Photographed by LA Studios

A Traditional Indian Wedding in Baton Rouge

Nikita Shah was born in Baton Rouge and raised to appreciate her Indian roots and culture. Nishant Patel was born in India, and immigrated to the US when he was 13.  Many years later, their paths crossed when they were both working in Houston. To use Nikita’s own words, “it is not as easy to meet the right person in everyday life,” which is how she and Nishant both found themselves looking for a partner on an Indian dating website.  They found each other.  A month of chatting online led to “the best first date I ever had,” said Nikita, who also says she “knew that day that he was going to be the one.”

Nishant knew she was “the one,” too…  He proposed to Nikita on a hiking trip 15 months after their magical first date. He’d secretly been planning to propose for months, enlisting his older sister for help with picking out the ring.  Hiking is an activity they enjoy together, so Nishant planned “a perfect hike” in the hills of Texas. “When we reached the top of the mountain, we found a perfect spot to sit, relax and absorb the beautiful view,” Nikita reminisces.  They enjoyed the view for about half an hour.  Nikita, not realizing that this was going to be a monumental moment, was getting a drink from her bag.  Just then, Nishant took out the ring, dropped to his knee and popped the question. “The whole moment was a complete surprise to me!”

Nikita and Nishant knew they wanted a traditional Hindu wedding in Nikita’s hometown of Baton Rouge.  “Indian weddings are very focused on the importance of seeking the blessing of God, specifically Lord Ganesha,” said Nikita.  She explained:

“Family, including extended family, plays a big role in the rituals and wedding traditions.  One of the wedding rituals is the ‘Joota Chupai/Chori Ritual.’  The goal of this ritual is to steal the groom’s shoes once he takes them off [during the ceremony] . . . The bride’s siblings, cousins, and friends are the culprits.  Their main objective is to steal the groom’s shoes so they can use those for monetary gain after the wedding ceremony, while the groom’s friends, siblings and cousins try to prevent the bride’s side from stealing the shoes. This ritual is one involving a lot of excitement, laughter and sometimes a little aggressiveness!”

The couple chose Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel for its beautiful ballroom, but its accommodating service enabled the couple to enjoy every ounce of their wedding.  Nikita wore a traditional sari imported from India, with henna done by artist Saira Mohiuddin. Nishant wore traditional Indian wedding attire from “Poshak Fashion and Style,” based out of Houston. Indian weddings “are known to be plentiful,” so they offered Punjabi cuisine from the region of northern India and eastern Pakistan, Gujarati dishes from western India, and Indian street food to their guests.  In addition, the local Indian community made snacks in advance, and Nikita’s mother even made homemade Indian ice cream!  However, they also wanted to give their guests a taste of Louisiana, so their wedding cake was a five-tiered King Cake!

Indian weddings have multiple events over two days, so Nikita and Nishant were able to enjoy a whole weekend of celebrations. Nikita recalls several aspects that she’ll cherish forever: “the many moments of laughter and love from my friends and family, my brother’s heart-felt speech at the reception that almost brought me to tears, the moment I put the wedding band on my husband’s finger, and our first dance as husband and wife.”

When it comes to planning a wedding, Nikita doesn’t underestimate the importance of relying on family, friends, and the community for support. Planning can certainly be stressful, but “once the day comes, the planning is done, and everything will turn out okay, so just enjoy one of the most important moments in your life and share it with all your loved ones,” she suggests.   “Marriage can be an adjustment and have its challenges,” Nikita reflects, “but having that person by your side through the best and worst of times, that person to laugh and smile with, that person to make memories with… it’s what makes it all worth it.”

Venue: Renaissance Baton Rouge | Wedding Planner: Ruby and Pearl Events | Caterer: Namaste Catering (Dallas, TX) | Bakery: The Ambrosia Bakery (Baton Rouge, LA) | Florist: Billy Heroman’s Florist  | Décor: Nirvana Weddings – Anila Keswani | Hair & Makeup: Petal Salon, Spa, and Apothecary – Delilah Donovan | Music: Desi Junction DJs (Houston, TX) | Photographer: LA StudiosVideographer: LA Studios | Invitations: From India | Honeymoon: New Zealand | Henna Artist: Saira Mohiuddin (Kenner, LA) | Bridal Attire: Sari made in India | Groom’s Attire: Poshak Fashion and Style (Houston, TX)