Liz & Suraj's hilarious Indian-fusion wedding

September 5 |
eeeee!
Photos by Kelli Cohee

The offbeat bride: Liz, Assistant Brand Manager (and Tribe member lizzylaw)

Her offbeat partner: Suraj, IT Project Manager/Part-Time Fossil Hunter

Location & date of wedding: Bolingbroke Mansion in Wayne, PA, a simple but lovely historic house that lets you bring your own caterer. (Key for an Indian wedding!) — September 5, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding was destined to be offbeat. Not only did we plan on having an Indian-fusion wedding, but we wanted a BUDGET Indian-fusion wedding. For those of you who know Indian weddings, rarely do these two things coexist.

Wee! Time to process to the mandap to join Suraj & my family!

A typical Indian wedding takes place over three days. While the wedding was important to us, it wasn't important enough to blow our savings, so we simply picked the parts from the ceremony that were significant to us and dropped the rest. Then we added little American traditions like the kiss and exchanging of rings.

The hidden groom! flanked by his brother & best man

Stealing a kiss

Instead of wearing a white dress, or a traditional red Indian bridal outfit, I fell in love with a bright turquoise lehenga choli in the store. Contrary to both traditions, Suraj was there during the dress shopping to help pick it out. He is a man of style, and I value his opinion.

Nose kiss

Oh yeah, and technically I was bought by my husband during the ceremony for a mere fifty bucks. Told you it was a budget wedding! (Don't worry ladies, I am quite the feminist. But some traditions were too silly to take seriously and so we enjoyed laughing through the antiquated parts. Plus, it was pretty funny when the priest thought my brother was asking for 50 rupees, rather than dollars!)

Post-tying of the knot…literally!

Tell us about the ceremony: The ceremony was long, but fun. An Indian wedding is filled with games for the family to get to know one another. For instance, my sister had to pinch Suraj's nose and say, "you'd better take care of my sister" at the very beginning. Then when Suraj entered the mandap and took off his shoes, my sister had to steal them when he wasn't looking. I will always remember my sister running up to me, breathless, shoes in hand, yelling "Success!"

"You better take care of my sister!"

the mandap (ceremonial tent, like a chuppah!)

During our ceremonial walk around the fire, Suraj and I had to race each other to our seats, musical chairs-style. Whoever got to their seat first is the one who rules the household. (Bwahaha, I won!)

Overall, the focus of the ceremony was on two things: joining our families and a foundation of "total friendship." It truly could not have been more perfect for us, since Suraj and I are first and foremost the best of friends.

My cousin Indiamarion placing the bindi

Unofficial bridesmaids!

Our biggest challenge: Pulling off a multi-cultural wedding isn't easy. We had a lot of strong viewpoints that we needed to contend with (particularly when it came to venue, size/length of the wedding, and food/alcohol). The way we made it through was by establishing a united front as a couple and then approaching our family members in the most respectful way possible. Towards the end, our family members appreciated that we were trying to compromise.

Old school bollywood moves

My favorite moment: It meant so much to me that even though the ceremony itself was Indian, my non-Indian family was 100% integrated. I was literally surrounded by my mom, sister, and brother during the ceremony and that made it so much more special. Plus, it was wonderful to see my mom and Suraj's mom feed each other sweets during the ceremony.

Official ceremony begins, Mom accepts Suraj into the family by washing his feet

Another great family moment was during the reception. Our cousins Tulsi and Pooja performed a beautiful Indian dance for us. Right before their performance, they had asked me to join in during the second song. With some coersion, I agreed, and I'm so glad I did. I had a blast twirling around (to Jai Ho, no less) and couldn't stop smiling.

Twirling with the cousins (pre-Jai Ho dance)
Pre-Jai Ho!

Lastly, I will always remember when during the ceremony, Suraj's toe crept over on top of mine, hidden beneath my lehenga. With the inevitable jitters of being the center of attention, that toe snuggle was the most grounding, reassuring thing on earth.

"hi there"

My funniest moment: I had a bit of a laissez-faire attitude towards some elements of the wedding, and bought my shoes at DSW the day before. Flash forward to 30 minutes before the ceremony. Our uncle takes my shoes and returns with a perplexed look on his face. Turns out I had bought TWO RIGHT FEET. Luckily, my awesome mom and brother were able to zoom to the nearest DSW. As the minutes are ticking by, I get this text from my mom, "Mother Goose has found the egg." It was so perfect for the moment and had me laughing all day.

mama's got a coconut on her head!
Mother Goose!

I messed up a bit of the ceremony by dropping a banana leaf into the fire instead of the rice that the banana leaf was holding, and all of a sudden, the ceremonial fire grew five times as big. Everyone was laughing, and the priest thankfully scooped out the leaf and blew out the fire. Also, one of the decorative pillars underneath the mandap kept falling and crashing on my mom. Thank goodness she has a great sense of humor and laughed it off each time.

Lots of laughs

My advice for offbeat brides: Have a vision in your head of what you want the day to look and feel like, but be much more focused on the feel over the look. This is particularly important as a budget bride. Did I have some crazy-looking ideas in my head from poring through wedding blog posts, particularly those lavish Indian weddings? Yes. Could I afford them even in my wildest dreams? No.

Slipping on the bangles

Just keep focusing on soaking it in and having fun, and you'll have a fabulous day. So many things went wrong on my day from an aesthetic perspective, i.e. my precious table numbers/name tags were never put out. But who cares? People sat themselves wherever they wanted, walked around and had a blast. That is so much more important than having my cool Hindi-font table numbers out there.

Beautiful homemade cake by a great friend/unofficial bridesmaid! (note the bindi on the lady elephant!)

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? The most important lesson I learned was to give up control in order to be present and enjoy myself. The day of, the caterer couldn't find the water glasses from the rental company, the bartender showed up 90 minutes late, and the hair dresser burned a hole through a chair with a curling iron. Whenever someone approached me with a new issue, I quickly deferred to my wonderful family members. And you know what? Things were handled. An aunt found a bunch of water bottles to give out, my family friend hopped behind the bar and started pouring drinks, and my mom resolved the burnt chair issue. I felt confident that as a family, we could tackle whatever was thrown our way.

Pre-ceremony games, trying to get the garland over Suraj's head…but he's too tall! Luckily, he let me win :)

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Congratulations!

    Pleaser pardon while I gushing about how beautiful your wedding was!
    You all look so happy and you all really give off the vibe of having a great time!

    8 agree
  2. Oh man, I love Indian fashion. The colors, the intricate details…so beautiful! Also, Jai Ho is a pretty awesome song.

    5 agree
  3. Jaw, meet floor. I friggen LOVE these pics, it's so amazingly colourful and happy! I never got why so many wedding ceremonies are so solemn and serious, it's such a joyous occasion that it's really great to see a lot of laughing, goofy mishaps, more laughing, and festive colours that infuse life into it all! Also, I want to eat your wedding cake!

    5 agree
    • thanks Nicci!! the cake was SO delicious. buttercream, rasberry filling & fluffy white cake – all made from scratch by my friend lindsay (who, I must add…is an accountant by day) thank god for multi-talented friends :)

      2 agree
      • Hi Liz,

        I love your dress – I'm getting a lehenga choli as well. The place I am getting mine has asked me for a pic of the choli I want and they are going to make it. I really like the cut of your choli, but was wondering if you had a photo of the back you might be willing to share?

        Jass

        0 agree
  4. Gorgeous! The dress and the cake are amazing :)

    1 agrees
  5. So beautiful! I love your cake topper, mind if I ask where it came from? The FH loves elephants!

    3 agree
  6. You two are simply stunning. You can feel the love and connection bleed off the pictures. Might I say that you are gorgeous and that hubby of yours is a looker, too! Haha. I hope your first year of marriage has been everything and more!

    2 agree
    • Confession time: I made inappropriate "Please make me the meat in this hottie sandwich" comments about this gorgeous couple when reviewing this profile. Liz & Saraj: YOU ARE BOTH SMOKIN' HOT.

      8 agree
      • Hahahaha thanks for making us crack up Ariel :) we clean up nice!

        0 agree
  7. This is my new favorite wedding ever. I love the part about the toe snuggle. It sounds perfect. Everything looked amazing, and I love that cake with the elephant toppers! So adorable!

    7 agree
  8. I loooooove these pictures!! They are absolutely gorgeous!!! :-) Congratulations!!!!!
    Also, I too am dying to know where that cake topper came from! My favorite animals are elephants – and that is the absolute BEST elephant cake topper I have ever seen!!!

    2 agree
  9. First, Happy Anniversary!!

    What a beautiful wedding! I am planning an Indian wedding for fall 2012 and am also in the suburban Philadelphia area. I love your mandap. Can you tell me what vendor you used for the rental?

    1 agrees
    • thanks! :) congrats on your upcoming wedding. through this process, i learned that mandaps are darn near impossible to find in the philadelphia area. all of the vendors are in NJ/NY (as i'm sure you've learned through your hunt) We ended up using Mandap USA http://www.mandapusa.com/home.html which is in NJ…and a family member from NYC picked it up & delivered to our site. Because we weren't using their delivery/setup service – we had only a few options (the majority of mandaps require a little more finesse in setting up, apparently)

      A bunch of our guy friends/uncles/brothers set up the mandap right before the ceremony (this mayyy have been the cause of one of the pillars trying to knock out my mom, haha). If you can't arrange for something similar, then I do know that Mandap USA can deliver to Phila for a fee.

      hope that helps!

      0 agree
      • NJ seems to have a larger community than Philly. My boss is Indian, and he and his wife go to North/North Central NJ for many things (coincidentally, I think he lives in Wayne..?).

        Also, your wedding was gorgeous!! A good friend is Indian, and I reeeeeally want her to have an Indian wedding so that I, as a very white Irish lass, can have an excuse to wear something so incredibly beautiful and colorful. :)

        0 agree
  10. Love it all! The dress, the decor, the cake… You make an adorable couple, congrats!

    0 agree
  11. That dress is amazingly gorgeous. You look like a princess– especially in the 5th photo from the top. A part of me will always long for an Indian style wedding!

    0 agree
  12. This may be one of my favorite weddings ever on OBB. It just feels so joyous and full of love and warmth. Plus it's beautiful to boot! It's amazing how your family pulled together to make things happen and how you took little upsets in stride.

    My favorite part was the toe snuggle though. That's adorable.

    0 agree
  13. I enjoyed reading everything about this wedding, but the toe snuggle? That makes my heart happy – it's the connection that's so important! What a cool wedding you guys pulled off!

    2 agree
  14. Happy, laughing, toe snuggles, silly, colorful, families coming together – this is what weddings should be! I hope my wedding can be half as fun.

    1 agrees
  15. This looks like the most fun wedding I think I've ever seen on the site – you are both laughing and smiling so much. :) And you both look beautiful.

    0 agree
  16. That is an absolutely beautiful wedding and the bride looks astounding! Loving the turquoise! I love Indian weddings and wistfully wish I could incorporate some Indian things into ours, but it just doesn't seem appropriate since neither of us are Indian.

    2 agree
  17. Hi Liz,
    It looks like you had an awesome day! I'm doing an article on NRI (Indians abroad) and their fusion weddings. Would be interested in participating in it?
    p.s- Offbeat editors, I'm a clueless freelancer. Apologies if this breaks protocol or is rude, I'm leaving a comment because I can't find any other way to contact Liz.

    0 agree
  18. I have this wedding page bookmarked for (at least) two reasons: one, that lehenga choli is possibly the most gorgeous piece of clothing I've ever seen. But more importantly, everyone looks so happy and like they are having so much fun, and your comment about how you want the wedding to feel? — yes, that! Laughter and fun and joy. So wonderful to see!

    0 agree
  19. after looking the photographs i can say that it will be beautifull marriage with lot of fun and enjoy

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  20. great pictures :)

    I am form India and its amazing to see some foreigners liking Indian wedding culture :)

    wish you a great life :) _/_

    0 agree
  21. reiterating what others have said here- the toe snuggle is so sweet I can't even take it <3

    1 agrees
  22. Beautiful. And that turqouise shade is stunning on you

    0 agree
  23. My goodness I love Indian wedding garb. Gorgeousssss.

    0 agree

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