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Celebrating Indian Heritage with a Stunning Traditional American Wedding

Melissa Baran

Can we take a moment to appreciate the beauty that comes from two heritages combining in a day of celebration and love? Shivani & Jeffrey's union was exactly that, and SO incredibly stunning—from the Hindu-Indian ceremony to the traditional American reception, in large part thanks to 36th Street Events. You'll want to read their sweet story below and make sure to peruse the full gallery of images, all captured by Julie Wilhite Photography. From Julie Wilhite Photography... Shivani and Jeffrey had an incredible multi-cultural wedding on April 20th, 2019. The two combined her Indian heritage with a traditional American wedding seamlessly, and I was so honored to photograph it. Their ceremony was a traditional Hindu Indian ceremony, with the reception a traditional American one.The couple met on Hinge, a dating app, in 2015, after they both recently moved to Dallas. Shivani completely forgot about the first date while Jeff left another dinner early to meet her for drinks. After a sweet reminder text, Shivani got ready in 15 minutes, completely playing it cool. A couple drinks later and the rest is history! Fast forward through 3 years worth of memories including a few mountains climbed, passports stamped, and the addition of their furry friend, Henry, to the family, Jeff finally popped the big question at sunrise on a hike in Sedona, AZ. Needless to say, Shivani said yes!The bride, groom and wedding party wore two different outfits. For the Hindu ceremony, Shivani wore a stunning handmade custom lehenga, a long skirt paired with a crop top and embroidered scarf, that was a soft blue and covered in gold beading. It was so intricate, and a work of art. They hired a personal stylist and shopper to create the outfits for the Indian ceremony. All the outfits for the bride, groom and wedding party were handmade in Indian and dip-dyed to the perfect shade of blue. Shivani wanted her outfit to be a non-traditional color and Jeff's favorite color is blue, so it was easy to pick the soft blue color as the tying theme in the wedding party outfits.Shivani’s bridal jewelry was a mix of family heirlooms and custom made pieces from Houston, Texas. The bridal jewelry set was gold plated with Kundan stones, pomegranate colored beads with a hint of blue. The gold bangles were a gift from her maternal grandparents and she wore a gold ring studded with diamonds on my right hand which was an heirloom from my grandmother.For her American reception, Shivani wore a beaded fit and flare gown by Maggie Sottero. It was from Mockingbird Bridal in Dallas, a store which has been a Dallas staple for wedding gowns. The bride's reception jewelry was gifted by her parents, and she wore emerald cut drop diamond earrings paired with a rose-cut diamond necklace all set in platinum gold. She also wore her mom's Rado watch as her something borrowed.Shivani’s childhood best friend and bridesmaid, Anjali Chatwani, the owner of Glam Angelique, did the hair and makeup for all of the events, which was a special touch for the bride!First, there was the Baraat. As the bride explains... “There is a pre-wedding ceremony called the Baraat. The Baraat is a procession of the groom’s family and friends singing and dancing around him to music. The Baraat is very much the jumpstart for the wedding day - it kicks-off the celebration with excitement, singing, dancing, and laughter and carries the groom right up to the ceremony. It typically begins somewhere down the street from the wedding venue. Then, over the course of 20-30 minutes, the groom and his family, accompanied by music, make their way up the street singing and dancing. The Baraat is met by the bride’s family at the entrance to the wedding venue. It symbolizes the pleasure and happiness of the groom’s family in accepting the bride as a part of their family; as their very own. The Milni (the meeting of families) symbolizes the merging of the two clans. The bride's family, usually the bride's mother, performs an Aarti (welcome prayer) for the groom's family.”The groom and guests had so much fun, and even had color bombs during the Baraat! They danced to the venue, which was the Four Season Austin. Their traditional Hindu Indian ceremony took place under gorgeous trees and included many new and old traditions, including the Jai Mala Garland Exchange, Ganesh Pooja, Kanyadan and Gath Bandhan. Then they took their seven steps together, called the Saptapadi. Each step signifies a vow that they promise to uphold together. They took time after to tell each other their personal vows to one another, then sealed it with a kiss!There was a break before the cocktail hour so guests could change into black tie outfits for the cocktail hour and ceremony, which took place inside the Four Seasons ballroom. The tables were covered in metallic tablecloths, with gold accents throughout. The bride wanted to bring the outdoors in with blush flowers, creams and lots of greenery, which was perfect for this spring day. It was such an honor to be able to photograph this beautiful wedding! Some tips on planning your multi-cultural wedding, from the bride... Pick the best of both worlds. We focused on picking elements for our wedding events which were important to us and our families. Everything we did was guest-centric. We wanted to ensure all of our friends and families who had traveled from near and far had a good time with no logistical stress. We decided less was more in terms of the guest list. Coming from an Indian family, it was hard to keep the guestlist small but we made a conscious effort to stay around 250 guests so we could truly focus and spend quality time with our guests.

Photographer: Julie Wilhite Photography | Videography: Bring Works | Wedding Planner: 36th Street Events | Floral Design: Sweetwater Stems | Invitations: Nalini Co | Makeup: Wedding Gown Source | Hair: Blush N Bangs | Band: Uptown Drive | Ceremony Music: Live Oak Trio | Baraat Music: DJ Nish | Bridal Boutique: Mockingbird Bridal | Bridal Gown: Maggie Sottero | Dance Floor Rental: Mikes Dance Floors | Draping: Unique Design & Events | Four Seasons Austin: Four Seasons Austin | Rentals: Monarch Event Rentals | Samba Dancers: Austin Samba