An Indian Wedding: Finishing the night with a horse ride, dinner and dancing!

By this point in the wedding festivities, we have seen henna designs, skits, beautiful dresses, delicious food, a stunning bride (and groom!), and a Nikah wedding ceremony. Drumming introduced us to the second part of the wedding festivities on May 5th, 2012, when Noah rode in on a white stallion to the entrance of the reception hall. He looked very handsome in his traditional Indian ensemble, and very confident on the enormous white horse they had for him to ride!

Once Noah rode in on the horse, Natasha’s cousins and bridesmaids gathered around him to participate in a tradition I had never seen. We stole his shoes! And then he had to negotiate with us to get his shoes back. In the end, he paid a lot of money (I hope pre-arranged) and did a little dance. It was a lot of fun. Following the bartering of the shoes, family members gathered to bless Noah with a coconut. They would stand in front of him, touch the coconut to his forehead, and move the coconut in circles in front of his head.

While traditions surrounding Noah’s entrance were taking place, Natasha was upstairs getting changed for the rest of the evening. Her second gown was very similar to her first gown, only in teal instead of red. It was absolutely gorgeous! Noah somehow found time to change as well, from his traditional Indian ensemble into a black tux with teal accents. They were quite the handsome couple.

The reception was held in the grand ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel on the Plaza. Outside the ballroom, the couple had arranged a photo booth for guests to take fun pictures, appetizers, and refreshing beverages to cool off from the heat outside.

Once the bride and groom were ready to make their grand entrance, we all moved into the ballroom and anxiously awaited their arrival. The families entered first, with the parents dancing in to pre-selected songs. Then Natasha and Noah entered the room to a song of their own selection. As they strutted their way through the room, you could see the excitement on their faces to have reached this part of the day. Time to let loose and have fun! They started with the cake, and then sat down to have dinner.

One of my favorite aspects of this wedding was the incorporation of different cultures. Indian traditions from Natasha’s family, Jewish traditions from Noah’s family. They incorporated prayers from both in the wedding ceremony, and dances from both in the reception. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any pictures of the hora because we were both participating. The bridesmaids joined in the circle, and Jake jumped at the chance to help lift one of the chairs in the center of the circle dance. Such a fabulous time!

The surprise guest of the evening was….drum roll please!…..Big Jay! The Kansas Jayhawks mascot joined in the festivities for part of the night, competing in a dance off with a representative from the Syracuse Orangemen. He then stayed to take pictures with all of us.

The night finished with a first dance for the bride and groom. It was a beautiful evening and a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of what I expect to be a strong and happy marriage. Natasha and I have known each other for so long. We grew up together attending Pembroke Hill School, and even created a cool handshake in 5th grade. We played soccer together, learned Spanish together, and still made time to see each other through college. She then went off to med school, while I attended law school. Now, we’re all grown up, with fancy degrees and wonderful husbands.

Natasha and Noah, I am so excited for both of you, and I wish you both all the happiness in the world. Congratulations!


An Indian Wedding: Getting ready for the Wedding Nikah Ceremony

There were many parts to the wedding day for Natasha and Noah. The morning was spent at the hair salon and in the hotel suite getting ourselves primped and ready to begin the day. Mid-day was focused on  Natasha’s preparations. The early afternoon was dedicated to the wedding ceremony itself and to wedding photos afterwards. Following the Nikah and related events, the day changed to the ceremonies associated with the reception.  Natasha’s family received Noah and his family and friends, while Noah rode in on a white horse with drums playing and people dancing. The rest of the evening was spent at the reception, eating delicious Indian cuisine, listening to heartfelt speeches from friends and family, dancing, and of course, celebrating the newlyweds.

I will post the wedding day in two parts simply because there was so much going on that day. Besides, the photos of Natasha getting ready are so stunning, I wanted to share more of them with you.

In every wedding, all eyes wait in anticipation to see the bride’s gown. What does it look like? What is the texture? What style did she choose? In an Indian wedding, the gown for the wedding itself is traditionally red. And it’s not just a gown, it’s a full ensemble. As I mentioned in a previous post, Natasha and her mother, Shaheen, traveled to India to have all the dresses made for both Natasha and her bridesmaids. They picked the fabrics, described the designs they wanted, picked out the jewelry. In the end, they returned with some of the most intricate fabrics I have had the opportunity to see, with the most impeccable detailing.

The bridesmaids’ sarees were beautiful, but Natasha’s gowns were beyond stunning. Shes chose “lehenga” style gowns, red for the wedding, and teal for the reception. The gown consisted of a blouse, a floor-length skirt, and a draped fabric called a “dupatta,” which could be worn as a shawl or similar to a veil.

As heavy as the wedding gowns were for Natasha throughout the day (all the fabric, jewels and beading made her heaviest dress over 50 lbs), add her stunning gold heels to the equation, and I admit, I have never been so impressed with a bride’s balancing abilities. Her jewelry consisted of the “maang tikka” (the jewels worn on the forehead), the “chudi” (all the bangles worn on her wrists), the “hathphool” (bracelet connected to a ring), and the dazzling necklace and earring set that was so elaborate it practically molded into a part of her dress. Like I said. She was positively stunning.

The bridesmaids’ sarees were amazing, even if our ensembles were not quite as elaborate. Still, we all felt like princesses for the day. We had a blast getting ready at the salon, and then getting pinned into our sarees at the hotel.

The icing on the cake was getting to help prep Natasha for the day, and especially, for the Nikah ceremony. By the time she reached Noah at the altar, we could see the joy in her eyes.

We were so happy to be a part of the day, and we still had a whole afternoon and evening to come. Little did we know we would get the honor of meeting a special surprise guest! You’ll just have to wait and see who it was!

An Indian Wedding: the Sangeet

In Indian wedding tradition, a Sangeet is held one or two nights before the wedding ceremony. This is a ceremony of fun and laughter. For each of the ceremonial events, the bride wears a gown specifically created for her.  The gown above is richly colored with intricate designs sewn into each panel of cloth. The Sangeet is also special because it is a time when the families and friends of the bride and groom show their talents through song and dance, and put on a good show for the couple.  Traditionally, it is also an opportunity for the families of the bride and groom to become better acquainted.

For Natasha and Noah’s Sangeet, the night of celebration was held at the Vox Theater on the Boulevard in Kansas City. They had a large group of family and friends there to participate in the night. Their fathers put together a song and dance. Friends did a skit about how they met. The cousins did an entire medley of traditional dances. During the whole show, Natasha and Noah sat on a special love seat arranged for them on the corner of the stage floor. The show was, naturally, for them.

In addition to enjoying the elaborate songs and dances, we also ate foods that were absolutely delicious food. Natasha’s mom, Shaheen, made the most unbelievable samosas. And the rest of the catered cuisine was positively sublime.

But as I mentioned above, the thing that caught my attention the most during the night was Natasha’s exquisite attire. She wore a multi-colored saree, with blue, teal, purple and red, and of course, gold threading and lots of detail. Her hair was swept to the side and truly exuded the grace and elegance of an Indian princess. Every aspect of her attire reflected Indian art, beauty and culture.  Sadly, the lighting in the venue was not ideal for taking great pictures, but you can still see how stunning she looked.

The final day of celebration was the wedding ceremony and reception. It was a magnificent day with lots of happy surprises!

An Indian Wedding: beginning the weekend with the Mehndi ceremony

One of my best friends from childhood got married this weekend. Natasha and Noah have been together for a long time, and they were finally able to become husband and wife on Saturday May 5th. As Natasha’s family is from India, we were all honored to be involved in a traditional Indian wedding. There were a few Jewish traditions included from Noah’s family as well, but we will wait to explore those until a later post on their wedding day.

The first wedding event was the Mehndi ceremony.

Mehndi is the application of henna as a temporary decoration of the skin. It is a ceremonial art form where intricate patterns are painted onto the bride’s hands and feet before the wedding ceremonies. Hidden in the patterns, the design includes the groom’s name. His challenge is to find his name. For Natasha’s Mehndi, Noah’s name was written in the palm of her hand (can be seen in the bottom picture of her right palm).

As I understand it, the old tradition was to apply henna to the bride only. In modern times, many of the other women involved in the Mehndi get designs applied as well. As a bridesmaid, I jumped at the opportunity.

Henna is applied to the skin from small cones filled with the paste. The paste then dries on the skin. As it dries, it stains the skin below. Soon the paste begins to crack and brush off, and then you are left with a beautiful reddish-brown stain on the skin. It is a beautiful ritual.

Natasha looked positively stunning as she sat on her “throne” during her Mehndi. She was surrounded by her female friends and family members, and she definitely had the most beautiful designs. Both the backs and palms of her hands were completed covered, and her feet had beautiful designs as well. Following the Mehndi application, the women gathered together to sing, play the drums, and dance.

The Mehndi ceremony was a beautiful way to kick off the weekend of wedding festivities. Natasha looked beautiful, as always, and everyone had a wonderful time. The food was delicious, the music and dancing were joyful. It was a wonderful evening and a great way to start a beautiful weekend.