Traditional Bengali and Punjabi Fusion Wedding
Sumona & Binny
About The Couple
How we met...
Binny and I met through common friends. Both of us were out with mutual friends on St. Patrick’s day at a bar called Revival in NYC. We were in line to get into the bar when Binny made a comment about my hair. My friend introduced me to him and told him I was an actress and was working on a Telugu movie. He was really intrigued and once we were inside, he wouldn’t stop with the questions. I was really annoyed and tried to ditch him. Every year since then, we always make a stop at the bar and relive the hilarious day.
Many days later, my friends kept bringing him up and told me that he really liked me and that I should give him a chance. One date won't kill me, I thought to myself. If we didn’t get along, then that would settle it. all so I got on FB, took a glance at his facebook page and messaged him saying “heard you were looking for me”. The rest is history. You can check out our full story to BinMona.com for the more detailed formal story.
How we are as a couple...
We were both raised differently. I’m the FOB in the relationship and very in tune with my Indian culture. He was raised to more of the American culture. He understands Hindi but doesn’t speak much whereas I speak Bengali and Hindi fluently. But as personalities, we are the same. We make sure to be aware of the other person’s likes and dislikes and learn about them. He loves sports and I never watched anything other than cricket on my visits to India to see my family. Now I enjoy tennis, basketball, baseball and still learning more about football! He will always take me to live games and guide me through the whole experience. I’ll do the same if we go to an Indian concert or perhaps a dance show.
We are definitely adventurous and enjoy doing various things. We love to have fun and have a good sense of humor. We love to explore and do things that make the other person happy and enjoy it at the same time. For example, I love dance, theater, movies and generally am very artistic so Binny will always find things for us to do that involve all that. He enjoys Hindi movies and now will even ask me for good ones that are out and we watch them together. He’s very athletic and loves extreme sports, and I try and keep up with him as much as possible. But it hard when your husband is an American Ninja Warrior finalist!
One thing we both enjoy is food! We are a huge foodie couple and we take advantage of eating out and finding hole-in-the-wall places. We love to cook together and stir up a meal. We have a food Instagram page where we post some of our favorite dishes. It’s called hungrybenjabis representing my Bengali and his Punjabi background.
How he proposed...
Boy, where do I begin? It was our three year anniversary and Binny is king of surprises so he told me we were going to celebrate the whole weekend and had lots of things lined up for us. He wouldn't tell me what they were. We checked into the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. We had drinks at the hotel's rooftop bar with stunning views of New York City skyline. Binny told me that we were going out for the evening and that I should get changed and be ready.
We walked out of the hotel and went downstairs to the hotel's basement, where he told me we would watch a movie. On the marquee it read “Tonight’s premiere: Unending Love”. We were seated at the back of the theater because we were “late” and all seats were taken. Suddenly the movie started playing and I soon realized something crazy was going to happen. Binny had made a short film about our love story using parts of the Telegu film I did.
Once the movie ended, he took me to the front and when the lights came on in the theater, I looked around and saw that the audience was everyone I knew. Binny had rented out the whole theatre and got our family and friends to be part of the evening. Needless to say, I was speechless. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him and he had set up hidden cameras to capture it all.
The engagement ring...
I wanted a simple round cut diamond with a vintage setting. Binny designed it with his friend who's an amazing designer and jeweler, Amit Jagtiani of Time to Shine.
What marriage means to us...
For us, it means an unending and unbreakable bond between two souls that were fortunate enough to find each other again. We believe that our love for each other is an old love tale that has lived many lifetimes. We were born two days apart and at the same hospital so we believe in destiny. We were destined to find each other and live a beautiful life supporting, loving, caring for each other and our loved ones. We want to be the best person we can be for ourselves and for each other.
VISION: We wanted to do things differently and add elements that people hadn’t experienced. We want the celebrations to be fun, one that we looked back at, we would be proud of.
LOCATION: We started off planning for a Thailand wedding. We wanted to do something different and celebrate in a beautiful country that was also cost efficient and also have my extended family present. Most of my relatives all live in India so we wanted the wedding to somewhere it was convenient for them to travel to. However, Binny has a huge family in the US, who he’s very close to, and to whom I became very close to too. We didn't want to look out into the crowd and not see everyone we there. So after a lot of convincing from our parents, we gave up on the Thailand wedding idea and decided to have a small reception in India for my relatives. Instead, we picked Maritime Parc in Jersey City so we could have the New York City skyline as our backdrop. We were born and raised in New York and we love our city, so what better backdrop than the famous skyline?
PLANNING: We planned our wedding in less than four months with the help of our wedding planner, Urvashi Mishra from Electric-Karma. I had never understood the reason for having a planner but I quickly learned why a couple should get one. She helped us every step of the way. She guided us on how to best approach the planning process. We started with what events we wanted, how to celebrate them, to what extent we would take the event to. She helped us pick the venues based on our vision, and then focus on the details of the event. Indian weddings are the most difficult weddings to plan since they involve so many days.
We were having a Hindu-Bengali and Punjabi wedding and wanted to incorporate both sides so having someone knowledge on every cultural background was key. We provided her ideas and descriptions of our vision and she provided us with the resources. Finding the right resources is difficult when you have full-time day jobs. Having someone there to give you a second opinion, tell you the pros and cons are so essential. I would highly recommend her Urvashi.
RESOURCES & TOOLS: I definitely did a lot of research and browsed many sites to get ideas. I Googled around a lot but some of my favorite resources and tools included The Crimson Bride, The Knot, Pinterest, Excels sheets. Our wedding planner was also a great resource as well. Urvashi knew my likes and dislikes and always helped us pick the best professionals for our wedding.
Allow more planning time. I only had four months to plan our wedding and would recommend longer.
Make a to-do list. Tou can easily forget things to do, so always write them down and make a list and give yourself a deadline to complete them by. Get things done soon so that you can check off on your list. It feels amazing to check things off!
- Enjoy it. Try to find the silver lining in all the madness - it will be one hectic/stressful time in your life that will never come back, so enjoy it to the fullest.
PHOTOGRAPHY: We picked Mood Republic Studios and are very happy this Jose Tan’s effort and work ethic to make sure he gave us more than we wanted. HIs work speaks for itself, but he was also very attentive and understanding. We had suggestions for different types of photography and he made sure he gave us all of that. Pick professionals that you click with, like you do with friends.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: I stumbled upon my cinematographer on YouTube. I saw the weddings they captured and fell deeply in love with their work. We realized that it would be a far-fetched idea to fly Doodle Studio all the way from Malaysia but it was destiny. They were already going to be in New York for another event and they didn’t mind coming a week earlier for us. Our story was filmed beyond our expectations. They also put together a next day edit that I’ve watched it thousands of times and tear up each time. The Doodle Studios team were very understanding and simple, easy to work with.
INVITATIONS & STATIONERY: I designed our wedding cards Kolkata, India. There were a lot of options and designs that seemed cheap, however, you do have to be weary of shipping costs. I definitely loved and picked an elaborate card set, not realizing the weight of each card. Shipping them ended up being quite expensive but I’m still happy because I believe it was still cheaper than ordering something locally in the US.
HAIR & MAEKUP: I am the owner of Looks by Sumona and so designed all the looks for my wedding. My hair and makeup were inspired by my favorite Bollywood actresses. It was all going to be Indian and traditional so I kept a lot of the looks bold. I am a huge fan of big, voluminous hair, so you will see that in most of my hair looks. I made sure I went with looks that complimented my face, features, and outfits.
APPROACH: I went to India to do most of our wedding shopping. I ordered a skirt from a local designer in New York but other than that, everything was from Kolkata or Delhi. I love options when it comes to shopping so I made two trips to India.
For each of the trips, I went with a list of outfits and other items I needed for each event. The first time I went with was with my mother to Kolkata, to get all the wedding outfits and all the shopping required for the “brides side” events. The second time I went was with my mother in law to Delhi and we bought items for the Reception and other events that were organised by the “groom side”. I made lists for everything so that we didn't forget anything. I couldn't get designer outfits for all the events. Instead, we browsed some designer stores to get a sense for what styles were in season and then incorporated them with my own designs to have outfits custom made by a tailor.
RECOMMENDATIONS: In Delhi, I loved Hauz Khas Village. It was my favorite area to shop or even get ideas from designers. My favorite store was Kartikeya in Hauz Khas. Chandni Chowk was an experience though, and very affordable. In Kolkata, I would recommend Vedam on Shakespeare Sarani Road.
Our wedding festivities were held in summer, over a week at the end of July / start of August 2016 at various locations around New York:
- Haldi - Saturday PM, Joya Hall, Queens, 150 guests.
- Sangeet - Sunday PM, Akbar Restaurant, Long Island, 350 guests.
- Mehendi - Tuesday PM, Groom's Home, 50 guests.
- Wedding Ceremony - Thursday PM, Maritime Parc, Jersey City, 200 guests.
- Wedding Reception - Friday PM, Greentree Country Club, New Rochelle, +450 guests.
We also had Dholkis and other smaller events such as the bridal shower which was "The Roaring 20’s Gatsby" theme held at The Inn At New Hyde Park.
We kicked off the celebrations with a Bengali style haldi called Gaye Holud.
DECOR: House of Dipali. The theme was traditional Bengali with a yellow and orange colors.
SUMONA'S OUTFIT: A yellow kanjeevaram saree purchased from a local store in Kolkata.
JEWELRY: Fresh floral jewelry by Flowers by Bhanu.
SHOES: Steve Madden heels.
HAIR & MAKEUP: Looks by Sumona.
BINNY'S OUTFIT: Custom made by Sasya in Kolkata, India.
A fun evening of dancing and fun with family and friends. The highlight for me was doing a performance for Binny for our Sangeet. The performance featured songs of all my favorite Bollywood actresses I grew up watching. Premier DJ USA provided the music for the event.
DECOR: House of Dipali. The theme was Moroccan with blue, green and purple colors. We had sheesha for guests to bring the theme to life.
SUMONA'S OUTFIT: Green and gold velvet Sabyasachi lehenga.
JEWELRY: A mix of Art Karat jewelry and heirloom pieces.
SHOES: Steve Madden heels.
BINNY'S OUTFIT: Custom made in India to match my green lehenga.
The Mehendi was an intimate event held at home.
DECOR: House of Dipali. We setup a marquee outside and added some colors.
SUMONA'S OUTFIT: Crop top and skirt by HoliCHIC by HoliCHIC by Megha Rao.
HAIR & MAKEUP: Looks by Sumona.
HENNA ARTIST: I loved my henna artist. I was able to fly in Maple Mehndi from Martha’s Vinyard. Her designs were really different and out of the ordinary. She makes her own mehndi and the color on the hands with so dark. I have never seen anything like it!
The wedding ceremony was bringing the traditional aspects of both the Bengali and Punjabi cultures. My bridal entrance was to Dichotomy of Fame, an instrumental from the Bollywood movie Rockstar. I wanted something with the shehnai instrument which is associated with the entrance of Hindu bride. When I came across this music, I thought it was a great modern twist to the shehnai music. Plus I love A.R. Rahman. We wanted a very traditional ceremony according to the vedic rules. It lasted for two hours, so no shortcuts here. Guests were served dinner catered by Moghul Caterers.
DECOR: House of Dipali. The theme was very Bengali with vermillion color being the accent color. It was very Devdas inspired. The mandap had a traditional look as well with marigolds around it. It was a simple, but classic look.
SUMONA'S OUTFIT: My look was created by myself, I wanted a complete Bengali Hindu traditional look. I wore a red pure benarasi silk saree red with gold zari which I got from a store called Adi Mohini Mohan Kanjilal, Kolkata.
JEWELRY: Jewelry set by TBZ - The Original. I wore a white bordered crown which is a classic and essential piece for a Bengali-Hindu bride.
SHOES: Badgley Mischka.
HAIR & MAKEUP: Beauty by Tamanna did my hair and makeup for the wedding. I wanted my hair to be simple and in a bun with a gajra completely covering it. The headpiece needed a middle part with a lot of volume. Makeup featured simple eye makeup with some lashes and a bold lip to match the saree.
BINNY'S OUTFIT: Sherwani from Vedam Kolkata.
We had Acute Inflections, a live jazz duo welcome guests during cocktail hour. We chose Samjhawan from Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Kala Chasma and Light It Up by Major Lazer for our first dance song. We love any Arijit Singh song but I felt a real connection to Samjhawan and Binny and I would listen to it on long drives. The other two were to add some fun to the first dance! Mughal Catering provided the dinner for guests. After speeches and formalities, we danced the night away to music by Premier DJ USA.
DECOR: House of Dipali. We had a glamorous red carpet theme based around the Oscars and the Filmfare Awards. We had Oscar trophies with our customized template on it. We also had a red carpet and movie posters with our faces instead of the actual actors. The florals for the Reception we stayed in blush and pastel color palette.
SUMONA'S OUTFIT: Orange lehenga from Kartikeya.
JEWELRY: Gold set from Mehrasons Jewellers in Delhil.
SHOES: Badgley Mischka.
Tips for Brides-To-Be
- Enjoy the planning time. You will always cherish these memories.
Don’t be stressed about the little things. No one else knows or cars about where those flowers and centerpieces go.
Think about why you are there and who is with you. It will make the process easier and fun when you remind yourself what a special moment this is. I always visualized my Wedding day and Reception and it was like a movie in my head and I was able to bring that energy to the actual event days. It was like magic.