This Elegant Black and Gold Wedding Was Infused With South Asian Traditions
“We encouraged Indian attire, and it was really lovely seeing so many guests dress for the occasion,” says the bride. “It felt like what I was used to seeing at events growing up and in movies.”
Two years ago, we shared with you a Barnes Foundation engagement photo session in which the couple wore both Indian attire and casual fall looks. The bride wanted to pay homage to her culture through her wardrobe. It’s an element the couple carried through to their Big Day, too. Their gilt-clad Tendenza by Cescaphe wedding, photographed by Sheronda Seawright, mixed both modern and Indian elements, and perfectly encapsulated their love story. Read all about it below.
For Pooja Sampathi and Van B. Strother II, their postponed wedding at Tendenza by Cescaphe felt like a big reunion — an elegant one, at that. The couple, who met at Temple University in 2010 and became engaged in 2019 (click here for the full story), had initially set the date for Labor Day weekend 2020 but inevitably pushed it back a year due to the pandemic.
But when it finally took place, on September 5, 2021, it was everything they’d hoped it would be — a celebration of love, with 150 of their family and friends on hand to toast their Big Day. Their event had a black-and-gold color scheme and a theme that fused both modern and Indian elements, with many details created by the couple. (She’s a global strategic events manager, and he is a photographer and drone videographer.) Pooja designed and planned the Big Day, and worked with the Tendenza team to bring her vision to life. Van designed the P+V logo, which was displayed on the save-the-dates, invitations, cake, menu, aisle runner and electric seating chart.
Their wedding hashtag, #StrotherShaadi, was a “perfect blend of us,” says Pooja. “‘Strother’ is Van’s last name, and ‘Shaadi’ means marriage or wedding in Hindi.”
The couple also incorporated South Asian elements throughout their day: Pooja gifted her bridal party with jhumka earrings and gold bangles, and the couple encouraged Indian attire. “It was really lovely seeing so many guests dress for the occasion, with all the combinations of bright colors and beautiful jewelry,” she says. “It felt like what I was used to seeing at events growing up and in movies.” The duo also did their own costume change, donning a lehenga and sherwani during the reception.
But let’s back up to their ceremony. Pooja walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of “For You” by Kenny Lattimore, played by pianist CJ Branch. Singer Tyree Miller performed alongside — but Pooja didn’t realize it was live music until she got to the altar. (The surprise was organized by inTUNE Collective Group.) “It was one of the most beautiful memories that I will forever cherish,” she says. In a sentimental touch, the pair wrote their own vows and made similar promises of love and accountability. And they included a moment of silence in memory of their grandparents, who had recently passed.
The rest of the day was filled with celebratory moments. The band got the party started during cocktail hour; the couple planned to drop in midway through after finishing portraits and were surprised to see the festivities in full swing. “By the time we walked in, everyone was doing the Electric Slide, which was clearly a warmup to the wedding,” says Van.
Signature cocktails Marry Me Mule and Something Old Fashioned were served, and appetizers spanned the gamut from South Asian vegetable pakoras and mango lassi shooters to a sushi display. Dinner offered the choice of four entrees, including cranberry-crusted Muscovy duck breast and chicken tikka masala. The cake — a three-tiered confection with chocolate chip and snickerdoodle — featured the same scalloped design as the couple’s wedding stationery, which Pooja says she’s loved for over two years.
To commemorate their day, Pooja and Van had attendees write messages onto jumbo Jenga pieces. “We wanted a fun, reusable alternative to preserving memories and best wishes,” says Pooja. “Plus, it’ll be a fun activity to do with our future family.”
Photographer: Sheronda Seawright Photography | Venue, Catering & Cake: Tendenza by Cescaphe (cake design by Butter Sugar Flour) | Planning/Design: Pooja Sampathi | Florals & Lighting: Beautiful Blooms | Bride’s Gown: Maggie Sottero | Bride’s Lehenga: Manyavar Mohey | Bridesmaids’ Attire: Bella Bridesmaids | Hair: Lisa Kastello Hair & Makeup | Makeup: TaNeisha Nichole Artistry | Groom’s Attire: Custom-tailored tux | Groom’s Sherwani: Nazranaa | Entertainment: CJ Branch, Nasir Dickerson, Tyree Miller and Jarrett Payne of inTUNE Collective Group | Invitations: Minted (stationery suite designed by Design Lotus) | Videography: Bryce Hodges of Jvisuals312 LLC | Officiant: Kristin Johnson | Rings: Oro Puro 2 (engagement ring); Smyth Jewelers (wedding band) | Cake Topper: Coppice & Crafts | Aisle Runner: Starry Night Design | Photo Booth: Photoramic Booth and Thrive Events | Hotel: Loews Philadelphia Hotel
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