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July 06, 2019

Chris + Najwa // Texas Stonegate Mansion Wedding Photography by Kimberly Harrell


Words from the Bride:
Q1: Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette? Did you incorporate any cultural or religious traditions in any part of your day?

We had a secular and fusion wedding of American traditions and Bengali culture.
Prior to our wedding day, a family friend hosted a Girls’ “Mehendi” (aka henna) Night and a local henna artist, Navya Sangam, from Little Elm applied a beautiful and intricate custom design for me. There is an omen that the darker the mehendi appears on your wedding day, the more the bride will help build a prosperous marriage.
Integrating the Bengali cultural ceremony called the “rusmat” was really important to me. In this ceremony, the bride and groom are asked to say out loud what they view in the mirror so everyone can hear them describe the traits of their soon-to-be beloved spouse. In the traditional ceremony, the bride and groom say a single line of poetic prose such as “I see the moon” or “I see my life”. My husband and I repurposed and modernized the ceremony by exchanging heartfelt vows.
The fashion was mostly South Asian. My husband dressed in a traditional South Asian groom’s wedding suit called a “sherwani” and then changed into a classic American white tuxedo after the ceremony to incorporate both South Asian and American fashion. The bridal dress was an Indowestern gown which was designed by an Indian designer. The dining we provided was a full Indian meal including samosas with chutney, chicken tikka masala, chicken tandoori, garlic naan, and white rice.
The order of events and general organization for our wedding day was American-influenced for example the procession, the first dance, reception, and open bar. The signature cocktails were something I was really particular about because I am a home bartender. I was very happy with the final results and even happier to hear that our guests enjoyed our selections. The groom’s signature cocktail was a “Mint Julep” which fit him being from Mississippi. The bride’s signature cocktail was a “Blueberry Southside” which I chose to match my pink wedding gown and symbolize the “blushing bride”. The dessert we choose were s’mores and lemon blueberry macarons. The only reason behind our wedding dessert choice is the mere fact that neither I nor my husband care for cake; sometimes a decision is just that simple.
Our wedding decor was inspired by Samuel Burgess Johnson’s album artwork for Ta-Ku; his artwork played a heavy artistic influence for our save the dates, invitations, wedding programs, florals, and color palette. We went with a lighter and brighter design instead of a dark and moody design because it matched our desired photography editing style and our beautiful open and airy venue.

Q2: Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY?

Our venue, The Stonegate Mansion, had all the fireplaces lit as well as candles in every room so it made the entire place feel very warm and inviting. The curtain lights in main reception room made the room feel dreamy with all the twinkly fairy lights especially after sunset.
I created our own wedding brochures from scratch which covered the order of events, the menu, the signature cocktails, our bridal party, explained the cultural “rusmat” ceremony, and a short and sweet thank you note from the me and my husband. My husband gifted me a set of fountain pens so that I can play around with calligraphy and was able to use that learned skill for our mailed invitations and the name place cards. My mother handcrafted the floral bridal shade, the centerpieces, as well as the bride & groom’s chairs at the sweetheart table which matched our wedding theme. I am both grateful and jealous of her craftiness.

Q3: What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?

Flowers were a huge inspiration for our wedding but our budget only allowed for so much. One solution was to print as much floral wedding paraphernalia to save us some money. I also searched far and wide for quality start-up wedding vendors who were looking to make a name for their business in the Dallas-Fort Worth marketplace and I was really impressed with the floral arrangements by Judy Fetzko at TCU Florist. She worked with me, our budget, and my vision to make our wedding day aesthetically pleasing. She understood that importance of the floral pieces to me especially the the bridal bouquet and our floral arch. The lush floral arch resembled a new-age altar which seemed very fitting for our secular ceremony and the arch elevated the lushness and beauty of the venue.  The bridal bouquet matched the arch, it accentuated the elegance of my dress, and it was a lovely burst of color which contrasted my husband’s two outfits.


Q4: Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?

I picked out all the music from the pre-ceremony all the way up to the exit.
I personalized everything for our MC who gave special shoutouts to all friends and family so they were recognized for traveling from a certain location or reminiscing about a certain memory that we shared together.
It’s so hard to choose a favorite since the whole day really felt like such a dream. But if I absolutely had to, I would say these few moments:
. Our first look was more emotional and more powerful than I anticipated. Chris and I had our civil ceremony mid-December 2018 so we didn’t expect to be so moved by just  seeing each other and being together for our first look. I’m so happy we shared that intimate moment together before the ceremony and reception began.
. when we were planning our exit and shared with my husband, “I wish we could have danced more.” We still had another 10 minutes and he took me by the hand and led me to the dancefloor, he requested a few of my favorite songs to dance to our DJ and partied until we had to leave.
. when my husband was giving a speech and surprised me by thanking me for planning our wedding.
. when my father’s eyes welled up with tears after he walked me down the aisle
. dancing down the aisle after our ceremony to Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day”

Q5: Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.

I was inspired by a blush pink and mauve gradient lehenga with upward cascading gold embellishments designed by Tarun Tahiliani but our budget did not accommodate a designer dress like that. Luckily, I was able to work with a local designer in Carrollton, Ruby Bhandari at Silk Threads. She saw my vision and helped me create my own bespoke dress at almost a third of the cost. I was insist on a few designs aspects such as the color, the cut, the portrait back, the type of fabric, and the stitched dupatta (South Asian shawl-like scarf) and she helped pick out exactly what I was looking for to make me feel beautiful.

Q6: How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.

We swiped right on Tinder! I was not optimistic about a long-distance relationship with a man in the military but as hard as I tried not, I could not help but fall totally head over heels for Chris and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. He proposed in Ireland 12 hours before our flight back home. He asked me in the underneath the bell tower, the Campanile, at Trinity College in the heart of Dublin. That moment was private, intimate, and we will both cherish it forever.

Q7: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?

That the rain finally stopped an hour before taking photos! That alone, was a such a sweet surprise. My darling husband being by my side and sharing the whole day with him. The signature cocktails, the dancing, the processional and recessional music, surprising all our guests with a rehearsed first dance, and hearing how much our guests adored the decor and the venue.

Q8: Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?

The best advice I can give you is actually a rule my fiance-at-the-time set for us. Chris noticed how much anxiety and restlessness that wedding planning was causing me so he made sure I did not work on anything wedding related an hour before bed. The unwinding and relaxation before sleeping took a lot of weight of our shoulders and I was able to sleep soundly and peacefully. Other than that, make sure you and your significant other are on the same page. It is important to stay united as a couple, after all that’s exactly what your committing to for your marriage.