After visiting India in 2008 and falling in love with it, Indian weddings hold a special place in my heart. I feel so fortunate to capture the love, emotions, traditions and rituals that go along with them! It was an incredible honor to photograph the beautiful Bengali wedding of Mousumi and Sascha at Ma Maison, one of my favorite venues in Dripping Springs. Even though the weather did not cooperate and everything had to be rearranged and moved indoors it was still a spectacular wedding. Enjoy the photos of this magical day and read the couples love story below!
Also see this beautiful wedding published on Maharani Weddings and The Big Fat Indian Wedding!In Hinduism, marriage is a sacred ceremony in which two separate beings are united into one spiritual identity. The origin of Hindu marriage rituals date back to the ancient Vedic times. One of the oldest Vedic traditions, still prevalent, is the taking of marriage vows in front of Agni, the God of Fire. Along with the Homa (sacred Fire), the priest, the Divine, family members and guests bear witness to the union.
The ceremony takes place in the Mandap (wedding pavilion), which is built to represent the Universe. (Photo on the left @ Jerry Hayes Photography). Gorgeous draping and decor is by Unique Design and Events.
The wedding took place on Mother’s Day and upon arrival, all women received a rose from these two precious girls!
My favorite part of Indian weddings is Baraat. Baraat is a festive procession of the groom and his friends and family to the wedding ceremony complete with live music and lots of dancing.
Aarati. As the groom enters, bride’s mother blesses him with aarati and tilak and accompanies him to the Mandap, the wedding altar, where he is offered the seat of honor. The aarati signifies the families’ prayer that the mind of the bride and groom be illuminated by wisdom.
Mandap Pravesam (Arrival of the Bride). The bride is brought into the wedding pavilion on a wooden seat by relatives while both the groom and the bride’s eyes are covered. She is carried around the groom clockwise seven times in significance of being winded up securely to each other.
From the bride: “I didn’t think I would get emotional, but the moment I started to cry was when my brother and cousins carried me in on the Bengali Piri to meet Sascha. There was beautiful Indian wedding music in the background, I held the betal leaves and covered my eyes so I couldn’t see Sascha so when the final reveal came after I went around him 7 times, it was very special and magical.”
Mala Badal (Exchanging of the garlands) and Subha Dristi (First Glance). After the circles are completed while the canopy is held over the groom and the bride, and the bride still sitting high on the wooden seat, the couple catches a glimpse of each other (Subha Dristi) and exchange garlands of flowers thrice. This is the first step in which they accept each other.
Tying of the Bangle. The groom gives the bride a special bridal bangle, symbolizing their connection to represent the strength of their union: physical, mental and spiritual. It signifies the Holy Trinity: Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the protector) and Maheswara (the destroyer).
Thalambralu (Exchange of celestial grains): the bride and groom welcome each other into their lives by showering rice on each other’s heads as a symbol of prosperity, fertility, health, and harmony in their married life.
Vivah Homa. The groom worships at the sacred fire and makes a vow to the bride. The fire God is the Divine witness to the marriage. It signifies both external and internal purification through ritual offerings to the fire and the Diety. The bride and groom experience a powerful and direct relationship with the Supreme consciousness within themselves.
Saptapadi. “Saptapadi” is translated to mean the “seven steps” the couple takes together. In this ceremony, bride’s sari and groom’s dhoti are tied together at one end in a knot. These steps are representative of the marriage vows. In these steps they pray for seven blessings:
Sindoor Daan and Ghomta. The groom applies sindoor or vermilion (red or orange-red pigment). It is a symbol of marriage worn by married Hindu women which is applied in the parting of their hair. The bride then covers her head with a new sari offered by the groom as ghomta or veil. It signifies that the bride is married.
How did you meet and when did you know he was “the one”?
I must thank my Jewelry Design company, Sikara & Co., for how I met my fiancé. I was visiting our Boston store and I decided to look on my Match.com profile to see which eligible bachelors might match my stringent filters: adventurous, good heart, funny, passionate about life and work, intelligent, handsome (in my eyes), and globally minded. We had our first date on a Monday over lunch at Stephanie’s on Newbury St. After an hour I had to head back to work so we decided we’d continue the conversation over drinks later that evening since I was flying back to Austin
(where I live) early Tuesday. Six hours and a couple cocktails later, I think we both knew there was something special. Everyday after we first met, we’d either chat on the phone or skype wherever in the world we were…whether it was Austin, Boston, India or Germany. He came to visit me two weeks later in Austin, 3 months later he moved to Austin for me and by 10 months he proposed on the highest mountaintop of Germany! I feel like I’m getting to marry my best friend and he definitely balances me out. We look forward to travel, rock-climb, boat, camp, dive, hike, bike and dance through the world together!
Do you have a super romantic proposal story or engagement memory?
Sascha wanted me to visit Munich and see his hometown and meet his mom who still lives there. So we decided to celebrate my birthday in Barcelona first with my brother, sister-in-law and close friends and from there he and I travelled to Munich together. We were in Munich for Oktoberfest so I got to meet his friends, spend time with his mom and then on the last day before we were to fly out, he rented a convertible and we drove to the mountain resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, southern Germany. We took a long gondola up to the top of the mountain where you could see the highest peak and the range. In Germany, they put a cross at the top of the highest point, as it’s the closest to heaven! So when were looking out, we both said to each other, you want to climb to the top point. I had my Cole Haan rain boots on (not hiking material) and there was a sign that said “Experienced Mountain Climbers only”. So I got easily skid dish and said, “why don’t you go up there…I’ll wait for you here”. He didn’t want to go unless I went with him. After seeing a few tourists go up with their young children, I decided I could do it too. It was icy at the top and it was actually difficult and scary as they only had a cable wire to hold on to. But we made it up. At the top of the mountain (at the bottom of the cross), he bend down on his knee and proposed to me. I had to say yes of course! Not only because I love Sascha, but because I needed his help back down the mountain 🙂
Tell us about your wedding style. When you sat down to really figure out how your dream wedding would look, did you start with one central color, a palette of colors, or a theme that served as your inspiration?
I’ve always loved Peacocks and their colors! We wanted to have rich jewel tones that represent India. Our wedding cake was a peacock with a cage and all our wedding clothes were in these rich jewel and peacock colors. We picked a venue that brought in a European vibe, since Sascha is half Italian and half German, so we fell in love when we saw Ma Maison. We especially loved the French Gazebo they imported from France and had wanted to do our ceremony in front of the Gazebo. A true Modern Fusion Wedding 🙂 Since both Sascha and I love traveling (we’ve both independently travelled to over 40 countries each), we also added a travel theme to our wedding. We had an atlas where people signed in and they would write in their favorite travel destination, then we had a photo booth where we had travel props, and then our seating chart said, “Where in the World are you sitting”. Each of the tables was a different country so we incorporated my travel photography in frames on each of the tables.
What did you enjoy most about the process of planning your dream Indian wedding?
We only had 5 months to really plan our wedding so it was short and intense planning period. The part I loved the most was the creativity since I’m an artist and entrepreneur myself. We decided to make Austin a destination wedding so we planned 4 days of events. We started off Thursday, with German Day, an excursion to the German town of Fredericksburg with wine tastings, then on Friday, we had the Mendhi party on my friend’s downtown roof deck, followed by Saturday evening’s Sangeet party at my brother’s home where we recreated the decor from a Monsoon wedding almost! and then finally the wedding on Sunday
With the creatively, I ended up launching a Sikara Bridal Collection during this process as I got ideas from the process of being a bride!
I really loved how involved Sascha was in the process. It was a true partnership from the beginning and we had a fun wedding planner that we enjoyed hanging out with so it made the process more fun.
How did you choose your lengha or lenghas? Did you work with a certain designer? Did you spend hours on the internet first?
I only had 10 days in India. We spent 6 days in Kolkata to do our main wedding shopping as that’s where my family is originally from. I researched the best bridal places online and then from morning till night, we’d go shopping. We ended up going to Sasya (Sangeet and Reception lengha), Simaaya (peacock inspired sari) , Adi Mohini Mohan Kanjilal (bridal sari, outfits for family), Manyavar and Sansita for men’s outfits.
Looking back, was there a really special moment that you remember from your wedding that stands out as the most magical?
I didn’t think I would get emotional, but the moment I started to cry was when my brother and cousins carried me in on the Bengali Piri to meet Sascha. There was beautiful Indian wedding music in the background, I held the betal leaves and covered my eyes so I couldn’t see Sascha so when the final reveal came after I went around him 7 times, it was very special and magical.
Did you have a special song that you danced to as your first dance? How did you choose it?
We had three special songs. We played the Wanted “Glad you Came” as we entered. It’s energetic and we wanted to thank you guests that came in from all over the world (over eight countries and 14 states). Sascha and I are so grateful for our amazing friends and family that are just amazing. Our first dance was a mix of UB 40 “Can’t help falling in love” and Jai Ho! Sascha’s an amazing dancer and loves Indian music so we decided to start off slow and then jam with some bhangra. He was stressing since he’s German and needs everything to be planned but in the end we put it together the last 2 days before the wedding. LOL! And he did great!
Do you have any tips for couples planning their wedding?
Yes, if you can have 9 months to a year, that’s the best 🙂 And a good wedding planner is worth the hire!
What are your day jobs/hobbies?
Sascha was a banker in NY, London and Germany before he came back for grad school at MIT (he was finishing up his program when we met in Boston). He loves learning so went back to learn about technology so now he’s working for a FIN-TECH start-up in Austin called Self-Lender.
I’m the founder of Sikara & Co., a jewelry design company inspired by my travel photography around the world. We have a store on 2nd St. and also wholesale and sell online at sikara.com.
As for hobbies, we are into rowing, yoga, gallivanting around the globe, camping, watching movies, being foodies, and loving and laughing about life! We also love our little Eskimo dog, Tulsi. She was at our wedding too!
Wedding Ceremony and Reception: Ma Maison | Wedding Coordinator: Glitzzy Events | Photography: Svetlana Photography | Second Photographer: Marina Marston with 2 SweetHearts | Videographer: Transition Films | Draping and Rentals: Unique Design and Events | Hair and Makeup: All Dolled Up ATX | Henna: Henna Tattoo Austin | DJ: DJ Rocky | Oliver Rajamani for Sangeet