Gauri Nanda and Daniel Georgiev fused their Indian and Western backgrounds over a weekend-long destination wedding in the heart of California's Sonoma County (they call Michigan home). Guests flew in from all over the world to enjoy the various ceremonies and festivities in late August of 2009.
The weekend began with the "mehndi" ceremony. Traditionally, the ceremony is just for the female wedding guests. However, Gauri and Daniel wanted to combine its activities -- henna painting in particular -- with a "sangeet" party (a larger affair involving dancing, singing, and eating) to create a daylong celebration for all guests. Family members brought "dhoki" drums; everyone sang and danced to Indian folk songs.
In Indian tradition, there are no bridal showers or rehearsal dinners. Instead, there are many sacred ceremonies, such as the "chura" ceremony. During the chura, the bride's family adorns her with traditional red and white bracelets that have been dipped in milk (to cleanse them). The bracelets are then decorated further with gold ornaments, each placed on her wrists by different guests. Historically, the bride wears the jewelry for the next week -- Gauri wore hers until that night.
The many rituals were outlined in the program, which also informed guests that "the marriage ceremony is the thirteenth among the sixteen 'samskaras,' or rites of passage. It is a sacrament that unites the couple and sends them on their way to a new life together."
The wedding contained many other rituals, including the bride's favorite, "akhanda saubhagyawati," where seven married women are called up to give the bride advice.
Photography: Abdi Alminari, of 3 Photographers
Flowers: Garden Party
Henna artists: Mehndi Designer
Decor: Five Star Productions
Transportation: Pure Luxury Transportation
Day-of planning (for Western wedding): Avant Planners
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