Real Wedding: Nicki Parikh and Benjamin Duell
Heather Hudson Photography
Nicki Parikh is the first generation of her family to be born in the United States. Her parents, who have been married for 35 years, were born and raised in India and had an arranged marriage. And while they never believed that Nicki herself would welcome such an arrangement, “They did always dream and hope that I would meet and marry a ‘nice Indian boy,’” says Nicki, which is why she waited four (yes, four) years before she told them about Ben.
Truth be told, “Growing up in Mystic I didn’t encounter or make friends with too many Indian people,” says Nicki. “I did meet a fair amount of Indian people when I went to NYU, however, Ben [whom she met while in high school] had already stolen my heart.”
“They weren’t happy at first,” says Nicki of her parents. But luckily, “Ben is quite charming and intelligent, and was raised to be a gentleman; he impressed my parents and they never looked back.”
Then it was time to plan a wedding. “I always pictured myself walking down the aisle in a beautiful white gown,” says Nicki, which didn’t exactly match her parents’ vision of an Indian ceremony seeped in religious tradition. It was thus decided that a “mix heritage and culture with the present day” was in order and two wedding ceremonies planned.
Indian brides traditionally wear red, and for the Aug. 21 Indian ceremony in her parents’ backyard, the lovely Nicki wore traditional attire, including a choli that she’d picked out when she brought Ben to India to meet her grandparents. Her parents planned the elaborate ceremony, and while there were times “Ben and I didn’t quite know what we were doing,” admits Nicki, “it had a lot of symbolic gestures that [could] be translated to any culture.” Carnations were used to signify beauty and joy. Grains (rice) to represent the food necessary to sustain life. Fire as “a divine witness” to the union. “It meant a lot to my family to have this kind of Indian ceremony,” says Nicki, “but it was also exciting for Ben and his family to be part of such a colorful and beautiful tradition. They really embraced it.”
The Branford House in Groton was the choice for “Nicki and Ben: Take Two,” the very next day. “Being on the water was very important for both Ben and I,” says Nicki. It didn’t hurt that the astonishingly beautiful mansion is located on the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut, of which Ben is a grad.
The theme of “rustic-chic” was carried out to perfection with creative farm-to-table eats by Ivy’s Simply Homemade of Waterford. Adam’s Garden of Eden in Pawcatuck accented the lush florals with wine barrels and farm tables that were hand-crafted from wood they found from all over the state. Favors were mason jars filled to the brim with blueberry jam made from some 40 pounds of blueberries Nicki and Ben enlisted their moms and “Nana” to help pick.
In the end, “Both [ceremonies] very much brought out our personalities,” says Nicki. “It was the best weekend of our lives—we would go back and do it again and again if we could.”
Ceremony/reception: Branford House, Groton
Officiant: Jake Mathis
Dress designer: Allure Bridals
Dress boutique: Melissa Ashley Brides, Westerly, R.I.
Shoes: Ivanka Trump
Bridesmaid dresses: Ann Taylor
Tuxedos: Brooks Brothers /Jos. A. Bank
Photographer: Heather Hudson Photography, Pawcatuck
Band: Sugar, Mystic
Caterer: Ivy’s Simply Homemade, Waterford
Florist: Adam’s Garden of Eden, Pawcatuck
Makeup: Mercedes McCoy, Groton
Hair: Sarah Archambault, Groton
Invitations: Makr, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Transportation: Groton Public School Buses
Rentals: Arrow Paper Party Rental, New London
Supreme Photo Booth, Fairfield
(This article was originally published on a different platform. Some formatting changes may have occurred.)
This article appeared in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of The Connecticut Bride
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