Parinita Dewan and Ritesh Balla were first put in touch so that they could practice a synchronized dance for a mutual friend’s wedding. “He would religiously pick me up for those dance practices and voluntarily drop me back off, so we could be in each other’s company; it was the sweetest thing,” Parinita says. After six years of dating, five of them internationally long-distance, he proposed when she came to visit him in California.
When beginning the planning process, they knew they wanted to host their celebration in India at a heritage property. “He’s a nerd when it comes to history, and me—architecture,” Parinita says. Rohet Garh in Jodhpur matched their personalities and could host the intimate wedding of 70 guests. Ritesh flew to India, so they could see the venue together, and they had it booked by June.
On the morning of December 6th, 2019, the haldi ceremony and mehendi took place, followed by the sangeet that evening. And the next day, the traditional wedding ceremony was held.
The bride wanted to keep her wedding looks unpretentious and to embrace traditional Rajasthani garb. “Indian bridal attire tends to be really heavy and loud even. I knew I wanted to be independent of fads,” Parinita says. “Buying these outfits and keeping them locked away in our wardrobe to never be worn again, was a big no-no.”
For the morning mehendi, she wore an Abhinav Mishra sequinned lehenga, and Ritesh wore a maroon Mayank Modi printed wrap-kurta. That evening, she changed into a Payal Singhal lehenga with a hand embroidered blouse, and the groom wore a fitted SS Homme bandh-gala.
At the sangeet, a cocktail hour was followed by an authentic Rajasthani dinner. Before the couple’s first dance, village artisans performed local folk music and women did the Rajasthani dance, twirling with matkas (pots) on their heads. Then Parinita and Ritesh danced to “Photo” by Karan Sehmbi—the chorus appropriately translates to “I looked at your photograph 100 times.”
For the after-party, guests were taken by camel into the jungle until they came across a clearing, where a dance floor, bar, DJ booth, and bonfires were waiting. “I did a surprise performance for Ritesh with the boys to ‘Gimme More’ by Britney Spears and a Bollywood song—his face was worth seeing,” Parinita says. The party went on until 4:00 a.m. and then everyone quickly remembered that they had to be bright-eyed at the wedding rituals taking place in a few hours.
The traditional wedding began with Ritesh walking in with the “baraat” dancing to local artisans playing the dhol, while Parinita waited for him on the lawn. Once together, they walked up for the varmala, which marks the start of the ceremony, where they exchanged garlands.
Then they went to the terrace for the saat phere, and once everyone was seated, the priests started performing the marriage rituals. “They chanted Vedic mantras, which are like the vows between husband and wife, and Ritesh and I were required to take seven rounds around a sacred fire,” Parinita says. “All the while, the artisans were singing and playing the harmonium.”
“Once the ceremony kicked in, it hit us, and I was smiling from the inside. Ritesh and I had worked so hard and waited so long to make this happen that when it did, it preceded everything we’d seen or imagined,” Parinita says. “In our invitation, we had quoted Beethoven’s words, ‘Ever thine, ever mine, ever ours.’ That pretty much sums up how we felt during the entire wedding.”