Isha Sathya and Suraj Philips seemed ahead of the 2020 wedding curve when they wed in an intimate ceremony with just 30 guests prior to the U.S. lockdown.
Just before the world changed due to COVID-19, Isha, a senior clinical analyst, and Suraj, a principal solution architect, celebrated their nuptials in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, a location they chose for its ease of travel from California, where they live, but also their tendency to conduct life-altering moments in tropical environments.
“We first met at a beachside cafe in Goa, India,” Isha explains. “While we were dating, we spent a lot of time in Pondicherry, India, which is a beachside town, and we got engaged on a beachside cliff in Bali. It only seemed appropriate to get married in a tropical location.”
The San Francisco-based couple landed on Acre Baja in San Jose del Cabo, a lush farm-to-table restaurant with an award-winning cocktail program. When Isha first saw it on YouTube, she was struck by its resemblance to India, and being of Indian descent, knew that would hold an important place in the ceremony.
The couple did have their work cut out for them when it came to planning. Not only were they organizing everything from afar in a place they had never been, but they wanted to fuse Suraj’s Christian heritage growing up in Oman with Isha’s Indian background as well as their personal love story. It all came together with the help of Events by Bliss: a tropical garden party that included only the traditions that felt right to Isha and Suraj.
“We didn’t conform to either Indian or western traditions; we didn’t have a bridal party or a father/daughter dance; and I didn’t wear henna on my hands, nor did we do a cake cutting,” Isha says, adding that they also kept the guest list untraditionally small. “It goes to show that all the love between the couple, and the amazing people in their lives, is what makes weddings so magical.”
“The core of everything Acre represented spoke to us: a lush sanctuary set on 25 acres of abundant greenery, featuring glamping-style tree houses, sustainable organic farms, an animal sanctuary, contemporary architecture, and an award-winning bar and restaurant,” Isha says of their venue. “We couldn't have dreamt of a more unique and beautiful location to tie the knot, surrounded by lush palm trees, gorgeous peacocks, and a mango orchard reminiscent of the magic of India.”
Though Isha didn’t have a formal bridal party, she did ask her close friends to be honorary bridesmaids and get ready with her. They didn’t wear matching dresses but they did coordinate their glam looks with Flora Nikrooz and fuzzy slippers.
Isha and Suraj flew to India together to pick out their bridal looks, including Isha’s Sabyasachi sari. She wanted to honor her South Indian roots and wear a sari, and she was elated to happen upon this tulle number from an archival collection.
"When I stepped out of the fitting room with the sari draped perfectly, I knew it was the one,” Isha says. “The sparkles gave it the perfect amount of glamour without being over the top. It was edgy, modern, with a hint of sensuality.”
Isha’s bouquet featured white and pink roses, queen protea, and ivory and peach ranunculus to accent her earth-toned sari, and she added more sparkle with custom jewelry from GK Ratnam.
Suraj wore a sleek beige sherwani, also from Sabysachi, that the he custom fitted through The Grand Trunk. His traditional-yet-modern look was actually inspired by Nick Jonas’s wedding outfit when he married Priyanka Chopra.
The moment I turned around to see her was probably the most treasured moment I have of that day.
“The moment I turned around to see her was probably the most treasured moment I have of that day,” Suraj says of their first look. “I vividly remember how stunning she looked. I felt elated, and as cheesy as though it may seem, I felt that I was truly very lucky to have her marry me. No matter what ensued on the rest of the day, having this special moment with each other was all we needed.”
Though the couple didn’t formally design a wedding party, Isha’s close friends and Suraj’s brothers all brought looks that worked together.
“Most of our guests had confirmed travel, and our vendors were all set for our wedding,” Isha says of seeing the COVID-19 numbers escalate in the beginning of March just before their wedding. “During the duration of that weekend, the looming news of the pandemic taking over the world weighed heavily on our hearts, but in hindsight it made the wedding that much more sentimental.
The ceremony took place in the garden, where the couple set up a bougainvillea-covered archway decked out in red flowers, an auspicious color in Indian culture. “Generally Indian weddings are an explosion of color but we wanted to keep our overall decor minimal,” Isha says.
Since our multicultural background is an integral part of who we are, we wanted to incorporate this into our wedding right from the start.
“Since our multicultural background is an integral part of who we are, we wanted to incorporate this into our wedding right from the start,” Isha says of the ceremony.
“We didn’t feel like we needed to have separate Hindu and Christian ceremonies, so we worked with our amazing wedding minister, Diego Vidal, to include Christian as well as Hindu prayers into our fusion ceremony,” Isha says. The couple exchanged personalized vows as well as Cartier wedding bands.
“I was very lucky to have Suraj who was very involved in the process,” Isha says. “At the end of it, it felt like a really cool project we got to work on and bond over together.”
Just after the newlyweds walked down the aisle, their photographer whisked them away for a desert-inspired photo shoot. “Although we were being photographed, it gave us a chance to escape from everyone and appreciate the first few moments of officially becoming husband and wife in peace surrounded by the jaw dropping landscape.”
Because Acre Baja is known for their cocktails, Isha and Suraj chose a signature drink from their list: the Diablo, a mix of tequila, cassis, ginger, and lime.
For the reception, Isha wanted a minimalist disco vibe, so her planning team came up with a simple tablescape dotted with mini vases of roses and ranunculus, disco balls hanging from the trees, and a custom neon sign.
“Every element was minimal yet striking, it was gorgeous,” Isha says.
The property’s resident peacocks made a cameo appearance during the reception.
To pull in the disco theme, Events by Bliss hung escort cards attached to mini disco balls from the trees.
The couple loved that the menu was globally inspired, so they left Acre to do what they do best: come up with a brilliant, seasonal menu. That included family-style bowls of Agnolotti pasta in a lemon butter sauce, freshly caught fish, cheddar biscuits, and, of course, churros with a chocolate dipping sauce.
For the reception, the pair changed into second looks. Suraj donned a navy suit, one of his favorite things to wear, and Isha went with a floral-print lehenga from contemporary Indian designer Payal Singhal.
“Pulling off this first dance was a lot more fun than we expected,” Isha says of working with a choreographer for weeks leading up to the nuptials. “We certainly plan to dance lessons after the wedding.”
Knowing they wanted to dance as late into the night as possible, Isha swapped outfits one more time: to a Studio 54-inspired look from Silai, with an embellished bustier and silver tassels. It was a good move, as guests stuck to the dance floor well into the night thanks to the DJ’s mix of Latin, Bollywood, and electronic dance music. “Looking around the dance floor, we saw our friends make a conga line, do the macarena, and even my parents were dancing together (and I’ve never seen them dance together),” Isha says. “It was the most magical evening of our lives.”
Venue Acre Baja
Planner Events by Bliss
Officiant Diego Vidal
Bridal Outfit Sabysachi
Bridal Stylist Bridelan
Groom’s Attire The Grand Trunk
Groom’s Reception Attire J.Crew
Groom’s Shoes Gucci
Mother of the Bride Outfit Lakshmi Silks
Groomsmen Attire RAR Studio
Engagement Ring La Bijouterie SF
Wedding Bands Cartier
Floral Design Emporio Arte Floral
Music Alex DJ Cabo Events
Catering Acre Baja
Rentals Baja Boutique Rental Company
Neon Sign Custom Neon
Transportation Impala Ground Services
Accommodations Cabo Azul Resort
Videography House on the Clouds
Photography Photography by Julieta