SWETHA GARIMALLA & SHALIN VARGHESE
June 10-12, 2022 | The Grandeur House | Swearingen Weddings
Shalin proposed to Swetha at her sister’s house while under the guise of throwing her mom a birthday party. After they cut the cake, Shalin suggested they all play a new sci-fi board game that he brought. Swetha was excited because she loves board games; little did she know that he personally designed the board game and made sure she would win.
At the end of the game, she opened a box to find the hidden treasure, but it was empty. She looked over at Shalin, only to find him with the ring in his hand and asking her to marry him. Swoon!
They tied the knot at the Grandeur House in Little Rock. They wanted to incorporate their cultures into their wedding and put on a three-day celebration to honor their heritages and religions. Swetha is of Telugu Hindu heritage and Shalin is Makayali Christian.
“We were very intentional about this…” Swetha said. “We wanted to celebrate and honor our individuality and background, while also coming together as a bonded couple.”
A THREE-DAY CELEBRATON
Day 1: Friday
“Sangeet is an event that typically takes place to start the Indian wedding festivities. We had this event on Friday evening,” Swetha said. “We utilized this event to welcome everyone to the wedding weekend, introduce our loved ones to each other, and celebrate!”
Editor’s note: During Sangeet, several activities are happening all at once. Introductions, games with guests, dances and song performances, toasts, and dinner are all help as a great way to kick-off the festivities.
Day 2: Saturday
“Haldi is an event attended by the bride and her close family and friends on the morning of the Hindu wedding,” Swetha said. “Typically, loved ones of the bride rub turmeric paste on the bride's cheeks to bless her with good luck and well wishes in her married life.”
“Madhuram veppu is an event attended by the groom and his close family and friends on the morning of the Hindu wedding,” Swetha said. “This is more typical of Christian families from Kerala before the wedding. Shalin’s family provided him with cake and dessert to celebrate, support and bless the upcoming wedding.”
“The Hindu wedding was performed in the evening to honor and in accordance with the bride's religious and cultural background,” Swetha said. “We invited everyone to join us for dinner to celebrate the Hindu wedding ceremony.”
Day 3: Sunday
“The Christian Wedding Ceremony was performed in the afternoon to honor and in accordance with Shalin’s religious and cultural background,” Swetha said. “We invited everyone to stay and join us for our wedding reception.”
Editor’s note: During the Christian wedding celebration, the couple had a father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, first dance, toasts, dinner and more dancing.
Q & A
Q: What were your favorite wedding details?
“My favorite thing during the wedding weekend were the games we had set up for our guests,” Swetha said. “Typically in [our culture], the bride and groom play games and answer questions, but we turned it on its head and had people from our families compete with each other in a few games. I really loved that we did that! It was a lot of fun and really bonded everyone in a playful way.”
Tell us more about the games:
“One of the [games we made for guests] was Gol Gappa, where we had people compete to eat Pani Puri on each side. Then, we played Antakshari, which is a game where people have to start the next song based on the last syllable of the previous song. And finally, we asked people to give us their best wedding advice.”
Q: What was your most worth-it splurge?
“The clothes we wore,” Swetha said. “We both really loved our looks for each event, and it was really meaningful to us to go into each event feeling comfortable and confident.”
Q: What were your favorite moments throughout the three days?
“During the Hindu wedding, my father and mother started cracking jokes and making me laugh when I was stressed,” Swetha said. “During the Christian event, it was when my husband laughed at the altar when my bridesmaid pulled out a secret stash of cough drops from her bouquet because I had caught a slight cold.”
“We loved the toasts that everyone made,” Swetha added. “They were really loving and heartfelt. We felt very loved.”
Q: What made your day feel perfect?
“Having our families there supporting us through all of it.”
MEANING BEHIND IT
Before beginning the wedding planning process, Swetha and Shalin sat together and talked about why they were hosting a wedding celebration. Ultimately, they decided they wanted to love, honor and join their families and cultures.
MOMENTS & MEMORIES
During the Sangeet, Swetha’s husband, sisters and sister-in-law put together a surprise dance to her favorite song that they dedicated to her.
WEDDING VENDORS WE LOVE
Venue: The Grandeur House; Florist: Tipton & Hurst; Guest accommodations: Aloft Hotel West Little Rock
Wedding planner: Bella Baxter Events; Photography and videography: Swearingen Weddings; Rentals: Eventology; Bar (Friday/Sunday): Have Bar Will Travel; Music and lighting: Central Arkansas Entertainment; Henna artist: Sapna; Cake (Sunday): Blue Cake Company; Invitations: Minted; Catering: Indian Kitchen and Star of India; Wedding Insurance: Hiscox; Hair and makeup: Usma Rasheed and the bride's sister; Groom and groomsmen suits: Generation Tux; Bridesmaids dresses: Azazie; Bride’s dress (Sunday): Raffine Bridal; Choir and officiant (Sunday): Christ Church Little Rock, Rev. Hannah Hooker; Mover: SNJ Movers