This Couple Put a Modern Twist on Their Indian Wedding in Minneapolis

ellora ishan wedding couple
Photogen Inc.

Despite the fact that they both attended the University of Minnesota, Ellora and Ishan didn't really connect until ten years post-grad, in December 2015—and it was all thanks to a Facebook comment. Ishan, who works in advertising and media, had posted a photo with his clients while they were out for a celebratory dinner. Ellora commented, "Wow—that looks amazing!" After some Facebook research, Ishan recognized Ellora, who nows works in the finacial department at 3M, from their college years and sent her a message.

They immediately realized that they shared a mutual love for a good steak and bourbon, but distance was an issue—at the time, Ishan was living in Chicago, while Ellora was still based in Minneapolis. Luckily, he realized he'd be in her locale over the holidays, so they decided to first meet at a steakhouse, of course. They went out again two days later on New Year's Day and hit it off. After months of traveling back and forth between Chicago and Minneapolis, Ishan moved to back to Minnesota just four months after their first date. That same summer, the pair moved in together.

It didn't take Ishan long to realize that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Ellora, so he began planning his proposal a year after the two became a couple. He had his grandmother's Art Deco engagement ring re-set, then proposed four days later at their favorite steakhouse, Murray's. Instead of dropping down onto one knee, though, he let the steak do the talking. "In many steakhouses, steaks are served with a card that states how many days aged the beef is, the cut, the ranch, and any notes. One of my friends helped design my own version of this steak card. The number of days aged was how many days since our first meeting in [December of] 2015, the cut was 'ribeye relationship,' and in the meat purveyor notes it said, 'How about a lifetime of ribeyes with a side of hash browns? Will you marry me, Mew?'" Of course, Ellora (she and Ishan call each other Mew!) said yes.

Their wedding took place on October 20, 2018, on a brisk autumn day at The Machine Shop in Minneapolis. Their modern wedding paid homage to their roots, but didn't adhere to tradition—they wanted the guests to "experience the fusion of [their] personalities and [their] take, or twist, on tradition."

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A Perfect Venue

modern industrial wedding venue space
Photogen Inc.

The couple's traditional-meets-modern wedding theme merged seamlessly with the venue. The Machine Shop in Minneapolis had an industrial history but was renovated to bring a clean, contemporary balance to the look and feel. Fun fact: Ellora and Ishan actually booked the venue before the groom proposed—talk about planning ahead.

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Colorful Invites

minimal navy fuchsia and gold invitation suit
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Keeping true to their minimalistic aesthetic, the couple's Minted invitations featured a clean, color-blocked design. They added pops of gold, fuchsia, and navy, which corresponded with the colors used throughout the big day.

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A Traditional Lehenga

traditional indian attire lehenga wedding dress
Photogen Inc.

Ellora wore a lehenga ("A lehenga has a tailored crop top with a long, voluminous skirt, as well as a shawl or veil," says the bride) for the ceremony. The garment was designed by Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who is from Kolkata, India. She donned a veil, also designed by Sabyasachi, for the ceremony.

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Bangles for Good Luck

ellora and ishan wedding bride henna
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Ellora's jewelry complemented her traditional outfit; she borrowed heirloom bracelets from both her and Ishan's families. "These bangles are supposed to bring good luck and prosperity to the bride as she enters marriage," she explains.

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Complementary Groom Attire

grooms traditional hindu wedding attire
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Ishan's wedding attire also kept true to tradition. He wore a black sherwani with gold pants, both of which were also designed by Sabyassachi Mukherjee. Ishan's brother-in-law's father, Santokh Bir Singh, helped him put on his turban, which finished off the outfit.

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The Wedding Party

large wedding party wearing red, fuchsia, navy, and gold attire
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The couple's wedding party was made up of friends from various parts of their respective lives. Ellora wanted her bridesmaids to wear traditional outfits that aligned with their individual personalities while still looking cohesive. As for the groomsmen's attire? The men went for classic Western ensembles with a twist—they wore blue Nehru collar vests from an Indian retailer, Manyavar. Their pocket squares were fuchsia and sourced from Kolkata.

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Off to the Ceremony

wedding baraat procession welcoming groom
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Friends and family welcomed and cheered on Ishan and his family as they made their way to the ceremony during the baraat.

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The First Look

bride and groom share first look in event space before wedding
Photogen Inc.

Ellora and Ishan saw each other at 7 a.m. on the morning of the wedding, but this didn't take away from the magic of their first look. "Some great light was shining in and I was standing in the corner, so it was almost like Ellora had a runway to walk down as she was heading towards me. I was told to turn around and I just saw her smile and however big my smile was at the time, it just got bigger! I'd seen her dress before, I'd seen it on her in the store, but nothing compared to this," Ishan says.

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Ceremonial Garlands

traditional milni floral garlands
Photogen Inc.

"Garlands that were given out to family members were for a ceremony called a milni; Traditionally, the men from both families exchange garlands as a welcoming gesture," says Ellora. "I'm all about cutting through gender biases, so we made it a gender neutral sort of affair where men and women from both of our families exchanged garlands. What made it even more special is that my parents' friends actually hand-strung the garlands that were exchanged—it was a great added touch!"

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modernized hindu wedding ceremony decor
Photogen Inc.

In Hindu weddings, the couple gets married underneath a mandap, a canopy-like structure that serves as an altar. However, Ellora and Ishan wanted to highlight the open nature of the venue—with its high ceilings and natural lighting—during their service. Their wedding planner, Gretchen Culver of Rocket Science Events, came to the rescue. She suggested that they hang up lanterns and white fringes from the ceiling to emulate the feeling of a mandap, sans the physical structure. Girl Friday Creative executed the beautiful installation.

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Here Comes the Bride

father of the bride walking bride down the wedding aisle
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At a traditional Indian wedding, the bride and the groom walk down the aisle on their own, but since Ellora and Ishan wanted to include a few Western rituals, Ellora's dad joined her for the processional. They entered to the tune of "Indian Summer—Kasbo Remix" by Jai Wolf and Kasbo.

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A Modernized Hindu Ceremony

bride and groom during modernized hindu ceremony
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Ellora's best friend of 15 years, who was also her "man of honor," officiated the modernized ceremony. "We wanted all of our guests to share in our experience, so we picked parts of the traditional ceremony that were meaningful to us and our officiants recited them in English. Ishan and I also wrote our own vows, which is also something that is not traditional in Hindu weddings, but something that was meaningful to us."

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Get Ready to Party

brides wedding reception outfit change
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Ellora's ceremony attire was much too heavy to dance in, so she quickly changed before the reception. She bought her second look from Anamika Khanna's showroom in Delhi. She loved the black and white fabric and the embroidered waist.

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A Personal Touch

burgundy and white suit with monogrammed pocket square
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Ishan also had a post-ceremony outfit changed; he stepped into a burgundy suit from Indochino. Ellora monogrammed the pocket inside his suit jacket with their initials and wedding hashtag at O'Harrow Clothiers.

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The Seating Chart

minimalistic white board seating chart
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The couple went the extra mile and assigned all 300 of their guests seats. Ellora gives Ishan all the credit for solving this massive jigsaw puzzle, which was necessary due to many guests' dietary preferences: "We had a customized menu for vegetarian, non-vegetarian, and vegan guests. With almost 300 guests and a more complicated dinner service, we wanted to keep it easy for our guests and our caterer," she explains.

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A Quick Transformation

ellora ishan wedding reception
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The venue itself also underwent an "outfit change." After the ceremony, guests were escorted to the second floor for the cocktail hour, which featured hors d'oeuvres and a live jazz band. Meanwhile, the ceremony room was quickly flipped for the reception—the transformation blew the couple away. "We were floored when we did our sneak peek of the main floor. It literally looked exactly as we imagined—actually better. We joked that Ishan may not have cried during our ceremony, but he cried when he first saw the room all set up!" jokes Ellora.

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Banana Leaf Décor

white chair and table reception set up with pink floral centerpieces
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The couple worked with Gretchen and their florist, Lacie Dehn of Blommonster, to bring their banana leaf-centric reception décor to life. The foliage added dynamic height to the tabletops, while simultaneously nodding to the couple's culture. At traditional Indian weddings, and in many rural places in India, banana leaves are also used as plates; the couple modified this by using die-cut round banana leaves, which were shipped from India, to line each of the brass plates, called thalis.

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Custom Tabletop Goods

circular gold place settings for traditional thali-style dinner
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The bride and groom had their napkins, plates, and brass bowls custom-made in India, which they say was one the hardest aspects of wedding planning. The reason? They had to identify the vendors, understand the manufacturing process, and make sure the finished product would pass border security.

As for the couple's extensive menu? The main course was served thali-style—guests are given katoris, or small bowls, of various dishes around the plate. The couple thought it'd be a great idea to put their favorite childhood dishes on the menu. "Ishan and I came up with some of our favorite, most nostalgic Indian-inspired dishes and then created a vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu based on that," explains the bride.

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The First Dance

ellora ishan wedding couple first dance
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The couple took their first married spin to "High on Life" by Martin Garrix, featuring Bonn. "Ellora and I are big fans of house music and when I first heard this song, I was dancing with her. It stuck and became our song. It allowed us to dance slow and also break out a bit," says Ishan.

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The Sparker Send-Off

bride and groom sparkler send off after reception
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At the end of the night, the newlyweds exited through a line of their family and friends waving sparklers. Ishan reminisces, "We loved the idea of this and are so happy we did it. Even though it was still cold, our group stepped outside for this and Ellora and I had a blast running through our friends and family. It also helped everyone gather before the after-party."

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bride and groom sitting in white convertible car
Photogen Inc.

Photography, Photogen Inc.
Venue, The Machine Shop
Event planning, Rocket Science Events
Catering, Create Catering
Flowers, Blommonster
Stationery, Minted
Music, The Gentlemen's Anti-Temperance League (cocktail hour jazz band); DJ Digie
Bride's gown, Sabyasachi Mukherjee (ceremony); Anamika Khanna (reception)
Bride's accessories, Sam Edelman (shoes); Tanishq (jewelry)
Makeup, Henna Oasis
Groom's attire, Indochina (suit); O'Harrow Clothiers (embroidery)
Menswear, Manyavar (suits); J.Crew (pants); H&M (shirts); Cole Haan (shoes)
Groom's accessories, Omega watch; Duke & Dexter (shoes)
Ceiling installation, Girl Friday Creative
Rentals, Rudy's Event Tables (tables), The Festive Frog (flatware)

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