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Sanju and Rana – September 19-22, 2013

Sanju and Rana were married on September 21, 2013 in Manchester, VT.  I spent so much time with these two working on all of the details of their Indian wedding celebration.  Their event started with a welcome party at their home in Sunderland on Thursday where there was a mehndi artist there making the most beautiful designs on the women’s hands and wrists.  I even got some mehndi done but only because Sanju insisted!  Before the catered meal began Sanju and Rana participated in traditional Indian rituals to prepare the bride and groom for the upcoming wedding.  Then after eating guests mingled, sang, and kept warm next to the fire.
On Friday Sanju and Rana celebrated their Baraat and Sangeet at the Southern Vermont Arts Center.  In Indian culture the joining of a bride and groom involves a formal acceptance by the parents, and during the Baraat the groom and his friends and family form a parade of sorts to travel to the bride’s location.  Although grooms typically ride on a horse during this part, Rana decided instead to arrive in a very elaborately decorated golf cart!  There was a DJ and a dhol player who lead the dancing guests across the grounds and over to the entrance of the Souther Vermont Art Center where Sanju was waiting inside with her family and friends.  The families greeted one another with garlands of flowers and light ‘competitions’ until it is time for the bride to be brought out to meet her groom.  After this Sanju and Rana held a private wedding ceremony to honor Rana’s religious traditions, and then went inside the performance space to begin the Sangeet.  A Sangeet is a fun and spirited party where family and friends put on skits and dances to entertain the guests.  The performance space at the Southern Vermont Art Center was the perfect location for a Sangeet because there is a stage with theater-style seating and a large open floor space that was used for dancing at the end of the night.  We had a wonderful Indian caterer from New Jersey who made some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted!  Everyone really celebrated and enjoyed all of the festivities that night!
Saturday was the actual wedding day, and as Sanju is Christian she and Rana chose to have their wedding in a typical American style with a church ceremony followed by their reception.  Their ceremony took place at the First Congregational Church in Manchester, and the two of them were able to sneak in some beautiful first look photos right before hand on Equinox Resort’s 1811 House lawn.  After the ceremony ended the bride and groom were whisked off in a vintage car and brought to the amazingly beautiful Hildene – The Lincoln Family Home.  Hildene is a historic property that was built by Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, in the early 1900’s.  The home sits back into the woods and is surrounded on all sides by gorgeous views of the Green Mountains.  There is a stunning garden behind the home where Sanju and Rana and their guests enjoyed cocktails before heading down to the tent for dinner and dancing.  Sanju has an impeccable sense of style and attention to detail and if guests hadn’t noticed this on Thursday or Friday they certainly got to be wowed by her esthetic on Saturday.  Sanju loves the color pink and she incorporated pink flowers, linens and pink uplighting to completely transform the way the inside of the Hildene tent looked.  The centerpieces were incredible with their loose blooms sitting inside a dark black vase.  And there’s no way to not love the eucalyptus swags on the back of Sanju and Rana’s chairs or the replicas of their cats that sat on the top of their wedding cake.  Every piece of the decor and design was carefully thought of and perfectly executed.  And with the gorgeous weather, delicious meal, and a famous club DJ there was no excuse for anyone to not spend their final night partying until the very last minute.
As if all of those events weren’t enough, on Sunday morning Sanju and Rana hosted a brunch for their guests on the lawn of Equinox Resort’s 1811 House.  I was impressed to see so many awake and cheery people after three days of partying!
Most people  are used to a wedding being a 5-6 hour event but these guys really know how to make the celebration last!  The planning involved in pulling this off was a massive amount of work but Sanju and Rana gave me clear direction all the way through and we put together quite the bash!  
All in all we sourced out:
FIVE different venues, involving three different floor plans
FOUR different caterers, which meant many many many decisions on foods and beverages
TWO DJs, one from New Jersey and one from LA
THREE florists/nurseries
FOUR locations for rentals, with a total of FOUR tents, and some rental items changing locations three or four times
THREE days of photography
TWO days of videography
TWO days of hair and makeup
And finally FOUR days of coordination by ME!

(there is a full vendor list at the end of this post)

I will admit that this event was a lot of work, but I can’t even begin to describe how amazingly touched I was by the care and generosity of Sanju and Rana’s families and all of their 200 guests.  Most of the guests were strangers to me and yet I felt as much a guest as a wedding planner all four days.  I had more people hug me, thank me, congratulate me, and offer to help wherever needed.  Every planning meeting we had at Rana’s family’s home in Sunderland came with bowls of fresh fruit and incredible hospitality.  Sanju and I spent car rides talking about all aspects of life and sharing a lot of personal stories with one another.  Sanju and Rana showered me with gifts all weekend, because they are the type who get more joy out of giving than they do in receiving.  And as I brought Sanju up to the entrance of the church she turned to me and said “I love you Shannon” right before walking down her aisle.  
When I left Manchester on Sunday afternoon I felt a sense of sadness that this wedding was over.  But the memories I have from that weekend, those places, and all of those incredible people, are ones I will cherish and keep with me forever.
Sanju and Rana, you are really special people and I am so glad that you not only found each other but that you found me.  This journey with you has changed me and I can’t thank you enough for including me in such a big event in your life.  I will love you and think of you forever!!
Now for the photos!!
The Welcome Party

The Baraat and Sangeet

The Wedding Day

In all of my blog posts I give credit to all of the vendors who worked with me to make the event possible.  Here is a list of everyone to give credit where it’s due.
The Welcome Party – Thursday September 19 – Family Home
Catering – Bistro Henry
Photographer – Lisa Rigby Photography
Rentals – Rain or Shine
Flower Decor – Equinox Valley Nursery
Mehndi – Aaquila Afzal
The Sangeet – Friday September 20 – Southern Vermont Arts Center
Venue – Jennifer Grigsby at the Southern Vermont Arts Center
Catering (food) – Moghul Catering
Bar Service – Bistro Henry
Photography – Lisa Rigby Photography
Videography – Wade Koch 
DJ for Baraat and Sangeet (with dhol player) – DJ Jassi of Dhol Fusion
DJ for late night dancing – Smiles Davis
Rentals – Rain or Shine
Flower decor – Equinox Valley Nursery
Flower garlands – Fancy Florist
Hair and Makeup – True Grace 
Transportation – Dufour 
Golf cart rental – Equinox Resort
The Wedding Day – Saturday September 21 – First Congregational Church and Hildene Estate
Church – Paula Albertsson at the First Congregational Church
Reception Venue – Sheila Burks at Hildene
Catering – Pangaea
Photography – Lisa Rigby Photography
Videography – Wade Koch
DJ – Smiles Davis
Florist – Nancy Bishop
Rentals – Rain or Shine
Hair and Makeup – True Grace
Officiant – Rev Wayne Bell
Ceremony Musicians – Dorset Trio
Ceremony Decor (potted plants) – Equinox Valley Nursery
Transportation – Dufour
Cake – Cakes by Irene (Irene Maston)
The Post-Wedding Brunch – Sunday September 22 – Equinox Resort’s 1811 House (not pictured)
Venue – Ruth Whitelaw at The Equinox Resort
Florist – Nancy Bishop
Rentals – Rain or Shine

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