Ruchi & Sudhesh’s Enchanting Cali Wedding Is A Masterclass In Magic
by Raj Desai | 9/19/21
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Scroll to the bottom to see the full vendor list.
Ruchi and Sudhesh’s wedding is SPECTACULAR.
So spectacular, that as I binged my way through their photos and stories, my loud and long squeals of delight successfully annoyed 1 husband, 2 dogs, and 1 toddler (payback, baby!).
What had me riveted, you ask?
It wasn’t just their venue (exquisite), or how incredible and happy Ruchi and Sudhesh looked.
No, what really had hooked was the creativity and thought behind each and every personalized detail. And there are so many!
Hand painted odes to each family’s religion. Displays honoring Ruchi and Sudhesh’s individual passions (books for her, cars for him), and their collective ones (music and The Bachelor).
Beyoncé and Lil Nas X on the sitar. A Harry Potter-themed bridal suite. Even a surprise video that included their guests on their journey as a couple.
After taking it all in, I realized why it felt so captivating.
It wasn’t because of over-the-top or ostentatious decorations (although their décor was on point).
It was that they took parts of their everyday lives as best friends and partners and transformed it into romantic, breathtaking, wedding magic.
Would you expect anything less from a couple that named their cat Kim Klawdashian?! (Best. Name. EVER.)
I may have only witnessed their celebrations via the internet, but even through virtual eyes, I could feel their love and joy radiate like I was a part of the festivities all along.
And now you get to be a part of it too!
Read on to hear from Ruchi about her vision, the highs and lows of wedding planning, and (my favorite) how they personalized their enchanting wedding.
On Their Bachelor-Inspired Engagement
“[Sudhesh] proposed to me in January of 2020.
We both really like watching The Bachelor, so he had a final rose ceremony stage, and rose petals and candles everywhere, and there was a violin player.
And he had my friends there that he eliminated as other contestants. At the end, he brought me up, and then he proposed.
It was very romantic and very us.”
On Kickstarting Wedding Planning
“We started planning the wedding the day of the engagement.
I’m from a very traditional Marwari family. Marwaris are people who hail from Rajasthan, which is a state in India.
Culturally, we don’t believe in long engagements. There was a lot of pressure to just start planning immediately. We literally went to our visit our venue 3 days after we got engaged.
I fell in love with it. It was the only venue I was even interested in, so it was very quick.”
On The Guest Experience
“Sudhesh and I wanted to create a resort feel for our guests cine many of them were flying in from out of town.
Once they checked in, they had nothing to worry about until checking out the morning after the reception. We provided every mean and all the entertainment in between!
We personally don’t like worrying about renting cars, calling Ubers, and drinking [then] driving when we go to weddings, so we wanted to simplify our guest experience.
Hayes also met our criterion of being close to an airport and having tons of experience with Hindu weddings.
Even some of our guests who live in San Jose told us they felt like they were on a getaway vacation!”
On Having A Wedding Vision
“I absolutely had a very specific vision for everything in the wedding. I’m not really one to take a lot of feedback from others. I kind of knew what I wanted and just did everything in my power to make it happen.
[I] definitely used a lot of social media and Pinterest. You know, the reason a lot of Indian weddings look the same is because a lot of the elements do work.
They’re colorful, plenty of food, draping, flowers around the mandap, fancy stage with all the gold trimmings.
A lot of that works, but we wanted to have things that were unique as well.
We made sure none of the food overlapped in our sangeet, wedding, and reception. The colors were all different. For our sangeet we used neon colors, for the ceremony we used pastels and creams, and for our reception we used a lot of gold.”
On Vendors And Products
“We found the products and vendors everywhere. The big ones through our planner, Nupur Behl of Behl Events, and lot of them through Facebook groups.
I joined a million Facebook groups for brides in the Bay area. And that was nice because the vendors we found through those are newer and cheaper.
Source newer vendors, source smaller vendors, give them a chance. Don’t overspend, it’s not worth it.
Don’t fight with your families about wanting something crazy expensive. Do what you want, do what they want, and do what’s sustainable.”
Shopping In India
“I went to India to shop for our wedding and we found a lot of vendors [there].
For example, we knew that we didn’t want to work with a choreographer here for COVID, and it wouldn’t have even been possible because all choreographers were offering just video tutorials. What was even the point of getting one locally?
We used a choreographer based in [Mumbai], and they were incredible to work with and made our sangeet so special.”
“Same with all of our custom illustrations, like our stationery. It’s artists [that] I found over Instagram, and it’s cheaper to have it done in India.
On the girl’s side, we have everyone hotel welcome bags. [They] contained Indian snacks, hot Cheetos and coconut water—which are my favorite 2 snacks—instant Maggi noodle cups, safety pins, bindis. A lot of that was from India. The bags themselves were from India.”
“The good thing about Indian clothes is that there is so much variety, you just can’t go wrong.
Every fabric looks beautiful, every color looks great. From the day Sudhesh proposed to our wedding day, we had maybe 11 different events where I wore Indian clothes.
For every single event, I’m wearing a different color, hairstyle, jewelry, hair piece. The neckline is different. The style is different.
For our sangeet, I wore a big poofy lehnga with silver, and it was sleeveless.”
“For our wedding, I wanted to look very traditional, like a Rajasthani bride, so I had a lehnga custom made with a baraati look on the bottom.
It had embroidery of the groom coming to meet his bride on the sleeves and the bottom of the lehnga. And I had our names and the date of the wedding stitched into the side of the lehnga.”
“For the reception, I wanted to feel like a modern Cinderella. I wanted to wear lavender because I feel like it’s a very underrated color. I had it made in an off-the-shoulder cut.
It was cool to incorporate so much variety across my different looks, which was the most fun for me to put together.”
On Personalized Details
At The Sangeet
“[At] the sangeet we did a color bomb photo shoot. There’s a park across the street from [The Hayes Mansion], and we did a photoshoot there and it turned out beautifully.
We did our ring exchange at the sangeet. Traditionally, Hindus don’t have ring exchange as part of their ceremonies, but in a lot of traditions, like in Marwaris, you actually exchange engagement rings the day before the wedding, at your sangeet.”
“We wanted our sangeet to feel a bit like a music festival.
Yes, you have to sit and watch some formal performances, but most of the evening it was a choose your own adventure between food and live dessert stations, getting your henna done, going to the photo station, and of course the bar and dance floor.”
Hand Painted Ring Platter
“I had a ring platter hand painted with 2 gods that were both special to our families. Lord Jagannath and Khatu Shyam Baba are both our ancestral gods.”
Infusions Of Bollywood
“Each centerpiece we had was a movie reel with a little individual Bollywood poster in it.
And instead of photobooth, we had these giant cardboard posters of popular 90’s Bollywood movies with face cut out of the actors and actresses, and people could pose inside them.”
“[For our sangeet], I picked a Marwari folk song for my solo dance, a nod to my family’s origin.
And I picked an old song by Falguni Pathak, because she was my favorite singer when I was younger. Then I picked a Nikki Minaj song, because she was my favorite artist in high school, and a person who shaped my life.
Sudhesh did a similar thing. He picked a song by PropheC, who’s a Canadian-Indian rapper, which was very cool.
For our couple dances, we really like Punjabi music, we love hip hop, so we made sure to include all those elements.
At our ceremony, we had a sitar player who specializes in playing pop American music. I had my bridesmaids walk in to a Disney song, and I walked in to Beyoncé songs.”
“And our recessional—of course, Sudhesh chose this—he chose ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X. On a sitar, so you can imagine how funny that was!”
“Our last dance of [reception] was chosen by Sudhesh. It was the song ‘Forever’ by Chris Brown because we both love The Office.”
“During one of my dances with my bridesmaids, I had these little face covers made for us to hold. They had my face, Sudhesh’s face, and our cat’s face on them and people loved it.
We also had a cool photo booth where they made a custom animation of us and our cat.
It’s weird to incorporate a cat into an Indian wedding, but we tried to have her everywhere we could.
I had a picture of her in my mehndi.”
“I also had Harry Potter in my mehndi, which is special to me. We did a lot of Harry Potter elements.
My bridal suite was decorated with a “Muggle to Mrs.” theme. [We had] all the 4 Hogwarts houses’ banners, and I had a champagne bottle painted that says ‘Felix Felicis’ on it, which is liquid luck.”
“We are a COVID couple, so we took funny pictures with clinking Corona bottles and one wearing Dulha-Dulhan masks.
We had hand sanitizers on each seat in the ceremony. We gave individual packets of nuts instead of rationing it from a large bag like people normally do, and tried our best to make it as safe as possible.”
"Surprise, we eloped!"
“At our reception, we surprised our guests with a little elopement video.
We legally got married a year before our wedding, exactly a year, and not a lot of our guests knew.
We kind of shocked them with the video of the day we eloped. Most people reacted well, but it was definitely a surprise to everyone.”
“One that that was personal to me is I love Disney. My shoes were a replica of Cinderella’s glass slippers, and we took a few photos where I posed, I was losing my slipper and Sudhesh put it on my feet.”
A Magical Reception
“During our reception, we had an acapella group, UC Berkelely Dil Se, to sing and we handpicked all the songs.
On every single place setting, we had a ‘thank you’ note to our guests. I feel like in an Indian wedding you feel like a number, and even though it was the same ‘thank you’ note, we wanted to give gratitude to our guests.
Outside of the dance floor, [because] not everyone likes dancing, we had an ice cream cart come with 6 different flavors, some Indian and some regular.”
On The After Party
“One aspect from our wedding that meant a lot to Sudesh and I was the after party.
Our hotel had a speakeasy bar that was used during the Prohibition era. We were able to rent it out to have an after party with our friends.
There were no decorations, no pictures. It was just a time for us to get away from all that and have very natural moments with our friends, most of [whom] traveled very, very far to see us.
We didn’t have to entertain anyone, we could really just be ourselves and it was really special.”
Ruchi's Advice To You
“For newly engaged couples, [your] decorator is going to want to advise you to pick what he already has in his inventory and what he’s already done. You don’t need to abide by that.
Come up with your own vision using social media or Pinterest and present it to them. Work with vendors who will make your vision happen. They are out there.
Take inspiration from India. It’s baffling to me how a lot of brides here follow vendors based in America.
Go directly to the source, see what’s hot there. Their trends are months, or even years ahead of ours. Connect with your family about the cool stuff they see.
Make It Authentic To You
Think about what’s important to you. Do you have a pet? Do you have a fandom that you really like? Do you have a passion?
Sudhesh is passionate about cars, so he was excited to pick his baraat car. He didn’t want to come in on a horse, he wanted to come in on a luxury car because that’s his thing. And he did.
We also had a display table in front of our ceremony that had toy cars and books, because I love books. One side has cars, one side had books on love.
That was a cheap, easy way that we personalized [the wedding]. It doesn’t have to be a whole thing, it can be something small.”
Bridal hair and makeup | @msutra_bride
Bridesmaid hair | @hairbynoemi
Bridesmaid hair and makeup | @restlessbeautymua
Bridesmaid makeup | @thegourgeous
Mehndi, bridal | @fancyhenna
Mehndi, guest | @hennastylebyarati
Chair rentals | @finelinenecreations
Dance floor, chair rentals | @gneventrental
Dance floor wraps | @tfdzn
Decorator | @svdesignrentals
Lighting | @deejaygagan
Photographer | @tigerleonphotography
Planner | @behlevents
Priest | @nilesh_pandyaji
Venue | @hayesmansion
Videographer | @ikhanicproductions
Bridal | sangeet @misakeepalace | ceremony, reception @gangorebridalstudio
Bridesmaids | @madfashionsmumbai
Groom | @saripalace
Groomsmen | @saripalace
Bridal bouquet | @floretbeginnings
Choreography | @dancewithdp
Signage | @specialmomentscanvas
Stationery | @artofabira
Content strategist and UX writer who’s been researching and writing about weddings for 5 years. Addicted to Netflix, dirty martinis, and naps.