Bright and colorful and absolutely brimming with joy, Susan and Kevin’s gorgeous October wedding was practically pulled right from the pages of a fairytale.

There are many important components of a traditional Indian wedding, including the Mehndi party, which takes place the evening before the wedding. Susan explains that the depth of the finished shade of the Mehndi, or henna designs, indicates how much the bride’s husband will love her. It is also believed that the cooling effect of the herb helps to relive stress and calm wedding day nerves.

The soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Ratigan enjoy their Mehndi party at Aldridge Gardens. The Mehndi party takes place the evening before a traditional Indian wedding. Susan explains that the depth of the finished shade of the Mehndi, or henna designs, indicates how much the bride’s husband will love her. It is also believed that the cooling effect of the herb helps to relieve stress and calm wedding day nerves.

Susan Patel and Kevin Ratigan met one serendipitous night in Birmingham. Kevin happened to be out celebrating his birthday when he spotted Susan and asked her out on a date, counting on the fact that she wouldn’t have the heart to turn him down on his birthday. He was proven right, and after dating for three happy years, Kevin memorized a speech in Gujarati and asked Susan’s mother for her hand in marriage. Susan describes this respectful gesture as an “epic fail,” as Kevin was kept waiting for 10 minutes before he received his answer. Luckily, after a quick discussion between Susan’s mom and sister, that answer turned out to be “yes”!

Though the request for permission didn’t quite go according to plan, the proposal that would follow was an absolute dream. Susan and Kevin were in New York at Studio Cafe atop the Whitney Museum of American Art. Kevin insisted on walking to the rooftop edge and taking a photo of the city’s stunning skyline. That’s when he got down on one knee, pulled a box out of his pocket and asked Susan to be his wife.

Susan always knew that she wanted to honor her culture by following the rich traditions of an Indian wedding. “Growing up here in America, I always thought the American wedding was beautiful, but I knew I wanted to stay true to my culture and have a traditional Indian wedding. I also wanted to take Kevin’s ideas for what he wanted for our wedding day into consideration,” she says. Susan’s vision for the day involved the perfect balance of individual styles — Indian customs with nods to American culture, shabby chic with touches of glam — all with the feel of being enveloped in a lush, whimsical garden. She turned to Becky Baker at Becky’s Brides to help her pull together every stunning detail of her dream wedding weekend.

Susan initially envisioned herself wearing an all-red lengha for the wedding ceremony. “That ended very quickly when I laid eyes on this one lengha from Shyamal and Bhumika,” Susan says. “The skirt was filled with beautiful antique gold threadwork and the dupatta was made of soft net that draped perfectly over the shoulder. At that moment I knew, that was the one. I wanted to add a pop of color in the lengha, so I opted for a red blouse.”

Susan initially envisioned herself wearing an all-red lengha for the wedding ceremony. “That ended very quickly when I laid eyes on this one lengha from Shyamal & Bhumika,” Susan says. “The skirt was filled with beautiful antique gold threadwork, and the dupatta was made of soft net that draped perfectly over the shoulder. At that moment I knew, that was the one. I wanted to add a pop of color in the lengha, so I opted for a red blouse.”

Susan putting on the finishing touches before the ceremony.

Susan putting on the finishing touches before the ceremony.

How gorgeous is this ornate paper suite?

How gorgeous is this ornate paper suite?

Susan’s inspiration for her dramatic bouquet was found on Pinterest! “It had the perfect color combination of blush, cream, dark purple and maroon,” Susan says. “And the little bit of green from the leaves and stems was just perfect.”

Susan’s inspiration for her dramatic bouquet was found on Pinterest. “It had the perfect color combination of blush, cream, dark purple and maroon,” Susan says. “And the little bit of green from the leaves and stems was just perfect.”

The wedding altar, or mandapa, is built the day of and the groom is welcomed by his future mother-in-law.

The wedding altar, or mandapa, is built the day of and the groom is welcomed by his future mother-in-law.

A romantic blush color palette inspired by Susan’s longtime love of pink served as the starting point for the overall look of the day. Abundant florals in soft shades of blush and cream with delicate greenery and pops of deep purple captured the garden feel Susan dreamed of. The wedding party, dressed in bright teal, perfectly complemented the bride and groom’s red, gold and cream attire, a signature Indian color palette, all combining to create the perfect day, rich in both tradition and joy.

After a busy year of thoughtful planning, the wedding weekend, packed full with all of the ceremonies and celebrations Susan had envisioned, finally arrived. Several religious ceremonies took place the day preceding the wedding, and Susan and Kevin elected to break common custom in this instance and have their Vidhi and Pithi ceremonies together. In the Mandya Mahurat and Griha Shanti portion of the Vidhi, the parents of the couple request blessings from Mother Earth and the nine planets. During the Pithi, a paste is made from sandalwood powder, turmeric powder and rosewater and applied to the exposed parts of the body, purifying and blessing the bride and groom. Then that evening, the Mehndi party, hosted under the terrace and among the twinkling lights at Aldridge Gardens, served as the final preparation for the big day. Family and friends came together to dine and celebrate the bride and groom while women were adorned with intricate henna art on their hands and feet.

RELATED: 15 Gorgeous & Unique Wedding Venues Around Birmingham

The day of the wedding before the ceremony began, Kevin rode in on a white horse for the music- and dance-filled baraat. “I like to call this the groom’s parade,” Susan says. “This is how the groom and his family arrive to the mandap, dancing and celebrating as the bride’s family welcomes him.”

For the baraat, Kevin rode in on a white horse and was flanked by his family and wedding party.

For the baraat, Kevin rode in on a white horse and was flanked by his family and wedding party.

The baraat is full of music, dancing and joyous celebration.

The baraat is full of music and dancing and joyous celebration.

Kevin takes the dance floor before meeting his bride.

Kevin takes the dance floor before meeting his bride.

Friends and family lift the couple into the air, and they adorn one another with floral garland necklaces to symbolize acceptance of each another.

Friends and family lift the couple into the air, and they adorn one another with floral garland necklaces to symbolize acceptance of each another.

How sweet are these two? No pre-wedding jitters in sight.

How sweet are these two? No pre-wedding jitters in sight.

Susan and Kevin’s closest friends and family members look absolutely gorgeous in their teal and gold traditional Indian attire.

Susan and Kevin’s closest friends and family members look absolutely gorgeous in their teal and gold traditional Indian attire.

Following the baraat, the families made their way upstairs to the ballroom for the beautiful ceremony, witnessed by more than 400 guests, where the couple participated in the traditional ceremony and vowed to take care of and support each other. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Kevin placed sindoor, a vermilion powder mixture, in the part of Susan’s hair and presented her with a mangal sutra, a black beaded necklace, both of which signify that she is now a married woman.

Following the ceremony, the bride and groom changed out of their traditional Indian attire for the reception and stole away for some rooftop photos, a nod to their New York engagement, while the ceremony area transitioned into a reception space during the cocktail hour. The ballroom at the Hyatt Regency transformed from a beautiful, elegant ceremony space to a romantic reception venue, both of which perfectly captured Susan’s enchanted garden vision.

One pint-sized member of the wedding party delivers laughs with a healthy dose of cuteness.

One pint-sized member of the wedding party delivers laughs with a healthy dose of cuteness.

One of the day’s most important details for Susan was the photo of her late father, featured in a place of honor on the Mandap beside her aunt and uncle, who gave Susan away during the ceremony.

One of the day’s most important details for Susan was the photo of her late father (left), featured in a place of honor on the Mandap beside her aunt and uncle, who gave Susan away during the ceremony. The ceremony features both reverent and playful moments.

Family surrounds the couple, showering them with blessings.

Family surrounds the couple, showering them with blessings.

RELATED: Your Ultimate Guide to Stress-Free Wedding Planning

The couple finalizes their union as husband and wife.

The couple finalizes their union as husband and wife.

The happy couple stole away for some photos before the reception begins. How gorgeous is this reception gown? The antique gold threadwork on this blush and tulle gown is a perfect call back to the stunning detailing in Susan’s ceremony lengha.

The happy couple stole away for some photos before the reception began. How gorgeous is this reception gown? The antique gold threadwork on this blush and tulle gown is a perfect call back to the stunning detailing in Susan’s ceremony lengha.

This sparkly sweetheart table for the bride and groom was situated right at the end of the dance floor. While planning the traditional Indian wedding she had long dreamed of, it was important to Susan to incorporate Kevin’s ideas into the wedding day. One of the ways they did so was with the reception menu. In addition to vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian cuisine, including family favorites of chicken tikka masala, Methi corn malai and paneer kalapuri, several American dishes were served. Kevin and Susan were sure to include their beloved macaroni and cheese on the menu, and Kevin’s parents selected New Orleans spiced chicken, pot roast and green beans wrapped in bacon.

This sparkly sweetheart table for the bride and groom was situated right at the end of the dance floor. While planning the traditional Indian wedding she had long dreamed of, it was important to Susan to incorporate Kevin’s ideas into the wedding day. One of the ways they did so was with the reception menu. In addition to vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian cuisine, including family favorites of chicken tikka masala, Methi corn malai and paneer kalapuri, several American dishes were served. Kevin and Susan were sure to include their beloved macaroni and cheese on the menu, and Kevin’s parents selected New Orleans spiced chicken, pot roast and green beans wrapped in bacon.

“Kevin and I love chocolate cake so that was a must,” Susan says. “I also like classic wedding cake, so we decided to have both flavors. Each tier was different. For the top tier we made sure it was chocolate for our one year anniversary. I wanted something simple yet elegant, and I think the cream icing and gold trim was perfect.”

“Kevin and I love chocolate cake, so that was a must,” Susan says. “I also like classic wedding cake, so we decided to have both flavors. Each tier was different. For the top tier we made sure it was chocolate for our one year anniversary. I wanted something simple yet elegant, and I think the cream icing and gold trim was perfect.”

Susan and Kevin had their first dance to “Everything I Do” by Bryan Adams.

Susan and Kevin had their first dance to “Everything I Do” by Bryan Adams.

“Kevin and I wanted our guests to have a great time,” Susan says. “For this to happen we needed to have amazing food, fun music and an open bar for the reception.” Since the dance floor stayed crowded all evening, we think they accomplished their goal!

“Kevin and I wanted our guests to have a great time,” Susan says. “For this to happen we needed to have amazing food, fun music and an open bar for the reception.” Since the dance floor stayed crowded all evening, we think they accomplished their goal!

The happy couple exits under a shower of beautiful rose petals!

The happy couple exits under a shower of beautiful rose petals!

After they were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Ratigan at the reception, Susan and Kevin took the floor and shared their first dance as husband and wife to “Everything I Do” by Bryan Adams, a moment which was among Susan’s favorites of the day. “At that moment it was just me and him surrounded by the people that love and care about us,” Susan remembers. Tearjerking toasts, a delicious meal and, of course, plenty of cake followed. The happy couple then spent rest of the evening dancing the night away. After a night of celebration among loved ones, Susan and Kevin were showered with pink, cream and purple rose petals as they headed off to their own happily ever after.

We wish you every happiness, Susan and Kevin! Thank you for sharing your beautiful day with us!

RESOURCES

Wedding planning: Becky’s Brides
Photography: Sweet Julep Photography
Bride’s lengha: Anoki Ada from Shyamal & Bhumika
Bride’s reception gown: Image Boutique
Venue and American catering: Hyatt Wynfrey Hotel
Florals: KG Designs
Cake: Magic Muffins
Entertainment and lighting: Indaglow Productions
Horse: 3-H Stables
Linens and chairs: Decor to Adore
Rentals: Event Rentals Unlimited
Hair and makeup: Melissa Moore Bogardus
Invitation suite: XHD Invites