Sarada Kolli and Kaleb Tilton first met as juniors in high school after Kaleb transferred from a nearby town in Tennessee. “We didn’t really get to know one another until a class trip to Italy over spring break,” says Sarada. They became close friends, and stayed that way into senior year—even after Sarada rejected Kaleb the first time he asked her out! But he was persistent and won her over, just in time for Valentine’s Day in 2012. The couple stuck it out through college, and in June of 2015, Kaleb brought their families and friends together for a surprise proposal in his childhood backyard.
“I couldn’t believe it when he opened the door to the house, and everyone we love poured out!” says the bride.
Keeping things close to home, the couple chose Sarada’s parents’ home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for their wedding. “We have so many wonderful memories, and even carved our initials into a tree near the ceremony site,” she says. They combined the bride’s Indian and the groom’s American heritages, and even added a green, silver, and peach color palette to bring in a hint of Southern charm. The high school sweethearts made it official on August 13, 2016 at a sunny summer celebration with 275 guests in attendance.
For the ceremony, Sarada wore a classic fit-and-flare wedding gown with a subtle blush hint. She paired it with a lace-edged veil and traditional Indian jewelry. “Before the wedding, we had a mehendi [henna] party. The wedding party and my close relatives came together, and we had our hands and feet adorned with traditional designs,” says the bride. She accented the waist of her gown with a gold belt, commonly worn by South Indian brides.
The bridesmaids wore powder blue dresses in a variety of silhouettes. All of the women’s bouquets were a textural combination of roses, ranunculus, anemones, and dahlias in white and peach, accented with seeded eucalyptus.
Sarada’s flower girl wore a white frock with a bow at the waist, topping her curls with a peach ranunculus flower crown.
The ceremony took place in Sarada’s parents’ backyard, with string lights hung from the trees. The wooden arch was draped in white fabric and accented with hanging mercury glass. “Kaleb and I wrote our own vows, and also included the traditional Indian seven steps ceremony,” the bride describes.
For the reception, Sarada changed into a custom lengha in a beautiful bridal blue. She paired it with traditional headpieces and bracelets, all brought to Tennessee from India.
Cocktail hour took place on the patio, where fringed umbrella shaded guests from the summer sun.
A Sperry tent for the occasion, and the bride and groom filled it with long tables were dressed with white linens and white-and-peach flowers in glass demijohn jugs. The couple put their on twist on the traditional wedding reception by serving a menu that combined both their Southern and Indian favorites.
Inside, garlands of greenery and star lanterns were hung over the dance floor, creating a magical ambiance.
“My parents loved being able to share our heritage with our guests,” says Sarada. “Having our wedding at their home made it even more special!”
Wedding Planner, Floral Design & Paper Products: Sage Nines Event Production || Bride's Dress: The White Room || Makeup: Stephanie Harrison || Groom's Attire: Prince Bbogies || Catering: Kristen Winston || Cake: Dessert Designs by Leland || Rentals: Camargo Events, Liberty Party Rental, Bright Event Productions || Transportation: Matchless Transportation || Photography: Kristyn Hogan