“My husband, raised in the Midwest, was accustomed to more intimate, family-style settings and the laid-back countryside. Whereas my South Indian upbringing consisted of large gatherings, festive dances, and vibrant colors. Casey and I wanted both of our very different cultures to be celebrated. When we started the initial stages of planning, we realized this would be a lot harder than we thought.”
Casey and Rushmi’s wedding at The Laurel was a seamless flow of American tradition and Indian tradition, all equally beautiful, thoughtful and perfect for the day. Rushmi was kind enough to share their wedding story with us and how — even though it was a challenge at the start — they were able to find creative ways to incorporate details and traditions to represent their two distinct cultures. Enjoy!
Casey and I met July 2015 at our first job out of college at AT&T. I was sitting in an auditorium with 30 other college-graduate, new-hires and [the program director] ended his lecture with a statement that made me look up in disbelief. "Who knows, you might even find your spouse here at AT&T." Yeah, right, I thought. Never in a million years.
Casey and I saw each other at work every day, and our relationship progressed quickly. A week after meeting, he asked me out on a date. A month after that, he asked me to be his girl. Right off the bat, I could tell he was an incredible guy. But what struck me the most was his faith and morals. He proposed the following year, during a road trip to Oklahoma, and we had our wedding exactly two years from the day we met.
During the ceremony, we partook in two Indian customs that Syrian Christians of Kerala often practice: the tying of the minne and the covering of the manthrakodi.
The minne (pronounced Min-eh) is a leaf shaped pendant, with 7 beads placed on the leaf to form a holy cross. The necklace is made up of 7 strands of thread taken from the manthrakodi, or wedding saree, and tied around the bride’s neck by the groom on the day of their marriage. Seven represents the bride, the groom, the couple’s parents, and the Church. It also represents the 7 gifts of the holy spirit. The priest gives the minne to the groom who ties it around the bride's neck indicating they are now a couple, the lifelong inseparable bond of marriage. The groom will tie the minne for the bride in the aankettu, or the male-knot (which is almost impossible to unknot) and not in any other way, as it indicates the unbreakable bond.
The manthrakodi (pronounced Munthra-godi) means "blessed new cloth" and is the special name given to the sari which the bride is given just after the groom ties the minne. The priest takes the manthrakodi from the table, and he and the groom cover the bride’s head with it. This symbolizes the promise of protection from the groom.
With the ceremony and reception at the same place, I wanted to give both settings a different look-and-feel. We used earthy hues (blush, sage, and ivory) for the ceremony to capture a serene afternoon, and vibrant summer colors (fuschia, orange, and purple) with heavy influences of Indian decor for the night reception.
I wanted to be sure that the various elements I brought in would complement the rustic-feel that came with The Laurel. This was achieved through drapery around the chairs and cedar beams, a bright "saree" layer to a naked cake, cafe lights in the patio, and an intricate backdrop without a stage to preserve the intimate ambience. To complete the look, my mom adorned the mantles with wooden letters, lanterns, and brightly colored flowers.
The Magnolia and Pecan suites were spacious and beautifully decorated, making it both an entertaining and relaxing place to get ready. Literally, my Laurel event-coordinator took care of everything the second I stepped in the suite. I simply loved the idea of being around my favorite women as we were getting dolled up in our robes, dancing to music, snacking and popping champagne!
For Casey, it was just knowing the group of guys that knew him best were all in the same room, cherishing that moment alongside him.
I loved starting off the reception with live praise and worship music. My brother compiled some of our favorite Christian songs, and it was a great way to take a second in the midst of all the chaos to give thanks and unite all our family and friends under the one thing that brought Casey and me together — our faith.
The dancing was also a highlight, as that has been such a huge part of my life. My first dance with Casey was a mix of Bollywood and country songs which we absolutely loved preparing for. My dad and I choreographed a ballroom sequence for our father-daughter dance, and it was such a cool opportunity teaching him.
My friends also volunteered to put on amazing performances, and just seeing everyone on the dance floor at the very end having the time of their life was so surreal. It made every bit of wedding planning worthwhile!
There were several times of prayer that I vividly remember. I was so teary-eyed (okay fine, crying) each time, because I was reminded that I’m partaking in a life-changing milestone far bigger than myself.
Walking towards Casey’s car with mini fireworks all around us was a dream come true. It was a priceless moment waving back at our friends and family as they showered us with love and support. Casey and I would glance over at each other in relief, knowing that our day was coming to a close, but that it was just the beginning of our new lives.
Planning this wedding was my favorite project. My family and I took the reigns because we were so excited to tackle the challenge of integrating our cultures and redefining the norms. It was also nowhere near possible without the help of our relatives, friends, church community, and a ton of prayer! Also a big thanks goes towards The Laurel team for being so welcoming and accommodating at every step of the process.
Thank you, Rushmi and Casey, for choosing The Laurel and sharing your most special day with us. We wish you the very best in all the many beautiful days to come!
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