No introduction, I’m going straight over to Briona (the bride) to tell us her epic love story in her own words!
I’m Briona Arradondo from Atlanta, Georgia, and my husband (yay!) is Nimit Patel from Wilmington, Delaware. We are an interracial, interfaith couple with a unique twist to our love story and wedding day, so I think our wedding would be a perfect fit on Secret Wedding Blog. We met at Berry College and were best friends for a couple of years before it grew into something more. And we’ve been in a long-distance relationship for nearly 8 years due to the nature of our jobs.
Nimit proposed to me in June 2015 while we were on a Caribbean cruise. It was the second day on the ship, and he found a photo booth. Photo strips have always been our thing. Well, he asked in my ear “Will you marry me?” on the last photo, and I said “yes?” with a question in my voice. We had always talked about getting married and knew what our life plan looked like. Luckily for him, the photos didn’t turn out great, so he suggested retaking them. This time, he held the ring up in front of my face and I started laughing and said “Are you serious?!” We both had a great laugh about it and that second strip of photos was a keeper.
Since we’ve been a non-traditional couple from the start, we had to keep the streak going – so we eloped! We met halfway between our cities more than 250 miles apart, and a tiny group of family and close friends witnessed our legal union in November 2015. After we got married “our way,” we decided to plan an Indian fusion wedding for our families. We held our wedding in Douglasville, Georgia on June 30, 2017 at the Centre at Arbor Connection. It was a typical southern summer (it down poured for 30 minutes cancelling our downtown Douglasville shoot!), but our wedding photographer Cameron Flaisch, of Cameron Flaisch Photography, is a creative genius, and he was able to deliver stunning photos using what was already in our venue space, keeping us all dry.
Hindu and Christian ceremonies
We had two ceremonies, a traditional Hindu ceremony immediately followed by a Christian ceremony. Since I was marrying into a Gujarati Indian family, I wanted to make sure we included all of the important details into the wedding, but I had to account for our non-Indian guests who aren’t used to a wedding that lasts for DAYS. So we abbreviated the Hindu ceremony, keeping the most important elements. That was the most challenging part of the wedding planning process. We didn’t want the Hindu ceremony to last more than an hour and a half, and I had to make sure the programs detailed the different parts of ceremony so our non-Indian guests understood what was happening in the mandap. We had a 30-minute break between ceremonies to change, and you can see in our photos that it took a village for me!
Easiest part of wedding planning
The easiest part of the wedding planning process was the seating chart. We were able to easily divide up our families among tables of 8 people, and we mixed up the placement in the hall so our families intermingled. Luckily for us, we have a great group of friends, so the non-family tables were a combination of people we felt would get along well.
My Indian wedding gown was from a shop at Global Mall in Atlanta, and my white dress was from David’s Bridal Boutique in Buckhead. My bridesmaids’ sarees were from a website called indianweddingsaree.com. Nimit’s Indian suit was from a website called cbazaar.com, and his tuxedo was from Men’s Warehouse. His groomsmen’s suits were also from cbazaar.com.
Colours and theme
I decided to focus on the colors and feel of the wedding décor rather than a particular theme, so I chose gold, coral/peach and pink. It suited the fun atmosphere we wanted and the time of year as well. The venue took care of everything from the chairs to the food and drinks. My family pitched in to create what I wanted for the centerpieces and other details like the seating chart. We hired an Atlanta-area mandap designer, Vandana Décor, along with Zach Veatch Photo and Video for our videography, and Arman Sayyar of JADJ Services handled our ceremony and reception music. I used a local flower shop for my bouquet and the bridesmaids’ bouquets.
Favourite part of the day
My favorite part of the day was by far the reception. We were able to relax and enjoy the company of our friends and family who traveled a long way (some internationally!) to be there with us that day. It meant the world to us. The DJ kept the beats flowing after our choreographed first dance, and the bar made sure the spirits didn’t stop. A lot of people stayed until the end of the night, and I often wish we could have had an extra hour to soak it all in.
Is it harder to plan a wedding when you’re from different faiths or cultures?
I definitely think it’s harder to plan a wedding when the couple comes from different faiths AND different cultures. I spent countless hours browsing Pinterest, Instagram, wedding blogs and more searching for multi-cultural weddings, but none came with a blueprint to follow. That’s when I realized that we would have to make it our own. We had the best wedding possible to honor both of our families, and I wouldn’t change a thing – except the stress I experienced during that planning process.
Advice for multicultural couples planning a wedding
I have three pieces of advice for multi-cultural couples planning a wedding. The most valuable piece of advice is having a clear vision of what you want out of your wedding day. Don’t let outside influences from parents or future in-laws deter what you both want. We dealt with a lot of opinions, criticism and feedback. We took it all in, and kept what we agreed with and discarded the rest.
Then, I would advise couples to make sure you communicate your vision for the day with everyone involved. We had a coordinator, venue managers, photographer, videographer, DJ, religious officiants and parents who needed to clearly understand the timeline and expectations of a dual-ceremony wedding. If Nimit and I weren’t constantly in communication with all of those people, misunderstandings and mishaps would have definitely happened. And finally, take a moment to enjoy the day while you can! The months leading up to the day WILL be stressful and test your patience. But it’s worth it because it brings your families and friends together to celebrate your union.