This Couple Had Two Cultural Wedding Ceremonies on One Gorgeous Day in Santa Susana, California
Aneesh clearly remembers the first time he tried to impress Sasha: She joined a group of his friends in their dorm at the University of Washington in September 2010. "After a frantic minute trying to figure out what to say, I finally opened my mouth and…she didn't even look my way," he says. "She left a few seconds later." They might have gotten off to a slow start, but eventually Aneesh got Sasha's attention—and eight years later he proposed at his family's cabin in Whidbey Island. "After watching the sunset, we drove home and when we entered my parents' house, both of our families and all of our closest friends were waiting," says Sasha. "It was truly a magical evening."
The couple began planning their wedding with help from Sasha's godparents, owners of Aliana Events. "I really wanted something outdoors, and to feel like we were transported to another world," says Sasha. They also needed a venue that could accommodate two ceremonies—Indian and Armenian—so they chose Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Santa Susana, California. "Hummingbird's charm is in its ability to make you feel like you're nestled in a vineyard somewhere deep in Italy or Spain," says Sasha.
As Sasha and Aneesh worked to include requests and input from both families, they struggled with "staying true to ourselves and our cultures," says Sasha. "We really underestimated how many decisions need to be made and details need to be ironed out for the big day. We didn't want to cut any corners, but fitting two ceremonies into one day proved to be incredibly difficult."
They continued to honor both of their heritages by serving Armenian and Indian food, incorporating music and traditional dances from both cultures, and changing outfits between ceremonies. And though the planning ended up causing more stress than they anticipated, the final result made it so, so worth it.
Sasha and Aneesh held their Indian ceremony first, for which they both donned colorful, traditional outfits. The bride found her custom-made three-piece ensemble on a family shopping trip—which she attended over video chat. "Aneesh's mom and sister went to India and we did the whole process over FaceTime at 4 in the morning," says Sasha. "They were so incredibly patient with me, and if they could tell I didn't love something completely, they moved onto the next shop and called me from there. There were lots of beautiful lenghas but the one we ultimately selected felt the most unique, delicate, and ornate of the them all."
Aneesh's mother and sister also sourced the groom's sherwani on their trip to India, choosing one with a gold print and dark red accents that complemented Sasha's outfit. They each wore traditional necklaces; Sasha also added red and gold earrings and bracelets.
Silver and Gold
Sasha's original plan allowed for her bridesmaids to wear the same dress for both ceremonies, but as the day approached she opted for traditional attire for the Indian ceremony instead. She took two friends with her to a nearby town on a shopping trip for all six gowns. "There was a lot of FaceTiming and running between different shops, but ultimately we walked away with all the dresses that same day," says Sasha. "I didn't want these gowns to follow any theme or color scheme—I just wanted to make sure they all felt good in their respective dresses and that each dress was unique and matched the personal style of the girl wearing it."
Aneesh also helped his groomsmen pick out their traditional Indian kurtas, joining them for one-on-one shopping trips. "I took each of my guys to Indian tailors around the city and had them try on different styles and colors until we found ones they liked," he says.
Bright and Beautiful
The couple held both of their ceremonies on the villa's covered outdoor space. "We wanted to have as natural of a wedding as possible—we just wanted to enjoy the organic beauty of the villa," says Sasha. A floral arch framed the interior space, while hot pink garlands and blooms added an extra dose of color.
A Traditional Ceremony
Sasha entered the traditional Hindu ceremony with her uncle, who traveled from Russia to walk her down the aisle as her parents waited at the altar with Aneesh's. Elements of the ceremony included a prayer to Ganesha; Aneesh's sister tying a corner of his shawl to Sasha's scarf; the couple walking around an open fire seven times and then pushing a stone forward as they took seven steps together; and the newlyweds feeding each other sweet treats.
After the Hindu ceremony, guests moved to the cocktail hour while the bride, groom, and bridal party changed into their outfits for the Armenian ceremony. Signature cocktails from LA Speakeasy included the "Check Out Thyme," a blend of vodka, lemon, thyme syrup, chamomile bitters, and soda; an Aperol spritz; and a "Black & Sour," made with bourbon, blackberry, lemon, cane syrup, and soda. "My groomsmen occasionally snuck out to grab me drinks so I could taste the menu, which was nice," says Aneesh, "until some of the guests caught one of them on his trip to the bar and got him drunk."
Simple and Chic
For the couple's Armenian ceremony, Sasha donned a crepe satin wedding dress from Pronovias with an elegant shape and low back. "I felt like myself in the gown," she says. "I tried on plenty of beautiful dresses, but I really came alive in this one. I had my sights set on the first dress I tried on at a different boutique, but the moment I put this one on, I was able to picture my entire day in it." She added a lace-trimmed veil from Sara Gabriel for a subtle embellishment.
Pretty in Pastels
Sasha's bridesmaids changed into a cohesive collection of Jenny Yoo gowns in different colors and silhouettes. "I really liked the style and versatility of Jenny Yoo dresses," says Sasha. "I had the girls pick out a few dresses they liked and then narrowed it down to color and fabric to make sure all were unique, but also looked good as a set."
Men in Black
The groom chose his second look carefully: "I wore the flyest of Ted Baker tuxedos with a shawl collar lapel and an Eton tuxedo shirt that I picked out with my dad," says Aneesh, who added Prada shoes to complete his outfit. He sourced menswear for his groomsmen from The Black Tux, keeping the look timeless. "For the groomsmens' tuxedos, we wanted a simple but elegant black tux with a white dress shirt."
Sasha's bouquet from Butterfly Floral Design previewed the paler tones that the couple incorporated throughout their second ceremony, contrasting with the bright shades from the first. "My bouquet was very light and soft so I could carry it easily, with lots of organic flowers," says Sasha. "I didn't want a perfect looking bouquet…it came out exactly as I had hoped and looked very open and natural."
Coming Up Roses
Sasha and Aneesh invited their guests to return to the covered site for the Armenian ceremony, adjusting the look with a few simple swaps. "The trick was making the ceremony pop enough for the Indian wedding, but keeping it subtle enough for the Armenian ceremony that followed," says Sasha. "We didn't have a lot of turnaround time so we removed the garlands and added cherry blossoms to make it a bit more understated."
Husband and Wife
After searching for an officiant who could oversee their Armenian ceremony even though Aneesh is not baptized Christian, the couple met with Reverend Ogannes, who focuses on mixed-faith marriages. "He was able to open our ceremony with the traditional Hayr Mer prayer while we touched foreheads," says Sasha. "He went on to say a few words in both Armenian and English and then pronounced us husband and wife."
Dinner and Dancing
The villa's courtyard offered a prime outdoor spot for the couple's dinner reception. "I wanted to avoid an over-designed event," says Sasha. "I wanted everything to look elegant, simple, but still super romantic." Though they opened the dance floor to Donny Hathaway's "A Song For You," their real first dance came earlier. "Technically, our first dance happened when we entered our reception," says Aneesh. "In Armenian weddings it's customary to enter under traditional Armenian music comprised of drums, duduk—an Armenian flute—and an accordion. The two of us danced alone to this music and then all of the guests joined in as well."
Such Great Heights
Towering arrangements of garden roses and spray roses were finished with hanging green amaranthus to create dramatic centerpieces on the draped tables. "Our hope was just to enjoy the natural beauty of the venue," says Sasha, "and my godparents delivered on that perfectly."
Hanging floral installations offered a spot where the couple could suspend glass tea light holders that coordinated with tall candles on the tables. They chose rustic mixed dinnerware for the place settings, and soft ivory linens. "Rather than having an open bar, we placed several bottles of alcohol on each table, which is something typically done at Armenian weddings," says Sasha.
A Quick Escape
The couple snuck away from the festivities to snap golden hour portraits, during which they reflected on their journey to the big day. "It didn't help us too much when people told us to take it easy and just enjoy the process," says Sasha of planning. "I think we were both so emotionally invested in our big day that it was hard to let go of the idea of wanting it to be perfect. So for any other couples that are struggling with the same thing, just know that the high you feel on that day is unlike any other feeling you will ever experience. It will, without a doubt, be the best day of your lives, so take comfort in knowing that all of your work, effort, and stress will have the best payoff imaginable."
A five-tier white layer cake from Sweet Novelette featured a different textured design on each layer, including intricate, lace-inspired flowers. Fresh greens and golden berries tied the dessert into the rest of the décor while the flavor—caramelized apple with honey buttercream—offered a sweet finish to the evening.
One Happy Family
The couple hired two caterers—Anoush Catering and Indian Haweli—to provide an Armenian family-style menu and vegetarian Indian entrées. They requested popular Bollywood and Armenian dance songs, and set aside time for the Indian tradition of sangeet, where family and friends perform choreographed dances. At the end of the night, Aneesh stepped up to the microphone for one last surprise.
"Aneesh wrote and delivered an entire toast in Russian," says Sasha, whose family are native speakers. "It was incredibly beautiful and unexpected, but meant the world to me and my family."
Photography, Rachel Havel
Venue, Hummingbird Nest Ranch
Event planning, Aliana Events
Catering, Anoush Catering; Indian Haweli
Flowers, Butterfly Floral and Event Design
Videography, Mikhail Kharlamov
Officiant, Reverend Ogannes, I Do With You (Armenian ceremony); Shukavak (Indian ceremony)
Stationery, Minted; Shine Wedding Invitations (veluum jackets and wax seals)
Cake, Sweet Novelette
Music, DJ Art (ceremony and reception); Harpreet Sidhu, Ocdamia Muisc Group (Baraat drummer)
Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linen; MTB Event Rentals
Bride's Gown, Pronovias Atelier
Bride's Accessories, Sara Gabriel veil; Swarovski jewelry; Jimmy Choo shoes; Rachel Zoe shoes
Hair, Dominique Cavillo
Makeup, Stephanie Navarro
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Jenny Yoo
Groom's suit, Ted Baker
Menswear, The Black Tux
Groom's Accessories, Eton shirt; Prada shoes
Lighting, Cosmos Sound, Lighting, and Video
Bartending, LA Speakeasy
Engagement Ring, Ring Concierge
Pastries, Artelicela Patisserie
Photo Booth, The Bosco
Wedding Rings, Green Lake Jewelry Works