We’re engaged!

I’m sure a few of you giggled as you read my last post about changes. Those of you that were in on the secret, specifically. And for those of you who weren’t, I’ll clue you in. Just four days after I wrote that post, my guy and I got engaged!

It’s been such a whirlwind, and despite having told the proposal story just about 100 times, I’m still sort of in awe and disbelief. My fiancé (seriously not used to saying that yet) didn’t tell anyone how he was proposing – he knew I’d want to tell it (in “excruciating detail” to quote the man himself!). The detail on here isn’t going to be that severe – there are parts of it that I can’t even articulate. And I don’t want our day to lose its dreamy, intimate quality. But for those of you who are interested (and love proposal stories, like me!), here ya go.

Close girlfriends, I’ve borrowed a lot of this from the email I sent you, so it’ll sound familiar :).

F and I had plans to attend a belated Mother’s Day brunch with his family at the Central Park Boathouse. I’d been there once before for a wedding, so I knew it was really nice. My roommate told that people generally wear their “Sunday best” there, so I made sure to put on a bright summery dress (which, as you may know, is a far reach from my usual choice of neutral tops and jeans). 
We arrived at the park about 15 minutes before the reservation. F was playing it really cool the entire time, but for some reason I started getting the jitters the moment we walked in the park. He hadn’t said anything to give it away, and seemed really calm and collected, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling. About 5 minutes in, F’s sister called saying that the baby was being fussy and she had pushed the reservation back an hour. I told him we should just pick up some food and go over to their place, but he brushed off my suggestion saying it was a beautiful day and we’d just enjoy walk around and enjoy the weather. 
 
There’s an old building in Central Park that predates the park itself. On the top floor of this building (through this tiny square hole in the wall, and up a steep ladder) is a flat rooftop that overlooks the entire park, above tree level. It’s F’s favorite place in all of New York, and I had always wanted to see it. So he mentioned that since we had time to spare, we should go try and work our way up there. 
 
After a bit of a stroll, we arrived at building. The security gave us a bit of a hard time (even though F had planned everything and seen them the day before!), and then we were in the elevator. I couldn’t wait to see this place, having heard so much about it. Our first stop was on the 4th floor. We got off the elevator and walked past a ton of cubicles and through an open door onto a rooftop terrace/garden. It was really pretty and we could see all of the Central Park Zoo. F and I were standing there taking it all in and I turned to him and said “I really thought you were going to propose to me today, for some reason.” Again, he played it off really well and the thought totally left my mind. 
After a bit, we ventured up to the top. Through that small opening, and up that ladder. The view was totally breathtaking. Literally one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever seen. There’s a book that sits up there, in a large mental casing, that everyone who’s ever been up to the roof has signed. So far, it’s only 200 or so pages in (it’s not open to the public, F’s cousin used to work to for the New York Parks Department, and hooked us up). We looked through the book and found the last time F had signed it in 2010 with his sister. It was really fun to see. I snapped a picture of it and then really wanted to sign for myself. He told me to flip to the last available page and sign. As he said this he dropped back a bit (I thought to take a picture), and I flipped to the first open page where he’d written  
WILL YOU MARRY ME?
 
The rest is sort of a blur. I know I spun around and saw him down on his knee. He had to tell me to “come here” a few times before I could even walk. His speech was beautiful and we were both pretty choked up. There was a ton of smiling/laughing/crying/hugging/omg-ing. It was the best moment of my life. 
 
And when I finally thought to look down at the ring, it was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
 
We took a few moments to catch our breath, and then had a little photo-shoot in the park. Our friend, and photographer for the day, Noeman, captured the moment beautifully. There isn’t a single “serious face” photo because neither of us could stop smiling. 
 
After our time in Central Park, F had invited our close New York friends to a restaurant, and we had a private party on the back patio. It was amazing to celebrate with everyone, especially those that knew us in college before we even met each other! There was a ton of champagne (and lots of gluten-free snacks!), toasts, pictures, etc.
We ended our day with the most wonderful dinner at Eleven Madison Park. We were there for four and a half hours, eating delicious food and drinking amazing wine. We recounted the entire day and just relished the moment. 
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And that was our day. We spent the following weekend in Ohio with our families, sharing the story and a few of the pre-edit photos. We’re still on cloud nine, just enjoying the engagement. Wedding planning will ramp up soon, though, I’m sure. For someone who used to love the idea of wedding planning so much, I have a shockingly vague idea of what I want. Needless to say, HAPPY to take any suggestions, sites to explore (esp for decor, personalized wedding websites domains etc.). Where do I start!?

Keep you all posted :)

Love,

AG

Home(land)sick

I started this morning by perusing a gorgeous Facebook album via one of my friends in India. My last trip was in November 2010, and I’m itching to go back. One set of my (healthy & happy!) grandparents, and the majority of my cousins/uncles/aunts live in India, so our trips back are always amazing.

There’s something magical about India. People truly live their lives there. They savor every day. They eat, drink, celebrate, and spend time with the people they love. Work is always second. People come first. I always wonder what my life would be like if I was born and raised there.

Probably a bit like this.

Trips to the Mountains

Gorgeous houses in the Mountains

Sunsets in the Mountains

Happy family time

Blowout Diwali Parties in New Delhi

Homes filled with light in New Delhi

Lounging in Ambala, Punjab

Grandparent Roundtables in Ambala, Punjab

Shopping in New Delhi

Little cousin time in Dehra Dun

Family Weddings

GORGEOUS family weddings

Lovely, right? I just can’t wait to go back. Better start saving!

Happy Monday!

Your WPTB

Thifty Brideship to New Extremes

With all the glitz and glam that comes with weddings, sometimes it’s hard to remember the most important things (the fact that you’re marrying the love of your life)! Couples sometimes spend so much money on flowers, lighting, menu options, by the time they’re inching closer and closer to their wedding day, they’re increasingly out of cash.

South Asian weddings take this phenomenon to an entirely new level. After the cost of 4+ wedding outfits (just for the girl), the cost of 4+ wedding events, and the cost of paying for 300+ guests to dine like rajas and rani, sometimes you just can’t stomach much more (makes me queasy just thinking about it!).

Well Divanee Weddings just found a way for you to save some money for your post-wedding-day life. And Wedding Planner to-be is spreading the word!

It’s tradition for brides to wear large (seriously, HUGE) sets of gold jewelry on their wedding. For many brides these are passed down from their grandmothers and mothers, but if old jewelry is just not your style (or your tastes don’t match up), you need to have some options! And sometimes spending thousands on chunks of gold that you probably won’t wear again — it’s iffy.

Shrikriti Paper Jewelry

So. Ever thought of buying paper jewelry?

The set pictured here is made entirely from paper (INSANE, right!?!?). At a modest $100, it certainly won’t be breaking anyone’s bank either.

So share the news with brides you know, and recruit your India-going friends for shopping duty! This is a steal.

Loves,

AG

The Coziest of Weddings

My latest post on Divanee Weddings!

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us; our Starbucks cups already don happy snowmen, our Uggs are out and raring to go, and our colleagues have already abandoned popular tunes for their Pandora Christmas station.

But since we’ve only just had Halloween, and since Christmas is almost two months away, let’s focus on the other most wonderful time of the year. Namely, Autumn.

Autumn, in my wedding-planner-y opinion is actually the perfect time to have a wedding. The weather is crisp and cool, the leaves themselves can serve as décor, the color palettes are rich, deep, and bursting with warmth and romance, and (not to get practical on you, but) the venues are more manageably priced.

Let me help you think up some stunning, autumnal ideas, and encourage you (strongly!) to consider an Autumn wedding.

1. Color Color Color

As mentioned, the colors associated with Autumn are enough to immediately give people a feeling of warmth and festivity. Historically speaking, the season of the harvest was a time of joy, family, of closing up shop and enjoying what you had worked for, all year long. Deep reds cultivate a feeling of intimacy, saturated oranges a feeling of coziness, and hoppy yellows bring the festive spirit. These colors, although they could simply recall images of Pilgrims, are very reminiscent of our very owndesi weddings. So let’s keep to tradition, but put a seasonal twist on it.

2. Think Outdoors

Fall is the perfect time for an outdoor wedding. The weather is moderate, people can sit outside with a light shawl and trust that their makeup will stay in place. For an ourdoor wedding, your surroundings will serve as your décor. The colored trees as your backdrop, a healthy green as your aisle. Autumn weddings give people the opportunity to go back to their once-nature-focused roots. Imagine a mandaap made of colored leaves, or rich silks. Take a step back from the clean, straight-lined, and modern weddings, and allow yourself to go a little crazy!

3. A Subtle Intimacy

Despite our typical 1,000 guest desi wedding, these occasions are meant to be intimate. And just because your mom’s best friend’s sister’s husband’s niece simply HAS to be on the guest list, doesn’t mean that you can’t create a feeling of closeness and intimacy on your big day. While the colors will do a lot of this for you, there are other fine details you can incorporate to take this feeling further. In terms of décor: lots of candlelight, velvets, silks, soft yellow lighting, sunflowers, goldenrods, tiger lilies. In terms of menu (and outside of your desi food list, which is a must): hot soups (I suggest butternut squash because of its color, and thick, indulgent consistency), hot toddies (whiskey, boiling water, honey), spiked apple cider (YUM), a hot chocolate bar, long artisan breads, pies, the list, clearly, goes on.

The beauty of a Fall wedding lies in the spirit of the season. It’s a spirit of coming together to rejoice in what we have, spend time with family and friends, and (most importantly to some) EAT! So when you’re planning your wedding, forgo the summery pastels, and the cool blues of winter, and opt for something a little cozier.

Your Wedding Planner to-be,

AG

The Death of the Fusion Wedding

We’ve all heard it. And often. Whenever a bi-racial couple is tying the oh-so-complicated (sarcasm intended) knot, whenever a North Indian bride is marrying a South Indian groom, whenever a girl wants to look a little oh-la-la on her wedding day. Every time anyone says the term Fusion Wedding, I literally feel like I’m being beaten like a dead horse (wow, how awful is that phrase?!). Fusion weddings have become so commonplace in our society, that the term is quickly becoming obsolete.

For those of us who were born and raised in America, having a subtle Western twist to our weddings would not deem it fusion. In fact, since we are quite substantially American, it should (and to a certain extent, has) come to be expected. There are some wonderful Western traditions. Why can’t we have the best of both worlds if we’ve lived in each of them.

1. The White Dress

Not all of us think RED when we think wedding. In fact, many of us don’t. We’ve seen chick flick after chick flick, all boasting big, bustling, WHITE wedding dresses. Now to some people, the thought of wearing a white dress during their ceremony just won’t fly. But think about it, desi brides, how many wardrobe changes do you have planned? One of the sassiest ways to include white in your wedding is by changing into something a little more “comfortable” before the reception. It’s tough dancing around in all that heavy bling, so why not opt for a simpler (maybe even sexier) little white number? Give it a think!

2. The Aisle

Personally, for me this is a no-brainer. What bride wouldn’t want an aisle, is more like it. Let’s discuss the benefits: You get to show off your outrageously beautiful wedding lengha, salwar kameez, sari, which you will likely never wear again. You get to see the look on your man’s face as you walk towards him. You can walk alone, declaring your independence, or with the people who mean the world to you (pre-marriage). It’s so symbolic! Every recent bride I know has had an aisle, and the walk down it is always one of the most poignant parts of the entire wedding.

3. The Wedding Party

Considering we all probably have gigantic families, this point may be null and void, but should be discussed, regardless. I, for one, would not make it through the hectic/chaotic/emotionally-satiated event that is my wedding without a support system. I would need the people who have talked me down from all my inevitable ledges, to be there. For me, these people are my sisters. For others, these are their best girlfriends. For others, it’s their best guy friend. Whoever it may be, why would you not want them around? Plus, no one likes individual pictures as much as cute group shots (calm down, egoists!).

There are many many ways in which you can create an American Desi (pun intended) style wedding. But most importantly, when you’re planning your big day, make sure to keep in mind what’s unique to you, as a couple. Maybe it’s not a Western twist. Maybe it’s not even a desi one. Bottom line, your wedding days is yours and yours only. So do what you may with it, and make it count!

Your Wedding Planner to-be,

AG

It’s a Wedding Day – What NOT to Say

My most recent post @Divanee Weddings!

While most pre-pubescent kids receive the “birds and bees” talk, desi children grow up believing the concept doesn’t exist. When they’re 30 and want to have six children, it peeks its inappropriate head, and then it disappears again. Some would say this is ironic, coming from a culture of kama sutra, but that topic is for another time (and perhaps another century).

While it’s imperative to engage with a bride and groom’s family on the day of their wedding, it’s even more imperative to know which topics are absolutely and positively off-limits. Basically, ANYTHING and everything mildly, remotely, or vaguely racy. We’ve all grown up here, and know what goes on, but there is no need to take this opportunity to share the juicy details with the older generation.

So next time you’re at a wedding, think (once, twice, a thousand times) before you speak, and remember these ultimate “no-no’s.”

via AAcreation Photography

1. The couple’s dating past: In many desi families, the topic of dating is still very taboo (despite complete westernization and adoption of American dating rules by  our generation). Many parents aren’t aware of their child’s dating history. Do not, at any cost, mention how long the couple has been dating (as far as parent’s know, they arranged this wedding!), where they traveled during their romantic vacation last year, or how they were on and off in 2008. Parents needn’t know such things!

2. The bride and groom’s SEPARATE dating pasts: High school sweethearts are hard to come by.  A lot happens between the time we’re getting our licenses, fretting over becoming prom king/queen (or , more likely, what we got on our SATs), High School graduation, and getting married. It’s quite likely that these two have their own stories that precede the one they’re now making together. So please spare them the remembrance of their dorky boyfriend from 10thgrade, and let them enjoy their day.

3. The bachelor/bachelorette parties: Wow. I’m having trouble articulating just how catastrophic this could be. There is a Bollywood movie in which a soon-to-be groom is having a bachelor party and dancing with another women, when his soon-to-be father-in-law moseys in (it’s of course a set-up by the other guy in the love-triangle, but Bollywood lessons aside…), and nearly cancels the entire wedding upon seeing this (modest according to Western standards) dance. You don’t want to be the reason this wedding is canceled. Unless you’re trying to sabotage the wedding. Muahaha.

4. The relationship status of others: In most cases, desi parents truly believe that relationships start and end with holy matrimony. Liaisons, affairs, flings, etc. are just not present in their conceptual dictionary. You are doing your friends and acquaintances the ultimate disservice by revealing their personal information to others. The desi grapevine is one of the strongest and most unyielding. So watch watch watch what you say.

Guests, that should keep you prim and proper. Now for brides and grooms, make it a point to debrief all of your friends prior to the wedding. You know the tiffs you’ve told and what would make your parents lose their cool. Discuss this at your bachelor/bachelorette parties when it’s just your boys/girls and when everyone is all ears (preferably before the bubbly is popped).

Let’s keep this wedding on the calendar!

Sincerely,

Your Wedding Planner to-be,

AG