From intimate black tie affairs to huge cultural celebrations, weddings in the Washington, DC area come in all shapes, sizes, and yes, budgets. Winna and Neil’s Bangali-American wedding was definitely a celebration, blending Bengali ceremony traditions with a DIY ethic that ended up involving several family members and friends – and the entire wedding was arranged in just under three months! Winna is here today to share her wedding experience, along with beautiful images from photographer Lauren Cowart.
From Winna: Neil and I had about three months to pull together an April wedding for over 200 people in DC, so the first part of 2010 was fairly hectic. The wedding was a Bengali-American fusion ceremony. We talked with our families about how to blend the traditions, dress, flavors, music and overall feeling so that the event didn’t make anyone feel too out of place. Nearly everyone dressed in formal Indian attire for the ceremony, and then they had a mix of American and Indian outfits at the reception. We had a Bengali ceremony, and both families participated in the service in a way that wasn’t totally traditional but worked perfectly.
We decided to have the ceremony and receptions at The Field School where Neil teaches. The school grounds are built around an art moderne mansion that was originally built in the 1930s, and many of the architectural details are beautifully preserved. Having everything at a small private school was exciting because we could really tailor the event, but because we decided against a venue with an event staff, we had to pull all of the details together ourselves. We asked friends and family for lots and lots of help, and thankfully people were willing to lend a hand.
As a graphic designer, I spent the better part of DC’s snowy February working on our wedding website (we opted for digital RSVPs with a database because of how quickly everything came together), invitations, signs, menus and programs. I ordered paper from a bulk paper store online and then worked with local digital printers to print the invitations. For all of the other details like catering and decor and music and lighting and transportation and beverages, we decided to split up the vendors and then coordinate throughout the process. We each read through and compared a bunch of contracts, but in the end it helped keep our overall costs down.
The week before the wedding, we had family and friends sitting in desks and at picnic tables, and we were all tasked with something: folding programs, mounting posters on foam board, tying gift cards to bubble tubes, alphabetizing name cards, setting up table numbers, putting out linens, setting out glasses, and so much more!
We saved in a few other ways as well. A creative friend helped arrange flowers that we all picked out together at a wholesale market. For the food, we worked with Basikneads on their cocktail hour and dinner menu. Then we asked some family and friends with talents in the kitchen to help pull off a dessert buffet, resulting in a very delicious spread of over 20 homemade treats!
Thanks Winna and Neil!
The following Washington, DC area wedding vendors contributed to Winna and Neil’s wedding:
Venue: The Field School
Photography: Lauren Cowart
Floral Design: Pat Mears, Hopkins Floral
Music: Musical DJs
Rentals: DC Rental and Syzygy
Lighting: John Farr Lighting
Henna Artist: Adiba Nisar
Photo Credits: Lauren Cowart