Winna and Neil had fewer than three months to pull together their Bengali-American fusion wedding for over 200 people in Washington, D.C. last April. They worked hard to blend the traditions, dress, flavors, music and overall feeling of the wedding so that the event didn’t make anyone feel too out of place. They had a Bengali ceremony, and both families participated in the service in a way that wasn’t totally traditional but worked perfectly for them.
The ceremony and receptions were held at The Field School, where Neil teaches in the school’s gym. The school grounds are built around an Art Moderne mansion that was originally constructed in the 1930s, and many of the architectural details are beautifully preserved. Having everything at a small private school meant that Winna and Neil could really tailor the event, but because they decided against a venue with an event staff, they had to pull all of the details together themselves (with help from family and friends, of course!).
Winna is a designer, so she kept busy with the planning and designing. She spent the better part of D.C.’s snowy February working on the wedding website (they opted for digital RSVPs with a database because of the time crunch), invitations, signs, menus and programs. She ordered paper from a bulk paper store online and then worked with local printers who gave her a discount for using her own paper. She printed everything digitally, and didn’t have a single regret. As Winna says, “Letterpress invites are gorgeous, but we had to transform a high school gym!”
For all of the other details like catering, decor, music, lighting, transportation and beverages, they found that shopping for each vendor individually was the most economical. Winna and Neil split up the vendors among the two of them, with each being the point person for certain vendors throughout the process. Reading through so many contracts and talking on the phone with many different vendors was time consuming, but in the end it kept their overall costs down.
The week before the wedding, Winna and Neil put their family and friends to work — 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.
Their talented photographer, Lauren Cowart, was a friend of Winna’s from high school. She did a wonderful job and was able to make a custom package to fit Winna and Neil’s needs. A friend who had done flowers for a handful of weddings as a fun side project agreed to help with the arrangements. They bought the flowers from a wholesale market, and the friend and a few helpers worked their magic to create gorgeous arrangements for both the ceremony and reception. With a last minute trip to Home Depot for a few tall plants, they were set. For the food, they asked some family and friends with talents in the kitchen to help pull off a dessert buffet, and ended up with a delicious spread of over 20 homemade treats.
As the bride explained, “Our wedding was a chaotic patchwork of people — vendors, friends and family — who all came together for one of our most memorable weekends. Maybe it would have been easier to turn the event over completely to somebody else, but where’s the fun in that?!”