See How This Couple Hosted Both a Hindu and Christian Ceremony in Just One Day
When Jean Livesay scored an internship at HSBC back in June of 2007, her friends Sonia and Mike decided to introduce her to their friend, Bharath Subramanian, who was already employed there. Although the pair didn't connect while working in the same building, they kept running into each other through their mutual friends and sparks flew every time. In September of 2014, Bharath planned a surprise getaway for Jean‚Äôs 29th birthday, keeping the destination (Bermuda!) a secret until the pair made it through airport security. On the second night of their trip, the couple shared cocktails at sunset and decided to stop at the beach before dinner. There, Bharath got down on one knee for his second big surprise of the trip: a heartfelt proposal.
With friends all over the country, Jean and Bharath considered several locations and venues before deciding on the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, which turned out to be the ideal spot for their busy big day. ‚ÄúWith a baarat ceremony, two religious ceremonies, two cocktail hours, and a reception for 280 people, it wouldn‚Äôt have worked anywhere else,‚ÄĚ Jean says. The pair teamed up with Jamie Bricknell from 12th Table and Bharath‚Äôs mother to pull off both a Hindu and a Christian ceremony‚ÄĒnot to mention one heck of a party‚ÄĒon June 25, 2016. See how their multi-event day came together in the photos taken by Kristin Sweeting Photography.
To introduce their guests to what would be a bold and colorful wedding, Jean sketched out invitations that featured a bride in a saree next to a groom in a tux (on the front), and a bride in a gown with a groom in a sherwani (on the back). She sent her sketch to Carol Wilmot, who brought her vision to life.
The party started on Friday afternoon, when 40 female family members and friends joined the bride-to-be for a traditional Mehndi party, complete with henna. Later that night, each and every one of the couple's 280 guests were invited to join the happy couple for their rehearsal dinner, where Southern favorites like hot chicken sandwiches and fried green tomatoes were on the menu.
For the Hindu ceremony, Jean wore a handmade red saree with intricate gold detailing. ‚ÄúBharath‚Äôs mother went to India two months before the wedding and found a beautiful red silk with gold embroidery," says Jean. "She had it handmade along with sarees for my mother, sister, and maid of honor.‚ÄĚ The bride completed her outfit with jewelry and a gold belt borrowed from her future mother-in-law.
For the baraat, or groom's processional, and Hindu ceremony, Bharath wore an ivory sherwani with gold detailing, also handmade in India.
During the baraat, it's traditional for the groom to travel to the wedding venue on a horse while surrounded by family members. "We knew the day had to kick off with the baraat," Jean says. "Bharath riding in on a horse with a parade behind him? Why not!" He made quite the entrance on a white horse while dhol drummers performed around him.
We knew the day had to kick off with the baraat. Bharath riding in on a horse with a parade behind him? Why not!
The baraat led into a vibrant red-and-gold‚Äďthemed Hindu ceremony inside the Schermerhorn's main lobby. There, the mandap, a traditional Hindu ceremony structure, was draped with ivory and gold fabric and topped with red floral arrangements on either side. "Reds and golds are common in Hindu weddings, but they also happen to be my favorite colors so the carpet, mandap, flowers, and our attire reflected that," Jean says. During the ceremony, all of the female guests were given fresh jasmine to pin to their hair.
"The hardest part was definitely planning the Hindu elements," the bride remembers. "I tried to learn about the traditions and ceremony elements by Googling. Not only was it overwhelming but a lot of it was more North Indian and Bharath‚Äôs family is from the South. There are many cultural differences depending on the region and even the names of the elements in the ceremony can vary." Jean added, "Plus, most Indian weddings are several days long and we were trying to do the ceremony in 45 minutes or under. Thankfully, my mother-in-law came to the rescue and coordinated everything while also listening to our preferences and opinions." With family that wonderful in their corner, it's no surprise Jean and Bharath were able to seamlessly pull off their mixed religious day.
Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed their first cocktail hour of the night, sipping on drinks and nibbling snacks in one of the Schermerhorn's lobbies as they waited for the Christian ceremony to begin.
While guests mingled, Jean and Bharath snuck away to change into their second outfits of the day. For the bride, that meant a silk organza ball gown from Kelly Faetanini, that she found only after leaving several bridal salons empty-handed. In fact, she didn‚Äôt know the gown, complete with a tulle-layered bodice, was ‚Äúthe one‚ÄĚ right away, either. ‚ÄúWhen I stepped into the last one, I told the sales assistant I would pass. She looked me dead in the eye and said, ‚ÄėYou‚Äôre going out there,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Jean says. With approval (and insistence) from her mom and friends, she decided to go with the stunning gown.
Her cascading bouquet contained a mix of peonies, ranunculus, ivy, and ferns.
Bharath chose to wear a Ralph Lauren tuxedo with Burberry shoes.
The Christian ceremony took place in the venue‚Äôs courtyard, complete with statues, fountains, and trees. ‚ÄúIt was so lush that all we needed to add was two floral arrangements on either side of the altar and some simple greenery on chairs flanking the aisle,‚ÄĚ Jean says. The color scheme shifted to black, white, and emerald green.
The Corwin String Trio played Canon in D as Jean made her way down the aisle with her father, Charles. After Jean and Bharath exchanged traditional vows, they exited to "Hornpipe" from Handel‚Äôs Water Music.
At the second cocktail hour of the day, guests sipped on the groom‚Äôs signature cocktail, Jack and Diet Coke, or the bride‚Äôs, Belvedere on the rocks with olives, along with passed Negronis.
The reception took place in the main hall, where orchestra level seating was flipped over to create a flat surface for dining and dancing.
With a venue that is several stories high, it was important to Jean to have grand table arrangements to match. Round tables were topped with ivory linens, candles, and tall gold vases filled with lush white flowers and greenery. The Symphony‚Äôs chandeliers set the ambience for the evening, and place settings were kept simple and white. With lots of candlelight on each table, the couple was able to turn a large space into a cozy environment for their party.
Jean works at Bon Appetit and Epicurious, so the bar for food was set high. Flavors Catering nailed the Western menu, but since the couple also wanted to serve Indian favorites, their caterers teamed up with Chauhan Ale and Masala House (Jean and Bharath's favorite local Indian restaurant) to offer classic dishes, too. ‚ÄúWe decided to go buffet so that guests could sample everything from rosemary and mustard pork tenderloin with grilled peaches to delicious chanas and curries,‚ÄĚ Jean says.
The couple‚Äôs three-tiered wedding cake featured an international twist: An illustration of the world on an inner tier. The cake‚Äôs three layers featured cookies and cream cake with salted caramel buttercream, Tennessee orange funfetti with vanilla buttercream, and banana cake with chocolate mousse.
The Downtown Band kept guests on the dance floor for the rest of the night. ‚ÄúThe band was up on the stage so it almost felt like a blowout concert with only our closest friends,‚ÄĚ Jean remembers.
Guests celebrated as the bride and groom left the building for the first time as husband and wife, then joined them for an after-party at Bakersfield Taco in Nashville for queso and margaritas. The following morning, everyone gathered together for a celebratory brunch before sending the newlyweds off on their epic honeymoon to Shanghai, Maldives, Seychelles, and Dubai.