A Four-Day Multicultural Wedding Extravaganza in Chicago, Illinois

Real Weddings

Chances are, by the time your wedding is over, you'll wish you'd had a few more hours to celebrate. Lisa, 30, and Vinay, 31, knew a single day wouldn't be long enough for their Hindu and western wedding celebration, so they had their family and friends join them in Chicago for a four-day weekend that brought their cultures together in an extravagant, colorful way.

This couple's over-the-top wedding started with a quiet proposal on a lake. Pretending that the sailboat they were supposed to take had left without them, a captain took Vinay and Lisa out on the water to "catch up with their party"–though what Vinay really wanted was to get Lisa out on the boat alone. Suddenly, an airplane appeared overhead with a banner reading "Lisa, Will You Marry Me?" and Vinay got down on one knee.

Lisa and Vinay met at Northwestern University and still live and work in Chicago, so they knew they wanted to get married in the city. The entire celebration took place at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel on the weekend of September 2nd, 2012. "We had multiple events and many out-of-town guests, and didn't want people to have to run all over the city, so having everything at the hotel worked perfectly," says Lisa. Here are the gorgeous, colorful details of their marathon wedding celebration.

Bridal Henna

As is tradition for Hindu weddings, Lisa had intricate mehndi, or henna, done for the celebration.

Bride in Gold and Red Lengha

Lisa wore a bridal lengha, which is traditional Indian attire. "I wanted something more gold than the traditional red that Indian brides wear because the ceremony décor was all red," she says of her outfit. Her bridesmaids wore brightly-colored saris with matching beading and embroidery.

Vinay arrived at the ceremony according to tradition, on a horse decked out in beaded and embroidered fabric. He was escorted by family members and friends.

Hindu Wedding Ceremony Mandap
Hindu Wedding Ceremony Decor

The Hindu ceremony took place in the hotel's Empire Ballroom. The couple's families joined them under the mandap, or canopy, for the ceremony. Vinay and Lisa's priest helped them keep the traditional ceremony on the shorter side ("Hindu ceremonies can be three hours or more!" says Lisa), and also said the blessings in both Hindu and English so that everyone could follow along. Pillows were arranged on the floor so that guests could get close and feel comfortable.

"Our family and friends practiced for weeks to perform dances for us," Lisa says. "It was so touching to see how our two families came together. It made me realize how lucky we are to have so many people dedicated to being a part of our lives."

Purple Stuart Weitzman Peep-Toe Pumps

For the Western wedding, Lisa couldn't help but include a vibrant pop of color. She paired her gown with purple Stuart Weitzman pumps and carried a bright bouquet of fuchsia garden roses and spray roses, phalaenopsis orchids, purple hydrangeas, and lisianthus.

Bridesmaids in Floor-Length Magenta Dresses

The bridesmaids wore magenta chiffon gowns and carried smaller versions of Lisa's bouquet. Vinay and his groomsmen wore three-piece tuxedoes.

"Because our Indian ceremony and other events were pretty bold and flashy, I wanted the western ceremony to be more simple," says the bride. She let the ornate room speak for itself, adding a simple stage cover and aisle runner. "Having two wedding ceremonies seems like a lot," she says, "but it was important for us to have both of our cultures represented."

Formal Pink and Purple Wedding Reception
Pink and Purple Floral Centerpieces
Pink and Purple Floral Centerpieces with Candles

The ceremony décor featured rich colors and Indian touches. Metal lanterns and elephants were a nod to Vinay's heritage. Orange and fuchsia roses, dahlias, and purple hydrangeas were arranged in low vessels. A touch of shine from the mercury-glass candle holders broke up the colorful displays, while the glow of candlelight warmed the room.

"Vinay designed the monogram that we used on the cake," says Lisa. Henna-inspired piping decked the colorful confection, which was topped with bright fresh flowers. Alternating layers featured red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting.

The groom's cousins played Sugarland's "Stuck Like Glue" for the couple's first dance. "Vinay and I put so much time and effort into everything, and we wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of our family and friends," says Lisa.

After planning such an involved wedding, you can be sure that Lisa has some great advice. "Figure out what is most important to you, and make sure that you make those things happen," she says. "Don't worry about the small stuff."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Palmer House Hilton Hotel || Wedding Planner: Lauren Carter of lola Event Productions || Bride's Wedding Dress: Lengha: Studio Elite, Wedding Dress: Augusta Jones || Shoes: Indian Wedding: Gucci, Western Wedding: Stuart Weitzman || Jewelry: Bloomingdale's || Hair: Cathy Battistoni of Beauty on Call, Pamela Moore of Avieve Salon & Day Spa || Makeup: Rebecca Males of Sonia Roselli, Joshua Graham of Façade Make-Up Artistry || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Saris: Studio Elite, Western Dresses: The Dessy Group || Groom's Tuxedo: Armani || Groommen's Tuxedos: Calvin Klein at Men's Wearhouse || Bride's Wedding Rings: Harry Winston || Florist & Rentals: Event Creative || Invitations & Paper Goods: Designed by Lindsay Chenault Bolton, Printed by Gary Mordhorst of AccuColor Plus, Inc. || Music: Tabla Dhol, Rendezvous Music || Catering: Palmer House Hilton Hotel, India House || Cake: Take the Cake || Favors: Indian Sweets from Devon Street in Chicago || Videography: Epic Motion || Photography: Jen Lynne Photography

—Jaimie Schoen

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