Sheena + Ganesh: San Mateo, California

When Sheena and Ganesh first laid eyes on each other, it was not love at first sight. A year and half later, they met each other again, as they watched a movie with mutual friends. It was not love at second sight. 

Ganesh finally mustered up the courage to ask Sheena out via text message. They had their first date at Quartino’s on August 21, 2007. Ganesh was very impressed that Sheena was a steadfast vegetarian who loved spinach. He later found out that although she was a vegetarian, Sheena hated spinach. Sheena was equally impressed that Ganesh was a vegetarian who liked cheese pizza. To her dismay, Sheena discovered that Ganesh had a preference for salads.

Sheena was born and raised in California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA and attended medical school in Chicago. Sheena is currently a pediatric resident at UC Irvine. Ganesh grew up in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. He graduated from IIT and law school in Chicago. Ganesh is currently an attorney in Southern California.

Ganesh proposed to Sheena. The story begins the night before Sheena took her Step 2 Clinical Exam. Ganesh first called Sheena’s father to ask his permission to request Sheena’s hand in marriage. Later in the evening, he helped Sheena practice for the exam. Halfway through the night, Sheena asked Ganesh, “Why do you keep staring at me. It is making me self-conscious. Stop it!” He happily obliged and went home knowing that she was none the wiser.

The next day, after Sheena had taken the exam, Ganesh took her out to a nice Italian restaurant to celebrate. When they arrived, Sheena was disappointed that the nice Italian restaurant was an Italian fast food diner. Ganesh picked up their dinner to go. Sheena was quite confused, but decided to play along. Ganesh took her on a gondola ride, where they ate dinner while being serenaded by the gondolier. After dinner, Sheena wanted to go to Laguna Beach.

Strolling around Laguna Beach, they came upon an empty gazebo decorated with lighted candles. Sheena became a little anxious and decided to leave, thinking the gazebo was set up for someone else. Before she could say anything, Ganesh said, “Sheena, you know how last night you got mad at me for staring at you? Well, you didn’t know it, but that was the last night I would be looking at my girlfriend. Tonight, our life changes from what it used to be, to what it will be for the rest of our lives. You mean the world to me and I cannot imagine spending my life with anyone else. All of this was set up for you.” Ganesh got down on one knee and proposed. Sheena was so shocked, she was speechless. Unable to get an answer, Ganesh had to ask again…and again…and again. Sheena finally said, “Yes!” after the fourth time and Ganesh put the ring on her finger.

Sheena and Ganesh were married inside a beautifully decorated gazebo at the San Mateo Marriott in a ceremony that blended the Northern and Southern traditions of India. The dhol players announced the arrival of the groom in a white Rolls Royce. Dressed in a red and beige sherwani, Ganesh exuberantly danced to baraati songs with friends and family, as hotel guests watched in amazement. Wedding guests were treated to a lavish breakfast while the traditional Ganesh Pooja took place. Regrettably for Ganesh, his friends who were charged with guarding his precious shoes were busy enjoying the delicious food. Unlike other traditional Indian weddings, the time-honored tradition of stealing the groom’s shoes was not very challenging. When the priest asked Ganesh to remove his shoes, he  took them off and unknowingly handed them to Sheena’s uncle, thinking he was passing them off to his friend who at the time was too busy enjoying breakfast. For Ganesh, it was a very costly breakfast!

Sheena was escorted to the mandap by her parents wearing a dazzling sari in red and gold, embellished with traditional gota patti embroidery and a gota kanari finish. She wore a gold meenakari haar, a gift from her nana and nani, and a gold meenakari choker. Although the wedding encompassed all the cultural and traditional aspects of a Hindu ceremony, Sheena and Ganesh wrote their own marriage vows. After the ceremony concluded, the guests enjoyed a vegetarian luncheon while mingling with friends and family. But the day was not over yet!

Guests were shuttled to the San Francisco Airport Marriott to attend a formal reception and dinner. A gold-finished Ganesh and Radha-Krishna statue greeted the guests as they entered the foyer of the reception hall. Keeping with the Indian theme, a peacock and elephant topiary adorned the tables along the windows. Inside the grand ballroom, ice sculptures of Ganesh and Radha-Krishna provided the backdrop for the buffet. Sheena wore a custom-designed purple lehnga adorned with Swarovski crystals and diamond jewelry, presents from her in-laws. Ganesh’s tuxedo complemented Sheena’s outfit with a purple vest and tie. In true Bollywood style, Sheena and Ganesh shared their first dance as husband and wife with a choreographed performance to A.R. Rahman’s Tere Bina-Aaruyire, a Hindi-Tamil remix.

This extravagant affair also featured many amusing anecdotes of their courtship by close friends, heartfelt speeches by the two fathers, and a moving toast by Sheena’s brother that nearly had all 450 guests ready to wipe away their tears. Ganesh was so moved by the endearing words of his new brother-in-law, he nearly lost one of his contact lenses. 

Sheena’s cousins surprised the couple with a hilarious presentation about an undisclosed guest from Sheena’s past. Her longtime and inseparable childhood friend, Dorcus Fairlie, wearing a replica of Sheena’s designer outfit, made a grand entrance in a doli to the loud bursts of a light show and the hit 1980’s song, Don’t You Forget About Me. Like a true diva, Dorcus perched herself on the bride and groom’s sweetheart table for the remainder of the evening. To Sheena’s amazement, she was reunited with her long lost Cabbage Patch doll.

The evening continued with an exceptional vegetarian dinner and dessert that included a variety of Indian sweets and a beautifully designed and scrumptious eggless wedding cake. The guests rocked the dance floor until one in the morning to an outstanding array of Western and Eastern music. Guests were presented with a custom-made brass charger plate with a peacock design as a gift from the bride and groom.

What started off as a friendship between Sheena and Ganesh, blossomed into love between two people, and culminated in the union of two families.

Officiant: Pundit Bijay Sharma
Venue: San Mateo Marriott, San Francisco Airport Marriott
Wedding Coordinator: Vivah Celebrations, Indra Singh
Decorator: SS Decorations, Nelam Prasad
Photographer: Samay Studio
Videographer: Spotlight Digital Creations
DJ Services & Dhol Players: Toofan Sounds, Bitzy Mattu
Caterers: Suraj Indian Cuisine, New Delhi Restaurant
Wedding Cake: Not Just Cheesecakes
Ice Sculptures: Chisel-It-Ice
Bridal Fashion: Ahlishan Fashion
Groom’s Fashion: Atirma Collections
Hair Stylist: Janelle Rodas
Make-Up: Anjali Patel
Invitations: Vivah Celebrations