Lisa + Vinay : Chicago Indian Wedding

My apologies about the length of this post, we tried to show all 4 days with as few images as possible and still telling the story. Enjoy, this is a good one!

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We have been sitting on this gorgeous Indian wedding for a while now and we are so excited to finally share these images with you! I know there were a lot of pictures to look at, but it was a huge wedding and I really wanted you to get a feel for the day and show the depth of this event, so thank you for your time! In all my years of photographing weddings and Indian weddings, I can confidently say I have never been witness to an event like this.
It is a true testament to the team we had working on this behind the scenes making everything come together in one seamless effort.
I first want to send out a HUGE thank you to Lauren with LOLA Events for helping write up this description, she knew more about this event than anyone and this event would not have been what it was with out her. Lauren worked so hard on this wedding along with Jesse Deckard with Event Creative, the staff at the Palmer House Hilton and last but not least, Vinay and Lisa. Second, I want to thank my team, Dustin Francis and Ryan Timm, for helping me document this event. It was one of the biggest weddings I have taken on and I could not have done this all without their help!

Vendors
WEDDING COORDINATOR: Lauren Carter, LOLA Event Productions
VENUE: Jane Himmel, Palmer House
PHOTOGRAPHY and PHOTOBOOTH: Jen Badelamenti, Jen Lynne Photography (2nd and 3rd photographers: Dustin Francis and Ryan Timm)
VIDEOGRAPHY: Epic Motion (Highlight videos and elevator blooper can be seen here: Part 1 and Part 2)
Beauty: Facade Makeup Artistry
HOSPITALITY ATTENDANT: VIP Services
DÉCOR – SANGEET/ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS: Shaadi Creations
DÉCOR – HINDU CEREMONY: Ravi’s Mandaps
DÉCOR – WESTERN EVENTS: Jesse Deckard, Event Creative
SANGEET: Tabla Dhol
BARAAT/HINDU CEREMONY MUSIC: Tabla Dhol
WESTERN CEREMONY MUSIC: Rendezvous
RECEPTION MUSIC: Rendezvous
HORSE: Mahraja Farms
RICKSHAWS: Rickshaw Rick
BRIDAL PARTY TRANSPORTATION: Windy City Limo

Lisa and Vinay met through work at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. With the groom’s Indian heritage, the focus of the weekend was undoubtedly on the Indian cultural events and Hindu ceremonies. Though not a graphic designer, but a plastic surgeon, the groom designed the invitations and every paper etcetera throughout the weekend of events, including a custom monogram that he commissioned based on his illustration.Their four day wedding weekend was full of multiple events and ceremonies. The guest size at each event ranged from intimate settings with immediate family only, up to the full guest list of 350 guests.

The historic Palmer House Hilton hotel was originally built in 1871 and burned down only 13 days after opening in the Great Chicago Fire. Today, it is one of the city’s most opulent and historic properties, featuring multiple ballroom spaces, each with their own personality and architectural details, making it perfect for our event. With so many moving pieces and guests to accommodate, we utilized each of the major ballrooms within the hotel throughout the weekend, including the 4000 square foot penthouse suite. We essentially took over the property!

 

Event Highlights:

Thursday: Puja, Hari Om Mandir

Friday: Bridal Mehndi and Haldi, Penthouse Suite – Palmer House

For the Mehndi and Haldi celebration, Lisa invited all the women up to her presidential suite to have dinner and get mehndi applied. It was a relaxed atmosphere and all the ladies seemed to really enjoy the night!

 

Saturday: Sangeet, Red Lacquer Room – Palmer House

The traditional pre-wedding party Sangeet featured a custom designed Indian menu. The décor featured mehndi inspired lighting designs projected onto the ceiling and dance floor and fuchsia lighting around the perimeter of the room. Two canopies on either side of the Red Lacquer Room housed an elevated cushion with silk pillows for the guests to relax while artists treated them to mehndi designs on their hands. After days of practice, cousins, siblings of the bride and groom and the bride and groom themselves surprised guests with a Bollywood inspired flash mob, followed by a men vs. women dance competition. The dances represented the Indian tradition of dance presentations for the bride and groom prior to the wedding.

 

Sunday: Wedding Ceremonies and Receptions

Sehra BandiWrigley Square, Millennium Park

With a high profile section of Millennium Park blocked off specifically for the groom’s ceremony, guests gathered to begin the day’s events. Just before leaving for the Sehra Bandi, we learned that Vinay and 14 of his groomsmen including Dustin, my 2nd photographer and one of the videographers, were stuck in the elevator on the way down from the hotel. After about 20 frantic minutes the Chicago Fire Department came to save the day. After the panic subsided, I think we all admitted that it was a much needed comedy relief!

Baraat – Parade Route from Millennium Park to the Hotel

The traditional white horse picked up the groom to begin the Baraat from the corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street at Wrigley Square. With a parade permit in hand, the Baraat continued 6 blocks, primarily down Wabash Avenue, concluding in front of the main Monroe entrance of the Palmer House – blocking traffic. The Baraat could be heard blocks away, with the drumming of a traditional Indian dhol group, rolling DJ and hundreds of guests adding with singing, dancing and percussion. I have never in my life seen anything like this. The excitement was evident on each person face as they danced down Michigan Avenue and South Wabash! Rickshaws were on hand for guests who were not up for the walk and added yet another layer for the baraat.

The Milni Dance and Garland Exchange took place in the entrance to the hotel following the Baraat. The group and celebration was so large it blocked traffic for vehicles and guests, the formal end of the Baraat created quite the spectacle!

Formal Hindu Wedding Ceremony – Red Lacquer Room
The mandap was a custom round structure that featured an interior ring for family to sit either on the ground with pillows or in chairs. The round ceremony shape created a sense of intimacy among the 350 guests as they watched the ceremony which was performed by a Hindu Priest.
After photos at Millennium Park, lunch and an outfit change, everyone was ready for the western ceremony. The simple ceremony décor focused on aisle décor that was a collaborative effort between the traditional Indian decorator and the event design specialist, pulling together candelabras and columns that lead up to custom steps for the ceremony to take place on the Empire Room stage. The bride’s bouquet popped off of the ivory and gold ceremony décor, featuring vibrant purple hydrangea, purple lisianthus, open magenta garden roses, magenta spray roses, fuchsia phalenopsis orchid blossoms, and purple vanda orchid blossoms. The stems of the bouquet were accented with touches representing Lisa’s grandmothers.
Guests Entered the cocktail space with a color palate of soft gold and vibrant purple. Opposite the main entrance, the custom purple drape was sheer, offering a hint of the dining space on the other side. When the sheer purple drape was pulled aside, revealing the dinner and dancing space splashed with color – purple, orange, marigold, and fuchsia with touches of gold. The primary focus of the room centered on the band stage and dance floor. The backdrop for the band stage featured wide alternating purple and orange vertical stripes, which flowed onto the sage itself, which then continued onto the dance floor. This vibrant focal point anchored the room and added the wow factor that the bride and groom were looking for.
Two 9 foot tall white elephant statues flanked the band stage. Just beyond the elephants were custom bars that were light with orange lighting from within. These elements were provided by the Indian décor company, in collaboration with the primary designer. The room glowed with fuchsia and amber lighting. The tables were covered with textured purple linen and adorned with a collection of lanterns that created texture and interest.
One of the lanterns that repeated on many of the tables even had an elephant to play off of the larger elephants near the sage. The cake was situated on the dance floor and echoed the orange and purple stripes, but situated horizontally for contrast. The other layers of the cake were gold, detailed with a mehndi design inspired by the mehndi used on the invitation and paper etceteras.
The monogram designed by the groom was the focal point of the cake. The dance floor rocked throughout the night and guests took fun photos in the photo booth. The guests were none the wiser that the live tropical birds weren’t the originally planned photo booth accessories. The morning of the wedding, word came that the monkey, who was originally hired, was ill. After several phone calls, the monkey was replaced with the tropical birds. They were a perfect fit and great touch!
In the end, Lisa and Vinay were able to celebrate their love with their friends and family on what I am sure will be a fond memory for everyone who was present!