A Marriage of Cultures

Renee Mehra and Joe Roberta June 5 (Indian) and June 6 (American), 2009

It was a chance meeting on the way to the subway that eventually led to Renee Mehra and Joe Roberta to wed. Although the couple both worked for the same commercial insurance broker, Marsh & McLennan in Manhattan, they spoke only once to one another. After each left the company, they did not see each other for months—until they ran into each other on the way to the subway station.

“After that, Joe and I talked on the phone every day until he finally asked me out,” Renee says. “Since then, we have been inseparable.” Three years later, Joe filled a room at the Waldorf Astoria with 20 dozen roses and proposed.

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At first, the couple planned to hold just one traditional American wedding but later decided that, since Renee is of Indian heritage, it was important to have a Hindu-Indian ceremony as well. Thus, they had not only the challenge of organizing one wedding but two. “The good thing about an Indian wedding is that you really need a coordinator in order to get a mandap [the wedding ‘altar’ in Indian weddings, similar to a chuppah], and then the coordinator also does the flowers, reception, etcetera,” Renee says. “Upon my cousin’s suggestion, I used Sharda Shenoy [owner of Elegant Affairs in New Jersey] for the coordinator. She was wonderful!”

While, for many brides, finding one dress takes months and months of stressful searching, for Renee, it couldn’t have been easier. For the Indian wedding, she chose a more casual, hot-pink outfit from Khajana in Edison, New Jersey, and for the American wedding, she ended up selecting a creation from Modern Trouseau in Woodbridge, Connecticut. She began the search with her mother-in-law and sister, since her mother was in Baltimore. “We went to a trunk show,” Renee recalls, “and the first dress I tried on ended up being the one. I knew that I wanted lace, and the cap sleeves looked perfect. It was romantic and light and it blew me away.”

The couple chose the carriage house at the Westchester Renaissance for the Indian ceremony and reception, so guests would be able to stay overnight in the hotel and attend the American wedding the next day. There were 90 guests at the Indian reception and 150 attended the American wedding. The second ceremony took place at St. Patrick’s Stone Church in Yorktown Heights, Joe’s childhood church, and, from there, guests were transported to the reception at Glen Island Harbour Club in New Rochelle.

“A lot of our American friends had never seen an Indian wedding,” Renee says, “so they thought it was amazing, and then a lot of my family had never seen an American wedding, so it was great for them to get both experiences.”

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Resource Guide Indian Wedding:

Venue: Westchester Renaissance, White Plains; 80 W Red Oak La, West Harrison (914) 694-5400; marriott.com/hotels/travel/hpnsh-renaissance-westchester-hotel. Mandup and Reception Set-up: Elegant Affairs, 1275 Bloomfield Ave, Fairfield, NJ (973) 882-8001; elegantaffairs.com. Makeup and Hair: Dipti Desai (732) 257-6789; sakhibeauty.com Photography: Photography by Alfonso, 193 Brook St, Scarsdale (914) 723-3355; photographybyalfonso.com. Cake: Pietro Polito of Polito Bakery, 3365 Hillside Ave, New Hyde Park, NY (516) 248-6618; politobakery.com Caterer: Coromandel Cuisine of India, 30 Division St, New Rochelle (914) 235-8390; coromandelcuisine.com Indian Pundit (Priest) Pandit Harish Sharma, 39 Garden Blvd, Hicksville, NY. Wedding Dress: Khajana, Edison, NJ. Invitation: Nalini Tandon of Mayla Designs, mayladesigns.com, (973) 495-3085.

Resource Guide American Wedding:

Ceremony: St. Patricks Stone Church, 137 Moseman Rd, Yorktown Heights (914) 962-5050. Reception Venue: Glen Island Harbour Club, 1 Glen Island Park, New Rochelle (914) 636-6500, glenisland-harbourclub.com. Cake: Glen Island Harbour Club.Makeup: Meredith Hayman, meredithhayman.com/brides.html. Hair: Cynthia at Salon Savoir, 195 E Post Rd, White Plains (914) 761-9292. Flowers: Arcadia Floral Co, 411 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck (914) 723-4000 arcadiafloral.com. Photography: Photography by Alfonso, 193 Brook St., Scarsdale (914) 723-3355; photographybyalfonso.com. Bridal Dress: Modern Trousseau, 125 Bradley Rd, Suite 2, Woodbridge, CT; moderntrousseau.com/bridal-collection.html, Bridesmaid Dresses, Priscilla of Boston, 264 W 40th St., New York, NY (212) 997-3956; priscillaofboston.com. Invitations: Papyrus, 51 S Moger Ave, Mount Kisco (914) 666-0501; papyrusonline.com.

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