123 After being introduced by family members, Amrita Mankani and Sagar Harwani instantly hit it off and soon began dating, however, they decided to keep the relationship private initially. “Our extended family has known each other for 40+ years, but we had never met. They thought we would be a perfect match and encouraged us both to reach out to each other,” explains Sagar with a smile. “We didn’t like getting set up, so our family members gave up on the idea. We started talking without them knowing, and never stopped.”
It didn’t take long for Sagar to realize that Amrita was The One. He secured blessings from her family before surprising Amrita with a proposal while on a trip to Las Vegas with their friends and siblings. “I was worried that he was celebrating my birthday extravagantly, and I wondered how I could top it for his next birthday!” explains Amrita. “We had talked about spending our lives together, but I didn’t realize he had already picked out a ring. It was the best surprise!”
Planning for a substantial guest list – about 500 people – was a primary concern while scouting possible venues. “We also wanted to have every event – six total, including traditional Indian customs – at the same location, since some of our most special guests are elderly and have mobility issues, so we needed a larger hotel with several choices of ballrooms,” notes Amrita.
Finally settling on a luxury property in the heart of North Carolina, the couple enlisted the help of professional event planner and designer Gina Myers of La Cosa Bella Events to ensure the big day was just as they imagined. “Sagar and I stay busy with our work as physicians, so our mothers were crucial in [making planning decisions] for our wedding,” emphasizes the bride.
Following Hindu wedding-ceremony tradition, which follows a specific order of rituals beginning with the groom arriving on horseback with his family dancing behind him, Sagar looked handsome as he made his grand entrance. The couple participated in the merriment, which then seamlessly led into the Western-influenced nuptials. In lieu of the red-and-gold attire Indian brides typically don, Amrita instead wore a stunning ensemble of red, gold, and light pink. It was an elegant and feminine style that inspired the color scheme for the celebration.
A white-lined aisle was decorated with tall floral arrangements in white and blush hues placed in bullion vases and surrounded by candlelight. The mandap – a stage with four pillars – was beautifully decorated with blooms in the same tones. Two plush white chairs for the bride and groom were arranged, as well as customary offerings, such as baskets of rose petals. Though it is not Indian tradition to have a bridal party, Amrita opted for one; bridesmaids wore traditional Indian garb in a sparkling champagne-colored fabric.
Traditionally when the bride enters for the wedding ceremony, there is a cloth held in front of the groom so that he cannot see her until she’s right in front of him. “One of the most memorable moments for me was right when Sagar’s brother and best friend dropped the cloth and we saw each other for the first time during the ceremony,” describes Amrita. “We were both so happy and had tears in our eyes!” Sagar reveals that as his bride walked down the aisle, he felt so truly lucky to begin this next stage of life with her.
The couple had envisioned an ethereal ambience for the reception that included elements in shades of muted gold, rose gold, as well as an abundance of florals. Tables were adorned with light-pink satin covers and grand collections of flowers, including one majestic piece that decorated a long table. It showcased an overhead creation crafted from greenery and fresh florals, further complemented with suspended Edison bulbs and round glass votive holders. “Our floral design team did an amazing job… I’ve never seen such beautiful décor,” illustrates the bride who also gushed over their sweetheart table bedecked in cascading blooms.
Sagar’s wish for the celebration was that it would feel like a party from the moment loved ones arrived. “I wanted it to be a fun, relaxing, and memorable weekend with our family and friends,” he says. “Our extremely large extended families have known each other for years and this was the first time they all had been together.” The new Mr. and Mrs. express their happiness of having the opportunity to see how truly excited everyone was to be there with each other. “Enjoy the moments, and find some time to step back and take it all in,” suggests the groom.