A Wedding Where East Meets West in the Southwest

downtheaisle

A few days ago, I shared some images from my friends’ Tanya and Brian’s wedding weekend — specifically the mehndi, which serves as a traditional pre-party in South Asia. (You can revisit that post here.)

Now, we move into the main part of the show — the ceremony and reception, which were both awash in touches that were specifically tailored to the unique couple.

kuddletonwedding

I like to wear my saris whenever I can, so I busted out this red version, which was a gift from my in-laws. It’s straight from Mumbai, and I actually wore this for one of my own wedding ceremonies. (That’s what I love about saris — you can wear the same one for years without worrying about weight gain, offending a host or falling out of fashion.)

Sari: Gift From In-Laws
Sari: Gift From In-Laws

The wedding itself was set atop a glittering rooftop at the Sam Houston Hotel. The ceremony backdrop was a mile-high hedge straight from Alice in Wonderland, as well as a lattice hanging with twinning votive candles.

Below, you’ll see plenty of photos and some of my observations — plus some insights direct from the bride.

The Sam Houston Hotel was the venue for the wedding.
The Sam Houston Hotel was the venue for the wedding.

What was the overall theme of the wedding?

The idea of east meets west inspired me. I think the merging of different cultures is so important in our world. I wanted our wedding to reflect both our cultures but more importantly I wanted our wedding to say , we don’t need to be put in a box – “American” or “Pakistani”. “Traditional” or “modern.” We can be whatever combination of everything we want.

The ceremony flowers were later repurposed into dramatic centerpieces for the reception.
The ceremony flowers were later repurposed into dramatic centerpieces for the reception.
Tanya enters the ceremony with her parents.
Tanya enters the ceremony with her parents.

How did you know your dress the ONE?

I honestly didn’t know what I wanted. I knew I’d be wearing the traditional Pakistani outfit the night before. So I wanted a white dress for the wedding. I thought I’d want something sleek, fitted and modern. But when I tried on this dress (by Cristiano Lucci), I fell in love with it. I loved how special the ball gown aspect was. And the part that really sold me was the eastern influence in the design: the dropped waist and full skirt made it feel like a lengha. And the intricate bead work was very akin to Indian designs. (I later found out all the bead work was done in India!) 

Tanya mixed Eastern and Western elements for her dress and accessories.
Tanya mixed Eastern and Western elements for her dress and accessories.

How did you incorporate two different cultures into one event?

 I wanted a post-modern approach to a “fusion” wedding (my mother’s term). It was important to have elements of both east and west. Hence the bridesmaids wore lenghas while I wore a white dress. I not only wore the white dress but I had the traditionally south Asian Tika head piece and henna up my arms.

Tanya's dress included beading and a dramatic drop waist.
Tanya’s dress included beading and a dramatic drop waist.

What was your favorite part of the day?

You spend a lot of time and money and resources and effort on the reception. But the best part of my night, was undoubtedly the ceremony. It was the most special moment of my life. I did try to make it fun for the audience is well. I think it was really cute — and at the end of it, my best friend was also my husband.
Chi (left) paired a glamorous orange gown with traditional Indian jewelry.
Chi (right) paired a glamorous orange gown with traditional Indian jewelry.

(This is Diana breaking back in — As a side note, can I just say how amazing all the guests looked? The attendees brought their fashion A game for this party. Everyone was rocking gorgeous jewel-toned colors with bling galore.)

Deep, a member of Tanya's bridal party, was glowing at the wedding.
Deepa, a member of Tanya’s bridal party, was glowing at the wedding.
The crossword puzzle that Tanya created for guests to complete before dinner.
The crossword puzzle that Tanya created for guests to complete before dinner.

What other special elements did you include in the day?

I was inspired by the concept of whimsical imagination. I think little unique touches can be very low-cost and really make the event special. I made crossword puzzles and personalized pencils for each table that really became a fun game while guests were being seated and waiting for dinner. I also had custom-made sunglasses that turned into a fun prop for photos. 

The reception had a view of the courthouse.
The reception had a view of a Houston courthouse.

One of the special things about the wedding was the hashtag — #frogvark. The name is a combination of your childhood nickname (Froggy) and Brian’s rugby name (Aardvark). Tell me about how you “branded” your wedding.

I was inspired by my branding and marketing background.  When I first mentioned to people that I wanted my hashtag to be #frogvark, they balked. They said no one would get it and I’d have this weird made-up word associated with my formal wedding. But I insisted. And by using the principles of branding, it worked. Be repetitive, compelling, relevant and consistent, and it will catch on.  The word “frogvark” was everywhere from the website, to the program, to the napkins. Several times over the weekend, there was an unsolicited, raucous chant of “frogvark.”

tanyalaugh