It’s not uncommon for multicultural couples to host two wedding ceremonies to honor different family traditions. And if you’ve ever planned one wedding, you know what an impressive feat that is! Helen and Prameet not only planned both a western and a traditional Indian wedding, but took it a step further by combining it all into one really big (and really fun) day spent bringing their family and friends together. Planner and florist Wildflower DSM helped them bring their Indian fusion wedding to life at the beautiful Iowa venue Willow on Grand in Des Moines, all the while including some new traditions of their own. Find the photos from this two-wedding day by Cambria Shelley Photography, below!
After getting engaged in July 2021, they knew they wanted to tie the knot the following August during the Iowa State Fair so that their families and friends visiting Iowa for the first time could experience one of its most famous attractions. So while both of the wedding ceremonies took place in one day, they had already spent time with family on Thursday for the fair. Then, on Friday, Helen and Prameet welcomed guests with a combined welcome party, Mehndi, and Sangeet at the Des Moines Botanical Garden.
Helen wore a sleek white Alice + Olivia dress and these amazing Manolo Blahniks.
The Wedding Day
On the day-of, they each got ready at their hotel for a first look in their western attire. Helen explains, I had a special moment with my mom when I put my grandmother’s wedding ring on to wear throughout the day. I was named after my mom’s mother and she wasn’t able to travel for the wedding, so it was meaningful to us to have a part of her with us that day.
Once we were dressed, we each traveled to the Rose Garden at the Des Moines Art Center for our first look. After our first look and some portraits, we went to the venue and changed into our Indian attire for portraits and family photos in our Indian clothes. We then got staged for the baraat, a traditional Indian wedding procession.
Helen wore a bright and beautiful lehenga by designer Kynah.
Once all the guests arrived, Prameet and his brother rolled up in a family friend’s red Corvette to get the baraat started. Everyone began dancing to the Indian music playing over the speakers, and colorful smoke bombs signaled the start of the party. Brides don’t typically attend the baraat but Helen wanted to be part of the action, so she and her sisters joined shortly after. Looks like such a fun time and a great way to add their modern spin!
For our wedding style, we prioritized bright, colorful flowers and decor. Indian weddings are traditionally very vibrant, and we wanted to incorporate those colors throughout our day, not just during the Indian wedding ceremony. The highlight was our mandap, which doubled as an altar for our western ceremony. It was covered in colorful roses, dahlias, ranunculus, and calla lilies and it made a beautiful backdrop for both ceremonies. It also became a centerpiece of our reception, with the head table dining under the structure.
The Indian Wedding Ceremony
After the baraat, guests were seated and Prameet and our parents took their places under the mandap. I entered under a phoolo ki chadar (a canopy of flowers) escorted by my sisters, my brother-in-law, and my nephew. Prameet’s aunt, Sujata Bariyar, performed an abbreviated version of an Indian ceremony. In order to keep the ceremony to about a half hour, we only included the most sacred parts, such as the Jai Mala (garland exchange), the Ganesh Puja (opening prayer) and the Saat Phere & Saat Vachan (circling of the sacred fire). Our friend Unnati Dass, who introduced us, served as co-officiant, translating the ceremony to English so that anyone who didn’t speak Hindi could follow along.
After the Indian wedding ceremony, guests enjoyed a mini cocktail hour while the bride and groom changed back into their other outfits for the western ceremony. The bride’s college roommate performed the ceremony and her great uncle (a Catholic priest) performed a blessing, while another uncle read a poem that was meaningful to the couple from early in their relationship. During this ceremony, the bride and groom exchanged their own personal vows.
The venue was then flipped a third time for a bright and cheerful wedding reception! Such a good idea to incorporate the florals from their ceremonies.
The most memorable moment was when our guests were seated for the reception and each one found a handwritten, personalized note from us. It was important to us that each person understood how much we valued their presence that day and in our lives, and many people told us they saved those notes after the wedding. We’d also written each other cards and sitting down together to read them, in a beautiful room surrounded by the people we love the most, was extremely special.
Our first dance was to Beyonce’s Love on Top and our guests generously abided by our biggest wish: to keep the party going all night long. We’d requested The Killers’ Mr. Brightside for our final song, and the band surprised us by bringing us on stage to sing it with them. Our family and friends loved it, and when my brother-in-law started a “one more song” chant, we obliged with Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.
So many beautiful moments, and how about that wedding gown Monique Lhuillier?!
After the reception, everyone moved on to a cocktail bar, Hello, Marjorie, for the after party, which was filled with drinks, late-night pizza, and more dancing until 2am.
Congratulations to Helen and Prameet!
Photography: Cambria Shelley Photography | Venue: Willow on Grand in Des Moines, Iowa | Planner & Florist: Wildflower DSM | Videographer: Vine Productions | Caterer: The Tangerine Food Co. | Stationery: Anticipate Invitations | Rentals: BBJ La Tavola | Indian Lehenga Designer: Kynah | Bridal Gown Designer: Monique Lhuillier | Veil: Monique Lhuillier | Hair: Lindsey Mollenhauer | Makeup: Madelyn Cunningham | Bride’s Shoes: Loeffler Randall | Clutch: Edie Parker | Groom’s Attire: Indochino | Music: Lost Wax Band | Friday Night (Welcome Party, Sangeet, and Mehndi) Venue: Des Moines Botanical Garden | Bride’s Welcome Party Attire: Alice + Olivia | Shoes: Manolo Blahnik