Our Wedding Story on UPtv - An Indian Love Story
This is definitely an episode for you to grab a box of tissues. I was sobbing away from all the raw love they shared. Their wedding reminded me of my own but also how wonderful and crazy life is.
We had a chance to email interview Hema and Vedant, and we're sharing their story below!
Tell us how you met!
I had always believed I was going to get an arranged marriage. But when Vedant walked into my life, he made it hard to stick to "the plan."
We met and became friends at Columbia University and on Valentine's Day, Vedant left a gift on my doorstep with a card in Hindi that translated to "I know you believe in fate, but sometimes you have to give fate a helping hand." So I did, and the rest is history!
How did he/she propose?
What I thought was going to be an average Saturday turned out to be one of the most epic days of my life. We piled into the car to visit my brother and his family but just before getting to their place, Vedant made an unexpected turn. Imagine my surprise when I saw us turning into an airport with a sign that indicated it was a skydiving facility. One long waiver later, we were 18,000 feet in the air, about to take the plunge together. Little did I know we were about to take a more figurative plunge just moments later, when after landing Vedant dropped onto one knee.
But the day was only just getting started. I called everyone in my family to tell them we had gotten engaged, while Vedant drove us back to town to have dinner with my brother and sister. We spent a few hours getting ready at the spa (he had outfits ready for me to choose from), and walked me to dinner, where I expected to be greeted by at most a few others. But he pulled me into a ballroom, where every single one of our family members, dozens of people from around the country, were waiting with confetti and balloons. When the ballroom doors opened, I started crying happy tears. I couldn’t believe that everyone was there. We ate, drank, and danced the night away!
We also held a formal engagement shoot and roka ceremony in New Delhi for all of our family in India. The photos Dmitri took there included a shoot with elephants, which we ultimately used for our save the date magnets!
Where did you get married?
Destination: The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun
We wanted the wedding to have an elegant feel while also reflecting our personalities, which meant infusing elements of fun, goofiness, and adventure into the details (Vedant did propose while we were skydiving, after all….). Our welcome bags were beach totes printed with “Adventure Awaits”, and filled with snacks, luggage tags, and personalized sunglasses with our hashtag, #vclaimshems. A talented friend of ours designed caricatures for us, which we featured throughout our wedding (website, wedding program, thank you notes). We also wanted to give the utmost importance and respect to our family, especially our elders. As such, Nani (maternal grandmother) was front and center at all the events and Dadu and Dadi (paternal grandparents), who are in New Delhi and couldn’t attend in person, were with us via FaceTime for most of the functions.
Tell us about the wedding! You can talk about style, colors, location, religion (please mention) and culture (please mention, eg Gujarathi, Tamil, Assam, etc)
We had a traditional Hindu wedding and held five events over the course of the extended weekend:
Welcome Dinner: With friends and family flying in from all over the world, we wanted to make sure we had a kick off event for them to get to know each other. That night is when it really hit me that we were getting married! So many of our favorite people were in one place enjoying themselves. We were surprised when family members put us on the spot to play the shoe game, which I’d say we totally crushed.
Haldi / Vatna: While the haldi/vatna traditionally takes place in two separate locations, we set ours up so that we were sitting back-to-back with a leaf wall dividing us. That way, family and friends didn’t need to pick a side and were able to smear us both with haldi. Our friends and family did not hold back. Since the event took place beachside, we took an impromptu dip in the ocean to clean off!
Sangeet: The decor—gem-colored pillows, bright floral centerpieces, floral photo corner, under a canopy of Edison bulbs—was meant for an outdoor beachside venue. But unfortunately, had to be moved indoors due to rain. There were a number of performances, including a skit about our love story. I ended the performances with a surprise dance to a remix of “Jag Ghoomeya” and “Jehri Kuri”. For outfits, I wore a custom-made hot pink and orange lehenga inspired by this Christian Siriano gown, and Vedant wore a black kurta pajama with a fitted orange vest. At the end of the night, we led guests outside for a surprise fireworks show!
Wedding: As soon as we decided on Cancun, I knew I wanted a pastel color palette that would complement the beach tones. My lehenga was a dusty rose, and Vedant’s pagdi and stole matched. I wanted the ladies on my side of the family to look similar to me, yet to still showcase their own style. Each told me what she wanted (e.g. sari, lehenga, anarkali, etc.), and I chose an embroidered floral print that was infused into each outfit. I love the way they turned out. The designer, Poonam Nanda, even made sure my nieces matched! Vedant’s family wore dull gold and teal, which complemented the pink tones on my side. Vedant’s entrance was epic. He walked in accompanied by this Indian rendition of the Game of Thrones theme song. My nephew Veer was Vedant’s sarbala and also led my procession, which started with an emotional version of Din Shagna Da but transitioned to the upbeat Paalkhi Mein Hoke Sawar Chali Re. Tears of joy morphed into roars of laughter as I walked in. It was perfect.
Reception: A long time ago in a city far far away, Vedant first asked me out over hot chocolate. So we wanted to ensure we infused that into the wedding somehow. My sister-in-law, Divya, made hundreds of incredible hot chocolate favors by hand, which were positioned in the center of each place setting. I picked decor in an ivory, rose gold, and champagne color palette to achieve an aesthetic that felt clean, luxurious, and romantic. The final look was stunning! Vedant was dressed in a navy tux and I was in a navy and gold gown custom made by designers under Shantanu and Nikhil. Our outfits were inspired by Disney, specifically Beauty and the Beast. It was fitting that Vedant and my first dance started off with a ballroom dance to Tale as Old as Time! Then came some really emotional speeches from both sets of parents and a semi-roast / toast by my brother, Tarun. Friends from every chapter of our lives came together to surprise us with a performance that blew our minds! Guests kept the party going with dance and laughter until the wee hours of the morning.
It was the most magical weekend...one that we keep reliving through pictures and videos!
What was the most difficult part about planning the wedding?
Planning five wedding events from thousands of miles away with local vendors who often spoke only broken English was definitely tough. However, a few things made the process easier. One was our wedding planner, who knew the venue and local vendors extremely well (shout out to Blue Petal Weddings, especially Sheema!). Second, we went with a venue that had held other South Asian weddings in the past and were at least somewhat familiar with our traditions (e.g. baraat, milni, etc.)
What was your favorite part of the wedding?
That’s just too difficult to answer. The whole weekend felt so magical! I think overall, seeing all your favorite people in one room, creating shared experiences, and forming bonds of their own, is just so special and indescribable. From each event there are moments that really stick out: running into the ocean after the vatna, the reenactment of our love story at the Sangeet, the very raw, unplanned “vows” during the wedding, and the speeches and friends’ performance at the Reception!
What advice do you have for future couples?
Soak it in. Take time at each event to pause and look around and appreciate all of the love in the room. All these people have come together to celebrate your love story. Be sure to take a mental note of that feeling, because it’s once in a lifetime!
Photo: Dmitri Markine (@dmitrimarkine)
Watch Hema and Vedant on Aug. 17 at 9PM ET/6PM PT at UPtv.More photos