By Rachel Jones | Photographs from Fine Art Productions

There’s no such thing as a small Indian wedding,” jokes Bhaavana Venkatesh. “That’s just our culture — we’re so big on family and everything’s larger than life.” And that’s exactly how she and Jeff Ganesh Sooknarine wanted their wedding to be. It all began the night before the ceremony with a traditional Indian Sangeet on the Gateway Clipper. The colorful event featured henna art, delicious finger foods, and music and dance performances by friends and family members. “It’s a time to embrace and welcome the couple,” Bhaavana explains. “Everyone is having fun and enjoying each other’s company.” The group reconvened the next day for a ceremony that incorporated her Indian roots and his Indo-Caribbean heritage. “When we first saw each other, he teared up a little bit,” Bhaavana says. “It was a special moment for us.” Following the red-and-gold-bedecked service, the bride and groom changed ensembles and headed into the whimsical reception. Working with the teams from Pearl Celebrations and the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, the couple painted a beautiful, romantic scene with lavender uplighting, hundreds of candles, and stunning centerpieces. After their Pittsburgh festivities, Bhaavana and Jeff hosted a second wedding in his hometown of Orlando! “For me, the best moment was bringing our two families and two cultures together,” Bhaavana says. “That’s something I’ll always remember.”


VENDORS

Accommodations, Ceremony, & Reception: Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown
Caterer: Taj Mahal
Decorations, Florals, & Planner: Pearl Celebrations
Entertainment: Island Vibez Entertainment
Hair: Verve 360
Honeymoon: Hawaii
Lighting: Vincent Lighting Systems
Linens: Mosaic, Inc.
Makeup: Smitha Deepak of SD World
Photographer & Videographer: Fine Art Productions
Rentals: Elegant Chair Cover Designs
Sangeet: Gateway Clipper


After five years of dating, Jeff surprised Bhaavana with a flash mob proposal. “He’s more mild-mannered and quiet, so it completely blew me away.”

Bhaavana and Jeff sat with their parents on the mandap for the ceremony. “I liked that ours was rounded. It kept the space very intimate while creating dimension at the same time.”

The reception featured three different centerpieces: arrangements of branches and candles, overflowing vases of flowers, and fabric-wrapped trays of candles that hung from the ceiling.

“I wanted to wear something more modern, more me,” Bhaavana says. She chose a blouse-skirt combo for the ceremony, draping fabric to mimic a traditional sari. A champagne-colored, A-line dress with ornate beading fit the reception perfectly.

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