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A Bridgerton-Inspired Reception Followed This Traditional Indian Ceremony in Northern California

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Corbin Gurkin

|Planning by 

Bruce Russell

While studying abroad in Spain during her junior year at Santa Clara University, Anjuli Nanda met Alex Habbas in her program. They became fast friends, and in due time, they would become sisters-in-law. When they returned to campus in California, Alex introduced Anjuli to her brother, Tarik Habbas. Anjli and Tarik immediately began dating.

In the following six years, their relationship and careers flourished. Anjuli and Tarik finished law school, passed the bar exam, and became lawyers. Tarik was in the process of joining a new firm and told Anjuli they needed to attend a farewell party at his former firm. Tarik’s brother served as Anjuli’s chauffeur but instead of driving her to the party, he escorted her to the park where Tarik first asked Anjuli to be his girlfriend. Anjuli stepped onto the garden grounds to find Tarik standing with a rose and engagement ring in hand.

The newly betrothed couple set their sights on a London wedding, but COVID-19 redirected those visions. Suddenly, a wedding closer to home in the San Francisco Bay Area became the best option. They soon discovered that this would be the most special option, too. The Sangeet welcome party took place on the grounds of Santa Clara University, the very location Anjuli and Tarik first fell in love. The Punjabi ceremony occurred in a private estate in Woodside that boasts a Roman pool. The final event of the wedding weekend was the Catholic ceremony at Mission Santa Clara de Asís, followed by a reception in the gardens of Anjuli’s parents’ home.

While on a trip to India with Anjuli’s parents, both the bride and groom found their custom Sabyasachi outfits for the Punjabi wedding. For her bridal look, Anjuli collaborated with Julie Sabatino of The Stylish Bride. Anjuli trusted Julie’s creative insight entirely. Together, they selected a custom Naeem Khan gown for the Sangeet and an Oscar de la Renta gown customized by Jinwang of San Francisco. The ensembles struck the delicate balance between tradition and modernity.

Anjuli has to thank Dylan Lauren for her sumptuous bridesmaids’ dresses. Anjuli and her sister bookmarked the 2011 Vogue issue that featured Dylan Lauren’s wedding, and she never forgot about Lauren’s bridesmaids’ gowns in satin rainbow jewel tones. Anjuli’s mother also had a coterie of bridesmaids in rainbow hues, so she knew she needed to enlist Galvan London for ten custom bridesmaid dresses in a beautiful rainbow array.

On a sun-shining day in September 2021, guests congregated on the grounds of the Woodside estate. The Roman pool was a centerpiece of the venue, and the mandap even incorporated a few of its classic aesthetic elements. The soft pastels and vivid pinks stood in stark yet harmonious contrast against the greens of the gardens. Amie Bone Flowers designed the florals of the day with production by McCalls. Tarik arrived on horseback in the style of a traditional baraat ceremony. Anjuli joined him at the altar. Underneath a canopy carried by Anjuli’s cousins, she and her sister walked down the aisle.

The ceremony flowed into the reception as the party descended to the majestic Roman pool. Sprawled out before the gardens was a vista straight out of Bridgerton. Performers in floral-filled canoes floated in the pond, and a DJ spun tracks in the background. Tents, parasols, park benches, and picnic blankets were placed for guests to sit under or atop while dining on a lunch menu of western bites and Asian delights catered by McCalls and Jalsa Catering. The summer cocktail drinks were delectable with highlights including “The Louie.” Named after the couple’s charming Prince Louie bulldog, “The Louie” re-interpreted the traditional British Pimm’s Cup.

Later that weekend, guests reconvened for the Catholic ceremony at Mission Santa Clara on the Santa Clara University campus. Each reading and every song was thoughtfully selected by Anjuli and her mother. But perhaps the most special moment was when Prince Louie made an entrance before the bride’s procession.

Officially Mr. and Mrs. Habbas, Tarik surprised Anjuli with a vintage car ride to the reception. Guests were whisked away to Anjuli’s parents’ home for a poolside cocktail reception in the luxe backyard garden. A saxophonist serenaded the crowd, as everyone found their assigned seats. The escort cards were inspired by the stained glass pieces of the Natural History Museum in London. This served as a subtle homage to the couple’s originally intended wedding venue.

The stained glass motif repeated throughout dinner and the reception. The newlyweds’ first dance to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons proved that dancing lessons pay off because everyone adored their choreography. They later cut into their towering cake by Studio Cake. Anjuli laughs as she remembers the meetings she and Tarik had for the cake. After seeing how many layers the designs had, his only request would be, “Taller!”

Anjuli’s love for Motown music was highlighted on this night. On The Move Entertainment brought the best possible band and performers for the reception. When the police showed up after receiving a noise complaint, even they were charmed by the tune selection and could not resist The Killers’s song playing overhead.

Everything about the weekend felt like a fairytale. “We made a concerted effort to go around to each table—with a guest list of 300—and say hello to everybody and thank them for coming,” Anjuli shares. “After waiting two-and-a-half years to celebrate, the pure excitement every single person exuded for us finally tying the knot will likely never be paralleled.”