Photography by Tony Gajate
After three years of long-distance courtship, Nitin Motwani and Anshu Agrawal and 450 family and friends (70 of whom had flown in from India) gathered at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne for a traditional Indian wedding ceremony, which follows the guidelines inscribed in the Vedas, the ancient Hindu scriptures.
The ceremony began with the barat ritual, the precession of the groom and his family, a type of festive parade. Sitting atop an elephant, Nitin lead his family and friends to the back of the hotel where Anshu’s family was waiting to welcome them.
After the opening prayer, Anshu, accompanied by her father and brother, walked down the aisle toward Nitin who was standing behind a holy curtain. Before being allowed to step onto the mandap, a four-pillared stage that represents the four parents, Anshu and Nitin performed two rituals that symbolize who will rule the marriage. “You both take your shoes off because you wouldn’t wear your shoes in the temple and then whoever can step on the other’s foot first wins,” explains Anshu. “Then the curtain drops and you exchange garlands. It’s the same concept. Whoever puts the garland on first is the one who’s supposed to rule the marriage.”
“The main part of an Indian wedding is the mangal pheras, when the bride and groom walk around the fire seven times, each circle represents a different vow, like [being] faithful, children,” says Anshu.
Anshu wore a pink lengha by Ritu Kumar for the ceremony and changed into a sari by designer Tarun Tahiliani for the reception, both of which she purchased on a trip to India. She also wore a lot of jewelry, both new and old. “The whole point of an Indian wedding is that it’s a very joyous event with a lot of bright colors,” says Anshu. “
After the ceremony, guests moved into the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, where DJ Yogi Goyal from Houston spinned tunes. Executive Chef George Fistrovich and Chef Rupam Bhagat, who flew in from The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, to help prepare the Indian cuisine, served hors d’oeuvres including mutter wale samose (pastries stuffed with green peas and mint chutney) and dahi vada (deep fried lentil dumplings). Live cooking stations and chaat (savory snacks) were located throughout the room. The dinner menu consisted of a bread presentation and a kuchumber fried crisps salad with a cilantro lime vinaigrette. The main course consisted of chicken tikka and mixed vegetables in cashew nut gravy. Dinner concluded with a dessert trio and wedding cake.
“People always tell you it’s overwhelming to see everyone that loves you in one place one night,” says Nitin. “We were fortunate enough to have it spread over seven days so that we could really spend time with all the different people that mean so much to us.” Despite so many events, Nitin easily picks his favorite moments: the barat ritual with his family and friends and when Anshu sang “The Way You Look Tonight.” For Anshu, it was the end. “I was on all night, all week. I was so exhausted. My favorite moment was the reception when everything was over and I had a few drinks and started dancing with friends and family.”
The bride and groom held off on an immediate honeymoon. There were two other weddings and Anshu’s graduation to attend. A month later, they jetted off to The St. Regis Bora Bora and the One & Only in Cabo San Lucas for a well-deserved honeymoon. The couple resides in Brickell Key, Florida, where Nitin is the principal and managing director of Miami Worldcenter Group and Anshu is the founder and COO of the skincare line FemmeScience.