Reena + John | Contemporary Multicultural Wedding
Some would think there would be a lot of pressure to conform to societal norms (the big proposal, the formal announcement, etc.) when the bride is an actual wedding planner. But not for Reena, Owner of Kahani Events & Design. She and her husband John have been together since their first date, and skipped the entire proposal process, “We already had a house together, we knew we were spending our lives together, and one day just sitting on the couch we decided it was time to just set a date!” And so, the planning of this striking multicultural wedding began.
Reena and John married on August 17, 2019, at the Westminster Minneapolis where they both appreciated the combination of old and new architecture and the ease with which they could have a blended ceremony with both Christian and Hindu traditions. Reena called the wedding a “tradition remix”—taking “elements of both of our cultures and religions, and combined them in a way that worked for us.” As you’ll see from several multicultural wedding elements, the couple and their families beautifully combined their heritages to create a seamless affair that hit all the notes they were going for.
The main goal of their celebration was to make it just that — a fun and vibrant affair that wasn’t too stuffy. “We didn’t want anything super formal, or strictly planned. We wanted plenty of food, good music, and wanted to enjoy the day.” So with minimal flowers “I had my florist create a large asymmetrical piece for the mandap, and a beautiful centerpiece for our sweetheart table and just asked her to do shades of orange. For some tables, I just picked out flowers and did a simple vase arrangement the morning of the wedding (which is definitely not something I’d recommend!!)” The couple celebrated amongst family and friends in what they say was a completely joyous event. “We were so happy to have our families and friends together and to be finally married and celebrating our love…it’s really reflected in our pictures, in everyone’s smiles, and all the vivid colors.” And as Reena suggests, color took center stage with vivid navy, royal blue, teal, and coral implemented into the wedding. “Blue is John’s favorite color, and coral is a significant element of Nigerian weddings, so I wanted that in the color scheme also. Plus the blues and coral/oranges looked amazing together!” recalls Reena.
Being that the bride is a wedding planner, she didn’t skip a beat when it came to creating culturally relevant and equally stylish wedding décor, and culinary options. “I had traditional Indian brass pots and vases as centerpieces and the tables were set with napkins I handmade from Ankara print fabric. We also had props for pictures from both our cultures. Food was really important to us, and we wanted to make sure everyone would be accommodated. We had mango lassi and that in itself was more popular than anything else. We had Moi Moi, salmon tikka, vegetable biryani, goat stew, chili paneer, fried plantains, dal makhani, and so much more! Dishes from both our cultures and serving both vegetarians and non-vegetarians were provided by our caterers so everyone could experience something new. It was really a blast combining the cultures, and I’m glad we could create that experience for our guests. For drinks, we added in some local Minneapolis culture with a locally foraged wine and cider.”
Incorporating Multicultural Wedding Elements
For the Sangeet/Henna night before the wedding, the bride used greens and yellows noting, “Green is my favorite.” Reena explains just who contributed to the night, “The sangeet event is about performances, my side prepared an array of Bollywood dances and songs, John’s side had a very energetic fashion show representing a few of the different ethnic groups in Nigeria, and their whole extended family took part. A couple of the kids took it quite seriously and did their very best runway walks” and she recalls “we had an absolute blast just dancing, relaxing, and enjoying the night with all the family and friends.” It is traditional to wear bright colors to the Henna event, and Reena’s sister found her a dark green long skirt and cropped top called a lehngha. John wore traditional Indian attire, a kurta that happened to coordinate with Reena’s outfit.
For the big day, even more multicultural wedding elements were implemented, “instead of John coming in on a horse with his family and friends (as would be traditional in an Indian wedding) I led the baraat with my family and friends! I have loved dancing in baraats since I was a kid, so it was perfect!”
Almost nothing better represented the blending of their two cultures than their fashion choices for the wedding. “John and I went back and forth about our attire for the ceremony. We wanted to keep things as simple as possible, yet we were having two different ceremonies — a Hindu one and a Christian one, and we wanted to be more comfortable for the reception. We decided ultimately to keep the ceremonies back to back, and to each wear our own traditional attire for the wedding. I wore a coral and royal blue lehngha. It was the first thing I picked out on the first day of shopping in India. The skirt is in Ikat fabric — which is my favorite textile — and I wanted something in blue. I loved it right away. John dressed in all white — traditional Edo attire his sister sourced from Lagos. John’s family also came in their coordinating Aso Ebi attire, the women in a teal hue and the men in white to match John. My family wore royal blue & navy or shades of orange to coordinate with me. The visual effect was stunning, and we each had our unique look, and both our cultures were well-represented.” For the reception, Reena and John changed but still remained coordinated.
And yet another blend of cultures was creatively implemented with a coral mangalsutra. Reena explains, “In an Indian wedding, the groom gives the bride a necklace called a mangalsutra — basically signifying marriage the same way a ring does in Western culture. In Nigerian weddings, both men and women wear coral jewelry and it signifies wealth and power. Instead of giving me a black beaded and gold mangalsutra during the Hindu ceremony, John gave me a coral necklace and bracelet.” For the final touch on this elegant affair, Reena and John gave Nigerian Hibiscus & Lychee tea to guests as the favor, celebrating their love of tea with those they loved to celebrate with.
Vendors Cont. — Cake: Jo Garrison Cakes | Stationery: Kahani Events & Design | DJ: SAP Entertainment | Bridal Lehngha: Aishwary Design Studio | Groom’s Attire: Traditional Wear from Edo State, Nigeria | Sangeet Attire: Kalista and Nilesh Mitesh | Sangeet Backdrop: Shakuntala Design
A pre-wedding Indian tradition where dances are performed by close family and friends.