Carolina Cover

Nilima weds Raj


Nilima and Raj’s romance began during college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, dating through college and graduate school. After dating for four years, Raj planned an elaborate surprise proposal during a trip to Puerto Rico; Nilima was showered with gifts, and on the fourth day, Raj asked Nilima to solve a puzzle to open a locked box. A note inside told her to turn around, and suddenly, Raj was on one knee asking Nilima to be his wife.

For a few months, they enjoyed life as a newly engaged before beginning the serious task of wedding planning, which they did with the help of their families. The wedding took place in Charlotte, North Carolina, Nilima’s hometown, and they hired an event coordinator for the wedding day to help set detailed timelines and lists so the happy couple could rest and enjoy their time with their guests.

The first night, the Mehndi, was held at Nilima’s home where they set up a large tent in the backyard. It was decorated with family-made hand-painted parasols, and this colorful backdrop complemented the pillows scattered around the tent, yellow fabric craped from the ceiling and bright centerpieces and tablecloths. The atmosphere was colorful and light-hearted for their 200 guests. Even though the Mehndi night is traditionally for the bride’s side, they included Raj’s family so that everyone could share the intimate celebration. The evening was full of dances, music, and the release of floating Chinese lanterns. The following morning, they swapped out some of the table décor and added Rajastani umbrellas and bandhanichunnis for the Manglik Prasang.

For the garba, Nilima wanted to re-create an Indian market place, so they strung up street lights and Indian flags, with a large Radha Krishna murti in the center since the garba happened to be on Janmashtami. The murti was under a large Rajastani umbrella with floating candles, a colorful backdrop behind the live band and centerpieces made of dandiyas and gold lanterns. Their caterer also helped select menu items that resembled street food with a fusion twist, set up at stations with chalkboard signs.

Their wedding ceremony took place in a grand ballroom, with a simple mandap that resembled The Old Well, an iconic part of the UNC-Chapel Hills campus where the couple first met. A dholi accompanied Raj as Nilima’s parents walked him down the aisle, and the bride entered to “Pehli Nazar,” followed by a traditional Gujurati wedding rendition by her mami. The couple departed the ceremony in a vintage red convertible as their 450 guests blew bubbles to celebrate. Oversized lights spelled “LOVE” with hanging crystals over the reception’s main stage, and there were long family tables and a sweetheart table. The colors were fuchsia, eggplant, and gold, with textured lighting on the ceiling and focus lighting for the floral pieces. The charming dessert station was a variety of cupcakes and Indian desserts, and their 430 guests enjoyed Hindi and American songs throughout the night. The best surprise of the night was the coordinated dance by 50 of their friends and family. Nilima and Raj were pleased with how smoothly the entire wedding process was, and began their life journey together with lots of unique and beautiful memories.

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Photos Courtesy
Zamana Photo & Videography