Looking for proof that a blind date can lead to your future spouse? Then look at Nevin Shetty and Serina David. The Blueprint Registry CEO met his wife in October of 2013 when a mutual friend insisted he meet Serina for drinks. Nevin agreed, but with one request: That he and Serina would not talk about their occupations on the date. Instead, the two chatted about nearly everything else — and less than a year later, they were engaged, thanks to Serina's bold move.
In April of 2014, Serina asked Nevin to be her husband in the same bar where the duo first met. In place of a ring, she popped the question with a necktie to symbolize tying the knot. "Nevin typically likes to be in charge, always planning and taking control of situations," Serina says. "I thought, 'Why not, for once, absolutely take him by surprise?' She ended up finding out that I was going to propose on an upcoming weekend trip and decided to take matters into her own hands." Naturally, he said yes!
Since the couple decided to host a three-day wedding weekend, it was important to them that they find a venue that would feel like a vacation for their guests. Enter: The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, California. "Our guests could relax during the day and then attend our events at night," Serina says. Their three parties included a Henna party, Sangeet, and the formal ceremony and reception. "Every event felt unique since the Ace had different spaces we could use for each night." After a year of planning, the big day finally came on May 29, 2015, when 140 guests gathered in California's desert for a weekend of community and celebration. Read on to see how it all came together, as photographed by Carina Skrobecki Photography.
"The most important factor in planning our wedding was the hotel," Serina says. "Could the hotel fit the entire guest count? Were the hotel spaces open and inviting? Was the vibe of the space similar to ours? The Ace Hotel attracted our attention as it could accommodate all of our 140 guests if they chose to stay, and since it's a converted motel, there are no hallways and everything is open." Guests took advantage of the property's amenities (like the amazing pool!) before the party kicked off.
And speaking of guests, narrowing down their list to just 140 people was no easy task for Serina and Nevin. "It was the hardest part," the bride says. "Coming from two Indian families where wedding guest lists typically exceed 400 people, getting ours down to 140 was terrible."
Following a Henna party on the first night, guests gathered for the couple's second event: Sangeet Night. "It was one of the best nights of our lives," says Serina. "Our friends and family put on performances for everyone in attendance, and we had more than ten groups perform!" There was dancing, singing, instrumental performances, and skits — and the next night the duo awarded a trophy to the their favorite group.
For the wedding ceremony on day three, the bride wore a champagne net sari with pearl embroidery and floral details that she purchased in Bangalore, India. The process of finding her stunning ensemble was a far cry from stateside wedding dress shopping. "It's a long process, to say the least, as you're not allowed to handle the garments on your own as you would in a retail store at home," says the bride. "You have to describe style preferences, color, and fabric, and then someone will begin to select options for you."
Per Indian tradition, Serina donned plenty of jewelry and accessories. "It's customary to have 'showy' jewelry and accessories as an Indian bride, including multiple necklaces, long earrings, bracelets, headpieces, and more — all color coordinated, I should add! I wore them all, but they were much simpler pieces that made me feel comfortable." Since the couple chose a red and gold color palette for their wedding, the bride stacked bracelets in those two hues and further accessorized with a few more statement-making pieces. Glittering shoes were her finishing touch.
Nevin coordinated with his bride in a champagne and gold sherwani, an Indian suit. It was created with subtle sequin details and an overall threadwork pattern. His red turban and dupatta (a type of shawl) completed his traditional look.
Their striking attire was a perfect contrast to the desert landscape. The pair took time to pose for portraits around the property before they were formally married.
The ceremony was held outside, where Nevin and Serina had a mandap (a stage with chairs for the bride and groom) custom built for their ceremony. In keeping with their red and gold color palette, the stage was decorated in rich fabrics and adorned with plenty of fresh flowers.
The duo opted to keep the rest of their ceremony décor simple and elegant. Wooden chairs were set for guests and potted arrangements of greenery and succulents lined the aisles.
"As part of a long Hindu tradition, it's actually not the father of the bride who walks the daughter down the aisle," Serina says. Instead, four men from her family escorted her to the altar beneath a decorated umbrella: Her two brothers, her cousin, and a long-time friend.
The were married in a traditional Hindu ceremony, and the duo felt particularly connected to two important rituals. The Hasta Melap, which means "joining of the hands," and when Serina's brother put puffed rice into the bride and groom's hands, symbolizing an ongoing promise to provide support and protection to the couple. "It was a moment I'll never forget," the bride says. "Sitting on the mandap, with my Christian family on one side and my new Hindu family on the other. Both were incredibly supportive of our interfaith union."
After the ceremony, guests enjoyed a poolside cocktail hour before moving inside for a simple and elegant reception. Long tables were decorated with natural linens and black runners, which were topped with an array of potted succulents. String lights lent a glowing ambiance to the space.
Nevin and Serina welcomed guests to the party with a glowing sign. Once inside, everyone dined on a family-style meal that included cauliflower salad, broccoli rabe, brown rice pilaf, Indian-style pepper chicken, and blackened salmon.
"It's common practice to change into evening wear for the reception," Serina says, so she traded her gold ensemble for a night-appropriate navy net, silk, and velvet lengha and dupatta. "Navy is one of my favorite colors, and when I saw the facial expressions from my family when I tired it on, I knew this was the one." Nevin followed suit and changed into a coordinating navy and gold outfit.
Since they watched their guests perform the evening before, Nevin and Serina surprised their friends and family with a choreographed first dance. They entered to DJ Kool's "Let Me Clear My Throat" and transitioned into a slow dance to "Falling Slowly" by Once. But that wasn't it: The music then changed into two different Hindi songs for the dance the couple had been working on as a treat for their loved ones. Then, everyone flocked to the dance floor to celebrate with the bride and groom.
"Usually there isn't enough time to spend with your guests at weddings," the bride says. "One of the best parts about our location was that after the wedding reception ended at midnight, we were able to move the party to our main pool. Everyone changed into swimwear and stayed outside until 3 A.M."
Venue & Catering: Ace Hotel || Hair: Michelle Galvan || Makeup: Ionie Acuna || Florist: Dream Decor || Invitations: Paperless Post || Additional Paper Products: Minted || Music: DJ Frank Pompeo || Photographer: Carina Skrobecki Photography