Erica Chang, an OBGYN, and Rhusheet Patel, a vascular surgeon, instantly hit it off when they met at the start of medical school back in 2012. They spent the following year bonding over grueling study sessions. “We started to see each other more frequently in the basement of the library studying for Step One,” Erica notes. Although medical school was a demanding undertaking, spending time together felt easy and effortless. By the time their second year of medical school rolled around, Erica and Rhusheet decided to pursue a relationship, and they never looked back.
After five years of dating, Rhusheet popped the question one unassuming September morning. “He proposed to me at 5:30 in the morning before going to work,” Erica exclaims. “He gave me a kiss and a quick foot rub before going to work because he always went to work before me. But this time, it was much more special.”
The couple was so excited about their engagement that they got to wedding planning right away. They initially planned a November 2020 wedding, but once a global pandemic hit, they had no choice but to shift gears. For them, it was such a challenge “finding a date and an available venue that worked with both of our cultures and busy schedules” while arranging an event that abided by the proper health and safety guidelines.
Once they stumbled upon Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Simi Valley, California, the stress melted away and everything else fell into place. The property was spacious enough to host their 150 guests and accommodate two ceremonies—one Indian and one Western—to honor their different cultures. “We loved that it was outdoors with such incredible views and had multiple locations for us to have our multi-ceremony wedding,” the couple remarks.
Read on to see how Erica and Rhusheet’s wedding came to life, as planned by Candice Yen from Milk Events and photographed by The Present Perfect.
Although the lovebirds didn’t have a specific vision in mind for their spring nuptials, they wanted the focus of their special day to be less about the décor and more about the experience of celebrating with friends and family. “Our vision was a day of unending food and drinks and lots of love,” the couple shares. “Ultimately, that was what mattered most to us.”
Erica and her bridesmaids spent the morning getting ready in matching floral pajamas and furry slippers engraved with their names. For Erica, choosing her bridal party was the easiest part of the wedding planning process.
The bride sported a two-piece maroon lehenga with intricate gold details for the Indian ceremony. She emphasized a low-maintenance look by pulling her hair back into a bun and opting for natural makeup. “I just wanted to be comfortable since it was going to be a long day,” she explains. Henna designs pulled her outfit altogether.
Erica selected custom blush lehengas made in India for her bridesmaids’ attire because the gowns were versatile enough to wear during both ceremonies. At first, the bride wasn’t sure whether the lehengas would arrive in time, so she purchased a backup option from Birdy Grey at the last minute. “Because all of my bridesmaids lived in different parts of the U.S., I went to the tailor and put on different heel heights to get the dress adjusted to the right length,” Erica says. Luckily, the lehengas made it before the wedding, so every bridesmaid received a bonus dress! “The girls ended up either changing into the dresses for the reception or taking it home as a gift,” Erica adds.
Rhusheet settled on a white kurta with beaded detailing and red accents along with a red turban, red trousers, and white shoes with gold embellishments for his getup. “I prefer simple designs,” Rhusheet says of his attire.
Rhusheet’s groomsmen also dressed for the occasion in blue vests and either a beige or maroon kurta.
She looked beautiful, and her smile just filled my heart with joy.
The pair had a private first look before their wedding (aside from Erica’s bridesmaids sneaking a peek), which ended up being Rhusheet’s favorite part of the day. “She looked beautiful, and her smile just filled my heart with joy,” the groom gushes.
After Erica and Rhusheet shared a meaningful moment together, the rest of the wedding party joined them to take photos. Then, the pair parted ways to get ready for their big reveal at the ceremony.
“A large procession of my family led the way to the wedding, where we joined the bride’s family,” Rhusheet illuminates. The groom and his family brought the energy to the ceremony by playing music and dancing along.
Instead of decorating their wedding with a certain theme in mind, the couple embraced vibrant blooms and eye-catching hues. “We just loved bright florals and wanted to stay away from classic colors,” they disclose. They adorned their wooden mandap and marked each end of their aisle with pink and orange floral arrangements.
At first, the couple booked another venue for their original 2020 wedding date, but their last-minute swap ended up being even better. The duo quickly fell in love with Hummingbird Nest Ranch for its picturesque setting and natural scenery. “We loved how green it was and just how gorgeous everything was,” Erica reflects. It was the perfect backdrop for Erica as she waltzed down the aisle with her bridesmaids in tow.
Erica and Rhusheet followed a traditional Indian ceremony, which included a burning fire to symbolize the presence of a powerful witness and the exchange of flower garlands to represent their new union.
We thought about things that were important to us, mainly food, and prioritized that throughout the day.
After the first ceremony, everyone pressed pause for an intermission full of food, which was one detail the lovebirds made sure to highlight. “We thought about things that were important to us, mainly food, and prioritized that throughout the day,” they expound. They served a spread of Indian and Chinese dishes that held personal significance to them. “All of the food was special to both of us either as children or in our lives together,” they add.
Bold blooms were still a significant part of the couple’s Western wedding ceremony, and even their dog got the memo. Their pup wore a colorful flower crown around his neck.
For the second ceremony, Rhusheet changed into a turquoise suit and a light pink tie, complete with a special touch: “I wore a vest to set myself apart from the groomsmen,” Rhusheet mentions.
Instead of limiting herself to one dress, Erica decided to mix and match two different Matthew Christopher wedding gowns. The result? A silk A-line dress with a lace floral bodice and a trail of satin buttons down the back. “I wanted to buy the first one I saw, but my mom thought I should look at more stores,” the bride explicates. “Then, everyone had an opinion about every dress! I ended up going to more than 10 stores and getting a custom dress.”
There are so many little things that you would never think to consider but that can make all the difference in the day.
Vivacious flowers were also the primary décor element at the Western ceremony, but this time, the couple included blue in their color palette. From decorating the aisle to mapping out the seating arrangements, there were many details Erica didn’t realize she needed to tackle while planning. “There are so many little things that you would never think to consider but that can make all the difference in the day,” she observes.
Even their dog got the memo about the bold blooms. Their pup wore a colorful floral wreath around his neck.
Both of Erica’s parents escorted her down the aisle while “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Haley Reinhart played.
To personalize their ceremony, Erica and Rhusheet wrote their own vows. “We both talked about how we met, studying in the basement, eating at the Golden Deli (our absolute favorite place to get pho and our first date), and how neither of us really had time for a relationship, but we couldn’t help ourselves,” Erica recounted. The ceremony was truly magical for the two of them because “[we] got married by our best friend and shared our vows with our closest friends and family.”
“You Make My Dreams” by Hall and Oates played while Erica and Rhusheet shared their first kiss and recessed down the aisle, hand in hand.
The groomsmen coordinated with Rhusheet in swanky blue suits. “We wanted something simple and classic,” the groom notes. Erica’s bridesmaids wore the same blush lehengas and carried beautiful bouquets of pink roses, baby’s breath, blue thistle, and greenery.
The star of the wedding party was the couple’s dog, of course.
We actually got to enjoy this day and marry each other.
Once both ceremonies were over, the duo took a moment to snap photos and commemorate their new marriage. “Taking it all in, finally getting a moment to relax, and realizing we had done it [was the best part],” they reminisce. “We actually got to enjoy this day and marry each other.”
At the reception, guests found their seats by grabbing bags of goodies, imprinted with the couple’s monogram, which served as escort cards and wedding favors. “It was a small bag that held Taiwanesse treats and desserts,” Erica illustrates. “We included a small tin with high mountain oolong tea, as well as a pineapple cake and nougat cracker.”
For the décor, the pair kept it minimal by tucking wooden cross-back chairs into round tables, which they covered with neutral linens. Floral arrangements in dazzling shades of blue and pink sat in the center of each table. Without enlisting Candice Yen from Milk Events, the newlyweds wouldn’t have been able to transform the space. “She is so incredible and is responsible for how successful our wedding was,” Erica admits.
After dining on Indian food for dinner, Rhusheet swung Erica around the dance floor to “Baby I’m-a Want You” by Bread.
Erica also made sure to save a special dance for her dad. They selected “Have I Told You Lately” by Rod Stewart for their father-daughter dance song.
For the duo’s last chance to make a statement with show-stopping flowers, they decorated a three-tier naked wedding cake with a cascade of pink petals. As for the flavor? Mocha cake with earl gray frosting.
Overall, the pair’s big day was a resounding triumph. Erica attributes a majority of the success to her rock, Rhusheet. Whenever wedding planning stress would start to consume her, she would cope by connecting with her husband. She advises that anyone else planning a wedding do the same. “Whenever you want to rip your hair out, take a step back and spend some quality time with your significant other,” she recommends. “[Wedding planning] can always wait!”