A Traditional Indian Wedding
Part II -
Text: Johanna Kaestner
||In October you
learned about Indian wedding customs. This month you will participate
in all the planning that went into this elaborate celebration.
Even if you are not of Indian descent, you will find many ideas you
can incorporate in your own wedding.
Ritu's whole family was heavily
involved in the wedding planning process. The family members embraced the
traditions of their Indian Hindu culture and combined them with special elements
to make this wedding unique.
Brother, Rajat, designed and created beautiful programs in red and cream,
which guided guests through the many-tiered Hindu wedding ceremony and provided
translations for the Sanskrit language parts of the ceremony. He designed the
red flower-vine motif on the program, which then was placed on all the signs and
decorations adorning the mansion. He also created a slide show, commemorating
the couple's childhood and courtship, set to their favorite Indian music. Rajat,
who is a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering at Stanford, used his technical
skills to create different effects in the slide show. He did it so well that
several people asked him afterwards if he would consider doing this
The bride's mother, Abha, hand-wrapped all 300 gift favors in the bride and
groom's favorite colors of red and gold (also the wedding theme colors), to
create a customized look for the favors.
Ritu's father, Ravi, gave Indian names to all the signature drinks for cocktail hour;
some names were those of favorite cities in India! The drinks
included Indian Summer (a cranberry cosmopolitan), Bombay Dreams (a mango
margarita), and Calcutta Cooler (a passion fruit Italian soda). All the drinks
featured fruits that are widely used in Indian cuisine.
THE MEHNDI AND SANGEET PARTY
|A large, pillared "Elephant Gate," placed outside the hall, welcomed
the guests. Decorated with flowers, it featured designs of standing
There were three Mehndi artists at the party to decorate the hands and
the guests with intricate Henna designs! Having other women join the
decorating process means that they wish the new bride good fortune and
A professional Indian band performed for the first hour of the event.
The band dedicated songs to the new couple, who were sitting in
Indian-style thrones across from the stage. From time to time Ritu &
Ajit performed a few impromptu dances to their favorite songs. Following
dinner and dessert, friends of the bride's mother performed Indian
wedding songs, accompanied by an Indian drum.
To commemorate the Sangeet Party, Rajat had created a CD for all the
guests. The cover was enhanced with a superimposed photo of Ritu & Ajit.
The CD with the title: "Come, Let Us Sing," reflected the theme of
every Sangeet party and contained several of Ritu & Ajit's favorite
Abha, the bride's mother, had additional gifts for the guests. She
individually wrapped sets of Indian bracelets in colorful cellophane
paper. She tied each package with a red thread that had shells strung
through. This symbolizes good luck and the act of welcoming others into
your home. Part of the favors were bindis (decorative stick-on jewelry
that married Indian women wear).
To kick off the festivities a small reception was held before
the wedding ceremony. Guests enjoyed fruit tarts, bruschetta, Indian
sweets, lemonade, rose water punch (served in India more commonly) and
soft drinks. The cold refreshments were perfect for the beautiful,
cloudless, warm day!
The mandap, which was set on a high stage, had four large, Indian-style
pillars, and was in white lattice-work. It was a new mandap, recently
sent over from England. A three-foot copper statue of the Indian
elephant god, Ganesh, was also in the mandap. The couple sat on two red
thrones, and the families of the couple sat on the periphery of the
mandap. Guests were seated beneath two canopies with flowing white drapes,
evoking opulence and peace.
After the ceremony, drinks and appetizers were offered on Kohl
Mansion's expansive patio.
A professional pianist performed a mix of Indian and American tunes on the
grand piano in Kohl Mansion's library. This well-known musician previously
performed for President Clinton at the White House.
Guests were greeted by a four-foot long and three-foot high elephant. With its
trunk pointing upwards. It was decorated by Floral Designer Pico Soriano with
banana leaves, pompoms, roses, mixed foliage, and moss. Pico's flower
arrangements were created with a round base and peacock feathers; they looked like
real peacocks from a distance. Peacocks are also auspicious animals in Indian
culture. The flowers for these arrangements included an urn arrangement of
hydrangeas and roses, inserts of peacock feathers, and roses in saffron,
butterscotch and burgundy on the rims.
Appetizers were both Indian and multi-ethnic. Among Indian snacks there
were: paneer pakoras (fried cheese dumplings), hara kababs (spinach
dumplings), samosas (potato-filled pastries), fresh fruit, and
Vietnamese spring rolls with dipping sauce. These were accompanied by
the signature drinks named by her father.
||There were a champagne fountain and a chocolate fountain with a full
buffet of cookies, fruits, sweets, and other treats that guests enjoyed
dipping into the milk chocolate.
The Digital Memory Book, reflecting
Silicon Valley's digital age, was provided by Senet Entertainment.
Senet took photos of guests and events
throughout the wedding and posted them on monitors. Guests
were free to print out as many photos as they desired. They could
contribute some of their photos with additional notes and advice for the
couple's digital memory book.
The mansion's three rooms - the Great Hall, the Green Room, and the
Black and White Room, had amber lighting. Spotlights from above
illuminated the beautiful flower arrangements on each table. Gold
lighting washed the entire patio outside, to give it a warm feeling. Ritu and Ajit's names, along with their wedding date,
was displayed on one of Kohl mansion's walls, using the lighting technique called gobo lighting.
Every table had a red tablecloth underlay and a gold organza overlay.
Gold chivari chairs were placed at all the guest tables. Clear glass
votive candles were placed on every table. The flower arrangements were
in long-stemmed crystal vases, and the flowers were in deep oranges and
reds - the most auspicious colors in Indian weddings.
The favors consisted of small Lenox boxes, made of fine china, in gold
and cream. Inside were sweet candies in wrappers that said, "Thank you
for celebrating our day with us." The guests also took home Lenox's
signature silver-plated wedding photo frame (5x7). Many guests have
already put photos of their favorite memories from the wedding in their
frames! All the wedding favors were hand-wrapped in gold and red by the
In each room of the mansion,
Senet Entertainment had set up large, flat-screen TVs, which were showing what
was going on in other parts of mansion, in real-time.
For the reception, Ritu changed into a gold lehenga with red undertones, to
match the color scheme of the reception. It had hand-done embroidery and
crystals all over. Ajit also changed for the reception into a striking Claiborne
charcoal suit. Ritu and Ajit entered the hall and immediately started their
first dance, to
a beautiful Indian song. The song, called, "You
Came Into My Life," talks about the feelings we all have when we find the person
Following speeches, guests got to view the very special slide show created by
Ritu's brother. One of Rajat's hobbies is photography. He spent
several months with the bride and groom, taking photos of them in various
locations in the Bay Area. He assembled the pictures, along with childhood and
family photos, into a beautiful and sentimental video montage and slide
show accompanied by Ritu and Ajit's favorite Indian songs.
Then the restaurant Amber India catered a six-course Indian meal. All food provided was meatless and eggless, as Ritu's family follows a
Hindu vegetarian diet.
||After greeting most of their many guests, Ritu and Ajit led everybody into the library, where the cake cutting took place. The cake,
an exact replica of the red and gold wedding invitation, was
made by Not Just Cheesecakes. Debbie Smith and her cake artist, Tracy,
met with Ritu and her mother several times to get the design just right. Ritu's family framed the
invitation on a red, velvet backing, in a gold beaded frame, and placed
it next to the cake, so guests could see the similarity!
Photography: Peter Atherton
Schumann's Four Seasons Caterers
Indian Food: Amber India Restaurant,
Pacifico Soriano Designs
A-Abco Rents and Sells
Mandap: Avasar Rental East Bay
Lighting: Enchanting Lighting and Sound
Station San Francisco
TV Light Feed, Digital Photo Booth, Digital
Guest Book, Digital Photos: Senet
Wedding Coordinator Day: Eduard Liwanag