Joy and Amit in St. Helena, CA

Two rich cultures unit and celebrate with country-club charm

Not many brides dream of a wedding-day croquet match. But Joy Su, a 25-year-old environmental engineer, knew from the start that she wanted this genteel lawn sport to be a focus of her outdoor nuptials to Amit Bagchi, 28. "We don’t dance, so we thought this would be a great way to get everyone to mingle," says Joy. The Meadowood Country Club in St. Helena, California, offered the elegant setting and gorgeous croquet grounds that she was looking for.

Creating a laid-back mood was also on Joy’s agenda, so she kept the guest list to an intimate 45 and declared a casual, croquet-friendly dress code: white cotton frocks for the gals, and khakis for the guys. Of course, that didn’t mean Joy couldn’t go girly in an organza scoop-necked gown for her nontraditional September nuptials. Paying tribute to Amit’s Indian heritage, the couple reenacted the Seven Steps ritual, a highlight at Hindu ceremonies, signifying a marriage’s progress. Then, before ditching her bouquet for a mallet, Joy and Amit joined friends and family for a sumptuous buffet brunch.

Finally, it was game time: Guests gathered around as a croquet instructor explained the rules, then formed teams. Joy and Amit, who had changed into white linen trousers and flip-flops, got their game on, too. "We lost the big showdown to my brother and his wife," admits Joy. But considering how wonderful the day was, it was obvious who the real winners were. –Terrie Collymore

Our Favorite Things

A Collaborative Effort: Shying away from traditional sentiments, the couple penned their own vows, incorporating words of wisdom from both their Asian and Indian cultures.

Party of One: Instead of having bridesmaids and ushers, Amit and Joy chose a mutual friend to stand up with them.

Far East Favors: In a nod to their heritage, Joy’s parents hand-made Shrinky Dink key rings that featured Chinese poems and phrases.

The bride “doesn’t do icing,” so the apple spice cake with cream cheese layers and caramelized lady apples on top was frosting-free.