Shraddha & Will's Epic Tamil Iyer Wedding Complete with a T-Rex {Savannah, GA}

2014 Jan 27 - by Preeti
Okay, you need to sit down to go through this couple's wedding gallery. First of all, they had this gorgeous southern plantation house in Savannah, Georgia as their venue.

Second, there are more smiles, colors, and laughs than your eyeballs will handle. There will also be some crying, which I will make you all do in a second.

And third, there is a tyrannosaurus rex. I kid you not.

Shraddha and Will's wedding is going to make you laugh, cry, and smile yourself silly. Before we get to their interview, we actually know Shraddha because she was the winner of the Borrow it Bindaas necklace contest!

Here she is strutting with her winning loot:

And she was also thrilled to share her wedding with us!

Besides all the amazing laughs, and those gorgeous South Indian saris (glad I wasn't invited because I would have stolen them), were some very heartfelt moments.

Bring out your tissue boxes. Mammas are a special creature. As daughters, we love them, we drive them nuts, they drive us nuts, but we still love them. And there is that special moment when they touch your cheek or kiss your hand. You're the only thing in the world that matters to them.

It's a reminder of mom, her omnipresence of love and protection.

::Sniff sniff::


Okay, now that you got your tissue box from the weeping, let's hear Shraddha's wedding story.

Tell us about the wedding!

We had a traditional South Indian Iyer wedding that was casual and super fun. That's how I was raised, but my husband (Will) is an Italian/Irish Catholic New Yorker. He had no interest in a Catholic wedding, so he agreed to a fully Indian wedding.

At the start of the wedding, we had the Kashi Yathra. In this custom, Will pretends that he is going to Kashi to become an ascetic and my dad convinces him to stay and marry his daughter. Will did agree. :) This was particularly fun because Will is an actor/comedian, and he and my dad actually acted this whole thing out! That's not common in our weddings, usually the priest recites mantras and the groom and dad just mime it.

We also had garland exchange called the malai mathal. We are supposed to be lifted into the air by our mamas (moms' brothers), but since we are both kinda fat, and our uncles are kinda old, it didn't work out that way. Instead, our families (Will's brothers and uncle and my mamas) sort-of pulled and pushed us around. It was hilarious! At one point, my very very strong cousin, Karthik, actually lifted me up with my Mama Shankar. Wow! You can so see the look of shock and excitement on my face!

Oh, and the malai mathal is a traditional game played in Tamil Iyer weddings, probably created when people had wedding ceremonies at a young age and used to keep the interest of the easily-distracted bride and groom.

At the wedding, people were mingling, talking, drinking mango punch, gazing in awe. We didn't want everyone to feel obligated to sit for over two hours and watch the priest chant in Sanskrit. My friend Nalini was narrating the whole ceremony and explaining to the audience what the priest was doing, so that kept most people focused and engaged.

We had a vegetarian lunch afterwards, then took a couple of hours off. We had a peacock-themed reception in the evening. One of the two things I requested was a T-Rex shaped ice luge and to be introduced to the Jurassic Park theme (which was pretty hilarious). Will and I are huge nerds, so we needed to infuse our nerdiness in there somewhere. If I was given full control, this wedding would have been full on Harry Potter.

The reception was very casual - we did not have assigned seating. We had a variety of food - north Indian, chaat, pasta, and some American appetizers. The best part of the reception was the dance battle going on to Michael Jackson's "Beat It" between my dad and Will's dad! Both of our families love to party, eat, and laugh so the reception was perfect in every way.

What was the inspiration for your wedding/events?

I started with a peacock theme. I chose the peacock because it's the national bird of India, represents the deity Subramaniam/Muruga (my dad's name), and has beautiful colors to choose from. Aside from that, I have always been inspired by old-school Tamil weddings and the fact that everyone in my family got married with the same traditions. I wanted to carry on those traditions and create some of our own for our children.

What was the hardest part about wedding planning?

Honestly, it was very easy for me. My mom and her friends took over. I'm not very picky (the only factor I was picky about was the date), so I gave her my color palette and she ran with it! I wanted a traditional Tamil wedding and I had no idea what went into planning the ceremony, so I wouldn't have been able to do this without my mom. I wouldn't have been able to do it, period.

For the reception, a dear Auntie I grew up with is a wedding planner, and she designed all the decorations and setup. She did a spectacular job!

Did you do any DIY (do it yourself) or special projects/things at the wedding?

We (Will and I) made our own save the date card. We photoshopped tiny versions of ourselves into a postcard. My mom and her friends (heretofore referred to ask the "task force") made the gift bags for the ceremony, filled with delicious South Indian treats (bhakshanams). The task force also decorated the whole place - everything from centerpieces to flowers to the mandap. I would say the task force was fabulously successful.

What was your favorite part of the wedding?

My favorite part of the wedding was when the priest passed Will's wedding ring and my mangalsutra to the guests for blessings. When we realized it would probably take a couple of hours for each person to individually give blessings, the priest asked everyone to do it at once. It was a beautiful moment looking at all of our friends and family simultaneous bestowing us with well-wishes and blessings.

What 3 words of advice do you have for future brides-to-be?

Listen. To. Mom. She's been through this before. She's probably paying for it. It's your day, but we're Indian, let's face it, it's your parents' day too. It maybe annoying that she wants to invite every brown person in a 100 mile radius, it may be annoying that she wants to do a choreographed Bollywood dance, it may be annoying that she wants you to wear jewelry that's not your first choice, but you have to give her leeway. When planning with family, pick 2-3 things that you won't budge on and be flexible with the rest.

And then have a blast!

{Wedding Suppliers}

Planner: Anmol Kismet Weddings (Nalini Dass)

Photographer: Alexis Sweet Photography

Venue: The Mackey House in Savannah, GA

Reception Dress: Pam Mehta from The Grand Trunk in Fremont, CA