My Best Friend’s Indian Wedding

Ten years ago I moved in with a complete stranger – one with a name I wasn’t even certain how to pronounce.  We knew nothing about each other and only talked once before setting out with our families to find a place to live.  We settled in a borderline ghetto apartment off the campus of the University of South Carolina – right up the street from a homeless center (whose residents we would one day meet at our door).  If our surroundings weren’t going to take us out, our lack-of-homemaking skills were certainly enough to leave our families fearing for our survival.  But somehow, like all college students, we learned to live.

The moments after our parents pulled away, the very first few we had alone, set the stage for what turned out to be an unbreakable bond.  We had a super small box TV with limited reception.  The only thing on was a Richard Simmons exercise video.  So we did what any strangers would do – we looked at each other, got up, and starting sweating with the oldies.  From there the rest was history.  Barkha became the little sister I never had, though all too often, she was so much wiser than I.

We used to talk about the weddings we would one day have.  As a first generation here is the states, her plan was to return to her parents’ homeland of India when that day came.  But, time changes everything.  A few years back, she met an amazing Indian man with a huge personality and name that could not be more fitting for a person who always seems to have a smile on his face – Sunny.

Instead of making the trip to India for their nuptials, Barkha and Sunny brought their traditions, celebrations and family to Florence, South Carolina, for an unbelievable three-day, 5-outfit changes, event.

The first night is the henna tattoo night, or Mendi.  On this night we learned never again to ask an Indian, “Is this spicy?”  Their anwser will likley be no but if you’re brave enough to try, make sure you’ve got a bottle of water (or five) on hand.

Outfit Details: This maxi was a Black Friday deal from Instagram – just $10!

The next morning was the Manglik Prasango – it’s essentially a pre-wedding ceremony filled with prayers and activities that purify and cleanse the bride and groom (their events are held separately).  A turmeric power mixture was spread on Barkha’s face and arms via family members.  The yellow dress she’s wearing has to be discarded afterwards; she can never wear it again, even as beautiful as it is!

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Outfit Details: Adrianna Papell dress retailed at $189 and found at Belk after-season clearance for $35. Jewelery set just $6 from Burlington. 

Later that evening was Garba Raas.  For hours upon hours, guests dance in a circular formation to a series of synchronized steps.  I was able to wear a traditional Indian outfit that night but as if my blonde hair didn’t say “I’m not Indian enough,” the fact that I took out a row of chairs because I was not used to the shawl definitely made it clear!

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Outfit details: Big Buddha Bag (retails for $79) found at Hamrick’s for only $30.

The big day came on Saturday and if you think a Catholic wedding is long, it has nothing on an Indian wedding.  The ceremony started at 10:30 a.m. with Sunny making his way to the Civic center with a majestic white horse among family and friends singing and dancing; the whole shebang ended around 2:00.

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Outfit Details: This amazing three-piece set was handmade in India and given to us as a gift from the bride. 

By the time evening rolled around, it was time to party – and man can those Indians party!

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Outfit details: No special deal on this Cachet dress but sometimes you’ve just got to splurge. The Jessica Simpson Beryl Glitter Platform sandals were on clearance at Dillards for $35, but you can find them still at Lord & Taylor for $53. The rose gold earrings also came from a clearance rack at Dillards, just $7. 

From start to finish, this was one of the coolest experiences of my life but the best part was seeing two incredible, genuine, driven, insert any other positive attributes you can think of here, begin the next chapter of their lives together.

Bridal Brigade: Showering our Bride with Love

All the planning, crafting and 57 lb suitcase carrying paid off during my best friend’s bridal shower. The party turned out better than we could have ever expected.

We hosted the shower at a local restaurant. It was a private setting and the staff was super to attentive to us the entire time – through set-up, during the event, and after it was over.  The layout was ideal, too.

Decor

Instead of spending money on decorations that would simply be tossed out after the event, or buying a gift from the registry, I decided to work/shop with a dual purpose in mind: make or purchase items that Diana could use for the wedding or in her future home.  Luckily, their house colors will be the same as the wedding colors!  We were also able to reuse a good chunk of the decor we bought for the bachelorette party.

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For the “What do you love most about our bride?” activity, we asked the groom to share five things he loves most about his bride-to-be (written on the black hearts).  Then each bridesmaid, along with the mother-of-the-bride and future mother-in-law, wrote one thing they love most about her.  Blank cards were available for guests to share their thoughts as well.
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Each guest was asked to share a bit of love advice for the soon-to-be newlywed couple.  Then, each week during the first year of their marriage, Matt and Di will be tasked with opening up one heart, reading the advice, and making it a point to abide by whatever that particular message guides them to do.

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The bottom of the gift table was lined with pictures of Di’s early years (and boy were there some gems in the collection!).

2015-07-25 13.21.39One of the bridesmaid put together this incredible wedding dress cupcake compilation.  Looks like something a culinary professional designed (with a heavy price tag).  She did such an amazing job on it.

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Some of the bridesmaids put together these awesome centerpieces as well.  The faux flowers were laid on a bed of diamonds and illuminated by a changing color light.

2015-07-25 15.49.31We brought back props from the bachelorette and set-up a photo booth that was put to good use.  The frame was a fun addition, but also something the couple will be able to use in their new home.

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Games

We kicked the party off with an ice breaker. Each guest was handed a card with a name on it – 1/2 of a famous couple.  They were tasked with finding their soulmate.  Of course, Matt and Diana cards were included!

ice breakerWhile everyone was eating, we played a round of bridal trivia.  Tables were broken up into teams of five and everyone had to compete in the categories of wedding songs, wedding movies and general wedding knowledge.  Ironically enough, it came down to a tie between the Mother-of-the-Bride and the future Mother-in-Law.  They had to duke it out over tie breaker Q’s about their son and daughter.  In the end, the MIL team brought home the prize.

Next up was the “Nearly Wed” game.  In advance of the party, we asked Matt to answer a few questions and then Diana had to guess his responses.  For each one wrong, the poor girl with lock jaw had to put another stick of bubble gum in her mouth (I’m a horrible friend).  Luckily she knows him pretty well after 10+ years!  We gave guests a copy of the questions so that they could play along, too.

The ladies also played a bridal scratch off and two lucky winners got to bring home a prize.  While the bride-to-be opened up gifts, guests had to follow along and mark off items from the gift registry Diana received that matched up to their cards.  The first two winners scored a Bath & Body Works candle.  Gift bows were handled off to one of Di’s ridiculously talented friends, who created this masterpiece (the groom even got in on the action):

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It was absolutely amazing day celebrating an even more amazing person. Can’t wait until we get to stand by this girl’s side!

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My Best Friend’s Bachelorette Bash

As I prepare for my best friend’s bridal shower I realized that I still haven’t posted the rest of the deets from her amazing bachelorette party in Asheville, NC.

After arriving at the cabin in the woods, Catherine, the bride’s little sis and co-MOH, made a delicious steak and pirogi dinner – Diana’s favorite!  We quickly scarfed it down and headed to the first surprise adventure of the weekend.

DSCN1129cheersA childhood friend who now resides in Asheville recommended the LaZoom Comedy Bus Tour.  The regular tours run throughout the day and at night, it switches over to haunted comedy ride.  Sounds a little abstract, I know, but this was the funnniest thing I have experienced in ages.  We could not stop laughing the entire time.  You can bring wine and beer on the bus and while that sounds like an awesome idea, it turns into a terrible one after all the laughing you’ll do!

LazoomBusAfter the LaZoom tour, we hit the down.  One of Asheville’s most notable attractions is the Friday night drum circle.  Upon arrival, we couldn’t tell if we were witnessing a scene from True Blood or one of the coolest things ever.  We jumped right in.  When in Rome, right?

drum2drumThe best word I can use to describe the city of Asheville is eclectic.  It was a mix of everything artsy, natural, hipster and southern.

The next morning started off with brunch at Posana; the place was on-point.  There was a whole lot of food envy going on at the table because each meal looked better than the next.

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brunchBrunchIt was time to burn off the calories after brunch, so we headed over to Di’s next surprise: Asheville’s Amazing Pub Cycle. And amazing is the best way to describe it.  We followed that up with a PYT serenade by street performers and more day drinking at Wicked Weed Brewing.

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brew2To keep pace (and survive), we headed back to the cabin to relax for a bit before venturing back down town that night.  At the recommendation of our local friend, we ordered in via Gourmet Valet; you can choose between more than 60 restaurant options and they deliver it right to you.  We did a quick online search for a coupon and got 20% off.  After we were ready, the first stop was the Piano Bar where Diana got another serenade on stage.

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DSCN1078I made last fling ring/checklist for Di out of a wreath Styrofoam, spray paint, paper and glitter.  The front said “List of last acts before you become Matt’s” and with a little participation from the groom, the back said “Do these things one more time before you become mine.”  She had to carry it around all night and check off the actions like take a picture w/a stranger using the selfie stick, take a pic w/another bride and hand a guy a note that says, “Call me, maybe?”

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A night like Saturday called for a homemade brunch at the cabin.  Since most of the trip was a surprise, we wanted to give Diana a say in the festivities for Sunday so we gave her a few options in the form of an infographic (yes, I take planning too far).

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She selected a lazy cruise down the river via Zen Tubing.  It was such a relaxing experience…until the thunderstorm came.

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For our last dinner, we ate at Corner Kitchen.  It’s where President Obama ate on his trip to the city!

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di an iThe weekend wound down with an evening of games and wine.  We played one game where Di had to guess which sexy item came from whom, and I’m now questioning her friendship because she didn’t know the Jessica Simpson PJs came from me!  We also played a really fun ladies night card game where someone reads the descriptor (something like who would be most likely to survive in the wilderness) and then all the girls name the bridesmaid that fits best.  I’m also questioning my friendships after the cards I got! 😉

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DSCN1125Just two more months to go until the big day!

Wedding Wear

As a late 20-something (milking every bit of that phrase for the next 350+days), weddings are a frequent occurrence – especially this time of year.  That means a combo of all things I love: celebrating the beginning of my friends’ next chapter in life, ID’ing the perfect dress to fit the occasion and finding only the best deal on the attire.

Over the weekend I watched two of my very best friends exchange vows along the bank of the York River.  The only thing more beautiful than the scenic view was the love between these two.  With a beach theme and primary color of orange, coral seemed like the perfect color complement and that meant I FINALLY got to break out one of my best all-time buys.

During Belk’s season-end sale (one of the most prime times to lock in killer deals on last-season spring/summer dresses), I found this beautiful Trina Turk coral lace dress, lined with a nude underlay. Retailing for $298, the dress was reduced to $138, then $70 – and because of the sale, an extra 50% off.  Just THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS for an amazing designer dress.  I paired the dress with a turquoise drop necklace, earrings and bracelet from Charming Charlie.

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