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It’s not unusual for married couples to single out the day they said “I do” as the best of their lives. But for Sejal Bhima and Narayana Gowda, that best day actually spanned three. Over a whirlwind 72 hours, the bride and groom celebrated with no fewer than three ceremonies, two parties, and five wardrobe changes. “There’s so much involved in Hindu weddings!” explains Sejal.
The happy occasions were set in motion in 2004, when the two crossed paths and became friends at the University of Georgia. A few years following graduation and a stint in New York City for Sejal, a freelance writer, they reconnected after she returned to Atlanta. Narayana, now a medical resident, was completing his med-school rotations there, and their relationship shifted gears into romance.
When they threw their wedding two years later, the pair set out to honor their families’ traditions but with a modern twist. “Indian weddings are typically an explosion of color, but ours was more serene, with creams and blush pinks,” says Sejal, who wore a white bridal lehenga instead of the customary red and slipped into a lace Claire Pettibone gown for the reception.
The festivities kicked off Thursday with a haldi ritual where female relatives “prettified” the bride by covering her in turmeric paste, and next, a mehndi party with henna artists decorating women’s hands. On day two, Sejal and her family attended a grah shanti, a service that asks for the couple’s happiness and prosperity; later, Narayana and his family were welcomed with sweets, games, and presents.
Early the next morning, 300 people watched them exchange floral garlands to officially become husband and wife, and then parted ways until the evening reception at The Foundry at Puritan Mill. After Champagne, an Indian buffet with tikka masala and naan, and an elaborate dessert bar piled high with cupcakes and cheesecake, dancing lasted until 2 a.m. “We spent more than a year planning, and it was over in the blink of an eye,” says Sejal. But the prep work paid off. “When I look back at our photos and video,” she says, “all I see are smiles.”
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A Good Beginning
Guests entering the venue were greeted by a brass statue of the Hindu deity Ganesha, known as the remover of obstacles and the god of beginnings.
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A Traditional Structure
The pair married in a ceremonial mandap structure beneath garlands of carnations, orchids, and brass bells.
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Ladies in Gray
“I knew I wanted them to wear gray,” says Sejal of her bridesmaids. She customized the India-sourced gowns with bronze beading.
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A Good Read
A verse from Pablo Neruda’s "100 Love Sonnets," printed on an oversize canvas, hung above the gift table. Sejal had given Narayana a book of the poet’s work earlier that day.
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Tall vases of baby’s breath topped tables along with smaller displays of hydrangeas, roses, and lilies.
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Twice As Nice
Sejal traded in her all-rose ceremony bouquet to clutch a cloud of baby’s breath for her bridal portraits.
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Coloring books with illustrations of Indian brides and grooms, commissioned from Unhinged Designs, kept the pair’s 30 youngest guests happy and occupied.
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Guests could choose from four flavors of mini cupcakes: strawberry, coconut-lemon, red velvet, and Guinness.
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Topping It Off
Syrups for the serve-yourself cheesecake bar included chocolate, pineapple, and raspberry.
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Location: The Foundry at Puritan Mill
Event Design and Flowers: Weddings InStyle
Day-of Coordination and Dessert-Bar Styling: Simply Charming Socials
Catering: Sage Catering
Photography: Kat Braman
Videography: Pure Motion Films
Calligraphy: Chelsea Petaja, of Oh My Deer
Cake and Cupcakes: Miss Mamie’s
Music: Sketch Sound Productions
Rentals: Collection Event Furniture Rentals
Additional Rentals and Lighting: Luxury Lounge & Lighting
Hair: Max Sanchez of White Salon and Spa
Makeup: Claudia Mejerle Rogers
Transportation: Special Day Limos
Henna Artist: Manisha’s Mehendi Designs, 678-900-7846