James & Santhi’s Vibrant Indian-Greek Wedding in Berkeley

James & Santhi 01

When Santhi and James told us there’d be fire wrangling and spirited dancing at their Indian/Greek wedding, we couldn’t be more excited. We had a blast with them during their Stanford engagement session and had no doubt their wedding day would be even more spectacular.

Indian weddings can span multiple days, and Santhi and James held their celebration over two, starting with a henna (mendhi) party at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. The multihued saris donned by many of the guests were dazzling, as was the intricate handiwork of the henna artists. Toward the end of the evening, Santhi’s sister and friend performed a smile-inducing Bollywood-inspired dance.

The next day, everyone converged on the lawn of UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, which was outfitted with a mandap for our couple’s ceremony. Santhi was stunning in an orange and gold sari, with flowers woven into her long, braided hair. James looked regal in white traditional garb with gold accents. Also dressed in traditional Indian outfits, his groomsmen wore boutonnieres featuring pohutukawa flowers and billy buttons, which are native to New Zealand (James spent a good part of his childhood there).

The ceremony involved not only Santhi and James but their families and guests. The blur of non-stop action included the throwing of lime-and-turmeric solution to ward off evil, the washing of limbs and fruit, the wielding of fire, the feeding of ghee to said fire, and the crossing of pinkies (really!). In addition to exchanging garlands and wedding bands, Santhi and James took seven steps around the fire to represent their seven wedding vows. Their parents then sprinkled them with flowers and yellow rice to bless them.

After the ceremony, guests inhaled delicious grub from Udupi Palace while we whisked our newlyweds to the other side of the LHS for portraits and sweeping views of the bay. We loved that Santhi insisted on taking photos with the giant animatronic insect displays inside the interactive museum.

Before we knew it, it was time to make our way down the hill to their reception at the UC Botanical Gardens, which boasts more than 13,000 different kinds of plants from around the world on 34 acres. Santhi and her ladies changed into yet more colorful saris, while James wore a navy blue suit.

The festivities continued with music by the Klipptones, hilarious toasts, warm words, and more eating and drinking (we bet many of the guests were still stuffed from lunch but couldn’t turn down the amazing spread of Greek specialties nor the California and New Zealand wines). We knew that Santhi’s a mechanical engineer, but we were still impressed that she designed and laser-cut all the plastic charms (robot with heart, beaker with heart, octahedrals) for the Greek almond favors and assorted decorations. The honeycomb pattern in particular was actually the iridate structure of a family of materials that James (an experimental physicist) works on. Somehow, she also had time to paint their whimsical cake topper!

Alexis, a childhood friend who grew up with James in Athens, gave a rousing performance of traditional Greek wedding songs that compelled James to enthusiastically pull guests into a dance circle. In return, Alexis’s wife Marianna attempted to teach them how to dance Greek-style. (Alexis’s mom, by the way, was James’s kindergarten teacher. She attended the wedding and brought a framed painting that James had made when he was six years old as a gift. How incredible that she kept it after all these years!)

James and his groomsmen later surprised everyone with a Greek dance number. This kicked off a lively dance party, not to mention several serious dance-offs between James, Santhi, and her brother (happily, everyone walked away unscathed, although we wonder if James was able to walk the next day…). At one point, Jimmy, one of the caterers, picked up the bouzouki and started jamming with Alexis! Wow! Here are some of our favorite moments from an unforgettable day.

James & Santhi 02
henna hands 1
James & Santhi 04
James & Santhi 05
James & Santhi 14
James & Santhi 15
James & Santhi 16
James & Santhi 18
James & Santhi 06
James & Santhi 07
James & Santhi 08
James & Santhi 09
James & Santhi 10
henna hands 2
James & Santhi 12
James & Santhi 17
James & Santhi 19
James & Santhi 20
James & Santhi 21
James & Santhi 22
James & Santhi 23
James & Santhi 24
James & Santhi 25
James & Santhi 26
James & Santhi 27
James & Santhi 28
James & Santhi 29
James & Santhi 30
James & Santhi 31
James & Santhi 32
James & Santhi 44
James & Santhi 35
James & Santhi 36
James & Santhi 38
James & Santhi 39
James & Santhi 37
James & Santhi 40
James & Santhi 42
James & Santhi 43
James & Santhi 41
James & Santhi 45
James & Santhi 46
James & Santhi 34
James & Santhi 47
James & Santhi 48
James & Santhi 49
James & Santhi 50
James & Santhi 51
James & Santhi 52
James & Santhi 53
James & Santhi 54
James & Santhi 55
James & Santhi 56
James & Santhi 57

James & Santhi 59
James & Santhi 60
James & Santhi 61
James & Santhi 62
James & Santhi 63
James & Santhi 64
James & Santhi 65
James & Santhi 66
James & Santhi 67
James & Santhi 68
James & Santhi 69
James & Santhi 70
James & Santhi 71
James & Santhi 72
James & Santhi 73
James & Santhi 74
James & Santhi 75
James & Santhi 76
James & Santhi 77
James & Santhi 78
James & Santhi 79
James & Santhi 80
James & Santhi 81
James & Santhi 82
James & Santhi 83
James & Santhi 84
James & Santhi 85
James & Santhi 86
James & Santhi 87
James & Santhi 88
James & Santhi 89
James & Santhi 90
James & Santhi 91
James & Santhi 92
James & Santhi 93
James & Santhi 94
James & Santhi 95

Wedding sari (tailored blouse): Nalli Silks (Chennai)
Wedding jewelry (gold): GRT Jewellers (G.R. Thanga Maligai, Chennai)
Head jewelry & waist belt: Chaahat Jewellery
Reception sari (tailored semi-stitched lehenga choli): Nalli Silks (Chennai)
Bridesmaids outfits: Designed by Santhi with material from Nalli; tailored in Chennai
Henna party outfit: KAY (designer Helina; Chennai)
Make-up: Maria Landoni-King
Hair: Violeta Obrera
Groom’s wedding outfit: Nalli Silks (Chennai)
Groom’s reception outfit: Kenneth Cole suit, Van Heusen shirt
Rings: Jewelry Exchange Co. (San Francisco)
Priest: Naga Venkata Sastri Marepalli
Favors: Mantoles (sugar coated almonds) from Lixouri, Kefalonia; organza favor bags custom-sewn in India.
Henna party food: Vik’s Chaat Corner (Berkeley)
Ceremony lunch: Udupi Palace (Berkeley)
Reception caterer: Mezes Kitchen and Wine Bar (San Francisco)
Cake & cupcakes: Angel Cakes
Boutonnieres & garlands: SoMa Flowers
Other flowers: San Francisco Wholesale Flower Mart, assembled by James’s mom and aunt
Band: The Klipptones
Videography: Motion8Films
Equipment rentals: Hartmann Studios

One thought on “James & Santhi’s Vibrant Indian-Greek Wedding in Berkeley

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s