Neil and Minal met through their friends, Rish and
Sraddha Mehta at a housewarming party at Neils apartment in San Francisco. Minal was
staying in the Bay Area on an academic internship and Neil was living and working there.
Neil and Minal dated long distance for one year while Minal completed graduate studies in
San Diego. In May 2002, she moved to San Francisco to begin her work career.
Neil proposed to Minal on March 8, 2003 in Manhattan. They had gone there for a weekend
away and after several fun-filled days of seeing friends, pampering themselves with spa
treatments and exploring the city, Neil proposed to Minal at a dinner at the very elegant
restaurant, Daniel in the upper East Side. They had two formal engagement
parties, with the engagement ceremony taking place in San Jose, CA, followed by a lavish
reception party at the 4-Points Sheraton Resort in Sunnyvale and a large party at Minal's
parents' home in Los Angeles, CA.
The wedding events started the weekend before the wedding with a garba party and dinner
party held in the Bay Area by Neils parents. Neils cousins performed dances
from films for entertainment. There was also a fun-filled scavenger hunt game for the
bride and groom and the guests.
The following weekend was
action-packed with events on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Mandap Muhurat, Graha
Shanti, and Mehndi party took place on Friday at Minals parents home. There was also
a short dance performance program with Minals little nieces, Reah and Manali, (4 and
5 years old) performing, Minals good friend Gita Patel and Minal's brother Jatin
performed, and Minals best friend, Rina Mehta, performed a very special Kathak
performance. Minals sister-in-law created kalash themed centerpieces
with lighted candles as a unique, ethnic touch. Over 150 people attended this very special
night. Minal used Karishma Beauty Salon for all her mehendhi needs for the wedding.
Minals parents held a
Garba Party on Saturday at the Calabasas Community Center, with Indo-Chinese food catered
from Diamond Palace (at Diamond Bar, CA). The theme of the wedding weekend was pink
and lime green and the décor for the garba combined assorted orchids, pink and
green balloons and cloth drapes.
Sunday was the wedding and
reception. The wedding was held at the Hyatt Regency in Long Beach, CA at 2:30pm, with the
bride arriving at 3pm. Neil arrived by a white horse in a procession around the lagoon at
the Hyatt. The mandap was a white and gold sankheda mandap with six pillars. There were
long thorans in between each of the pillars, giving the mandap a full, flowery look. Minal
arrived in a beautiful, lighted, flowery dholi, looking like Cinderella! (as
her dear niece put it). Dr Dilip Bhatt conducted the ceremony in Sanskrit with English
The Wedding Procession
Minal arrives for the wedding
was in the Hyatt Regency Grand Ballroom. The reception began at 7pm, with hors d'ouevres
commencing at 5:30pm. The centerpieces for the reception were pink roses in ball shape in
round, glass bowls. There were also small votives on the tables. All the decoration was
arranged by Unique Flowers by Indira of Fullerton, CA.
Instead of table numbers, the
bride and her parents decided to use table names, all of which were Hindi words relating
to love and marriage. This gave the ambience a personal, yet very Indian effect. The food
for the reception was a vegetarian Gujarati and Jain spread and was catered by JayBharat
of Cerritos, CA. Neil and Minals families made some very nice meaningful speeches
and Neil's good friend Bhavin Shah, created a most interesting video documentary on the
couple and the union of two families.
The Reception Decor
The Wedding Cake
What Minal Wore
Minal's clothes came from a variety of boutiques in India. She wore two garba chania
cholis: one was lavendar and gold from a boutique in Calcutta, and the other was a gold
and lime green net creation, from Tashkant Boutique in Mumbai. Her wedding panetar, a
white and red silk sari (also from Tashkant) was a heavily embroidered creation with gold
thread and beadwork. Minal's ghar choru sari was from Rajkot and had Swarovski crystals
embedded in it. Her reception outfit was a white organza and silk gaghra-choli with white
and gold beadwork and gold designs on it. She bought this outfit from Sheetal Boutique in
Mumbai. Her jewelry also came from Sheetal Boutique.
What Neil Wore
Neil's clothes for both garba raas parties were hand-tailored and custom made by his
cousin in Mumbai. For the garbas, Neil wore two sherwanis: a blue and white embroidered
one and a lime green one with heavy gold threadwork running through it. For the wedding
ceremony, he wore a hand embroidered Sherwani in maroon, gold and beige silk, with
matching safa and shoes from Benzer. For the reception, he was dressed in a jet black tux
with a traditional gold tie. All of the men at the head table rented matching tuxes from
Gary's Tux Shop.
Planning Advice from Neil and Minal
Proper planning is the cornerstone of success for any wedding. So start planning as
early as possible. Think of your guests and what they would enjoy (i.e. making sure that
the event runs smoothly and on-time), after all the wedding celebration is also for your
guests and they should have a great time partying with you!"
The best advice we can
give is to prepare a master-list of activities that need to be accomplished in preparation
for the big day. Preferably, this list should be in an electronic spreadsheet so that it
can easily be maintained and shared with others. The spreadsheet should list the activity,
the person responsible to complete the activity, and the estimated completion date.
Ideally, there should also be a timeline for the big day, with copies distributed to
everyone in the wedding party, so that everyone is on board with what is happening and
when. Both families should designate 'managers', or people to help them manage the day so
that things run smoothly. These lists should be updated and re-prioritized on a weekly
basis, and completed items should be marked appropriately.
For those couples who are
fortunate to have their families managing the entire process of preparation; tell your
parents the top three things (or your three wishes) you'd like for your wedding, and leave
the rest to them! It's important not to "sweat the small stuff" and have
confidence in others' ability to get the job done well.
Lastly, remember to have
fun! While there will be plenty of challenges, differences of opinions and tremendous
stress, remember that this the is only day that is all about you and your love for each
recommendations for great Indian wedding resources in the US:
Some of our favorite resources include WeddingSutra.com, Shaadi-Style Magazine, Indian
bridal expos, and last but not least, taking notes from recently-wed family members and
friends. Good honeymoon resources include American Express Travel and Four Seasons Hotels.