Cultural Weddings/Real Weddings

Intimate Indian Backyard Wedding

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Four hundred guests to twelve. That was the pivot Srina & Shishir made for their wedding when the pandemic hit. Planning an Indian wedding with a modern twist, their planner Taylor O. of Leilani Weddings showed how grand even the smallest backyard wedding can feel!

Being doctors, Srina & Shishir understood how important it was to rearrange plans to be as safe as possible during the pandemic. Narrowing down their guest list to just over a handful, they organized a “drive-by” for local friends to congratulate them without being in attendance. The couple & their talented planners pulled off a modern, intimate & beautiful wedding that was filled with joy and still honored their Indian roots.

Much like so many of our Covid-19 couples, Srina & Shishir “plan to have the big reception celebration when it is safe to have a huge crowd again!” Does this sound like you? We have loads of advice for couples planning multiple celebrations during and after the pandemic.

Are you a South Asian couple looking for small wedding inspiration? (We know, it can be tough to find!) Here’s another gorgeous micro wedding with North & South Indian traditions, planned during the pandemic.

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Our Love Story

We met in medical school, in Arizona.

The couple’s first encounter was at a bar, ironically, when Srina asked Shishir if he would give her a ride on his motorcycle. Shishir was reluctant, offering an excuse, “I typically don’t like to take people for a ride.” But he caved and gave Srina a ride around the block. Shishir was unflinching as he oriented her; the only thing missing was a liability waiver. Though Shishir and his friends assumed that Srina was interested, she insists that she definitely was not. As far as she was concerned, this was her chance to cross “motorcycle ride” off her bucket list.

Plot Twist

A couple of months later, Srina sent Shishir a text message to wish him a happy birthday. Unfortunately, his HTC phone failed to receive the message. She never got a text back and wrote him off as a friend.

The Second Chance

A few months later, Srina was planning a dinner with a group of friends in the middle of a lecture. Shishir happened to be sitting next to them, and Akash (one of Shishir’s groomsmen) invited him along. Srina did not protest, despite her quickly forming reservations about her future husband-to-be.

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The Friendship

Shishir finally got that “Happy birthday” text, five months later, as he was texting Srina about the upcoming plans. Shishir arrived at dinner. There, Srina realized he was funny, and even charming much to her surprise!

The pair became friends, which meant ​real​ conversations and lots of meals together.

The Confession

Srina, Shishir, Akash, and Stef (one of Srina’s bridesmaids) took a road trip from Arizona to California. On their way back, Shishir’s little yellow S4 just, kind of, stopped in the middle of the freeway! After lots of troubleshooting and team-working with no resolution, they ended up renting a car to drive back. Fortunately, for us and the happy couple, only Shishir and Srina had the next day off.

This gave them some *quality* time alone set against a background of a lightning storm. They finally broached the topic of dating after Shishir cornered Srina into confessing her obvious feelings for him.

They decided they would see where this road could take them.

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Since then…

Shishir and Srina spent a great deal of time getting to know one another.

They learned and grew, together, as physicians and partners. Though most would not be able to manage residency and geographic barriers, not much can keep them apart.

They choose each other every day, through every journey, and are ready to do life together as a married couple.

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The Pre-Covid Wedding Plans

When we first got engaged, we thought we would have a huge Indian wedding! We were trying to find the perfect venue and cut our guest list to a “reasonable” size from 400. We knew the first step was to find a wedding planner that would be able to seamlessly reflect our Indian roots with a modern twist.

After chatting with Danielle Leilani, it was a no-brainer! Leilani Weddings was going to be our perfect fit. In the meanwhile, we looked at tons of venues and finally decided on the gorgeous Hudson Loft. It had tons of natural light and had a classy-warehouse feel.

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The Pandemic Planning Pivot

And then the pandemic hit. We had many decisions to make and tons of challenges to navigate through. Three months before our wedding, we decided to change our venue to my parents’ backyard and slowly our guest list was cute from 350 to 12.

Being doctors, our priority was to make sure we had the safest wedding possible. For our friends in the area, we set up a drive by and plan to have the big reception celebration when it is safe to have a huge crowd again!

At the same time, our planners transitioned and we had the gift of having Taylor O. plan our backyard wedding and it was the best thing that happened to us. Taylor was communicative, accommodating, encouraging, and just a genuinely kind soul — everything you need in a wedding planner to feel like a team!

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The Photography & Videography

Our photographer and videographer were recommended to us by Leilani Weddings and they were INCREDIBLE! Carmelisse offered to do our engagement pictures as a bonus and she was able to capture our love despite us feeling that we are incredibly awkward in front of the camera. They were such a positive light on our wedding day and did an amazing job.

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Favorite Moments

Never in a million years did we think we would get married in my backyard with my uncle officiating our wedding. The best part was the way our families stepped out to the plate. My dad had the backyard redone to make it the perfect backdrop for our big day. Thankfully we ordered the best group of people to transform the whole thing into a gorgeous space so that it did not just feel like a backyard wedding. We had a zoom wedding but we really got to soak in our day and feel very comfortable throughout the process!

It was memorable and gorgeous and I can’t believe that we get to reminisce about our big day in the home I grew up in. It made it that much more special to have my parents’ backyard as our venue. The best part was that our love was honored and celebrated and our families got to be present to celebrate this new chapter with us.

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The Flowers

We chose Frida Pickles Co after meeting Susan serendipitously one day while picking up flowers. We loved the way they helped those with disabilities be employed at their store. We wanted to support their business during the pandemic and we were just floored with their gorgeous work!

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The Decor & Details

The signage used for our wedding was done by myself and my mini-bridal party: my sister (maid of honor) and my cousin (bridesmaid). A few of my bridesmaids came together for a distanced crafts day to help with making napkin rings, sings, and other crafts to personalize our day.

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Advice to Other Couples

Weddings are stressful no matter which way you spin it. Throw a pandemic in the mix and it becomes a whole new game and perspective shift. It was important for us to have our immediate families present and so we continued as planned instead of postponing. The pandemic took away so much. But we still go to marry the love of our lives! The best advice we can give is to focus on the important things when it comes to a wedding: the coming together of two families while celebrating love! Everything else is secondary.

We were in residency while planning a huge wedding and getting a wedding planner was the best gift we could have given ourselves. It truly is an investment.

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The Mini-moon

We drove up to Big Sur & Carmel for our mini-moon! It was a relaxed trip and we stayed at the Hyatt in Carmel with a gorgeous view and a fireplace in our room. We got to soak in some quality time together while enjoying the beach and delicious food. We highly recommend this place! Definitely check out Lafeyette Bakery and Pfiefer Beach.

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