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D

eepika Tahim was just a freshman in high school when she met her future husband, Parminder Ghumman. It was October 1994, and both Deepika and Parminder were rehearsing for a community cultural event at Oakton High School in Virginia. Parminder, who is called Rinku by family and friends, was a senior, but both of them noticed each other right away.

“I thought he was cute,” says Deepika, whose friend’s older brother was in a dance with Rinku. “I asked my friend who he was. After the show, we exchanged numbers and started talking on the phone.” They got to know each other slowly and didn’t get serious until months later, remembers Deepika.

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And though they are just three years apart in age, at 15, that age difference can raise some eyebrows. “Our families did not know each other. In the beginning, our parents were obviously a little bit cautious because I was young,” says Deepika. Add some religious differences into the mix and things get more sticky. “He is Sikh and I’m Hindu Punjabi,” says Deepika. “His parents are religious and [the difference] was a concern. But once the parents saw we were serious after a couple of years, they realized it was long-term and that we love each other. When our families met, they loved each other, too.”

But Deepika, who works as a graphic designer, and Rinku, an operations engineer, didn’t jump into marriage right away. “We both wanted to be settled career-wise and financially, because we’d seen too many friends get married right out of high school or college without thinking about their careers or future. We wanted to have steady jobs and be ready so that we didn’t have to go through all that stress.”

Around their 10-year anniversary, Rinku landed his dream job, and the couple began discussing marriage. But Rinku still went the old-fashioned route to propose. To celebrate Deepika’s birthday and the couple’s 10-year anniversary, Rinku took Deepika on a dinner cruise in Washington, DC. Right before dessert, Rinku took out the ring, and Deepika said yes.

“Obviously because we’re desi, we had to discuss it with the parents. So the next day he came over and we talked with my mom and dad. The formal engagement ceremony was Thanksgiving weekend 2004.”

They spent two years planning their wedding, held during Thanksgiving 2006. They certainly needed all that time: Their wedding was an elaborate series of events that began with a bridal shower in early November, followed by sagan ceremonies in their homes, a sangeet, a mehndi, a Sikh ceremony, a Hindu ceremony and a reception.

Despite the exhaustion of planning such a huge event—both Deepika and Rinku got sick the week of their wedding—they loved every moment of it. “It was worth all the hard work and effort” she says. “It’s such a special feeling. I don’t think you can ever feel that way again. You’re on top of the world.”

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Clockwise from left: Deepika & Rinku. Rinku showed up at the shower with his friends dressed in pink. The cake.
The Bridal Shower

The whole month of November was filled with wedding events, which were kicked off by Deepika’s bridal shower. Organized by her sister and her best friend, the shower at Deepika’s home was themed “Pretty in Pink.” Guests included Deepika’s friends, of course, but in true desi style, her mom’s friends, sister’s friends and other aunties were invited. “Everyone wore pink, and we had pink food and pink desserts,” says Deepika. “Right before we started the games, my husband and his friends came over wearing pink dress shirts.” The rest of the shower was filled with bride-and-groom games and dinner.

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Clockwise from top left: Deepika and Rinku after their Sikh ceremony. Deepika poses. The Hindu ceremony and reception venue.

Snapshot: Glenn Barnett Photography

The first wedding Glenn Barnett ever photographed, 18 years ago, was an Indian one. Since then, he’s photographed hundreds of weddings, many of which feature South Asian couples.

“With Indian events, I am typically engaged by the clients for three to four days, which provides a wonderful opportunity to get to know them and all of the family,” says Barnett, who has photographed weddings for The Knot and Grace Ormonde Wedding Style. “The family also gets to know me and becomes very comfortable with my presence, so I am able to capture the true essence of the couple, their family, their guests and the entire event.”

Based in Washington, DC, Barnett and his team travel the world for events; they’re typically booked nine months to one year in advance.

He adds, “I believe that weddings are one of the most amazing days that any two people will experience. My goal is always to become intimately engaged to the couple.”

Packages start at $5,500 and include two photographers, a wedding album and the full-resolution digital images. For more information or to book, visit www.glennbarnett.com.

The Venues

When Rinku first came to America with his family in the early 1990s, he lived near the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, Virginia. “One day, when Rinku was driving by the hotel with his dad, he said, ‘That’s where I’m going to get married’,” says Deepika. “So when we were dating, he showed me the place, and I fell in love with it. It’s classy and kind of secluded—when you come to the property, it looks like a palace. You’re away from everything and everyone.” Deepika and Rinku chose the hotel for their Hindu ceremony and reception, the events on Saturday that would end their week of festivities.

Their sangeet, held the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, was at Foxchase Manor in Washington, DC, while Deepika’s small, private mehndi on Thanksgiving Day was held at home. The Sikh ceremony on Friday morning took place at a gurdwara in Fairfax Station, Virginia.

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The Sangeet

Held at Foxchase Manor the day before Thanksgiving, the sangeet was a lively but casual event for 200 of Deepika and Rinku’s guests. To celebrate autumn, the hall was decorated in orange and red and peppered with gerber daisies. “A few of our close friends did some performances, sang some songs and we ended the evening with everyone dancing,” says Deepika, who wore a vibrant lengha from Perfection, a boutique in New Delhi. But the highlight of the night came when, during a break in the performances, Deepika and Rinku performed a short, spur-of-the-moment dance to “Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna” from the film Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. “Rinku did his Shahrukh Khan impression,” says Deepika. “Everyone was cheering us on.”

The Bride’s Attire

Deepika knew she wanted to achieve a different look for each event. When she visited New Delhi to do her shopping, she went straight to Roop Shringar Silk and Sarees, a boutique which carries its own in-house designers. “You go there and you sit on the floor,” she remembers. “They have this big assortment of clothes. They show you different designs and you can customize them. I loved their service.” After several hours there, she settled on the purple shalwar kameez for her Sikh ceremony, a traditional red lengha for the Hindu ceremony and a magenta lengha for the reception. “I wanted something that was fish cut and very sexy for the reception,” she says. “When my husband saw the one they showed us, he said ‘That’s the lengha you’re going to wear’.” And brides with limited time, take heart: Deepika did all her bridal shopping in India in two weeks. “We got my clothes, plus clothes for relatives, my husband and my jewelry.”

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Clockwise from left: Deepika’s traditional red lengha. The fish-cut lengha at the reception. The bride’s jewelry.
The Ceremonies

Because Deepika and Rinku wanted to honor both their religions, the couple decided to hold Sikh and Hindu marriage ceremonies. The Sikh ceremony came first, on Friday morning, and began with a traditional baraat in which Rinku wore a sera, a special headdress worn by north Indian grooms, and made his grand entrance on a horse. His family accompanied him, dancing alongside the rhythmic beats of a dhol as they arrived at the gurduwara. After the milni between the fathers, grandfathers and brothers, the baraat entered the gurdwara as Deepika’s sisters and cousins stole Rinku’s shoes, a playful, traditional ritual.

“Rinku’s cousin was keeping an eye on my sister, though, and everyone got on top of each other—it was a big, funny mess,” says Deepika. “But my sister got the shoes—and she and my bridesmaids got $500 from Rinku to get the shoes back.” The couple then participated in the Sikh ceremony in which they were officially pronounced husband and wife.

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Clockwise from top left. The couple exchanges rings. Deepika and Rinku during the Hindu ceremony. Shoes proved to be a bit of fun.

But because they were having another Hindu ceremony the next day, Deepika says she “didn’t officially go to his house to stay that night. I went to his house to sit with his relatives, and then my cousin and brother-in-law brought me back to my parents’ house.”

The Hindu ceremony on Saturday was similar, but they did not have a big baraat and opted for a small milni at the hotel instead. “The Sikh ceremony was a bit stressful because that’s when we were actually getting married. For the Hindu ceremony, we were really relaxed and enjoying the moment,” says Deepika. Her sister and friends also managed to have a little extra fun on Saturday. To avoid the shoe-stealing mess again, Rinku’s cousin hid Rinku’s shoes before Deepika’s sister could find them. But the girls got their revenge: After some clever reconnaissance that involved the hotel’s front desk, the girls managed to break into the guys’ room to ransack it and get the shoes back. “I don’t know how my friends did it,” says Deepika, “but it was hilarious.”

The Décor

From the moment she got engaged, Deepika knew she wanted her wedding to be unique. “When my sister got married, my parents did all the planning. The décor was very traditional in gold and maroon. I didn’t want that,” she says. “I wanted to have a traditional Punjabi wedding with all the rituals, but I wanted the look to be very contemporary.”

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Clockwise from top left: The guest book. The cake. The pink-lit reception hall.

So she worked with decorator Prabha Bhambri to create a theme for the Hindu ceremony and reception centered on orchids and the colors pink and silver. “We also used light as a design element,” says Deepika. Bhambri and her team created a round white mandap illuminated with pink lights. The entire ballroom was also awash in pink floodlights lined up around the perimeter. Instead of having a straight aisle leading up to the mandap, Deepika chose a zig-zag shape. On each corner, Bhambri stood tall, glass cylinders filled with orchids submerged in water. The cylinders also featured light streaming in from the bottom. “It was very romantic,” says Bhambri.

After the ceremony, the same space was transformed into the reception area. The mandap served as the head table, and all the tables featured cylindrical centerpieces like the ones used to decorate the aisle.

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Clockwise from left: The cylindrical vases housed submerged orchids. CDs doubled as seating cards. Ceremony programs.

Because Deepika is a graphic designer, she designed all the printed materials for the event. Before guests entered the ballroom, they signed a guest book which Deepika created with images from a photo shoot she and Rinku had posed for a few months earlier. The book was peppered with Deepika’s favorite love quotations. The couple’s wedding favors also matched the theme—they were CDs filled with the couple’s favorite Punjabi and Hindi songs. Deepika designed the cover to match the reception’s theme, and the CDs doubled as the seating cards so guests would know where to sit. “Afterward, many of our guests called to tell us they enjoyed listening to our CDs,” says Deepika. “It was a good feeling to know that people enjoyed our gifts.”

The Honeymoon

Deepika and Rinku esaped to Los Cabos, Mexico, for their honeymoon—after Deepika saw it mentioned on the Travel Channel. “The moment we entered our room, we were both speechless. It was absolutely gorgeous!” says Deepika of the Villa La Estancia luxury resort. There, they sat around “at the pool or hot tub,” sipping margaritas and mojitos. The couple especially enjoyed Lovers Beach: “It’s very private and you have to take a water taxi there. We would take a bottle of champagne and just lie around and relax.”

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge is Ismat Sarah Mangla‘s favorite Bollywood movie.
Published on June 4, 2007.
Photography: Glenn Barnett

Vendor List

Event Decorator: Prabha Bhambri, 703.759.0068
Sangeet Venue: Foxchase Manor, 703.369.3638
Sangeet Decor: Partyland Flowers and Event Decorators, 866.727.8900
Reception Venue: Westfields Marriott, 703.818.0300
Catering: Bombay Palace, 202.331.4200
Cake: Amphora Bakery, 703.964.0500
Invitations: Indian Wedding Card
Photography: Glenn Barnett Photography, 571.276.1299
Videography: Rakesh Grover, 703.631.1137
DJ: Desiness Productions, 703.932.7731
Bridal Wear: Roop Shingar, Katra Nawab Chandni Chowk, Delhi, 110006
Ceremony Hair, Makeup and Mehndi: Suman Khosla, 703.493.1046
Reception Hair and Makeup: Robin Harmon/Tangerine Dream, 703.759.4014
Horse and Carriage: Harmon’s Hayrides and Carriages, 540.825.6707

Comments are closed.
  1. June 17, 2007, 8:38 am abdul sattar ghumman

    The most ultimate thing is couple. booth of you looking stunning. Wish you good luch.

    Best Regards,

    Abdul Sattar Ghumman

  2. October 1, 2007, 7:41 pm Steve Baidwan

    I would like to ask if I could use the above picture in a website. It is a striking picture of an Indian couple.

    Regards
    Steve

  3. January 20, 2008, 10:49 pm A.Begum

    Truly stunned at the beauty in details. Inspiration to many!