Planning a multicultural wedding, or even just bringing two different families together, can be a challenge. But when you want a ceremony that incorporates two different religions, well that's a whole other ball game.
But in today's real wedding, gorgeous couple, Jessica & Parth pulled it off so beautifully.
From their attire to their decor, and their ceremony to their refreshments, every last detail of their day was a marriage not just of them, but of their traditions, cultures, cuisine, music, and love of cake!
And we can't wait to share all the details, captured by Andy Carretto of Carretto Studio.
With guests coming from around the world to St. Louis, Missouri to help them celebrate, the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel, provided a suitably glamorous backdrop.
The Crystal Ballroom with its grand space and luxurious, yet neutral decor was just the setting for all the rich tones and bright blooms of an Indian wedding.
As for the attire, we could gush about the traditional clothing (sourced all the way from India) all day, but we love that Jessica also got her big reveal, with a ‘second look' with Parth, in her elegant Morilee gown.
There are so many gorgeous details about this day, we should really let Jessica (and the wonderful photographs) do the talking instead.
Oh and make sure you read about how Parth proposed too – who knew such epic love stories could start in McDonalds?
Our Love Story
We met as teenagers back in 20016 while we were both working at McDonald's. We quickly became best friends while continuing to stay in touch as we both started college and started dating three years later in July of 2009.
On July 2 2014, we went on what I thought would be a ‘simple dinner' to celebrate our five-year anniversary. We had discussed not doing anything big and not doing gifts in the weeks prior. Parth found a company that did group restaurant tours and said he wanted to try that.
When we arrived at the restaurant at The Cheshire, the woman leading the tour said that the others in the group missed their flight and had to cancel so it would be just the two of us.
We then went to a private room where Chef Rex came to talk to us about the food and drink pairings for the evening. He showed us around his kitchen and made the most amazing dishes for us.
I believe at one point I told him his food speaks straight to my heart. Little did I know, Parth had planned the whole thing.
After The Cheshire, we went downstairs to Basso for more food and drinks. The waitress raved about their wine market and told us we had to go see it before we went to our next place. We ventured up the private elevator and entered a room filled with candles and a table full of desserts.
At this point I heard ‘our song' playing and grabbed Parth's hand, smiled and told him to listen. The biggest smile came across his face as he pulled me around the corner where both of our families were waiting. That's when it finally hit me.
He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! We spent the rest of the evening eating desserts, drinking Champagne, and spending time with our families. It was perfect.
We really wanted our wedding to reflect both of us and our cultures. The simplicity and class of a Catholic wedding with the fun, colorful, high energy of an Indian wedding.
Finding a color that did not clash with the traditional red of my bridal lengha was difficult as well. Ultimately the colors came together when all the girls went to try on bridesmaids dresses-the cobalt blue was so beautiful on all the girls and the contrast of the hot pink really brought it all together.
From there we added a few purple accents. Our goal was to make everything flow from ceremony into reception and not be too matchy.
We brought in the gold table cloths to break up all the color and bring that simple class black into the reception space.
All of the ceremony outfits were picked out and bought in India. Parth’s mom, sister, and cousin did a great job finding something that we would like.
My dress was from Clarice’s Bridal, I loved the lace detail and open back.
Oh my goodness, I don't even know where to begin.
First, it was so exciting that we had so many of our guests join us from all over the world including his uncle from India and family friends from Switzerland. It was his uncle’s first time to the United States and was very special that he could share our big day with us.
Even though the bride does not go down to the Baraat (parade where the groom comes in on a horse and our two families meet) I loved listening and trying to catch a sneak peak of the festivities from the widows upstairs.
I thought the ceremony would be the most boring part of the entire day, but it turned out we laughed and had so much fun with the two parts.
Both of our families embraced the other’s culture and my dad was excited and proud to wear his outfit he picked out while on a business trip in India. I loved seeing our parents laugh and enjoy the day as if they have been friends for life.
I think one of my favorite parts was our second look. Since Parth knew what my ceremony outfit was we decided to keep the white dress for the reception a surprise.
When my mom, sister, and I were trying on wedding dresses, my sister leaked this big, poofy dress that was not me at all to Parth. So for a year he thought that I was wearing something else.
When he turned around he was shocked to see me and whispered ‘You look beautiful to me.' That was a special moment that he and I shared together.
Another one of my favorite moments was when we gave his parents their thank you gift. I wrote them a note and we gave them first class tickets to India. They were shocked and so excited to get to go and see their family comfortably.
I also think our reception was a blast! Our dance floor was filled the entire night that I didn’t even stop to eat the nacho bar that I was so excited about.
And you know how I love my desserts – I enjoyed every bite of my four pieces of cake (and part of Parth’s during our cake cutting too which you can see in the video – that is me inside and out.)
The Crystal Ballroom where the ceremony was held made our venue the one. It is a historic ballroom that first caught my eye in pictures.
When we saw the vaulted ceilings and huge bay windows I knew this was the spot. It helped that the Marriott staff was wonderful and has done many Indian weddings in the past.
This started as the biggest challenge in our wedding. Parth being Hindu and me being Catholic really posed some obstacles for some of our family members as well as finding officiants.
From the start of the planning Parth and I wanted a ceremony that combines our two beautiful religions. We did not want a ceremony for him and a ceremony for me. To us, starting our marriage meant being united and respectful of our differences.
Through word of mouth we found a Hindu priest who performed in mostly English. Usually it would have been done in Sanskrit (which neither Parth nor I understand). I think it was the first time many people from his side heard the ceremony in English.
My parents talked to their former pastor who was overjoyed to meet with us. We had met with two or three other Catholic priests who immediately said they would not perform the ceremony anywhere outside of the church.
Father Craig was enthusiastic and listened to Parth and I. We had a traditional reading from the Bible, ring exchange and vows. It was a beautiful ceremony filled with tradition, love and laughter and it was completely unique.
Many of our guests said they have never seen two priests simultaneously pronounce a couple husband and wife or combine things the way we did.
Many of the songs were Indian love songs, but the song that my father and I walked down to was an instrumental version of Ave Maria.
This song is very important in my family. My late aunt sang this when my mom walked down the aisle and married my dad and I knew I wanted this song to be a part of our big day.
It was recognizable and symbolic to my side yet still beautiful for his side to enjoy.
Advice for Other Couples
I got a lot of my inspiration from Pinterest. I took a lot of pictures into vendors to make sure they fully understood what I was saying. We were very organized and stuck to a timeline.
We spread out the big expenses and tried to plan for unthought – of expenses that blogs don’t discuss like stamps and welcome bags.
I made a weekend packing list for myself, the groom, and our parents so no one would forget anything since we were staying at a hotel.
We delegated tasks to our bridal party like music playlists for the party bus, getting drinks for the bus, being in charge of flowers, and being contacts for our vendors in case they needed anything.
We left for our honeymoon the Monday after the wedding so we packed before any wedding events started.
When we started to get overwhelmed with ‘wedding talk' we decided that we would only discuss and plan the wedding one night a week. This kept us both sane, happy, and excited to plan our big day.
We found wedding planning can be stressful especially if family members and friends wanted specific aspects in our wedding. We stayed united and were a team throughout the planning.
Remember that the day is about the two of you, your love for one another, and starting your life together. Certain things the day of are out of your control and you cannot let them impact you negatively.
Surround yourself with people who love and support you and will help make the day run smoothly.
And lastly, wear comfortable shoes! I got beautiful wedges for both the ceremony and reception. My shoes stayed on the whole time and allowed me to dance all night!
The Photography & Videography
We searched through countless photographers looking for someone who captured our style: timeless, romantic, and classy.
We first heard of Carretto Studio through my friend who had used them the year prior for their wedding. We met with him and loved his work!
We wanted to make sure our photographer has been exposed to the stress of an Indian wedding and would be able to handle a large guest count. Andy surpassed all of our expectations.
For videography we used a friend ours who had just started his own company here in St. Louis. We wanted someone who would take the time to add unique features and really show who we are as a couple.
We originally wanted peonies, but quickly found out how expensive they were. My florist was wonderful about working with our budget.
We used a lot of various types of roses (which were much cheaper than I anticipated), fuchsia stock, hydrangeas to fill out the pieces, and some greenery and baby’s breath to break up the color.
My florist looked at pictures of the bridesmaids outfits and helped me pick colors that would complement the blue and continue with the pops of hot pink and again tie in some purple.
For the centerpieces we alternated small vases and tall vases to mix it up and used the glass and votive candles provided by our venue to help save money. We also did 1/3 of the tables in candles to help bring that romantic light back into the reception space.
Our decorator used fuchsia flowers in the vases to tie them together with the floral arrangements. We saved money by using flowers from the ceremony for some of the tables in the reception as well as taking two of the bridesmaid bouquets to make one small centerpiece for the reception.
We used the small floral centerpieces for decoration for the brunch the following morning.
We splurged on venue and photography. Food and drink is expensive, especially when you have top shelf alcohol and three meals for 330 guests.
Our hotel worked with us to get the price down to an affordable level for us. We were able to make up the cost by doing the escort cards and ceremony programs ourselves, being creative with getting sheet cakes and getting a simpler cake design, and reusing flowers.
We spent $700 for cake for 330 people! I was so excited about that. I originally wanted this ornate design that was $8/slice and then thought why spend that much for something that is only seen for a few moments?
Like I mention below, we used two cake places to save money and got a variety of flavors. I think the sheet cake was $1/slice and saved us so much!
Our flowers were $1,300. My florist was great about telling me what flowers are in season at that time and helping me find cheaper alternatives to flowers that I liked. By reusing flowers for decorations we were able to cut our decoration cost as well.
Another option is to ask vendors if they do a cash discount. We got a few places to give us 5-10% off if we paid them in cash.
I love food and I really love desserts. Getting the food right was very important to us, especially when you have such a wide variety of guests.
The chef at the Marriott trained in India and took notes about how to make it taste more like the style of cooking Parth’s family enjoys and allowed both of our parents to join us for the tasting.
We started with lunch for all of our guests catered from our favorite place, India Palace. For our passed hors d’oeuvre’s we wanted more of an Indian flare. We had a bhel puri station, spinach pakora, chili & queso rangoon, lamb chops, and assorted cheeses.
Our plated dinner menu was American and included eggplant parmesan, and mushroom and ricotta stuffed chicken. All of which were incredible. Our late night snack was a nacho bar.
My sister and I went cake tasting together and had such a hard time deciding which cakes to order. Ultimately we decided to get them all! So we had four cakes from two different places. We saved a fortune by getting a smaller tiered cake and sheet cakes for the rest.
I am so proud to say that this bride ate and enjoyed all four pieces of cake.
Our flavors included something for everyone: chocolate with fudge, lemon with cream cheese, white with raspberry, and almond with ganache filling. We also had desserts flown from India.
We had a brunch the next day that included both Indian and American breakfast items and a Bloody Mary bar.
The Decor & Details
We used a lot of florals and candle light for decoration. We tried to use as much from the hotel as we could to help save money.
They provide votive candles and mirrors for the centerpieces so we asked for extra to use on our place card table and gift box area. We used our framed engagement pictures for those tables as well.
Our backdrop for the reception was done by the same lady who did our Mandap (stage) for the ceremony. She was able to bring an Indian element to the reception.
Our DIY projects were the ceremony pamphlets and escort cards which was more than enough for me when you have 330 guests. All of our desserts were our favors.
Our first dance song was ‘Overjoyed' by Matchbox 20. Our videographer even used it.
My dad and I chose a very fitting father-daughter duo by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole. Their song ‘Unforgettable' was perfect.
Parth is more modern with his tastes and chose ‘One Call Away' by Charlie Puth for the mother-son dance.
I spent countless hours listening to music and finding translations. Our ceremony songs included: ‘Tum hi ho', ‘Latika’s theme', an instrumental of Ave Maria, and our first walk song was ‘Mast Magan'.
Another song that reminds me of our wedding was ‘Tu Meri'- I like this song because it sounds like they say my name, Jessica in it. We even started to get a choreographed dance to this song we all liked it so much. This song is also in our wedding highlight video.
We went to St. Lucia for an amazing 10 days. We stayed at one of the Sandals resorts.
In St. Lucia they have free shuttles to their other two Sandals resorts so that allowed us to mix it up a little. I highly recommend Sandals and St. Lucia.
We were able to just show up and have their help booking excursions and everything was included. We had a butler suite which was the cherry on top of the whole experience.
We felt on top of the world having someone drive us around in our own golf cart, make us dinner reservations or dinner on our patio.
So much colour! I just love all the luxe decor and textures, and reading more about all the details behind the day makes it even more special.
Thanks so much to Andy Carretto of Carretto Studio and of course, Jessica & Parth for sharing their beautiful Indian wedding in St Louis with us!
Get more ideas for your own multicultural wedding.