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While many couples liken their relationship to classic romances such as When Harry Met Sally, Prem Nainani summons The Godfather to paint a picture of his falling for Judy Wu at first sight: “That scene when Michael Corleone describes meeting his true love as being struck by a thunderbolt—that was me when I met Judy.” As recent grads from the University of Texas in Austin, the two were introduced by a mutual friend in the fall of 2004. Eight years later, Prem, who works for a hedge fund, popped the question. Throwing convention out the window, he got down on one knee and presented Judy with a box of cookies from a local bakery during the screening of a surprisingly unromantic art film. “They were the same kind he gave me as a gift when we first started dating,” explains Judy. The ring? That would come a month later at a large family party.
The proposal may have been thoroughly modern and unconventional, but in planning the wedding, the Austin-based couple let their love of family traditions take over. Prem, who is of Indian origin, was born in Paris and immigrated to Dallas with his family when he was 2 years old. Judy, who works at Google as a project manager, was born in Taiwan, and at age 5, moved to Houston. “We wanted to reflect all those cultures,” she says. To that end, their worldly affair was held on October 19, 2013, at Brazos Hall, a converted warehouse in Austin.
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Red-y to Wed
Save-the-dates from Paperless Post previewed the wedding’s auspicious red-and-orange color scheme.
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The Invitation Suite
The invitations, designed by a friend of the couple’s and printed by Ladybug Press, featured both the Chinese double happiness symbol and the Hindu god Ganesh.
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The Grand Arrival
In keeping with Indian wedding customs, Prem arrived at the ceremony riding a white horse in a baraat, a traditional groom’s procession, surrounded by musicians, family, and friends.
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The Ceremony Program
The rituals of the traditional Hindu wedding ceremony were outlined in this program, which, in a nod to Judy’s Taiwanese heritage, was adorned on the front with the double happiness symbol.
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The Hindu ceremony took place on a stage known as a mandap, where the bride and groom are surrounded by their families and take part in the wedding rites, including exchanging coconuts to symbolize agreeing to the marriage contract. Known as “God’s fruit,” a coconut is a common offering in many Hindu rituals besides marriage.
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Elements of Tradition
Items used in Hindu wedding rituals (and displayed here on the mandap prior to the ceremony) include rose petals for tossing; auspicious liquids, such as milk, honey, and ghee (clarified butter); puffed rice to be offered to the gods through the sacred fire; coconuts; and an image of the deity Ganesh.
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The Ceremony Altar
Garlands are used both for rituals and for décor in Indian weddings. The Nouveau Romantics (who planned and designed the celebration and created the floral elements) adorned Prem and Judy’s mandap with these, made of white carnations.
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Following Indian tradition, Judy and the women closest to her had their hands covered in mehndi, intricate henna patterns, prior to the wedding; the bride’s design is always the most ornate.
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The groomsmen’s boutonnieres included red spray roses, rose hips, gomphrena, pistache foliage, and red ranunculus.
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The Bridal Bouquet
The bride’s bouquet: ‘Red Charm’ peonies, garden roses, ranunculus, zinnias, oak leaves, and dahlias.
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Passed hors d’oeuvres included potato and sweet pea samosas with spiced tomato chutney and curried shrimp on mini popadam to reflect Prem’s Indian heritage, and steamed rice with savory-sweet red Taiwanese sausage and Taiwanese spring rolls to honor Judy’s cultural background.
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After the vows, 160 guests dined on Indian curry and Taiwanese snapper and sipped local beers at tables set with centerpieces of garden roses, dahlias, and clementines. “Red is meaningful in our cultures, and it’s my favorite color,” says Judy.
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Red paper menus printed in gold metallic ink featured the Chinese symbol for double happiness.
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Champagne cocktails reflected Prem’s family’s love of France. “Plus, they’re festive,” says the bride.
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Like the guests, the drinks came from near and far; local Texas beers were served with dinner, but there was also an imported whiskey bar on offer during the reception.
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The First Dance
For the reception, off came the traditional garb and on came a white Reem Acra gown and a Burberry suit—and the hip-hop. “Honoring our pasts was important, but so was making the wedding our own,” says Judy. “We wanted to celebrate where we came from, and where we’re headed.” But first, Harry Connick Jr.’s “A Wink and a Smile” played for the newlyweds’ official first dance.
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Later in the evening, everyone sampled a dessert buffet of French pastries (a nod to Prem’s birthplace). Macarons, cream puffs, and mini éclairs sprinkled with gold luster dust flanked a chocolate and almond cake.
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Guests took home bags filled with traditional dragées and Taiwanese milk candy.
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Location: Brazos Hall
Event Planning and Design, Florals, and Stationery: The Nouveau Romantics
Catering: Kurant Events
Photography: James Moes
Save-the-Dates: Paperless Post
Calligraphy: Crown and Clover
Cake and Dessert Buffet: Coco Paloma Desserts
Music: IndoRaja Entertainment
Lighting: Ilios Lighting Design
Transportation: Angeli Carriages
Henna Artist: Henna Arts