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All About our Indian Inspired Wedding Ceremony

June is a big anniversary month for Steve and I. We got married two years ago, on June 4th, and started Indiaphile one year ago on June 10th. From the very beginning we’ve been talking about putting up a post about our wedding and I think now is the perfect month to finally get around to doing it!

Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
Steve and I with Xaria. Heading to our wedding venue.

Steve proposed in October and we decided we didn’t want a long engagement. At first we talked about getting married in March but we quickly learned what an insane goal that was for all of the things we wanted to do for it. Our wedding was very DIY, we had a lot of ideas for how we wanted the food, decorations and location.

In the end, it was the location that decided the date. We looked around a lot of places and found a lot that we loved but were too restricted in what they allowed us to do. A lot of places try to impose restrictions like using one of their approved caterers, who were willing to “learn to cook Indian food” for our wedding. Right! One place we found looked really cool. It as a ranch with a beautiful wedding hall. They wanted to control everything from the food to the decorations! They said they had tried letting people do it themselves before but it never worked.

After an exhaustive search, we found Marina Village. A beautiful venue right on the Marina and across from the estuary where the San Diego River meets the Pacific Ocean. This place was perfect because they were completely hands off and gave us the freedom to do everything we wanted. And they didn’t even mind the horse! This decided the date because when we went to book the reception hall they only had one Saturday still available for the entire summer!

Neither Steve or I are religious, so how to handle the ceremony was a big question for us. We decided to have a ceremony that was a mix between Western and Indian. After tons of research into wedding practices from all around the world, we decided to incorporate many elements of a traditional Gujarati wedding and added some things from a Western wedding too. As we looked into it, we found the meaning behind many of the rituals to be so romantic. Like the sapta padi (seven steps), it is said that two people who take seven steps together will remain friends forever. I love that idea!

We decided we’d have a fire but unlike a traditional Indian wedding where everyone sits, we decided to stand. We asked a good friend of ours to be our officiant. We asked our family members to participate in the rituals and Xaria (our dog) was our ring bearer.

In a typical Indian ceremony, the bride’s maternal uncle carries her down the aisle to deliver her. Then parents perform a ceremonial “donating” called kanya daan. It’s a lot like the Western tradition of the father giving the bride away, but I am not some man’s property to be transferred over. It was important to me that my parents were included in the ceremony, but I did not want to be “donated” away. I walked down the aisle alone to show that I was about to enter into marriage of my own volition and was excited to do it!

Indian culture is so patriarchal that even a woman’s middle name is her dad’s first name until she gets married and then it switches to her husband’s first name. I’ve always had a problem with that. It’s a literal way to refer to women as property. And it is a part about my culture I reject. So I walked down the aisle alone as a symbol of my independence. This is also why it was so important to me that Steve and I took each other’s last names.

Here is the wedding ceremony in pictures (These photos were taken by our friends at eWed Photography):

Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
This is the sign that Steve made for out wedding. I totally love it! He cut each of the letters out with a jigsaw.
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)

Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
Baarat: the grooms procession to the wedding where Steve is escorted to the mandap (wedding tent) by friends and family. He came in on a horse!
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
After Steve arrived on the horse my mom welcomed him and performed arti. There is a lit lamp in the tray that she waved over him, then she put a vermilion dot on his forehead.
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
At the start of the ceremony, we welcomed each other by exchanging floral garlands. I actually clapped! Yes, I’m a dork! šŸ™‚
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
My brother and Steve’s sister lighting the ceremonial fire, which burns throughout the ceremony. It was  a little windy and we had some close calls with Steve’s scarf!
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
Gath Bandhan: My brother tying us together. The knot signifies our eternal love and commitment to each other.
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
The Mangal Fera: Circling around the fire seven times. The circles represent aspects of our life together: love, marriage, health and knowledge.
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
Sapta Padi (The seven steps of marriage): It is said in Hindu philosophy that two people who walk seven steps together will remain lifelong friends.
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
Mangalsutra: Steve adorning me with necklace made with black beads. It is a symbol of marriage. I made the necklace myself.
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
Sindoor: Steve applying sindoor (red powder) to the parting of my hair. It is a symbol of marriage for Hindu women.
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
Ring exchange: Xaria was our ring bearer. We tied the rings to her collar with a ribbon. Isn’t she the cutest ring bearer ever?!
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
The Kiss! šŸ™‚
Thomas-Patel Indian-inspired Wedding (Indiaphile.info)
Xaria congratulating us after the ceremony with a hug! Love!!! (P.S. I made her outfit.)
Categorized as Food


  1. Oh my gosh, what a beautiful wedding ceremony you had! You look both gorgeous. I also like a lot your modern and contemporary gender approach to traditon, that’s very inspiring. I guess you had wonderful Indian food after the ceremony? Surely that it has been great as well.

    Last but not least: Happy wedding anniversary two both of you!

    1. I knew we had more than just food in common! šŸ™‚ Thank you for the wishes!
      And yes, we did serve Indian food at our wedding. It took a lot of searching but we found the perfect caterer and everyone loved the food.

  2. Puja, you and Steve are the cutest couple, honestly. I loved hearing about your wedding, and happy second anniversary. I think of you often.


  3. Wow !! Lovely post !! And wishing you both a belated happy wedding anniversary !! All the photos looks absolutely great !! Congrats for your blog reaching its first anniversary !! And wishing you many more !!!

  4. Your wedding reminds me of mine! My husband is Italian/Catholic so we mixed traditional Hindu and Catholic themes to create our ceremony. It was very DIY. I had the same issues with venues as you did (I seriously laughed when they told me the caterer would learn to cook Indian food). Beautiful pictures!

    1. Yay! I love fusion weddings.
      And it’s hilarious that you had the same issue with wedding venues. No, not letting your caterer experiment with Indian food at my wedding. Thanks, but no thanks!

  5. Wow, what a beautiful wedding Puja!! I so agree with what you wrote about the name and kanyadaan part. The part and photos I liked the most are about Xaria being the ring bearer and her outfit that you made is so unique. Belated Happy Anniversary!!

  6. Beautiful wedding. I attended a wedding in India last year and their anniversary quickly approaches. What is a traditional 1st year anniversary gift? Also, is there normally a party to celebrate the first year?

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