A Traditional Indian Wedding in Virginia's Picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains
Ronita and Ryan met in college in 2011. They had multiple classes together—they now both work in finance—and one day, Ronita chose to sit next to Ryan during an accounting class. The pair hit it off and began dating in the fall of 2012. They discovered that they had much more in common than a shared career path; Ryan and Ronita both love wine, exotic cuisines, traveling, and music (including John Mayer and The Beach Boys).
After five years of dating, Ryan surprised Ronita with a vacation to New York City and Napa, California, (a fun pairing!) in October of 2017. "In New York, he took me on a dream gastronomical adventure and then surprised me with a second leg in Napa," recalls Ronita. "He popped the question in the garden of Auberge du Soleil while a string duo played 'God Only Knows.'"
The couple said "I do" on June 1, 2019, in North Garden, Virginia, surrounded by 120 of their closest loved ones. Their main goal? To create a celebration with "understated elegance," and one that would also pay homage to Ronita's Indian heritage. They made it happen in more ways than one; from the traditional ceremony all the way down to the place settings, the cultural event celebrated the blending of two backgrounds. They achieved this with the help of their big-day team—mainly Samantha of Simply Chic Events—explains the duo. "Samantha and all of our vendors made the process as stress free as possible," they note, adding that they were beyond impressed with "the ease in which Sam and our vendors understood our vision and executed perfectly."
A Venue with a View
The couple, who hail from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, opted for a destination wedding nestled into Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards checked all of their boxes. "We instantly fell in love with the picturesque backdrop and the focus on elevated cuisine," says Ronita. "We are also lovers of wine, so a venue that offered the backdrop, elevated cuisine, and wine was a home run for us."
Ronita enlisted the help of her mother and her bridesmaids while getting ready on her big day. She wore a traditional red and gold wedding saree by Sabyasachi, recommended to her by the designer himself. "Once he found out I was Bengali, [he] scolded us for trying on lehengas and told me to try on a traditional banarasi saree." She followed his advice, and the rest is history.
Jewels and Gems
The bride donned a traditional Indian gold choker and polki set from Jaipur Gems and diamond drop earrings. For a sweet touch, she added a custom cuff and necklace that was passed down to her from her grandmother.
A Breathtaking Bride
Ronita's bridal look was complete with a re-and-gold Sabyasachi veil made to match her saree; she also slipped into brushed gold Dior pumps.
Traditional Indian Groomswear
For the ceremony, Ryan wore a custom Indian sherwani with intricate gold embroidery and a matching ruby-encrusted safa (a turban). He tied it all together with To Boot New York cognac shoes.
The First Look
Ronita and Ryan shared their first look in Pippin's vineyard. Ronita describes feeling nervous before, emotional during, and relaxed after. Ryan, on the other hand, says he was relaxed the whole time. The couple held each other close in the final moments before the official ceremony.
As is the custom for Indian weddings, the bride was given Mehndi (or henna) tattoos on her palms, hands, arms, and feet before her wedding day. In Indian culture, Mehndi designs signify blessings, joy, luck, and love. Plus, according to tradition, the deeper the color of the henna, the happier the bride will be.
The Bridal Bouquet
The bride's bouquet was lush and vibrant. She wanted it to take a natural, almost wild shape with pops of pink and red to go with the color scheme. According to the couple's florist, Southern Blooms, the arrangement included coral charm peonies, pink peonies, art deco roses, romantic antik garden roses, pink snapdragons, blush astilbe, coral pom dahlias, peach stock, bridal veil foliage, and Ruby Loropetalum foliage.
It Takes a Village
Ronita was surrounded by her bridesmaids for her special day. They each wore traditional, custom-made Indian attire in champagne-and-red colors to contrast the bride's saree. They carried smaller versions of Ronita's bouquet, with more of a focus on pops of color.
The Little Ones
The adorable ring bearer and flower girl donned traditional Indian ensembles, as well. "We picked blue-and-gold for the ring bearer—male members of the families were wearing blue and gold—and we chose yellow for the flower girl to play into our theme of little pops of color," explains Ronita.
A Grand Entrance
Ryan rode into the ceremony on a white horse during the baraat, accompanied by traditional Indian music and his family. Per custom, the bride secretly watched the procession; she recalls this moment as one of her favorite parts of the celebration.
Ronita and Ryan's mandap, a traditional wooden structure made for Indian weddings, was covered in sheer fabric and bountiful flowers that matched those in the bouquets. The piece framed an epic view of the rolling hills and mountains.
A Symbolic Ceremony
The bride and groom exchanged white orchid garlands during the ceremony, their family and the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains just behind them. In Indian tradition, this is a symbolic way of showing the couple's desire to marry each other; the white color represents purity.
Rituals Rooted in Tradition
Traditional Indian weddings have a fire burning in the center of the mandap; this acts as a witness to the sacrament of marriage. Once the fire begins to burn, offerings are made from family members as wishes for a happy union. Ronita and Ryan shared these special moments together, honoring the traditions and rituals that have always been part of the bride's life.
The couple wrote their own vows for the ceremony. "Ryan quoted The Beach Boys (we got engaged to "God Only Knows") and I quoted Taylor Swift (a sweet and funny nod to our shared love of [the singer])," explains Ronita. Later on, the newlyweds reflected on the most special parts of their day—and their unique, personalized vow exchange was one of them.
Cocktails at Golden Hour
Outside the farmhouse, Ronita and Ryan served a refreshing gin-infused lemonade as their signature cocktail, along with a full bar and wine made from the Pippin Hill vineyards. They offered passed appetizers, too, consisting of black truffle and thyme puffs, fried green tomatoes, lobster rolls, masala chicken papadum, smoked salmon, and more. Guests sat in the antique chairs and chaise lounge vignettes placed around the yard.
A Moment Away
The newlyweds snuck away during the cocktail hour to take sunset portraits. Ronita changed into a pink-and-white floral Oscar de la Renta gown, and Ryan into a Burberry suit. Later on during the reception, they both changed out of their formal shoes and into classic Adidas Stan Smiths for dancing. Ryan's were blue and white, and Ronita's were gold.
A Glass Seating Chart
A nod to the color scheme, their seating chart—made from glass in a gold frame and topped with lush flowers—featured pops of gold, red, and pink. Each attendee's name was written in white calligraphy.
The farmhouse at Pippin housed the duo's reception. The location was so special to the couple that, prior to their nuptials, one of Ronita's bridesmaids drew a sketch of the venue; they used the illustration on their stationary and favors.
Chic Table Settings
Samantha of Simply Chic Events created intricate table settings that nodded to the color palette and romantic theme. Each place was set with blush-and-white plates with gold flatware from Emerson James, taper candles, floral centerpieces, and pretty acrylic place cards and table numbers. Flower-patterned napkins completed the look.
A Memorable Meal
Ronita and Ryan served a hearty meal for dinner, including tomato and carrot soup, roasted vegetables, beef tenderloin and crab cakes with roasted and pickled mushrooms, and more.
Having Their Cake
When thinking about their cake's design, Ryan and Ronita decided on a simple but elegant look with gold brush strokes. The three-tiered confection included two flavors: vanilla cake with mango curd and two tiers of lemon cloud cake with berries.
The rafters were wrapped in leafy garlands and chandeliers hung from the high ceilings. Bunches of pink-and-red flowers punctuated both the overhead installation and the tables below.
Nuggets of Wisdom
The couple shared this piece of advice for everyone in the throes of the pre-wedding process: "Not everything will go as planned but nobody else will notice. And start the planning process early!"
In the end, Ronita and Ryan had a magical day, followed by a honeymoon in Big Sur, Los Angeles, and Bali.
Photography, Laura Gordon
Venue and Catering, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Wedding Planning and Design, Samantha at Simply Chic Events
Flowers, Southern Blooms
Stationary, Proper Letter Co.
Guestbook, Starboard Press
Bride's traditional attire, Sabyasachi
Jewelry, Jaipur Gems
Bride's reception gown, Oscar de la Renta
Shoes, Christian Dior
Hair and Makeup, Anna Breeding
Groom's suit, Burberry
Cake, Maliha Creations
Lighting, Blue Ridge Event Production
Linen, La Tavola Linen
Henna, Mehndi with Heena
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