A Garden-Inspired Indian Wedding in Memphis, Tennessee

When Nayha Patel and Zubin Shetty first met as juniors at the University of Michigan in 2010, the pair were both seeing other people. But, a year later, Zubin was pleasantly surprised to find that both he and Nayha were finally single. “I asked her if she wanted to see a few concerts with me, and after a few late nights and some crazy football Saturdays, we realized we’d spent almost every day for a month together,” he recalls. “We were inseparable for the rest of the year, and have been ever since.”

Five years later, Zubin had plans to propose, and let Nayha’s family in on the surprise. “They can’t keep a secret, so I had to quickly change plans and propose a week early,” he reveals with a laugh. During a walk around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., the groom recited a rap he’d written for his bride-to-be and popped the question.

For their wedding on May 27, 2018, Nayha and Zubin knew they’d have a massive guest list so they found the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, which could accommodate the crowd of 500 family members and friends. “It’s also so beautiful, with so much history and grandeur,” says the bride. But planning wasn’t easy: Nayha is in medical school at Tulane University in New Orleans and Zubin is a resident near Detroit. (So they were planning the wedding from afar—in different cites!) “Nayha did a lot of the initial planning while I was interviewing for my residency, then I took over while she prepared for her first board exam,” Zubin explains.

Even with so many moving parts, Zubin and Nayha were able to put together a spectacular Indian wedding full of lush flowers and an elegant blush, champagne, and ivory palette. They went all out on their garden theme, from the embroidery on Nayha’s gown to the roses you could smell from outside the ballroom. Keep reading to see more of this Memphis beauty, as photographed by Kristin Sweeting and planned by SJS Events!

Nayha’s spectacular lengha was made of creamy raw silk and finished with intricate floral embroidery. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it after we left the shop,” she says. She paired delicate mehndi with stacks of color-coordinated bangles and necklaces from a jeweler in India.

Zubin wore an ivory raw silk sherwani with red and gold accents to match Nayha’s floral ensemble. He even had mehndi of his own—his bride’s name and two hearts on his left hand.

Zubin donned a red turban for his dramatic entrance on a horse.

“Traditionally at Indian weddings, the bride is walked down the aisle by her mother’s brothers,” says Nayha. “Because my uncles in India were unable to attend, my mom’s ‘surrogate brothers’ here in the States and their wives walked me down the aisle, instead. We’re all very close and I really look up to them, so it was a special moment to share.” During the ceremony, Nayha and Zubin exchanged garlands of white and pink roses, and received blessings from their loved ones.

For the reception, Nayha changed into a spectacular gold beaded and embroidered gown, while Zubin went classic in a black tuxedo and bowtie.

Long mirrored tables were set with gold chargers and lots of candles, while orchids and white roses cascaded down from arrangements above. Nearby, round tables featured manzanita branches festooned with white orchids and votive candles.

Nayha and Zubin made their grand entrance to “All of the Lights” by Kanye West. “The peaceful interlude, followed by the song’s powerful horns, definitely brought the enthusiasm and hype for the party!” says Nayha. The couple shared their first dance to “LOVE” by Kendrick Lamar before opening up the dance floor, where guests got down to lots of hip hop—and the couple’s favorite, “Call Me Maybe.”

The simple wedding cake, decorated with fresh blooms, had layers of almond, strawberry, lemon, and coconut cake. “The coconut was the best,” adds the groom.

For Nayha and Zubin, the highlight of their wedding was seeing all of their loved ones come together from all over the world. “Over 30 of our friends, from all different parts of our lives, secretly spent the weekend practicing a surprise choreographed dance, then performed it during the reception,” says Nayha. “Zubin and I had no idea!”

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