Sarika and Prabhu

A mélange of cultures, traditions, and personalities describes the gorgeously ornate wedding of college sweethearts Sarika Singh and Prabhu Chandar. "We were trying to mix the two Indian cultures," explains Sarika, who hails from the north of India while Prabhu comes from the south. "But we’re in America and grew up here, so we were really fusing three cultures and still trying to share our personalities as well."

In Indian culture, a wedding is not simply an event to honor the couple, rather it’s a multi-day gathering of the families, a celebration of the marriage, and a time for the bride’s family to give away their daughter. On the first day, Sarika and Prabhu’s festivities began with a puja, a religious ceremony at home, in which a priest blesses the family to get rid of the evil eye and to bring joy and happiness into the household. A ritual called haldi was also performed; the women of the bride’s family covered her body with a yellow paste of turmeric and water to make her complexion glow for the wedding. After showering, Sarika had a string, blessed by the priest, tied to her wrist, which Prabhu had to undo with one hand the day after the wedding.

On the second day, the mehndi took place—Sarika’s arms and legs were decorated with henna tattoos. Hidden in the designs was Prabhu’s name, creating a game in which the groom must find his own moniker on the night of the wedding.

The day before the wedding, the couple had their sangeet, best translated as a "rehearsal dinner." With the Hilton in downtown San Diego as a backdrop, the couple Westernized the traditionally women-only affair and invited close friends and family for a grand evening filled with lively music, dance performances by their guests, as well as speeches by their bridal party. 

Sarika traveled to India to have her close friend and Mumbai-based designer, Khushboo Doshi, custom create her bridesmaids’ saris, her sister’s, and all of her own outfits. The bride looked gorgeous in a traditional lehnga with a modern twist. The typically one-color apparel was transformed to fit her style with a bright red skirt and bursts of white and green intricate designs. Her six bridesmaids looked stunning in matching white saris with gold, pink, and green detailing. Prabhu wore an Indian sherwani, a coat-like garment with detailed designs. 

During the ceremony, the couple stood under a mandap, a traditional structure, made of bamboo and decorated with vibrant hot pink and lime green colors, reflecting the joy they shared that day.

After a week of wedding rituals, the party of all parties began. With a love for movies, the couple chose a Hollywood theme for the reception. Movie-ticket place cards welcomed guests, and tables were named after films that mean something to the couple such as The Princess Bride and Remember the Titans. Guests received little Ganesh statues, believed to bless each home they are placed in.

Their modern-style reception was an homage to whites, creams, and clean lines. The bride and groom sat on a sleek, white couch with a tranquil waterfall behind them. Cream-colored roses and lilies surrounded by black boa feathers acted as beautiful centerpieces against the deep red table linens.

Royal India catered the affair with North Indian favorites such as lamb curry, dal makhani, kabobs, palak paneer, as well as a few delicious desserts like kulfi and ras malai. In addition, various flavors of pre-sliced candy apples from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory replaced a traditional cake. 

Entertainment included performances by family and friends, and even a choreographed Bollywood-style first dance by the bride and groom. The DJ kept the dance floor full playing everything from Bollywood and bhangra to pop and hip-hop. 

Prabhu gushes, "Seeing all the people who choreographed and practiced songs to present to us was so touching—I just felt so much love."

Near the end of the reception, the vidai took place, where the bride’s family hands over the bride to the groom’s family. It’s a sad event in Indian culture because the bride is literally leaving her family. 

"I didn’t think I was going to cry," Sarika quipped. "But that’s the part where I bawled my eyes out! Afterward, though, we went back to the dance floor to party the night away."

Get Their Style

  • Ceremony and reception location: Hilton San Diego Bayfronthilton.com/sandiegobayfront.
  • Caterer: Royal Indiaroyalindia.com.
  • Event designer, coordinator: Liz Beck Eventslizbeckevents.com.
  • Ceremony and reception décor: Sonali Flowers, sonaliflowers.com.
  • Reception stage décor: Manjit’s Flower Cottage, decorandflowersbymanjit.com.
  • Officiant: Dr. Shukavak Dasa, shukavak.com.
  • Caramel covered apples: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, rmcf.com.
  • Bridal outifts: custom designed by Khushboo Doshi.
  • Jewelry: borrowed from her mom’s jewelery box.
  • Shoes: Jimmy Choojimmychoo.com.
  • Makeup and hair: Humeira.
  • Groom’s attire: custom designed by Sarika Singh.
  • Bridesmaids’ dresses: Khushboo Doshi.
  • DJ and lighting: DJ Sunil Puri.
  • Invitations: Aara Designs.
  • Paper elements: Pink Star Design, pinkstardesign.com.
  • Ceremony canopy, linens, and rentals: Sonali Flowers, sonaliflowers.com.
  • Photography: Justine Ungaro, justineungaro.com.
  • Event photographers: Doug and Ashlee Wylie of DnA Photography.
  • Videography: Reel Life Pictures, reelifepictures.com.
  • Custom made favors: Ganesh statues from India.

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