An Elegant Two-Day Wedding in California with Both an Indian and a Western Ceremony
In 2013, Caitlin met Amit at a happy hour organized by mutual friends. "We struck up a conversation focused on new places we hoped to travel to and hit it off immediately," says Caitlin. "I can still remember Amit's top five travel destinations, but not a single other conversation I had that evening!" The San Francisco-based attorneys began dating, and a few years later, they drove to Caitlin's hometown of Paso Robles. Amit planned a picnic lunch and visits to a handful of wineries, ending at their favorite: Law Estate Wines.
But Caitlin had no idea that a proposal was in the works. "When we arrived, one of the winery employees surprised us with a drive through the vineyards. He spun it as a test drive of a new tasting experience, but I later learned it was a diversion to get us out of the way while my family arrived," says Caitlin. Back at the winery, Caitlin and Amit participated in a tasting, and Caitlin's cousin (who works at the vineyard) asked for feedback on a new wine. "She handed the bottle to Amit, who studied the label for a moment, gave compliments, and handed it to me. The label looked normal, except the name of the wine was 'Will you marry me?'" says Caitlin. "In a flash, Amit was on one knee. My family flooded into the room. Champagne and a spread of local cheeses and appetizers appeared out of nowhere. I remember thinking I could have gotten married right then and there."
But they held off until the first weekend of June 2017, when Caitlin and Amit tied the knot with two celebrations: a Vedic wedding ceremony at Lekai Ranch on Friday and a Western ceremony at Caitlin's family home in Paso Robles on Saturday. The couple wanted the nuptials to feel cohesive to their 150 guests, so they relied on vibrant colors, natural landscapes, and botanical decorations to tie everything together. With help from Nancy Park of So Happi Together, they pulled off one beautiful wedding weekend.
The Stationery Suite
Stephanie Fishwick designed the stationery suite, which featured botanical prints in shades of yellow, orange, and red. "Her beautiful invitations also influenced the overall color scheme, florals, and nearly all of our other paper goods," says Caitlin. Print Icon printed the invitations, and Jane Gahng of Red Letter Day calligraphed the envelopes.
Both ceremonies took place in Caitlin's hometown of Paso Robles, California. Lekai Ranch, which is nestled near a mountain with spectacular views, was the locale for the Indian wedding on Friday. "We chose Lekai Ranch because it really is breathtaking—and with the natural beauty of the setting, we also knew it wouldn't need much adornment, which saved us a lot of money on the décor," says Caitlin.
For their Western celebration on Saturday, Caitlin and Amit got married at the bride's childhood home. "There was never really a question in my mind about where I wanted the second wedding to be," says Caitlin. "It was also the site of several family weddings before ours, and my family gathered there for years for picnics, birthdays, Easter egg hunts, and so forth. I already had many happy memories there and hoped to add one more!" She recalls asking her grandparents for permission to host the wedding on the property; her grandfather was surprised by the question and responded with, "Where else would it be?"
Traditional Indian Wedding Attire
Caitlin wore a lehenga by Indian designer Anita Dongre in a vibrant red hue, since it's the traditional bridal color in India. For jewelry, she donned many pieces gifted from her mother-in-law, as well as gold bangles borrowed from her mother. "They had been a wedding gift to her from my gran (my father's mother) when my parents were married," she says. The bride completed the look with red lipstick from Your Name, which she loved even though she's typically just a lip balm kinda gal.
Amit sported a red and gold sherwani from Shehnai Bridal Boutique. "The sherwani was more elaborate than my original plan, but when I put it on, I felt really good about it," he says. "It gave the regal look that my mom was keen on, and I really liked the intricate details."
In accordance with Indian wedding tradition, henna was applied to the palms of Caitlin's hands for the celebrations. The design paired nicely with her collection of red and gold bangles.
In Amit's baraat (or traditional Indian processional), he arrived at the ceremony riding a white horse from White Horse Carriage Co. while dhol drummers played in the background. "I definitely was not passing up the chance for a baraat, as I think of it as one of the standout events of an Indian wedding," says Amit. "Pearl, the horse, was extremely gentle and was not at all perturbed by the loud dhol players, all the people, and the attention." Amit purchased his sehra (beaded headdress) from Ahlishan Fashion & Fabrics, and it was attached to his turban by his sister and female cousins during a sehra bandi ceremony.
The bride and groom's families then greeted one another in a traditional milni ceremony, where garlands were exchanged.
The Indian Ceremony
Caitlin's parents walked her down the aisle together. The mandap (covered structure) from Avasar Mandap was decorated with white and pink carnations, as well as other beautiful adornments like the image of Ganesh made in flowers. Amit's aunt served as pandit and officiated the ceremony—and Caitlin appreciated how she explained the significance of each Vedic ritual to guests.
According to Caitlin, "Other than my own, I've only been to one other Indian wedding. Let me tell you, getting to be the bride at an Indian wedding was the best! Amit's family has always opened their arms to me, and our Indian wedding day was no different, except that it was as if my entire family and all my friends got to feel that same warm embrace."
Avasar Mandap also provided red and white garlands. "They are used during the ceremony to symbolize that the bride and groom are accepting each other voluntarily and are ready to perform the marriage rituals," says Amit.
After the ceremony, Caitlin and Amit took family portraits near the mandap with photographer Sally Pinera. The couple then moved behind the reception tent for some scenic mountain shots, incorporating the natural landscape of Lekai Ranch.
Cocktail hour took place on the lawn of the ranch and around the pool. The wine served at the cocktail reception and dinner was from Caitlin's parents' personal collection. "It was very generous of them to share, and meant that we all were able to enjoy extremely delicious wines all weekend, most of them from the Paso Robles area," says the bride. Pabla's Kitchen catered the hand-passed appetizers: samosas, pakoras, shami kebab, and kachori.
A Pop of Color
The Indian Reception
The reception was held in a clear tent, which allowed guests to admire the surrounding mountain views. Everyone sat at round tables covered with pink linens set with gold Chiavari chairs. A buffet-style dinner from Pabla's Kitchen included a tava fry of okra, achari, aloo, and stuffed eggplant; palak chole; shahi paneer; dal makhana; cucumber raita; desi salad; papad; jeera rice; and naan. Desserts were gulab jamun, kulfi with falooda, and masala tea.
During dinner, Amit's sister, and one of Caitlin's closest friends, gave touching speeches, while Amit's uncle (and the emcee for the evening) sang a Hindi love song for the newlyweds. Near the end of the reception, Amit's groomsmen and cousins performed choreographed dances, then friends and family filled the dance floor.
The Floral Arrangements
"Since Lekai Ranch has so much natural beauty, we generally kept our décor fairly simple," says Caitlin. "The exception was flowers, which we relied on to capture the sumptuousness of an Indian wedding." Bright floral arrangements by Adornments Flowers & Finery resembled the botanical prints on the invitation with large pink peonies, protea, and garden roses.
Wedding Ready, Part Two
For the Western wedding on Saturday, Amit donned a blue Indochino suit that was slightly brighter than traditional navy. "Given the outdoor setting, I did not want to go with a basic black or gray, making blue a natural choice," he says. "I wanted something that was a bit different and unique, but Caitlin talked me out of anything too far from traditional." He also sported a light blue tie from The Tie Bar and a white shirt from Brooks Brothers.
Caitlin wore a Monique Lhuillier wedding dress. During her search, she tried on countless gowns without finding "the one," until a saleswoman suggested she alter the tea-length silk "Kennedy" style to be full length with a short train. Caitlin adored the box pleats, classic skirt shape, deep V-neck, open back, and pockets (which held a copy of her vows, some words of thanks, and lip balm on the wedding day). "What I loved about my dress was that it had a timeless look but, above all, was comfortable. It's true that I've never felt more glamorous than when I was wearing it, but I also still felt like myself!" she says. Taking a minimalist approach to jewelry, Caitlin accessorized with delicate drop earrings and a thin cuff by Suzanne Kalan, two small hairpins from Styled by TC, and her engagement ring from Yadav Diamonds and Jewelry.
According to Amit, "The first look was the first time I saw Caitlin in her wedding dress, and she looked stunning. Our bridal party was there—the bridesmaids in beautiful patterned dresses and the groomsmen in the suits I picked out. Having some of our favorite people with us in the beautifully transformed lake pasture really stands out."
Adornments Flowers & Finery created Caitlin's bouquet with pale roses, peonies, and thistle for a touch of blue.
Siblings, cousins, and close friends made up the couple's wedding party. In terms of outfits, Caitlin gave her bridesmaids guidance on color and length, but ultimately allowed them to choose their own gowns. The ladies wore a mix of full-length dresses in light shades by designers including Christy Dawn, Reformation, and Jenny Yoo. Most had soft floral patterns.
Caitlin's niece, Hanna, and Amit's niece, Ila, who served as flower girls, wore patterned dresses from Nordstrom. "By the time I found their dresses, I knew most of my bridesmaids were wearing a floral pattern. I found two or three I liked and ran them by my fashion-forward niece and flower girl, five-year-old Hanna. She felt strongly about one of them and the rest was history!" says Caitlin.
The Ceremony Site
The Saturday ceremony overlooked a lake on Caitlin's family's property. Adornments Flowers & Finery covered an arbor from Found Vintage Rentals with pink blooms and greenery, and they also positioned arrangements at the base of the structure and down the aisle. "The inspiration for the ceremony space was the luscious Great Expectations film from 1998, and the end result was stunning," says Caitlin.
The Aurora Ensemble, a small string ensemble, played at the beginning of the processional, then Caitlin's father walked her down the aisle behind a bagpiper. "My father's family is Scottish, and the bagpiper is something of a tradition at family weddings," she says. "It was one of the few things my mom specifically asked us to include, and I'm happy we did." The judge for whom Caitlin clerked after law school officiated the ceremony, and two close friends performed readings (1 Corinthians 1 and "I Carry Your Heart With Me" by e.e. cummings). The bride and groom wrote their own vows. According to Caitlin, "What I remember is that Amit's vows were thoughtful and honest and funny, and when I said mine, he was chuckling yet had tears streaming down his face. It was the most wonderful jumble of emotions! I loved every second of it."
At the conclusion of the service, the couple walked up the aisle to a traditional song played by the bagpiper.
Cocktail hour also took place on Caitlin's family's property. Wedding planner Nancy Park of So Happi Together decorated the space to resemble a garden with a bar from Sunseri's Bar & Beverage Catering, white umbrellas, cocktail tables, and upholstered benches. To shade guests from the California sun, the couple set up lounge areas with sofas and armchairs from Found Vintage Rentals, decorated with bunches of yellow tree peonies. "Guests loved the area and used it well into the night, even if just for a short trip from the tent to take in the stillness of the lake and the stars," says Caitlin.
Trumpet Vine Catering prepared the passed appetizers: chili glazed pork belly skewers with sous vide pineapple; beet and horseradish deviled eggs; grilled stone fruit and burrata focaccia with honey; and seared tuna with wasabi avocado mousse. An assortment of dips and spreads were also presented.
The Escort Cards
Weathered gates decorated with bountiful blooms outlined the reception space within the open pasture. Dinner and dancing took place under a sailcloth tent from Town & Country Event Rentals.
The reception had a mix of long wooden tables with cream runners and round tables with matching tablecloths. Floral arrangements inspired by the botanical design on the invitation included roses, peonies, thistles, and blackberries, in a more subdued palette than the prior day's festivities.
The Place Settings
Simple white chargers, mismatched silver flatware, and antique champagne coupes from Casa de Perrin were set for each guest. Stephanie Fishwick made the botanical-themed dinner menu and name cards, the latter of which Jane Gahng of Red Letter Day calligraphed with attendees' names. The cards served double duty, since the different illustrations also signaled entrée selections to the caterer.
Trumpet Vine Catering prepared the meal, which started with an amuse bouche of chilled curried carrot and coconut soup; a first course of summer melon salad with watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe; and a mango sorbet intermezzo. For their entrée, guests chose between pacific halibut with a pistachio pesto crust, rosemary and mustard-rubbed pork tenderloin, and coriander- and cumin-spiced potato and seasonal vegetables.
Paper Cake Events baked a three-tiered white cake with fruit filling, which was decorated with light blue buttercream and pink, orange, and yellow roses. "We cut the cake using a family saber, a wedding tradition my grandparents started many years ago," says the bride. Paper Cake Events also supplied macarons in several flavors including Caitlin's favorite: passion fruit.
The couple also served cookies from Diddy Riese in Los Angeles. "A staple at the UCLA campus is Diddy Riese, an inexpensive cookie and ice cream shop," says Amit. "Since we are both UCLA Bruins, and so many of the folks at our wedding are UCLA alums, we thought it would be a great addition to bring out late in the night!"
Caitlin and Amit danced to "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers. The bride also shared a dance with her father to "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music. "My dad is a bit of a ham and snuck in some twirls of his own while we danced," she says. The twirling accented the kilt he wore to honor his family's Scottish roots. He gave a speech, as did Caitlin's sister (her matron of honor) and Amit's best man.
After celebrating their wedding with friends and family, the newlyweds headed to Kenya for a safari honeymoon, then spent a few nights in the Seychelles. As fate would have it, Kenya was one of the "dream vacations" Caitlin and Amit talked about on the very first night they met.
Photography, Sally Pinera
Friday Location, Lekai Ranch
Event planning and design, So Happi Together
Flowers, Adornments Flowers & Finery
Stationery, Stephanie Fishwick
Calligraphy and day-of stationery, Red Letter Day
Cake, Paper Cake Events
Rentals, Avasar Mandap (mandap); Casa De Perrin (tabletop); CCI Rentals (restrooms) Classic Party Rentals; Found Vintage Rentals (speciality); La Tavola Fine Linen (linen); Town & Country Event Rentals
Bride's gown, Monique Lhuillier
Bride's lehenga, Anita Dongre
Makeup, Twist Studio Spa
Flower Girl dresses, Nordstrom
Groom's suit and menswear, Indochino
Groom's sherwani, Shehnai Bridal Boutique
Lighting, Bella Vista Designs Inc.
Baraat Horse, White Horse Carriage Co.
Cookies, Diddy Riese
Henna, Henna by Ridz
Servers, Central Coast Party Helpers