A Mountain Wedding Inspired by the Bride’s Lehenga

Because Natasha Ahuja’s family has a home in Aspen, Colorado, it was one of the first getaways she and Marc Schulte took while dating. Marc, a student, later proposed to Natasha, a surgery resident, in Aspen, so when it came time to choose a wedding destination, the mountain locale was the top of their list. “We knew we wanted the wedding in this meaningful and magical place,” Natasha says of the village set in the Rocky Mountains.

The couple booked their favorite local venue, the Sundeck at Aspen Mountain, an overlook at 11,400 feet above sea level and adjacent to The Little Nell, a popular resort where they would host their reception. They hired Aimee Monihan of Mountain Occasions and Rishi Patel of HMR Designs to collaborate on the planning and event design, which sought to blend Natasha’s Indian-American heritage and Marc’s American background.

Natasha’s red bridal lehenga by Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee provided plenty of inspiration too: the skirt’s hand-stitched gold elephants and de Gournay-style embroidered birds strongly influenced the day’s look and feel. “The minute Aimee and Rishi both saw it, they were beyond smitten, bouncing ideas back-and-forth,” Natasha says of showing her outfit to her designers. “Rishi brought to life a long-time dream of his by including a de Gournay-influenced dancefloor. When I did my first dance and my gorgeous skirt was seen spinning on this floor, it was a moment of incredible beauty.”

As much as they brought in Indian touches, Aspen still took center stage in the weekend's itinerary and design. To kick off the celebration, the couple hosted a Western-themed rehearsal dinner, complete with country music, as well as a welcome party at Natasha’s parents’ home with décor inspired by the mountain views. On the wedding day, the ceremony backdrop framed the landscape, and guests arrived via gondola. Before exchanging vows, the couple included an Aspen tree reading about building roots together, and the tree is now planted at Natasha’s parents’ home in Colorado.

Read on for all the details of Natasha and Marc’s stunning mountain wedding, planned by Mountain Occasions and photographed by James x Schulze.

“I learned that it is okay (and necessary) to delegate,” Natasha says of the wedding planning process. “Because of my intense surgery residency schedule, I was unable to travel to India or even be thoroughly involved in the planning, but I trusted my mother and the amazing planning team’s judgment. It was more than anything I could have ever imagined!”

Natasha and her mother worked with a bridal stylist, Nisha Kundnani from Bridelan, to find her red Sabyasachi lehenga, which was hand-embroidered with birds and elephants. “I was so in love with how unique it was,” Natasha says.

As per tradition, Natasha’s family gifted her wedding jewelry, including a tikka, Kundan necklace, gold earrings, and multiple bangles, all from famed Indian jeweler, Kishandas & Co.

Prior to the wedding day, Natasha and her bridesmaids had mehndi designs painted on their hands by Anku Akanksha. Natasha’s included “M and N,” the couple's initials, in a heart.

Marc wore a complementary Sabyasachi sherwani jacket in a light blue color to coordinate with Natasha’s bold red. His groomsmen were outfitted in lightly hued vests and kurtas that looked great with the bridesmaids’ pastel lehengas.

A dhol player led the baraat procession through the streets of Aspen to the venue.

Guests rode a gondola to the Sundeck at Aspen Mountain for the ceremony, which took place more than 11,000 feet above sea level. At the entrance, guests were asked to turn off their phones for an "unplugged ceremony."

HMR Designs decorated the pathway from the gondola station to the ceremony area with greenery-covered archways accented with pink and white flowers—all to reflect the natural landscape of the mountain.

The mandap-inspired backdrop served as “windows to the world,” framing the panoramic view for the guests as Natasha and Marc exchanged vows. A hand-painted linen runner paved the aisle, flanked by low arrangements of pink and white blooms.

Guests were greeted with a few amenities, including a blanket for warmth and umbrellas from The Little Nell, a last-minute addition due to a pre-ceremony storm.

The weather that day was the most beautiful metaphor to start our married life together: Life is filled with clouds and rainstorms, but, us together, we would see the beauty within the storm and stand together side by side, for whatever lies ahead of us.

As Natasha was getting ready with her bridesmaids, a rainstorm moved in. She worried that they may have to resort to plan B for the ceremony, but just in time, a double rainbow graced the sky. “My wise Nani (maternal grandmother) planted a knife in the garden, as my great grandmother used to do, and the rain disappeared,” the bride says. “By God’s grace and Nani’s wisdom, my father and I sat in the gondola on our way to the wedding site.”

“The weather that day was the most beautiful metaphor to start our married life together: Life is filled with clouds and rainstorms, but, us together, we would see the beauty within the storm and stand together side by side, for whatever lies ahead of us,” Natasha says. Like the rest of the wedding guests, the bride rode to the ceremony in the gondola with her father, who would escort her down the aisle.

Natasha's bridesmaids carried bouquets of pink roses and hydrangea to mimic the floral arches at the ceremony site.

Natasha’s father takes part in a Hindu blessing before walking his daughter down the aisle. The bride made her entrance to “Din Shagna Da,” a famous Punjabi wedding song, holding a bouquet of garden roses, dahlias, sweet pea, plum rose, and pepper berry.

The couple’s ceremony, officiated by a close friend, blended Hindu wedding traditions and Western wedding customs. The couple included Hindu blessings—and exchanged garlands—but also incorporated an Aspen tree blessing and personal vows.

Natasha and Marc exchanged marigold garlands, a nod to the Indian tradition that begins the wedding ceremony, but also exchanged classic wedding rings.

The dhol played once again as the newlyweds exited the ceremony.

“There were wind and hints of rain after the ceremony and Marc and I did not want to climb the hills towards the mountain to take photos but James, our photographer, encouraged us to do so,” Natasha says. “I am beyond grateful he did because the photos came out more beautiful, romantic, and enchanting than I could have imagined.”

The wedding party included 16 friends and family as well as a few kids.

Natasha wanted the reception to look like chinoiserie wallpaper. Chinoiserie-style branches and flowers greeted guests as soon as they entered the reception space, while escort cards, accented with pale blue tassels, hung with boards painted like a de Gournay offering. “It was something out of a fairy tale,” Natasha says.

The room still had views—the Aspen mountains, naturally!—but also brought plenty of outdoor elements to the indoor space. Greenery hung from wooden rafters above tables topped with soft green chinoiserie-printed linens, taper candles, and low but abundant centerpieces of pastel-hued flowers.

The place settings included scalloped edge china, pink water goblets, pale pink linen napkins, and an oval, engraved menu by TPD Design House.

The Little Nell’s team created the couple’s dinner menu, which featured Colorado cuisines such as green gazpacho with grapes and almonds and a Brandt Beef filet with summer mushrooms, Swiss chard, and potato purée.

Natasha and Marc sat at a glass-topped sweetheart table overlooking the dancefloor, one of Natasha’s favorite design aspects. "It looked as if someone painted de Gournay wallpaper on the floor of The Little Nell," she says.

Elan Artists performed at both the reception and the rehearsal dinner. Natasha loved the entertainment company's range as they played traditional wedding music a the reception and only country music the night before. “They were so diverse and amazing at each event,” the bride adds.

The couple’s three-tier cake from Delissous Cake Studio featured three different flavors, including a gluten-free chocolate velvet specifically for the bride. It was designed to match the dancefloor and escort card display.

After the wedding, Natasha and Marc set off on a honeymoon at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. “We painted the beautiful landscape as we drank gorgeous bottles of wine,” Natasha says. “It was the perfect place to spend our first week as newlyweds, decompress from the craziness of the wedding, and celebrate such a special step in our lives.”

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