On March 21, 2020, Justine Victoria Roach and Hrishikesh Desai were supposed to wed in front of 200 guests at Ojai Valley Inn in California. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, those grand plans quickly changed course, ultimately transforming into an intimate garden ceremony with just five guests at the bride's family home.
However, despite the drastic dip in guest count and sudden location change, the couple's vision for the day remained the same: A vibrant celebration that united Hindu and Jewish traditions, accented by marigold orange and saffron yellow hues. "Every element of our day felt very personal from the location to the décor and, of course, our family guests," recalls the bride.
The entire day was reimagined in merely one-and-a-half weeks by the couple's wedding planners Sarah Lowy, Jodi Cohen, and Quinn Heinrich of JOWY Productions. Want to see how they pulled it off? Read on to witness their intimate and colorful garden vows, as captured by photographer Heather Kincaid.
When COVID-19 caused them to reevaluate their day, hosting the wedding at Justine's family home in Beverly Hills was a "relatively easy decision," according to the bride. "The home, naturally, was a site of very fond childhood memories," she explains.
Before changing her wedding plans, the bride had planned on wearing a Valentino gown down the aisle. But when the extravagant nuptials turned into an intimate garden occasion, Justine opted for this floral lace midi dress by Self-Portrait instead—a look she decided on just five minutes before heading to the altar! She accessorized with her mother's jewelry, including a diamond and platinum bracelet from 1935, and carried a bouquet of white roses wrapped in silk.
We wanted to incorporate the colorful and vibrant décor of the groom’s Hindu background so we decided to have a marigold orange and saffron yellow color scheme.
"We wanted to incorporate the colorful and vibrant décor of the groom’s Hindu background so we decided to have a marigold orange and saffron yellow color scheme," says the bride of her vision for the day. Nancy Kaye of Mark's Garden combined elements of the Hindu mandap and Jewish chuppah to create this one-of-a-kind structure of marigolds, garden roses, ranunculus, apricot, persimmon, and gold and yellow fuchsia. The chuppah was delivered pre-assembled, as to limit the number of people on the property.
In another nod to Hrishikesh's Hindu heritage, the bride and groom wore marigold garlands to match their bright wedding décor. But the mother of the bride "endearingly forgot to bring the garlands out for the ceremony," Justine recalls, so the couple patiently waited at the altar while she retrieved them.
For Justine, "adjusting the planning process from having close to a 200 person wedding at The Ojai Valley Inn to scaling down to a small family-only wedding at home" was the most challenging part of wedding planning. But the easiest part? "Saying I do!"
Every element of our day felt very personal from the location to the décor and, of course, our family guests.
Hand-in-hand with her father, the bride walked down the aisle to “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles— played on her sister's phone! Although the groom's parents weren't physically at the ceremony, they witnessed the nuptials via FaceTime from Kentucky. The five guests in attendance stood six feet apart per social distancing protocols.
The couple exchanged personal vows and the ceremony was officiated by a local rabbi, whom Justine has known since she was a young girl. "She highlighted [our] dedication and love to each other during these unforeseen circumstances," shares the bride.
Following the ceremony, the newlyweds and the bride's parents celebrated with a dance to Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” in the kitchen. Looking back, Justine counts this as one of her favorite memories from the day.
A flavorful meal—of rice paper vegetarian rolls, braised lamb tagine, and pasta primavera—was served in the family dining room where Justine enjoyed daily meals growing up. Each place setting was complete with a tiny elephant (holding a place card!) to symbolize prosperity and good luck.
Justine and Hrishikesh called upon Cake Monkey Bakery to create a one-tiered chocolate brown butter cake with Tahitian vanilla buttercream. The bride's mother then decorated the dessert with tiny white pearls, orange marigolds and fresh kumquats from her garden.
On December 5, 2020, the newlyweds will celebrate their marriage again—this time with the 200-person soirée at Ojai Valley Inn that they had originally envisioned. Until then, they're spending their honeymoon at home under quarantine as husband and wife.
For all couples faced with adversity when wedding planning, especially a global pandemic, Justine leaves us with this: "Do not forget that having each other’s love amid everything going on in the world is truly a blessing."
Wedding Planner JOWY Productions
Floral Design Mark's Garden
Officiant Rabbi Laura Geller
Bride's Dress Self-Portrait
Bride's Shoes Christian Dior
Hair and Makeup Mellody Vere
Bridal Styling John Dolio
Mother of the Bride's Dress Lanvin
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands M. Kantor and Associates
Invitations Jonathan Wright and Company
Ketubah Stephanie Caplan
Catering The Kitchen for Exploring Foods
Cake Cake Monkey Bakery
Photography Heather Kincaid