

Wedding Documentary Photo + Cinema
Beautiful photos and very well organized!

Businesswoman Filled-50Therese – Electric Karma 
She is amazing. She understood our needs throughout the year of planning and made sure the weekend was flawless. We had so much fun on thewedding day as did our families, as we were able to relax, because Therese took care of it all.

Venue Selection: ShaadiShop
Venue: Doubletree by Hilton Fess Parker. The thorough info they provide about each venue along with important details to consider was so helpful! ShaadiShop is a great, new and free service!


Congratulations Nikita and Karthik!

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