For her Indian-inspired nuptials to Rishi Jain, Shilpa Harish sought to strike a beautiful balance. "We wanted it to be a colorful, traditional wedding, and also something that was elegant," she says. The couple chose to marry at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV, near Shilpa's hometown, and instead of hiring a planner to help pull together their 400-person affair, Shilpa and Rishi jumped headfirst into organizing the details of their day.
After Rishi and Shilpa's outdoor Hindu ceremony, decorated with rich oranges and reds (traditional colors used at Indian weddings), guests conversed during the cocktail hour as one of the couple's friends played tunes on an Indian guitar called a "vina." A nearby escort table displayed the guests' place cards, which were attached to silver bowls filled with Indian sweets. Back inside, the reception decor played off of the turquoise Indian party dress Shilpa had changed into for this stage of the event. The tables were embellished with fuchsia linens and calla lilies, and even the ceiling was swathed in the vibrant colors: Large bolts of fuchsia and turquoise material were hung from the chandelier and secured in the room's corners, creating an interesting pinwheel effect.
Multicultural food stations, with dishes like tuna sashimi and pad Thai, gave their affair the unexpected twist they'd envisioned, as did the Los Angeles–based DJ, Razor Rus, whose specialty is spinning Indian music along with hip-hop beats. "Weddings are the highlight of Indian culture," says the bride. "Ours was just the way we'd hoped it would be; it really gave our families a reason to celebrate."
Learn From Shilpa and Rishi
Rally the troops: For their 400-guest wedding, the couple recruited their families to help cook, assemble favors and fill welcome bags.
Embrace your heritage: To honor their backgrounds, Shilpa and Rishi incorporated Indian traditions throughout their wedding. One highlight was the special ceremony Shilpa's parents performed, the Vara Puja, during which they offered Rishi a mixture of honey, yogurt and banana to demonstrate that they warmly accept him into their family.
Get plugged in: The couple were determined to keep guests clued in to the wedding details, so they created their own Web site that listed information about the reception venue, nearby hotels and travel arrangements. —Cristi L. Hansen