A Lush Garden in Miami Served as the Backdrop for This Couple's Colorful Indian Wedding
Anuja and Nikhil met the first day she arrived at college (he's a year older and was serving as an RA in the neighboring dorm), and though the pair hit it off immediately, they didn't embark on their six-year romance until a year later. It worked out for the best, and all of those years together gave Nikhil plenty of time to dream up an epic proposal. On the day before a planned trip to Nova Scotia, Nikhil asked Anuja to run to the store for a few last-minute items while he set up a long string outside of their apartment with a cell phone next to it. When unlocked, the phone played their favorite songs, and on the back of the device was a memo to follow the string. "Along the way, there were photos of us through the near decade we were together with notes on the back about how we grew up together, our love for each other, our families, and what we've talked about our future looking like," Nikhil says. "At the end was me, a ring, and some Champagne." Anuja's take? "It was a complete surprise!"Almost two years later, the doctorly pair—he's a physician and she's a dental resident—gathered 128 of their nearest and dearest on the lawn of Miami's Villa Woodbine, a sprawling garden and Mediterranean-meets-Renaissance style private mansion in Coconut Grove, Florida, for a wedding on June 2, 2018. The duo exchanged self-penned vows privately outside of the ceremony, then stood before family and friends to say traditional Indian vows. From there, the Boston-based couple continued to meld Indian and American customs amid their "classic and elegant" theme. "Our wedding reminded us that we are lucky to have been surrounded by supportive and loving friends in many cities, states, and countries in the last decade," Nikhil says. "While I know our relationship is strong, these people strengthen it through their support."
The couple fell in love with the lush greenery at Miami's Villa Woodbine mansion. "In addition, the character of the house itself created an inviting, romantic, and intimate venue," Anuja says.
Her First Outfit
The bride made a special trip to India to try on nearly 20 options before she found a silk chiffon fabric in a bright apricot shade—one of the traditional bridal colors from the area where her family is from in India. She had it fashioned into a lehenga with antique gold embroidery. "I loved that it was flowy, easy to walk in, and relatively 'simple' compared to more traditional Indian dresses," she says.
A Closer Look
The Groom's Attire
The groom's sherwani coordinated with his bride's raw silk veil, and his pocket square was made from the same fabric as her ceremony dress.
Nikhil's crew included family and friends from as far back as elementary school. Each of the men wore embroidered silk kurtas and turbans in the same fabric as the bridesmaids' skirts.
A Quick First Look
The couple agrees that their first look was one of their favorite parts of the day. "It was quick, but I think at that moment for me the stress of planning and getting ready melted away and it was the first time in 48 hours that it was just the two of us," the bride says.
The Ceremony Scene
The sprawling garden at Villa Woodbine was an ideal backdrop for the pair's romantic celebration. The mandap was covered in a spray of dahlias, roses, ranunculus, Queen Anne's lace, blue eryngium, Italian variegated pittosporum, jasmine vine, astrantia, baby blue eucalyptus, spirea, Australian umbrella fern, and white orchids.
An Epic Arrival
Guests welcomed the groom to the ceremony with an Indian tradition called the baraat. "My bridesmaids made a surprise appearance!" says Anuja.
Here Comes the Groom
A horse named Maya from Wind Chase Farms carried Nikhil to the ceremony. Once he reached the aisle, the groom walked down it with his mother and grandfather.
The Flower "Girls"
Instead of traditional flower girls, the couple asked their grandmothers to toss petals along the aisle. The ladies gladly accepted.
And Here Comes the Bride
Four groomsmen carried Anuja down the pathway to the ceremony while she sat on an embroidered emerald velvet seat called a palki. Once she reached the aisle, her father walked her towards Nikhil to Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune."
The couple had a traditional Indian wedding ceremony with a few Western touches, which was in keeping with the day's goal: to represent both their heritage and American upbringing. "One thing that made our ceremony special is that my parents' close friend wrote the mangalashtaka poem that was sung during the beginning," Anuja says. "She wrote it just for us and it held special meaning."
The couple leaned in for a peck after being named husband and wife while an instrumental version of "Trumpets" by Jason Derulo filled the air. Anuja clutched a bouquet of in-season buds that matched the mandap.
A Quick Change
For the reception, the bride changed into a hand-embroidered champagne-colored lehenga with a tulle sash, or dupatta, that she had custom-made in India.
"My little brother gifted me a set of vintage pearls the day before the rehearsal dinner," Anuja says. "I had planned on wearing a set of pearls I already owned but decided last minute that these were clearly the better option!"
An "Indian Formal" Dress Code
"I loved that it was a perfect blend of Indian and western," Anuja says of her custom-made reception outfit. Nikhil made a change, too. He donned a custom tuxedo made in India for the party, along with a bow tie from a uniform he wore at a classical guitar performance in high school.
The bride posed for pictures with her bridesmaids, who wore hand-dyed blouses and skirts from India. Anuja's cousin was maid of honor, and the rest of the crew were friends from college, graduate school, and dental school.
Guests of Honor
Jazz music played as guests, including Nikhil's grandparents, seen here, mingled in the courtyard during cocktail hour. "This is one of my favorite photos of my grandparents," the groom says.
The Tented Reception
Dinner, a mix of traditional Indian dishes and American specialties, was served under a clear tent that let the garden show off its natural beauty. Centerpieces alternated between high, spherical groupings of greenery and lower wildflower-inspired arrangements with pops of powder blue and apricot.
Hand-calligraphed leaves served as table numbers. Once guests found their seats, they were greeted by bright centerpieces and foliage.
Antique gold statues depicting Indian life—like the peacock—poked out from centerpieces. Each one came from Anuja's parents' collection.
The Wedding Cake
The towering four-tier cake included three layers of Champagne rosé cake, a specialty of Cloud 9 Bakery. The final layer was the groom's favorite: red velvet.
A Classic Rock First Dance
Nikhil slipped into a white tuxedo jacket for the couple's first dance to Janis Joplin's "Call On Me." Later in the evening, the bride's young cousins and members of the wedding party performed a choreographed routine.
Photography, Merari Photography
Location, Villa Woodbine
Day-of Coordination, Alina Moleta
Catering, Bill Hansen
Flowers and Calligraphy, Ines Naftali
Officiant, Bhupendra Shastri
Stationery, Andrea Woodlee Design
Cake, Cloud 9 Bakery
Hair and Makeup, Taly Waisberg
Henna artist, The Henna Company Miami
Baraat Horse, Wind Chase Farms