Shivani and Aakash’s Big Fat Indian Wedding In Florida

Love is in the air and today we're excited to share Shivani and Aakash's love story! Read on to see how they met and what advice they have for couples.

How did you and your partner meet? What's your love story?

On September 26th, 2015, in the middle of nowhere, Chattahoochee Hills, GA, I was begrudgingly dragged to the Music festival TomorrowWorld by my close friend Suniti, along with some of her friends. Suniti told me that her cousin Aakash was there with a couple of his best friends and suggested we all meet up. Shortly after we met up, Suniti and I decided to spend the remaining time at the festival with Aakash & his friends. Little did Aakash know that he had just met his Forever Rave Bae. To say we felt an instant attraction would be vastly underselling it. Over the next couple of days, Aakash found every excuse to contact me. However, at the time, Aakash was living in New Jersey, while I was residing in his hometown of Tampa, FL. With this kind of distance, my expectations were low as far as a relationship was concerned. Little did I know he had already planned on moving back to Tampa the week after we had met. Fate was knocking on my door when I least expected it.

And how did he pop the question?

Lately, everyone’s tying the knot, so it was no surprise to me when Aakash invited me to an engagement brunch for one of his family members. He mentioned that I should probably pack something nice to wear to this event. As I frantically packed my suitcase, I did the exact opposite and failed to remember to pack something nice to wear. On my way to Tampa, I received a call from Manali, my Maid of Honor, and Suniti, my bridesmaid and future sister-in-law. The duo was trying to convince me to pamper myself and get a manicure. Unfortunately for them, getting my nails done was the last thing I wanted to do. Nonetheless, I still accompanied them to the nail salon where they eventually convinced me to get a manicure. Little did I know, the two were helping Aakash prepare for the proposal.

The next day, as Aakash and I were getting ready for the "engagement brunch", he noticed I didn't pack something nice to wear... go figure. After a few minutes, he walks in with a beautiful blue dress and white flower earrings that "his mom" got for me. That day, I said to myself, "I want to look extra pretty for my man. I want him to feel like he's holding hands with the most beautiful girl, by his side." Once we arrived at Curtis Hixon Park, Aakash suggested taking a stroll by the water, an area that we've enjoyed spending time together over the years.

As we walked through the cement archway of the outdoor amphitheater, I noticed rose petals on the floor and a photographer clicking away trying to capture each and every moment. After this moment, everything felt surreal, I didn't know if I was dreaming or if this was reality. Everything around us went silent, and before I knew it, he got on one knee, pulled out a little black box, and looked straight into my eyes. I looked back at him, and every memory and precious moment we shared together rushed through my head. And then he said it, he said the words that forever changed both our lives, that will take us both into our next journey. I've never felt so euphoric, so safe, so sure as I did at this moment, just us two, together, forever...

How was the wedding planning process for you?

Planning a wedding along with trying to juggle between work, looking for a house, community service, and trying to have some sort of social life, seemed almost close to impossible.

Luckily, from the very beginning, I hired Umangi Patel & Rikti Smart, with Elite Dream Creations as my wedding planners. Both Umangi and Rikti were very well organized and kept me and my family accountable throughout the entire planning process. Not to mention, they make planning seem like a breeze, so I could focus on more important things, like what to wear on the second night of my Bachelorette.

Just like any little girl, I had details of my wedding planned out before I even found a contender to marry. Having a vision helped with the planning process, mainly because I knew exactly what I wanted from my outfits to the ambiance of each event. I wanted my guests to feel the experience, rather than just watching the celebration. Weddings in all cultures have different traditions, but the same overall values of happiness, prosperity, and family are present. Indian weddings, especially, have numerous traditions and ceremonies that I wanted to share with all my family and guests. Every detail had meaning behind it.

The jewelry I wore for my Vidhi/Pithi has been in my family for 4 generations.

Although, subtitle, Peacocks were a hidden element that was presented in my wedding invitation, mehndi outfit, and wedding décor. Even though I planned most of the wedding on my own, Aakash was aware of all details except for the reception. I wanted to surprise Aakash with what I had planned, although, I did let him pick our first dance song, which was played live on the piano by his best friend and groomsman, Schamir Belhome.

Our Wedding reception was a complete recreation of the day Aakash and I met, with stage décor resembling the stage where we met at TomorrowWorld and greenery décor that mimicked the location. Seeing his reaction when he entered the room was the moment I had been waiting for, besides the first look of course. Overall, planning was a remarkable experience, which I would do all over again.

What advice would you give to newly engaged couples?

Photo provided by Shivani Patel

Enjoy your engagement period! Don’t rush if you aren’t ready, take this time to prepare for your future together. Discuss those big topics that often get overlooked until after the wedding. Topics such as finances, responsibilities, career, family planning, and most importantly prepare your vows to one another. With social distancing measures in place, it has become difficult to have those 700-1000 guest weddings. Think about other options such as destination weddings or smaller intimate options. If marriage is your goal, go ahead and get hitched. Weddings celebrations can always take place later.

What are you guys up to now?

We are a year into our marriage and have lived in 2 cities now. Aakash is working from home and I’m continuing to go to my office. COVID really shot down most of our plans but has helped us make a home together.

Stay tuned for more love stories coming up and if you're interested in sharing your love story, contact us!


Two Love Birds

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Pyaari Weddings

Pyaari Weddings is an Elegant, Easy, and Effortless South Asian Wedding Planning Platform who does all the hard work so couples can have fun planning their wedding.