Arati and Chandan’s wedding at Vintage Estate in Yountville is such a beautiful blend of vibrant Indian wedding traditions and classic wine country ambience. From the bride’s fuchsia lengha, to the elegant cocktail seating area, to the mix of hanging metal lanterns over the bridal party table, this is one of those weddings that we just can’t take our eyes off of!
“Before our engagement, we took a trip to Napa Valley together and discovered the charming town of Yountville. We observed a wedding taking place at the nearby Vintage Estate and thought to ourselves how wonderful it would be to get married in such a beautiful outdoor setting. Vintage Estate has a rustic-chic, vintage feel reminiscent of Tuscany, and Napa is renowned for its fine wine and culinary culture, for which we, as a couple, share a profound passion. About a year later we got engaged, and we knew that we wanted the week of festivities to take place in a setting that would offer natural and peaceful beauty and good food. California wine country was perfect for us, and we looked forward to sharing it with our loved ones and making memories with them in a place that already had such deep meaning for us as a couple.”
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? Indian weddings are filled with pre-wedding rituals and celebrations that continue for several days. The day of our nuptials was preceded by a week of festivities that included mehndi (henna) application for all the ladies in the bridal party and an intimate outdoor mehndi party at the beautiful and picturesque Brix Restaurant & Gardens for all of my closest and dearest girlfriends. The vibrant colors of cocktail dresses combined with mehndi designs, colored glitter, and (after much vino) some fun Bollywood dance moves, made for some great photographs and memories. Our families also took part in the Haldi ritual, a fun and traditional gathering filled with music and chanting in which items such as turmeric and betel nuts are used to wish the couple good luck, prosperity, and beauty. This is meant to be a beautification process before the big day.
Tell us about your beautiful jewelry? Something old: My mother-in-law gifted me with a family heirloom: a gold necklace and earring set that her mother-in-law had gifted her on her wedding day, which I will pass on in the family one day as well. // Something new: Wedding jewelry from my parents. A wedding band and a mangalsutra (black and gold beaded diamond necklace), tied around my neck by my husband at the end of the wedding ceremony. Chooda (green bangles) and silver toe rings, which hold special significance in Maharashtrian Indian weddings and represent marital status. // Something borrowed: Gold jewelry pieces to wear during the various wedding festivities of the week. // Something blue: The Carrie Bradshaw-inspired, satin blue, Cinderella-like Manolos, which I wore during one of the wedding festivities of the week.
“The wedding ceremony was preceded by a traditional baraat (groom’s procession) – my groom looked like a true Mughal prince as he rode on a white horse (named Fabio), followed by his entourage dancing to the rhythm of the dhol (two-headed Indian drum) through the historic V Marketplace to the ceremonial mandap, where members of my family waited to greet and welcome them.”
“It was important for us to include a touch of our own style and individuality while still honoring our Indian heritage and traditional Hindu rituals. Thanks to the creative talents of our design vendors, we were able to transform Vintage Estate’s beautiful wedding arbor/gazebo into a picture-perfect Hindu mandap with simple white drapings, strands of white flowers and foliage, and vintage furniture pieces, complete with a fire pit, deities, and all other items required to perform a Hindu marriage ceremony.”
Your ceremony in three words. Colorful, festive, heartfelt.
What was your ceremony music? The processional included various musical segments. My nieces, the flower girls, were accompanied down the aisle by my brother-in-law while “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole) played. My sister and sister-in-law, the bridesmaids, walked down the aisle to the song “Tere Bina” (A.R. Rahman). My husband loves the sound of the bagpipe, so we decided to hire a professional to play Highland Cathedral as my father walked me down the aisle. Friends and family members hymned mangalashtakas or blessings during various parts of the wedding ceremony, and the wedding party danced to “Feel So Close” (Calvin Harris) at the recessional.
Who officiated your ceremony? A well-known Hindu Pandit in the northern California Maharashtrian Indian community officiated our marriage ceremony and led us through the symbolic customs and rituals.
Tell us about some of your ceremony traditions. The Pandit recited mantras to auspiciously solemnize the wedding. A holy fire, or Agni, was lit to symbolize purity and to serve as a divine witness to the vows that we recited in Sanskrit to express our expectations and aspirations for one another. As each vow was uttered, Akshata (rice grains/flower petals) representing the blessings of our parents and other well-wishers were showered upon us. This was followed by the Mangalphera ceremony (circling the holy fire), which symbolized our walk together in life on a path toward mutual goals, and seven symbolic steps that represented oaths of Strength and Courage, Prosperity, Happiness, Good Health and Longevity, Mutual Love and Affection, Progeny, and Everlasting Friendship and Companionship.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? I wanted to honor the spiritual presence of my brother on this special day. My brother had the most amazing drawing skill. The cover of our program book was a sketch that he had created of Lord Ganesha, a god of beginnings who is typically honored at the start of rituals and ceremonies.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? The days and hours leading up to the ceremony were filled with hectic activity and attention to last-minute details, but as my groom and I at last stood together under the mandap, the afternoon breeze from the valley brought with it a beautiful sense of calm and serenity. It was an incredible feeling to stand before our family and friends who had gathered on the beautiful green lawn to bear witness to one of the most important days in our lives.
“We wanted our wedding to be a true reflection of us as individuals and as a couple. We wanted to complement the natural and rustic charm of the grounds with details that were simple, elegant, and meaningful, with a touch of the far East.”
How would you describe your reception? Magical. Al fresco dining on the pavilion. The cocktail reception included vintage furniture pieces, hanging tea lights, mercury glass votives, and white floral arrangements. For dinner, long farm tables were left exposed and decorated with clusters of lanterns, hurricane vases, and votives in mixed metallics and mercury glass, as well as flowers submerged in small cylinders. Intricate lanterns added a far-East flair that melded seamlessly with the other elements. While our guests dined under the stars, the wedding party sat under an umbrella of suspended lanterns.
“We, along with some members of our families and some guests, changed from Indian attire to western formalwear for the reception,” says Arati. “I chose a full-length, form-fitting, vintage-inspired wedding gown made of lace and crystals to complement the ambiance of the night. My groom looked dashing in his steel blue suit.”
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Hire a videographer to capture the details and relive the special moments of the day. Relax and enjoy every minute.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Don’t feel obligated to invite everyone. This is your day and it should be shared with the people who know you the best and are important to you in your life. Stick to your vision and focus on making it an unforgettable and memorable occasion.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? Absolutely not – we saw our vision come to life. It was a magical day for us that we will keep in our hearts and cherish for a lifetime. Our vision could never have been a reality without the support of our family and friends and the wonderful “dream team” of talented individuals that we were so grateful to have the opportunity to work with.
What was your first dance song? Our first dance song was “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green. We chose to coordinate the father/daughter and mother/son dance side-by-side, to “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.
What was your wedding menu? Our guests received personalized menus in ivory and gold calligraphy. Each course offered a true California-Mediterranean culinary experience using the freshest local ingredients. Instead of a signature cocktail we offered beer and local wine.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We called it a night with a “perfect ending” complete with a Perfect Endings cake dressed with green ferns, foliage, and white flowers that complemented our wedding ceremony haars (garlands). The cake was made with rounds of café mocha, red velvet, and my absolute favorite, lemon poppy seed.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Making our grand entrance as husband and wife and hearing the heartfelt speeches given by our family members and close friends.
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. After dinner, we made our way to the Barrel Room. The entryway was lined with an assortment of lanterns and votives, while the inside of the Barrel Room was decorated with warm amber lighting, small votives, and lounges created from vintage furniture pieces. This is where we had our first dance and father/daughter and mother/son dances. We danced into the early hours of the morning to a mix of music from the 80s and 90s, popular Bollywood songs, and, of course, the groom’s all time favorite, Ska music. He had a great time “skanking” with his closest buddies when his uber-talented friend surprised everyone by rocking out his trumpet and coordinating a few famous Ska tracks with our DJ.