Everygirl Wedding: Sarah Das

This vibrant, cultural wedding is bursting with color and inspiration. While the couple honored their heritage with a traditional Hindu wedding, they also managed to infuse modern, unique elements throughout the celebration that reflected their unique styles and personalities. Read on for more details about this modern, rustic, Indian wedding.

Brides name:
Sarah Das, blogger behind Pink Rickshaw

The wedding took place in Houston, TX at The Lodge at Texas Safari Ranch (Richmond, TX) on November 26, 2010. We had 320 guests and six bridesmaids and six groomsmen. It was a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony outside on the Lodge’s deck in the late afternoon. Traditional Indian weddings are all about family and have a role for almost everyone but typically do not have formal bridesmaids and groomsmen. So in addition to our lovely families, we really wanted to include our friends in the ceremony and decided to add the western element of a bridal party. The four groomsmen were dressed in cream-colored kurtas (Indian tunics) and the four bridesmaids wore coordinating blue and purple saris along with our super cute flower girl who wore both colors. I was inspired by the peacocks that roam on the venue’s property. Peacocks are a big part of Indian culture and that in turn, became inspiration for the décor and invitations. The teal and purple from the peacock along with red was the color palette, which complemented the rustic vibe of the Lodge. The ceremony was followed by cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the deck and inside the lodge with live tabla (Indian drum) and guitar music. During the cocktail hour, we also had a photo booth with props for the guests to have some fun. The reception was held inside the lodge. For our first dance, we danced to Blue October’s Calling You and my husband surprised me with a taped video congratulatory message from the Blue October, which was pretty awesome. We had a family-style seated dinner with a menu of delicious North Indian food followed by Indian desserts, a candy and dessert bar, and of course lots of wedding cake.  With everyone’s bellies full, the night ended with plenty of crazy dancing thanks to our fabulous DJ.

How did you settle on a budget that you felt comfortable with? What factors went into coming up with that number?
Settling on a budget was definitely the hardest part of wedding planning. We wanted to accommodate the growing guest list our families wanted but without sacrificing some of the things we really wanted. My husband and I sat down and prioritized what was really important to everyone, which was the food, photography, my dress and the DJ (that was the hubby’s) and then researched the cost ranges for those. That helped us get an idea where the bulk of the budget would go and how much variation there could be. We used a lot of tools on the web too to help us estimate wedding costs. Knowing these costs helped set smaller budgets for the different aspects and that helped set a realistic overall budget for what we had in mind and our number of guests.

What was the most important aspect of the wedding to you? (i.e. photography, wedding gown, venue, food, etc.)
For me personally; it was definitely finding a venue that could accommodate an Indian ceremony outside with some sort of scenery and the décor I had envisioned. For our parents, it was definitely good food and for my husband it was music which meant, the best DJ. So, since everyone had their own important aspects, these became the cornerstones of the wedding.

How far in advance did you start the wedding planning process?
I started the wedding planning process about 10 months in advance.

How did you save money on the big day?
We saved money on the wedding with some fun DIY projects, many of them inspired by Style Me Pretty and other blogs. For the favors, we decided to give loose tea in small tea cans. They were available on order from some of the favor sites but cost an arm and a leg for the numbers we needed and I couldn’t find them with the type of tea I wanted to give (Indian spice tea or masala chai). So instead, I ordered small tin canisters from an online site and my mom and I got loose leaf tea from our local Indian store in bulk. Inspired by a few tutorials on SMP, we designed the labels and instructions and assembled them with the help of family. It was more work but definitely saved a few bucks.  Some other DIY projects were the ceremony programs, dinner menus, creating the table numbers and framing them with frames (we actually found frames at the Dollar Store which was a surprisingly a great and cheap source for fancy looking frames). Other ways we saved money, is instead of renting a photo booth machine, we had our photographer set one up. It was as simple as a rod and drape for the background (which most venues can provide), fun props from us and the photographer, and a camera on a tripod with a remote. The photos were hilarious and that was definitely one of my favorite aspects of our wedding!

What was the most stressful part of planning your wedding? What was the most fun?
The most stressful part of planning the wedding was planning from a different city. We were lucky because my family was in Houston, but it still meant lots of trips and having to take a day off here and there because vendors could only meet on weekdays. I know I was lucky compared to other brides who plan weddings across the country, but it still made things more challenging. The other stressful part of planning was staying within budget. It’s really easy to say you’ll go over budget in one area and make it up somewhere else, but that usually doesn’t happen. The most fun was definitely all the creative projects. I loved working with a boutique to custom make my reception dress that was inspired by a sari. And all the DIY projects were actually really fun. I know it probably drove my husband, family and friends nuts since everyone had to help assemble something at some point in time, but some of my fondest memories from wedding planning are the late nights chatting with my parents and brother or husband and friends while putting together invitations, programs or favors. We were super grateful for all the help but it was nice quality time too.

How did you make the wedding feel personal to you and your fiancé?
We made the wedding feel personal to us by making sure things were relaxing and fun for our guests and us. We knew if things were too formal, it definitely would not reflect us. So, we tried to include some of our favorite things such as English toffee at the candy and dessert bar and a fun signature cocktail dedicated to our alma mater at the bar.  Also, I am a huge celeb gossip junky, so we had a fake US Weekly cover made of us and had it displayed at the bar. Also, for fun, our friends helped us make an E! True Hollywood story about our romance, which was played before we entered the reception. We spent a few weeks before the wedding taping real True Hollywood stories and used the interviews to make it seem like the celebs were talking about us. Also, Indian weddings have a tradition of the groom arriving on a horse with his family and friends dancing around him. My groom decided to give it a modern and personal twist and instead arrived in his Mini Cooper convertible.

How did you decide on the type of wedding you wanted? Did budget have an influence? (i.e. did you have a traditional wedding, a destination, eclectic, formal, casual, etc)
I think we knew exactly what type of wedding we wanted but executing it was the interesting part. We wanted to have a relaxed and updated version of a traditional Indian wedding in our hometown of Houston but didn’t know exactly what that meant. We both had been to plenty of traditional Indian weddings in Texas that are awesome. But, usually to make large traditional, Indian weddings work, couples have their weddings in hotel ballrooms which was not too exciting to us. So, our venue really helped us make our wedding what we wanted it to be. The venue was rustic and with a great deck on a pond (with some wildlife roaming in the background) to have the ceremony.  An outdoor ceremony has such a relaxing vibe. Also, the venue had a few peacocks on the property, which was a huge source of inspiration to me. Peacocks are a big part of Indian culture and so with some creative brainstorming with my mom, it just clicked that the rustic vibe of the Lodge could work with the Indian elements. As a result, I think we ended up with a very warm, modern rustic Indian wedding.

What did you choose to splurge on for the big day? What did you decide to save on?
The few things we knew we wanted to splurge on were our clothes (my dress, his suit), the music (DJ) and photography. We also decided to splurge on having a sit-down, family style dinner of Indian cuisine instead of a buffet, which is typical for Indian weddings. It was important to us to have the elegance of a served meal but we liked the casual vibe of making it family style (which works better for Indian food), and it made it more interactive for the guests. We decided to save on some of the smaller things like favors by taking on those ourselves and also opted for a day of wedding coordinator instead of a full wedding planner.

What were your favorite sources of inspiration for your wedding?
My favorites were definitely the big ones: Style Me Pretty, Martha Stewart Weddings and Project Wedding. For some Indian wedding inspiration, one of my favorite sources was South Asian Bride Magazine.

Would you do anything differently?
While our wedding cake tasted amazing and was one of the most beautiful cakes I have ever seen, I would have definitely cut back on the size of the cake and not assumed everyone eats cake. We had so much left over and we even forgot to cut the groom’s cake.

What advice do you have to Everygirls in the midst of planning their own weddings?
My main advice would be to have fun with the planning part and not be stressed about the little things, which is so much easier said than done. Everyone tells you that no one notices the little details or when something is wrong, except you, and that is so true. When I think back, I stressed over small, minor details, which really did not matter. People are at your wedding because they love you and your fiancé and to have fun. I promise they are not going to notice if the ribbon on one program is tied funny:) Also, along those lines, with all the inspiration out there today with Style Me Pretty and Pinterest, it’s easy to take on way too many DIY projects. Make sure you don’t take on too much and be sure to get help from family and friends. Don’t be afraid to cut back on some projects for your sanity especially since it’s unlikely the only thing you have going on is just wedding planning and you still have your regular life. Also, I was pretty adamant that I would not need a wedding coordinator. But having one really does make a world of difference. If you are on a budget, a day of wedding coordinator is a lifesaver. It was nice to know that along with me and my husband, our families could also relax during the wedding because some else is taking care of things. And last but not least, it’s easy to let wedding planning consume your relationship with your fiancé. Some of the best advice I got during wedding planning was to be sure to have some time with your fiancé where you don’t talk about the wedding!

(Venue: The Lodge at Texas Safari Ranch // Invitations: (Custom Letterpress) Invitations by Ajalon (Our peacock inspired invitation is featured on their web site) // Save the Date post cards: Hello Lucky! // Cake/Mini-Cakes. Groom’s Cake: Cakes By Gina //Flowers: Plants N’ Petals // Décor: Décor to Remember // Food: Gourmet India // Programs, Menus, Table numbers, Chai Tea Favors: DIY //Photographer: Brett Buchanan Photography // Wedding Coordinator (Day of): Marli Couch // Bride’s Shoes: Badgely Mischka //Bride’s Reception Dress: (Custom) Bridal Collections by Stella // Bride’s Ceremony Dress: Palkhi Sarees // Bride’s Jewelry: Govindji’s Jewelers // Groom’s Suit: Carolina Herrera // DJ: DJ Yogi-G // Cocktail Hour Music: Alaap Parikh)