Sarah & Abhi
In 2005, Sarah Jaffe took a chance by attending a party where she knew no one but the hostess—and boy, did fate reward her. She ended up chatting with a handsome stranger, and the two exchanged numbers. Six years (and many more interesting conversations) later, she and Abhi Singh would exchange rings. In December 2010, he surprised Sarah, a lawyer specializing in international human rights, with an ethical diamond (plus the papers to prove it) and asked her to be his wife. How could she say no to that?
Though they grew up across the world from each other—Sarah in Portland and Abhi in Punjab, India—they wanted their wedding to find common ground. With the expert help of wedding planner Molli Barss of Soirée, the Bay Area-based couple staged the outdoor event on Sarah’s parents’ property, a verdant 40-acre oasis in Northwest Portland with an on-site alpaca farm and amazing views of the Tualatin Valley.
“I tried to keep in mind what would say ‘wedding’ to Abhi and his family, without trying to claim it was an Indian wedding,” says Sarah, who merged East and West in every aspect of the wedding, from the ceremony to the décor to the food. Culture came to life with color: multihued ribbons, long strands of vibrant marigolds and clay pots filled with exotic arrangements of bright flowers and leaves. Even the alpacas got some Indian flavor, courtesy of Sarah’s dad. “As soon as we announced the wedding, he started scheming to dress them up,” she says. “They were a big hit.”
The celebration began with an Indian marriage procession called baraat and an exchange of wedding garlands of marigolds (the traditional Indian wedding flower) between the groom’s and bride’s families. Sarah wore an elaborately embroidered bridal lengha from India, while Abhi donned a simple black groom’s coat, called an achkan. As guests enjoyed refreshments during the transition, Sarah changed into a vintage-inspired white wedding gown, while her bridesmaids brought a punch of color in their bright saris. The personal ceremony, officiated by Sarah’s godmother, included readings in both Punjabi and English. Instead of reciting vows, the couple read the poem “Love” by Roy Croft.
Dinner—a mix of classic Western and Indian dishes—was served in an airy tent hung with Indian-style lanterns. Before the band got guests on the dance floor, Sarah’s dad took center stage with his banjo and played “Sarah Ann,” a song he wrote when the bride was a baby, now with new verses about the couple’s marriage.
After spending their wedding night at the Hotel Vintage Plaza in downtown Portland, the newlyweds enjoyed a relaxing honeymoon in the islands of French Polynesia before returning to the Bay Area. They now live in San Francisco, where Abhi is a graduate student and Sarah is working as a lawyer for Accountability Counsel, a human-rights NGO.
Bride’s attire: Lengha made in India, gown from Marina Morrison (San Francisco) | Caterer: Simpatica, Vindalho, Bombay Chaat House | Cake and sugar cookie favors: Dream Cakes | Flowers: East West Floral Arts | Hair: Nahid Nadjaran at Boucle Hair | Henna: Melanie Schwartz at Blue Lotus Henna | Ice cream sandwiches: Ruby Jewel Treats | Invites: New and Blue | Makeup: Event Cosmetics | Music: The Pressure Point Band | Photographer: Altura Studio | Planner: Soirée | Rings: Engagement ring from Brilliant Earth (San Francisco), wedding bands rom Packouz Jewelers | Videographer: Moving Picture Weddings