Now this wedding is not just special, stylish or merely a good day out – it’s a totally spectacular cocktail of uber-chic modernism, elegant traditionalism, multi-cultural funkiness and fun, all blended and shaken to perfection.
For any of you who are wondering how to mix two completely different backgrounds into one smooth and stylish day — get ready for some serious pinning action.
Yana and Archita seamlessly melded their loves, tastes and cultures together to create a unique day at Trust — a neoclassical styled art and event space gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
An art event in itself, our two gorgeous brides amalgamated a colourful and awesome blend of Russian, Jewish, Hindu and Indian traditions against the ridiculously gorgeous, all white, architectural splendour of a soaring 10,000 square foot, turn of the century building. Simple. Ahem.
What could have been contrived or clunky – trying to shoe horn different traditions and styles together — is instead thoughtful and elegant.
But the simplicity really lies in their motivation — to unite two families into one, representing both cultures. Even more, what underlined and defined the wedding was FUN. They wanted a huge, huge party and they got it, right down to the last few bars of Bohemian Rhapsody.
I’m still grinning from ear to ear at the image of the couple being raised high on chairs by friends and family, old and young — all partying together with the help of some homemade “traditional” vodka — to the Black Eyed Peas’ I Got a Feeling!
Even their choice of traditional wedding dresses had a twist… Archita wore a sari, whilst Yana wore a white wedding gown but with a sash around her waist made from the same material as Archita’s sari — a beautiful and subtle symbol to truly demonstrate the bond between the two.
All of the fantastic photography is by Michael and Melissa at M2 Photography. Now over to our beautiful brides…
How we met
Yana & Archita, the Brides: We met in undergrad at Penn at the largest party of the year called “Spring Fling”. To this day we debate about who made the first move. Chita’s friends were having a small party in a dorm room, and Yana crashed it. It was only three weeks before summer break began, so this was supposed to be just a fling… but we fell in love before the summer.
An art gallery venue
We wanted a venue with a lot of light — we knew it would be a colourful wedding and just wanted a bright, beautiful space. We also wanted an open floor plan – so we could arrange the chairs in a semi-circle for the ceremony, and not just have one aisle with our backs to our guests. It was also important to us that the venue would let us bring in our own caterers — we had Russian appetizers (Yana is Russian) and Indian family-style dinner (Archita is Indian) — we wanted dinner to just be delicious. We found our venue at Trust. It’s a beautiful old bank, now art gallery, with a gorgeous white interior and lots of light flooding through the windows. It had two levels — the ceremony and dancing was on the lower level, and the dinner was above (with a circular balcony overlooking the lower level).
A fiery colour scheme of orange, red, yellow, and everything in between!
We wanted fiery colours, and because the venue was so beautifully white, the colours really popped. We had many Indian saris of multiple different bright colours hanging on the walls and used as tablecloths for the gift table, guestbook table, etc. Orange was probably the primary colour (we chose it for the bridesmaid’s dresses, tags on the little vodka bottles, and table signs).
For decor, we used a lot of the extra colourful saris that Chita’s parents brought from India – draped over the gifts table and high-top tables, and hanging on the walls. The colour and warmth they brought to the room was truly magical.
Designing our own wedding stationery
We had so much fun making our invitation! We got our inspiration from this. We loved the idea of charting our story on the invitation because it’s been quite an adventure together! But we also wanted our invitation to look formal, elegant, and beautiful. So we combined them and designed this fold-open invitation. From the front, it looks traditional, but when you open it up, it is transformed into our story. We made all our other cards ourselves as well, to match (RSVP card, directions, menu etc) — but one our favourites is this program.
our wedding dresses
Archita: I always imagined getting married in a red-and-gold Indian bridal sari. When we were visiting family in Calcutta, India, nine months prior to the wedding, we went sari shopping, and found a beautiful bridal sari at Indian Silk House. We also bought some gorgeous wedding jewellery to match — gold with fiery red/orange accents.
Yana: Like most girls and very unlike my wife, I always pictured getting married in a white wedding dress and that was just about all the criteria I had. I opted for less “poof” so that the dress wouldn’t overtake the sari. We decided that one way to match is to use some material from Chita’s sari as a sash around my dress. We were worried that when we stood next to each other it wouldn’t like we were about to get married since we never saw a sari next to a wedding dress no matter how much we googled! So the sari sash around my dress was the piece that united us, yet let us each wear exactly what we wanted. I also had a mid-length veil.
hair + make up
Archita had her hair done up — despite some last-minute emergencies (trying to get the gold ‘tikka’ to hang on her forehead!) — it was a beautiful up do that she left largely to the hair stylist at Salon At 5th (now closed). Yana worked with Moko to get a half-up do with some braiding and some hair down to the side.
bridesmaids and bridesdudes
We had bridesmaids and bridesdudes, together we dubbed them the “best people”. For those who chose to wear dresses, we ordered orange “magic dresses” so each bridesmaid could choose how to wear the dress. The magic dress seemed to be the perfect outfit – it wasn’t an Indian sari but it also wasn’t a ‘traditional’ dress. It was beautiful how they all ended up wearing it in different styles that looked gorgeous on each of them! For those in suits, we found a beige pant-vest set from J. Crew. We also got orange ties to match the orange dresses.
Our Russian-Jewish-Hindu-Indian wedding ceremony… including rituals from all cultures!
We combined Russian, Jewish, Hindu, and Indian elements into one ceremony. Rather than pick and choose between our traditions, we just included everything that mattered to us. This wedding was very much about uniting two families into one. Representing both cultures and blending traditions did just that. In the ceremony, we stood under a chuppah draped with colourful saris from India, which looked a lot like a mandap.
Instead of walking around a fire in seven circles, which stems from both and Jewish and Hindu traditions, we took seven steps around candles. Yana led Chita around the ‘fire’, and Chita smashed the glass! We signed a Jewish ketubah that was decorated with Hindu/Indian calligraphy and design.
It’s hard to choose one favourite part, but that moment of seeing each other at the altar actually took our breath away – that may have been the best moment of the day.
The Jewish chuppah is very similar to the Indian mandup – so we integrated those two traditions by using bright saris from India to create the chuppah. Our ‘best people’ carried the chuppah in, and opened it up in front of our guests. The bright oranges and yellows and blues were beautiful against the white washed walls and floors of the venue – it was beautiful.
Our favourite flower is the stargazer lily – it was the first flower Chita bought for Yana within a week or two of meeting. We had Chita carry a bouquet of white stargazer lillies and Yana had a more colourful bouquet of orange lillies. Chartreuse in Philly made the whole process very easy. We also had simple wild flowers with bright colours on each table in a mason jar.
our phenomenal photographers
M2 Photography (Michael and Melissa) are the best! We met them at Chita’s sister’s wedding a few years prior and had been following their work ever since. We even took a photography class from them a year or so before the wedding. Not only are they phenomenal, they are also our friends – an amazing down to earth, fun couple. We wouldn’t have had anyone else photograph our wedding.
A brightly coloured wedding cake
After a lot of googling designs, we finally found a gorgeous swirly pattern – we showed some photos to our cake chef at Brown Betty. They make absolutely delicious cakes – we had four tiers, and chose three flavours: red velvet, buttercream coconut, and chocolate and cream swirl. They also made our Philly love sign topper out of chocolate!
an amazing DJ
For the ceremony we had a lovely quartet from the Penn Student Orchestra, our Alma Mater. We chose our DJ because our photographers said whenever Synergetic Sounds DJs, it’s always an awesome party. And it was indeed – the party never stopped!
Michael and Melissa also told us that you can judge how good a party is by how many glasses are broken by the end of the night. When we heard glasses start to smash, we knew Synergetic wwas doing an awesome job!
Yana’s dad makes homemade vodka – like any true Russian. He filled 130 little glass bottles with vodka, and Chita hand-wrote each label between classes at school. We tied little name tags onto each one, and they helped our guests find their tables. They were a huge hit! (And of course, there was a big bottle of vodka on every table – how could we have a Russian wedding without that.)
We had a typewriter guestbook with a scroll of paper hooked up to it. Such a great idea! We had a lot of wonderful messages, but also a lot of drunk ones from people who had a hard time typing late in the evening… it was so much fun to read the next day!
A colossal party!
At the end, what really defined our wedding day was the fun everyone was having. It was a huge, huge party – Chita’s mom, in a sari, danced with our crazy friends (some of them shirtless). Yana’s family had an awesome time in the photobooth. Our siblings and best friends took vodka shots together. Our friends and family lifted us up on chairs to I Gotta Feeling. We ended the night air-guitaring to Bohemian Rhapsody – Chita’s sari starting to fall off and everyone still on the dance floor!
Advice to other brides and grooms
On your wedding day, you are surrounded by all your favourite people – it’s so rare to have so many people who love you in one place. Take a deep breath after the ceremony and just look around. It’s such an awesome day!
Yana & Archita’s LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photography — M2 Photography
Venue — Trust, Philadelphia
Yana’s Wedding dress — Philly Bride
Archita’s Wedding dress — Indian Silk House
Yana’s Hair + Make Up — Moko
Archita’s Hair + Make Up —Salon at 5th (now closed)
Bridesdudes — J. Crew
Flowers — Chartreuse
Indian catering — Tiffin
Russian catering — Golden Gates
Wedding Cake — Brown Betty
DJ — Mike at Synergetic Sounds