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A Colorful Wes Anderson-Inspired Wedding in Baja California

by Staff

Priya Satiani wasn’t trying to plan her wedding right after meeting a brand-new beau, but she couldn’t help falling in love—with a location. “I fell in love with Baja when I went there for my first solo surf trip right after meeting Johnny,” the bride says. It was 2014, and she’d just met Johnny Jeltema. “It’s a place of peace for me, near the ocean, two hours away from home in Los Angeles. A few years later when I knew Johnny was in my life, we went back there—and he proposed on the beaches of Todos Santos!”

For the wedding, Priya says, “It made perfect sense to go back, bring our huge Indian family to Mexico and show them the Baja secret.” And, it wouldn’t be just any wedding; the couple had in mind a four-day lovefest meshing their Christian and Hindu cultures. They enlisted the help of Cabo Wedding Services to bring their vision—“Bright! Colorful! Wes Anderson!” Priya says—to life. “The whole planning team was filled with women and the process was absolutely incredible and loving,” Priya remembers. “It was a bit difficult because a priority was making sure my parents also felt they were part of this process, so I really give it up to my planners for being so loving. It was such an opportunity to see how similar Indian and Mexican cultures really were as it pertained to family, respect, and love.”

That said, the planning was intense. “I had just become a partner at my management company”—she works with actors, writers and directors—“and my husband had just quit his job to start his own business. We had 250 people coming from everywhere from Michigan to Bombay to Dubai,” Priya says. “Lots of planning; good thing my husband is a Virgo and I am Type A.”  

They officially said “I do” on May 26, 2019, but that was just one part of the wedding weekend. “It was four nights of love, and each night had its own special vibration,” Priya says. Read on to see the joyful, fresh celebration in all its glory, as planned by Cabo Wedding Services and photographed by Ana Hinojosa.

For the more traditional events, including the Ghari ceremony Thursday evening, Priya stayed true to one label: MadSamTinZin. “Tina Bhardwaj was the designer and store owner,” the bride says. “She is incredible, a young Indian business owner who designs and specializes in Indian bridal wear. I flew to the Bay Area with my sister and some of my closest friends to meet her and find all of my clothes.” There Priya selected four outfits in total, including unique pieces for the wedding, sangeet, and Ghari ceremony. “All were bold colors—orange, blue, yellow, and red—and each one was special. I felt like myself while also being a bride.”

For the Ghari ceremony, she went with a vibrant blue sari with tassel bow embellishments. It was a “white seersucker for Johnny,” Priya remembers. “I was on the fence, but he ultimately pulled it off.”

The couple’s families were heavily involved in the Ghari ceremony, a traditional rite meant to bring prosperity to the couple—and in Priya and Johnny’s case, kick off the wedding celebrations. 

The bride’s makeup look for each day was customized to match her ensemble. For the sangeet on Friday, she brought the sunshine with bold yellow eyeshadow.

One of Priya’s most memorable moments of the wedding weekend was actually a happy accident. “My father saw me, by mistake, the night of my sangeet walking in the elevator,” she remembers. “Ana got the best picture.” 

“I got all of my bridesmaids beautiful ghagra cholis,” Priya says. “They were custom; I let each bridesmaid choose the color they felt most comfortable in.” The couple handed each member of the wedding party a colorful smoke bomb for an epic photo. 

For the sangeet, a rainbow of tassels were suspended above the outdoor party space, and wooden plates and chargers grounded the colorful decor. Each place setting was adorned with a lotería card—a traditional Mexican game of chance—as a nod to the destination. 

A henna artist applied traditional mehndi to bridesmaids and guests before the night transformed into a party.

The wedding was held at Acre Baja, a lush treehouse hotel and property in the foothills of San Jose del Cabo, surrounded by 25 acres of lush greenery and nature.  

Shopping for both Indian and Western clothes was fascinating.

“Shopping for both Indian and Western clothes was fascinating,” Priya says. “I was equally attached to my red Carolina Herrera as I was to my red sari.” She donned the Herrera dress, a tiered tulle number, for the reception and dancing (but slipped it on for photos before the wedding as well).

Priya accessorized with “loads of jewelry,” she says. “It’s such a big part of Indian festivities.” She sourced most pieces directly from India, along with a few pairs of understated shoes. 

“Oh, Johnny went all out. He mixed Indian with Western,” Priya says of her groom’s fashion. “His friend started a shoe company called Sabah, so all of the boys were in beautiful custom shoes.”

For the formal wedding ceremony, Priya’s bridesmaids wore all black. “There was some uniformity, but a splash of creative energy,” she says. 

You found your person. That’s it. Throw the party of a lifetime.

The big day finally here after months of stressful planning, the couple was able to look back and reflect. Their biggest pieces of advice? “Let go,” Priya says. “You found your person. That’s it. Throw the party of a lifetime. Be happy. Turn off your phone.” 

The vision for the ceremony was simple: “Marigolds everywhere,” Priya says. “Marigold is the flower of love in India—that was my biggest priority. Flooded with florals, we designed life-sized magnolias down the aisle to give that fresh Wes Anderson feel.”

“We did not have a flower girl or ring bearer, but all our friends walked down the aisle,” Priya says. Accompanying the entrances on acoustic guitar was the couple’s good friend Tony Ferrari. 

Tony took up “Stand By Me” as Priya walked down the aisle. “I walked by myself, with my mother, father, mother-in-law, and father-in-law at the altar,” she says. “I actually didn’t even wear shoes for my ceremony—I went shoeless! Not everyone loved the idea, but it felt me. I wanted to feel the ground I was walking on.”

“I wrote my own vows, as did Johnny,” the bride says. “We did a traditional Indian ceremony that our dear friend Vikrum, who was a speech writer for Obama, did. He made the traditions understandable and accessible for those folks who were not Hindu.”

“Johnny crying his heart out throughout our ceremony” was one of Priya’s most special moments throughout the day. The heartfelt ceremony evoked emotion—both laughter and tears—from the guests as well. 

My version of DIY was working with wonderful people who took my dream and made it reality.

The party was on, and it was fueled by great entertainment. “We had so many musicians; friends who played music; an incredible DJ, Brett Hart; and a mariachi band during cocktail hour,” Priya says. In fact, it was turning to the pros that really brought their wedding to life. Rather than DIY anything, “I really leaned on specialists,” she says. “My version of DIY was working with wonderful people who took my dream and made it reality.” 

The bar? It was stocked with “everything mezcal,” Priya says.

Bottles of Código tequila adorned reception tables, topping table runners alongside more marigolds. “We had a lot of specialized food, drinks, and spirits,” Priya says. “Friday night was traditional Mexican; Saturday night, traditional Indian; Sunday night, farm-to-table. Acre has an incredible kitchen.”

Back in her Carolina Herrera tiered gown for dancing, the bride spun with her groom to “Let’s Get Married”—“then we all just partied!” she says.

They hosted one more dinner for family and friends on Sunday to complete their celebration. Then Priya and Johnny soaked it all in on a honeymoon in Costa Rica that, like their wedding, was a perfect encapsulation of the duo. “It was a beautiful seven-day road trip, some days at The Four Seasons, some days in a hut by the beach,” Priya says. “Exactly our style.”

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