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The Brides Honored Punjabi Sikh and Gujarati Hindu Customs During Their Wedding Ceremony in Marin

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Mili Ghosh

|Planning by 

Anais Event Planning and Design

Just after moving to New York City for medical school, Sanam Sidhu and Roopa Patel met at a mentorship event at the 2nd Avenue Diner on the Upper East Side. “The food was average, but the conversation was fantastic,” Sanam remembers. They became friends while studying for OMT practicals and attending post-exam parties. Several years later, they both moved to Staten Island for their clinical clerkships. They bonded over weekly dinners with their neighbors and they traveled together. On a trip to Spain, it dawned on Sanam that Roopa was, in addition to being her best friend and travel partner, everything she ever wanted in a partner. Soon enough, Roopa realized this, too, and they began dating.

Four years later, Roopa and Sanam proposed to each other. First, Roopa proposed at Rattlesnake Lake in Seattle. “I picked the lake because of its natural beauty and to mess with Sanam a little,” she confides. “She hates snakes.” Roopa pulled out a picnic basket and a scrapbook she made. After flipping through pages of their shared memories, Sanam flipped to the last page that asked her to marry Roopa.

Sanam planned a surprise picnic proposal for Roopa. She packed selections from their first date—slices from Joe’s Pizza, a French 75 cocktail, and Korean chips that were flavored like fried chicken. This feat could only be accomplished with their good friend Ben’s help. He unboxed the near twenty Amazon packages that this Washington Square Park proposal required. When it was time to answer Sanam’s question, Roopa obviously said yes.

The couple began planning their nuptials with Amrit Dhillon Bains of Anais Event Planning and Design. “In terms of aesthetic, I knew I wanted the space to feel overgrown and unmanicured. One of my favorite memories of our California adventures was a day trip to a small lake near Fresno called Pine Flat and falling in love with the wildflowers that carpeted the foothills,” Roopa recalls. “I wanted to recreate that feeling for our guests; for them to feel like they were escaping the city to a secret garden.” To set the tone for the wedding, Atelier Azure created a custom invitation suite.

The doctors’ hectic schedules made it difficult to scout for venues. After an overnight shift, Sanam traveled from her hospital in Fresno to wedding venues in San Francisco. Thankfully, the first and last destination was the Marin Arts and Garden Center. “It was a crisp sunny spring morning, the garden was lush and vibrant, and the roses were in full bloom,” Sanam shares. “I was slightly delirious from lack of sleep, but I knew instantly that this was our venue. I called Roopa right away to tell her that our search was over.”

Looking for their bridal ensembles was a somewhat difficult task. “We knew it would be a bit challenging to find outfits that fit both of our aesthetics, that were coordinated, and didn’t make us look like twins,” Roopa explains. Luckily, they found the perfect balance. For the Haldi, they both wore Mayyur Girotra looks. For the welcome party, Roopa dressed in Seema Gujral; Sanam, in Swati Couture.

On their wedding day, the brides wore Anita Dongre. Sanam wanted the traditional red look, and Roopa sought something in ivory with pastel embroidery. When they visited the showroom in New York and purchased their lehengas, they had no idea what the ensembles would look like together. Six months later, when the outfits finally arrived, they were thrilled to discover that the lehengas with mint accents paired perfectly. Makeup by Abhilasha kept their beauty looks simple, natural, and glowing.

For the reception, Roopa and Sanam switched into custom outfits by Mayyur Girotra. Roopa’s custom-made emerald lehenga featured Mayyur’s signature beadwork from one of his collections. Sanam’s look was slightly more androgenous with a fitted sherwani jacket.

The bridesmaids coordinated with Blue Lotus lehengas from Gopi Skirts, and the bridesmen sported emerald koti and kurta pajamas from Rajoo India.

On May 6, 2022, the wedding day began with a joint baraat, where both families danced to the beat of the dhol drum as a procession to the ceremony site. “It was important to us to incorporate customs and religious elements from both sides: Punjabi Sikh and Gujarati Hindu,” the couple says. The Milni started with a traditional Sikh prayer called Ardaas, performed by Sanam’s father’s best friend. Members from both families greeted one another with garlands and hugs. The traditional Hindu ceremony followed.

The couple’s priest, Pradeep Archakam, was “genuinely stoked” to marry the brides. “At some point during the ceremony, I remember looking over at Sanam, realizing how lucky I was to be sitting at the mandap with her, and then gazing out, and seeing how many people showed up for us and our love,” Roopa remembers. “I’ve never felt so much warmth from so many people.”

And then, the reception, or rather, “epic party,” kicked off. For nearly four hours, the Grand Ballroom of the Fairmont grooved to Bhangra and ’00s hits spun by DJ Wicked. For the ballroom atmosphere, the brides wanted to bring the garden into the ballroom and adorn the space with greenery and white flowers from the Flowers by Edgar team. Mirrored tables, tall candles juxtaposed with shorter centerpieces, and framed bars with wooden posts made the space feel even more intimate and ornate.

Amber India catered the meals with regional cuisines from Punjab, Gujarat and South India. The brides’ best friends from medical school and housemates Ben, Simon, and Dan gave a toast, as well as Sanam’s brother Ranjeet. Roopa and Sanam cut into their cake by Inticing Creations. The newlyweds enjoyed their first dance to the tune of “Simply the Best” by Ben Haynes. Roopa completely surprised Sanam with a choreographed dance she and her sisters performed. The party continued in the penthouse suite and was fueled by late-night pizza deliveries.