Getting set up by a mutual friend is a great way to know what you're getting into before the date has even started. But for Sonali Bloom and Ilan Gutherz, if their friend's introduction had been successful, the pair may not have headed down the aisle together. "Our friend Rachel brought Ilan to a party to introduce him to another girl!" laughs Sonali. Thankfully, he and Sonali found one another, and Ilan proceeded to "miss" his rides home several times, creating the perfect opportunity to walk Sonali home before heading back himself. Quite the gentleman!
Three years later, Ilan and Sonali headed to a cabin south of Columbus, Ohio, for a romantic winter weekend. "We made it through the snow," says Sonali, "but were promptly snowed in for the rest of our stay." To celebrate their dating anniversary, Ilan and Sonali decided to exchange gifts. He reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out...an engagement ring! "It had been there the whole time, and I'd had no idea," Sonali says. "Neither of us remembers what he said, but I said 'yes' so quickly that he asked me if I wanted to think about it at all."
The multicultural couple, who have Indian and Israeli backgrounds and have traveled extensively through Latin America, Asia, and Europe, decided to celebrate their diverse traditions as well as their love of adventure with a colorful late-summer celebration on September 1st, 2013, at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, coordinated by Corinthian Events. And what would a wedding be without friends? Sonali's classmate (and amazing photographer) Lindsay Hite of Readyluck was there to make sure that every single detail was perfectly captured.
In the days leading up to the wedding, Sonali and Ilan had a series of both Indian and Jewish pre-wedding events, including a South Indian "making of the bride," where the bride is adorned with jewelry by her relatives.
The couple's invitations featured a golden tree motif that came about as a combination of Sonali and Ilan's names. "My name means 'made of gold' and Ilan's means 'tree,' so we combined them for our family crest," says the bride.
On her wedding day, Sonali added a pop of color to her look with hot pink peep-toe pumps adorned with a bow. She wore a lace trumpet gown with an asymmetrical sheer neckline by Romona Keveza. "I tried on 43 dresses before I found the one," says Sonali. "I loved getting to try all of the different styles and silhouettes—I felt like a princess, and knew I should take advantage of it because I'd never have a chance again!" The bride's pearls were a gift from her parents for her 16th birthday, a sentimental "something old."
To match her pink shoes (and the wedding's vibrant color scheme), Sonlai carried a bouquet of hot pink and orange orchids, roses, anemones, and lilies.
Four flower girls preceded Sonali down the aisle. "They took their job very seriously," says the bride. She made the girls hot pink headbands to match the flowers on their dresses.
Though Sonali and Ilan didn't have a wedding party in their family-focused ceremony, they still wanted to honor the friends who've supported them since the beginning. "I called them my 'secret bridesmaids,'" says Sonali. "Instead of giving them matching dresses, I sent them our color palette and let them choose whatever dress they wanted. They looked beautiful!"
Instead of ring bearers, Sonali and Ilan's brothers each carried one of the rings down the aisle.
Ilan matched his bride in a white dinner jacket and tuxedo pants. He donned mother of pearl and gold cufflinks and studs, a gift from Sonali's parents, as a finishing touch.
Sonali's father walked her down the aisle to Bal Shem Tov. He and Sonali's brother wore hot pink boutonnieres, while Ilan's father and brother wore purple.
The ceremony opened with the bride and groom circling each other seven times. Ilan's father is a rabbi, so he presided over the marriage. As he and the guests read the Seven Blessings, it began to pour. "Rain is very auspicious for both Indian and Jewish cultures," says Sonali, "so it didn't bother us at all!" The ceremony concluded with a kiss and broken glass. "Ilan made sure it was completely shattered!"
The reception took place in a tent strung with fabric and lights. "It was pouring rain that morning," says Sonali, "and apparently the venue was flooded and lost power. Our wedding coordinators found a water pump and a generator, and had the place totally turned around by the time we got there. I didn't know it had happened until the next day!"
Tables were topped with gold linens and hot pink, purple, and orange centerpieces. A tree-like pattern was projected onto the walls.
Instead of escort cards, guests were greeted as they entered the reception with glasses of champagne tied with tags featuring their name and table name. Tables were named after places the bride and groom had visited together, from New Haven to Bangkok to Cuernavaca.
A trio of signature cocktails got the party started. The Bride combined vodka, elderflower liqueur, lemonade, and a splash of Cava. The Groom was bourbon on the rocks with a rosemary garnish. And for those looking to really party, The Luscious Romance was a mix of tequila, triple sec, orange juice, cranberry juice, and a splash of lime. For dinner, guests moved between stations featuring global-inspired tacos, Southern-style fish and corn bread, and braised short ribs with tomatoes and mozzarella.
"The cake had to be gold, of course," says Sonali. The three-tiered confection, with layers of dark chocolate cake, raspberry jam, and raspberry-infused chocolate ganache, was wrapped in gold frosting and topped with fresh flowers. "The cake was so good," says the bride, "that I had to get a second bite after Ilan fed me!"
For their first dance, Sonali and Ilan chose Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." For her father-daughter dance, the bride chose "High On You" by Survivor. "It turned into a Bloom family dance," she says. "My mom and brother joined us, too!"
The DJ, who spun everything from Bollywood and salsa to Israeli folk music and American hits, surprised the couple by bringing in a traditional dhol player. For the last song of the night, a high school friend of Sonali's who is now a trained opera singer got on stage to perform "Don't Stop Believing." "It was incredible!" says Sonali. Guests waved sparklers as the couple exited and headed to their honeymoon in Ecuador, visiting Quito, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Galapagos Islands.
The best advice Sonali got as wedding stress started to take over came from her father. He reminded her that the only thing that matters is the feeling. "It's the feeling that you, your family, and your friends have on your wedding day," says Sonali. "The well-wishing, the joy, the love. That is what's important. Well...that and the man you're marrying!"
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Massachusetts Horticultural Society || Wedding Coordinator: Corinthian Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Romona Keveza || Jewelry: Mikimoto, J.Crew || Groom's Attire: Michael Kors, Vera Wang || Wedding Bands: Treasure Trove || Florist: Brattle Square Florist || Invitations & Paper Goods: The Bride, Alexandra Diaz, William Arthur, Minuteman Press || Music: DJ Yogz of Boston Sound and Light || Catering: Season to Taste || Cake: Confectionism || Lighting: DesignLight || Videography: Waves Media || Photography: Lindsay Hite of Readyluck