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A Lakeside Wedding Weekend With South Asian Traditions

by Staff

Mira and Rohan met in September 2009 while studying at George Washington University in Washington D.C. Although Mira’s marketing and business classes never overlapped with Rohan’s pre-med courses, the two had mutual acquaintances. They became fast friends, but when Mira opened up to him about her feelings for him, she admits that Rohan broke her heart in his effort to maintain the friendship. A year after losing touch, Mira and Rohan found themselves pitted against each other in a competition to become president of a student organization. When they were appointed co-presidents, they hit it off and Rohan asked Mira out on a date. She says, “The rest is history!”

Although Mira went to New York to pursue her marketing career and Rohan stayed back in D.C., the two had a long-distance relationship for years. On a trip to Patagonia in January 2019, Rohan planned a picnic overlooking the Los Cuernos mountains. Rohan handed Mira a laminated index card that read “Will You Marry Me?”, along with a stack of candid photos of Mira that he had taken over the years with the index card in them. “Eating popcorn at the movies, at a Yankees game, having coffee at Panera… He claims he has been trying to ask me to marry him for years,” Mira says. He popped the question and Mira responded with, “Obviously!”

The couple originally planned their wedding for August 8th, 2020. Due to the pandemic, they decided to have a small legal marriage ceremony on that date and a larger wedding celebration with 270 guests on July 8, 2021. They chose to host their wedding weekend in the heart of Hudson Valley, New York at Cedar Lakes Estate. The venue allowed Mira and Rohan to have their dream mountaintop ceremony, cottages where guests could stay on site, and even a field day to welcome everyone!

“South Asian weddings can tend to be logistically complicated, so some people thought we were in over our heads to have an Indian wedding at a non-traditional venue. But, we were up for the challenge,” Mira says. The couple worked with Amanda Virga from AMV Weddings to pull off the couple’s vision of a whimsical outdoor Indian wedding. Read on to see the highlights of the weekend, captured by Scott Clark Photography.

The couple kicked off the weekend with a Haldi ceremony overlooking the lake. “In our culture, the Haldi ceremony marks the beginning of the wedding celebration and is a way for family and friends to bless the couple and help them get ready for their big day,” Mira says. Guests gathered in the amphitheater in the woods to watch the ceremony.

It can get a little messy–and fun!

During the Haldi ceremony, turmeric paste is applied to the bride and groom’s skin to purify and cleanse the body. “It can get a little messy–and fun!” Mira says.

Once Mira and Rohan were properly covered in turmeric paste, they decided on a whim to jump into the lake together to wash it all off. “Because, why not?” the bride says.

Before the couple’s welcome dinner, the nearlyweds had a photo session with their photographer, Scott Clark, around the grounds of Cedar Lakes Estate.

The couple’s bonfire-style welcome dinner was held in the Cedar Lakes pavilion. Guests enjoyed barbecue, drinks, and s’mores by the fire.

We loved having our family and friends mesh so well together!

The couple held a field day with four teams wearing different color neon T-shirts with custom “MiraRohan” logos. Each team had a flag decorated by their youngest team member. The games included an egg spoon race, football precision passing, flip cup, and a three-legged race. “We loved having our family and friends mesh so well together!” Mira says.

For the wedding reception, Mira wore a Sabyasachi pink lengha with gold embroidery she purchased on a trip to New Delhi with her mom. “My vision was to have a vintage Indian bridal look—one that is timeless (not trendy) and very royal,” the bride explains. Months later, Mira stumbled upon a photo of her mom from her wedding day and realized she wore a lengha very similar to the one Mira chose. “Considering my mom is the most stunning and fashionable woman I know, I was incredibly moved and thrilled to be wearing something similar to what she had picked out for her wedding day,” she shares.

She also wore naath, or a nose ring, as well as kaleera, ornaments that hang from the bride’s bangles symbolizing good wishes from her loved ones. She had her hair in a low bun with a center part to support the bridal veil for the ceremony.

The bridesmaids wore lehengas with asymmetrical silk skirts and blouses with gold embroidery. “My vision for the bridal party was to have a gradient of colors similar enough that you almost can’t tell there are different shades!” Mira remarks. She gifted each bridesmaid matching gold tikkas, which are jewelry Indian women wear on the forehead.

Rohan wore a white Sherwani, a long-sleeved button-down garment, with silver and champagne embroidered details. “It is the fanciest attire for Indian men—meaning it is the equivalent of wearing a tux,” Mira says. Rohan also wore a white and gold Pagri, or wedding turban. It is an Indian tradition for the groom to resemble a king on his wedding day, so Rohan also wore a dark green beaded necklace and held a sword.

He completed his look with Juttis, footwear made from the same embroidery as his Sherwani. “During the ceremony, the bride’s bridesmaids or cousins try to steal the groom’s shoes as a prank! They promise to give them back in exchange for some cash,” Mira explains. The groomsmen wore kurtas in shades that matched the bridesmaid’s attire who they were paired with to escort down the aisle. They completed their looks with light pink pagris.

Mira wore a necklace that was a gift from her parents, made by the same jeweler who made the wedding jewelry worn by her mother and grandmother. Mira also accessorized her look with choora, red bangles thought to bring prosperity to newlyweds and commonly worn by North Indian brides. Custom henna on her hands and arms was the finishing touch.

Mira and Rohan decided to do a first look because they wanted to be able to take a photograph with their family and friends before the wedding but still wanted to have a private moment to themselves before the ceremony.

During their first look, the weather took a dramatic turn and they found themselves in the middle of a downpour. “Luckily, the rain cleared right before our ceremony, and started again right after it was over, leaving us with an unforgettable ceremony backdrop on the misty mountain top,” the bride says, “We both lost close family members in the past year, and we felt like they were both looking out for us from above—clearing the sky at the exact right moment.” 

Rohan entered the ceremony on a horse. “Traditionally, the groom has a Baraat, which is where the groom’s side has a processional of music and dancing to escort the groom to the wedding,” Mira says, “Rohan is a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so he handed out ‘Terrible Towels’ at his Baraat to get his crew pumped up.”

The couple’s ceremony took place outside overlooking mountain scenery. Light pink flower petals were sprinkled down the aisle leading to the Mandap, a four-pillar altar structure used in Hindu weddings. The Mandap was decorated with pink and white peonies and greenery, and a vintage pink loveseat was placed on top of a vintage rug. White antique windows adorned with flowers decorated the entrance to the ceremony. “Hindu weddings often have a Milni ceremony before guests sit down,” Mira says, “So this served as a beautiful backdrop for that ritual as well.”

Mira and Rohan’s 8-month-old Sheepadoodle was dressed in a dog tuxedo as their “ring bearer”. As the ceremony began, the dog ran down the aisle as Baha Men’s “Who Let The Dogs Out” played by accident. “We had requested an acoustic version of the song, but in retrospect, there is no better song to suit our wooly mammoth-like, high energy, fluffy, clumsy, and crazy puppy!” Mira says.

Mira was accompanied by her older brother as she walked down the aisle to “Dil Diyan Gallan” by Shriya Jain. “The song gives me absolute chills!” the bride says.

The couple’s family friend conducted their Hindu wedding ceremony, and Mira and Rohan exchanged vows they wrote for each other. They exchanged garlands to signify their acceptance to be married to one another. 

The couple also completed the tradition of lighting a Havan, or fire, which will invoke blessings. The couple made circles around the sacred fire referred to as Mangal Phere to symbolize walking through life together. They also incorporated Saptapadi, which are seven steps taken to make the bride and groom companions. 

Once Mira and Rohan were pronounced husband and wife, guests threw pink flower petals to wish them happiness and prosperity.

The couple had a golf cart waiting for them decorated in flowers and a banner that read, “Meet The Menons”. 

After the ceremony, Mira and Rohan stepped away for a moment alone. Their photographer captured some portraits in front of their floral-filled mandap before the couple changed into their reception attire.

For the reception, Mira wore a champagne, silver, and gold embroidered lengha by Manish Malhotra. “Both Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Manish Malhotra are incredible designers who have both had such an impact on Indian fashion, and to have lehengas created by them was a dream come true,” Mira says. The bride went with a bolder makeup look in the evening with an added layer of lashes and a darker lip. She had her hair down in soft waves with her centered part pulled back. “I wanted a sleek look that was chic, but fun,” she says. Rohan changed into a sharp black tuxedo from Saks Fifth Avenue.

At the couple’s cocktail hour, guests enjoyed live music from a classically trained tabla player while they visited an Italian and Indian food stations for appetizers. The escort card display was embellished with arrangements of pink and white florals and greenery, an element carried through the barn reception. Cloche jars covered the guest’s table numbers in an effort to keep them from flying away in the wind.

The ceiling of the barn featured greenery and white draped fabric to complement the venue’s chandeliers. Square tables were topped with luxe gold and white linens, crystal candelabras, votive candles, and lush centerpiece arrangements in gold vases.

A large sweetheart floral arch created a focal point where a white and gold loveseat was placed for Mira and Rohan to sit during their family and friends’ speeches. Mira lost her grandfather three months before the wedding, and he had recorded himself giving his wedding speech as he didn’t expect to be able to travel. “Although he was no longer with us on our wedding day, we played his video at the reception, which was absolutely amazing to receive his well wishes and blessings,” the bride says, “Everyone was in tears. It was so emotional.”

Rohan also gave a speech to thank guests for celebrating with them despite the ups and downs of the pandemic. “Rohan highlighted all of the incredible things that did happen in the last couple of years for people in the room,” Mira says, “He called them all out and it was just really nice to see him acknowledge all of our most special people and how much it means to us that they showed up for us after such an uncertain year.”

During the reception, Rohan’s brother, Naveen, surprised the couple with a performance singing John Legend’s “All Of Me.” “He had a standing ovation,” Mira remembers. Later, the pair shared their first dance to “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys.

The couple chose Fat Joe’s “What’s Love” as their cake-cutting song. Their lavish tiered white wedding cake was cookies-and-cream flavored and decorated with florals seen throughout the wedding day. The finishing touch? A cake topper featuring the couple’s last name. 

Mira shared a father-daughter dance to “My Girl” by The Temptations, but the song was remixed and transitioned into “Return Of The Mack” by Mark Morrison. Rohan shared a dance with his mother to Aloe Blacc’s “Momma Hold My Hand.”

DJ Binda of Elite Entertainment kept guests on the dance floor throughout the night. For those who wanted to keep it going, the couple hosted an after-party at the “treehouse” on the property where they wore matching “Just Married” Pittsburgh jerseys and light-up sneakers.

While the stunning wedding weekend was truly a life-changing moment for the couple, Mira and Rohan had actually said “I do” at the same venue a little less than a year earlier on August 8th, 2020. The couple decided to have a small ceremony overlooking the lake with their immediate families and an intimate dinner in the garden.

“It was just the 10 of us, and although it was nothing like we had imagined, it was perfect,” Mira says, “In a magical and intimate way, we were able to remind ourselves what this day was really all about—us, our love, and the binding of our two families. It was one of the best days of my life.”

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