Deepika + Alex
Alex and I met on a late Wednesday night at a common friend's get together at the Harvard & Stone in Hollywood four years ago. We talked for three hours when he invited me to go see his friend's band, Grizzly Bear, play that Saturday night. Towards the end of the night he casually mentioned when he graduated high school and I realized he was younger than me, so my first thought was, "That is the end of that." Because of the (not so serious) two year age difference (that I for some reason made too big of a deal about), I cancelled our first date on the day of and told him I forgot I had a dinner to attend. Thankfully he persisted and my girlfriends convinced me that the age thing was stupid to worry about and I finally succumbed.
I think what made things different is that he is the first person I dated that had such a high self-awareness. Our disagreements and most conversations in general were much easier and smoother because he's able to look within instead of not taking responsibility. He is the perfect combination of creative and passionate and rational and stable for me. He proposed in February and orchestrated a big surprise party with all of our friends and family back at our spot, the Harvard & Stone. My parents were in India and he had them fly in for it. It was the best night of my life, surrounded by everyone we love. It just felt so magical.
I've always wanted an Indian wedding. I assumed it would be somewhere in the desert in Northern India but we got married in my beautiful hometown of Palos Verdes at The Terranea. I had envisioned a small wedding growing up but in the end we had a big fat HindJew (Hindu + Jewish) wedding, a week-long traditional Indian wedding with meaningful Jewish traditions to honor Alex's late father. It was by no means small. Our reception was a sit down dinner for 900. Planning this felt very daunting at first and not what either of us wanted, as we really were doing it for our families, but having all our family and friends from around the globe come to California to celebrate with us was the best feeling in the world.
Our wedding took place around various places in Palos Verdes. We had a traditional henna party, two very traditional and crazy fun Punjabi dance party nights, a few ceremonies, a welcome dinner, the wedding ceremony, and the reception. We had around 400 guests at our wedding ceremony. It was all done in true Northern Indian tradition.
The night before the wedding there is a very turned up Indian party called a Sangeet. We had the best time. All of Alex's groomsmen (none of which are Indian) did an Indian dance and my girlfriends did a Bollywood dance. The best surprise was when Alex got up and took the mic and sang my favorite childhood Indian Bollywood love song. He sang to me in Hindi in front of 500 guests. There was not a dry eye in the audience. My father was bawling. After the Indian food, and a live performance by very talented hit pop Bollywood singer, Kanika Kapoor (think Britney Spears of India), everyone ate In-N-Out.
It was a stunning ceremony. Alex came in on an adorned white horse with his friends, family, a DJ, and Indian drum players who all danced towards the ceremony site, which is called the "Baraat." My friends and family welcomed them and the two sides exchanged gifts and hugs to symbolically get married before we did. Our groomsmen, bridesmaids, and I entered the ceremony site in classic cars from the 1920s and 30s.
I got my hair and makeup done for what seems like a large portion of the whole week. The day of the wedding my grandmother helped me get ready. Alex's best man was his brother and the rest of his groomsmen he had grown up with. He had the most classy Indian jackets made for all of them in India and they all looked so handsome. I had a special saffron turban made for Alex in Rajasthan, India. They tie it in this specific way in the royal courts there, so I had someone drive there and get it done and ship it to me. I designed each of my bridesmaids' custom Indian garments to match their style and all in the same shade of red. Alex and I wore hand-embroidered Indian cloths made by the most coveted Indian designers, Sabyasachi and Rohit Bal.
I didn't want to walk on rose petals so I designed the aisle and the ceremony site; it was inspired by the fabrics of Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino. I was given away by my brothers. They walked me towards my grandfather underneath the cloth my mother got married in and then my grandfather and I walked down the aisle to "Little Wing" by Jimi Hendrix. My father received me and brought me into the traditional Indian Mandap. We got married by three Hindu priests who chanted beautiful mantras and connected us with a special cloth and led us around a sacred fire. We then had a close mentor and friend lead us through some Hebrew vows under a homemade chuppah. It was very emotional, personal, and intimate.
Our reception was a little bit of a surprise ode to my husband. I designed it with "Tender Is The Night" and F. Scott Fitzgerald in mind. I had one of our favorite Fitzgerald quotes inscribed on the dance floor. It was a very opulent, sensual, enchanting, and romantic evening.
There were huge crystal chandeliers and the room was filled with floral chandeliers and candles. My mom and I customized the menu because we didn't want wedding food. We had Algerian chermoula chicken and cardamon dusted sea bass. We had an awesome live ten piece local band and a DJ from Dubai. We had a sort of dark romance first dance to "Without You" by Harry Nilsson and "Talk Show Host" by Radiohead, lifts, spins and all.
It truly was the best week of our lives. Most of our friends and family have told us that it's hard for the actual bride and groom to truly enjoy the wedding but we had the most fun we had ever had in our lives and we're already having wedding withdrawals. Everyone says to try and take it all in and notice the little details because it goes so fast. I planned the entire wedding week myself with the help of my superhuman mom and dad who helped me execute it all. I was so busy designing each card and pillow and tablecloth and fork I wasn't able to really enjoy the process of just being engaged and getting married until afterwards. Even though I made it a point to be super mindful during the week, I wish I even did that further. I know it sounds silly but, I also wish I took pictures with my own phone/camera.
In the end though, we have gotten so much feedback from our family and friends about how intimate the entire week felt. Everyone said they had the best time. It was much more than we could have ever dreamt of.
Photography, Stories by Joseph Radhik