Event planner Seema Shah was busily working a wedding when a handsome guest tried to introduce himself to her. As he extended his hand, Avinash Chennamsetty knocked over a drink on the DJ’s equipment. Worried it might cause a short circuit, Seema hurried to clean it up. When she was done, Avi had disappeared.
Weeks later, her now happily wedded clients mentioned Avinash to Seema, pointing out that he was charming, a medical resident and came from a great family. For Seema however, the geography was all wrong; she’s a southern California girl and he was from Michigan.
SEEMA FOUND A RUNNER WITH PETALS, A VIOLINIST, A FLUTE PLAYER AND AVI, WAITING TO PROPOSE.
The persistent Avi friended Seema on Facebook. Using the excuse that he was coming to visit friends in California, he asked if he could see her. “We ended up hanging out the entire time he was in town,” says Seema. They realized there was something special between them, and so began the long, late night phone calls and weekend commutes between California and Michigan.
Nutan Shah, Seema’s mom and the owner of Elegant Events by Nutan, convinced a contact at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel to send her daughter a fake email invitation to a wedding planner appreciation day. On arrival, Seema found a runner with petals, a violinist, a flute player and Avi, waiting to propose. Being familiar with all the area venues, and knowing that this dynamic wedding would require five unique spaces, they chose The St. Regis Monarch Beach. The morning ceremony was held in an open air rotunda draped in gauzy lace with wide floral tie-backs and a massive floral chandelier. A white and gold runner, emblazoned with Seema and Avi’s monogram, led the eye to a view of the couple framed by the ocean.
Instead of the bright, colorful garb typical of Hindu weddings, the bride and groom wore Seema’s modern classic interpretation with unconventional ivory Indian wedding outfits. Over her arm she carried trailing garlands of jasmine. “Being a wedding planner’s daughter, I’ve seen it all, but when the wedding was mine, the impact was indescribable,” says Seema.
Lunch overlooking the ocean and golf course followed the ceremony. Guests returned for evening cocktails, dinner and dancing.
Seema donned a red Monique Lhuillier gown for the couple’s grand entrance down a dual winding stairway and the first dance. Welcoming them, the 20-member bridal party lined the dance floor waving sparklers.
“I wanted a lively and upbeat reception full of energy,” says Seema. To encourage that spirit, professional dancers entertained with everything from flips and balancing poses to Bollywood stylings. When they did sit, the couple perched on a daybed under a draped rotunda adorned with flowers. Mansion-sized mirrors on either side reflected the sparkle of the evening in the glamorous garden.
The party continued in the ballroom which was transformed into a “sexy lounge” in black, silver and red. “Our theme was two states, two hearts, one happily ever after,” says Seema, “and my mother made it a perfect day with a dreamy wedding, a fairy-tale garden reception and a happening nightclub party.”
With Avi completing his urological residency in Michigan, they deferred the honeymoon until October, where they headed for the Maldives to relax.
Location: Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA; Caterer: Natraj Cuisine of India, Laguna Hills, CA; Cake: Joanie and Leigh’s Cakes, Bel Air, CA; Event Design and Planner: Elegant Events by Nutan, Orange County, CA; Wedding and Reception Floral Design: Bloom Box, Costa Mesa, CA; Sangeet Floral Design: Three Petals, Costa Mesa, CA; Linen and Rentals: Chiavari Chair Rentals, Irvine, CA; Rentals: Revelry Event Designers, Los Angeles, CA; Lounge Décor: Square Root Designs, Irvine, CA; Draping: Platinum Peaks Entertainment, Orange County, CA; DJ and Lighting: Special Occasions, Brea, CA; Entertainment: Karmagraphy, Los Angeles, CA; Ceremony Wedding Dress: Sabyasachi; Reception Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier
Groom’s Tuxedo: 1701 Bespoke