From a vibrant, bazaar themed sangeet ceremony to a romantic, elegant reception, Shruti Valjee wore an array of Seema Gujral lehengas and looked absolutely glamorous! With a beautiful back story of how she chose each look, a custom Saffron Lehenga, Dali Lehenga and Angel Lehenga, Shruti was an amazing bride to work with. The KYNAH team was so happy to reassure her every step of the way and were happy to hear that her lehengas were everything she had dreamed of! Congrats to Shruti and her now-husband Nikhil on their lovely wedding, we wish them a lifetime of love and happiness!
How was your experience working with KYNAH?
How was your experience working with KYNAH?
My grandfather used to co-own a lace factory in South Africa, so I grew up learning about textiles and having an appreciation for the history behind fabrics. I dreamed of one day traveling to India with my mom to design my wedding outfits so I could play with colors, fabrics, and work, create unique pieces that felt like me, and pass them onto future generations.
When the pandemic unfolded, I soon realized that it may not be possible to safely travel to India (or anywhere else) and that I'd either have to rewear outfits from my existing collection or scour the Internet for reputable resources. I didn't even know where to begin. I also didn't have much family who still lived in India, so I could not rely on an aunty or cousin who was local to shop on my behalf. I felt lost and defeated! The pros of quarantine were that it allowed me to spend time visualizing the possibilities from the comfort of my couch, understand what was in my budget and "in fashion," consider designers based in cities I wouldn't have ordinarily worked with had I traveled to India, and avoid haggling amidst the heat and traffic abroad. However, I found it challenging to communicate with designers, given the language barriers and time zones.
When I discovered KYNAH, it felt like a breath of fresh air. I scheduled a virtual meeting with Aisha, which allowed my mom (who lives in a different state) to join, too! I was able to share my vision for each event, get a glimpse of outfits I had seen online/on Instagram, clarify whether the changes I hoped for would be possible, and ultimately just get to know each other (which allowed me to trust her!) After that, we used email to discuss questions, share photos, review my measurements, and finalize the order for my sangeet and reception outfits. Aisha also caught a few mistakes after I took my measurements, which saved me from extra alterations and poor fitting lehengas. A few weeks later, I even came back to KYNAH when a new lehenga was released, which I fell in love with and wore for my ceremony.
Looking back, it makes me emotional to think about what a significant part the team at KYNAH played in my wedding planning process. Not only could I count on them to ensure that the changes I wanted to make occurred (like adding sleeves or changing the color of an outfit), communicate about when I could expect my deliveries, and offer advice/reassurance about the looks I chose, but they responded in a timely manner and were delightful to work with, especially during a time when wedding planning felt like a rollercoaster of emotions! I would recommend working with KYNAH in a heartbeat.
What was it about the custom Saffron Lehenga, Dali Lehenga and Angel Lehenga that made you say “Yes!”?
For my sangeet, the decor was a playful and vibrant bazaar theme, and the stage was meant to serve as a backdrop to all the performances that would ensue. Above all, I knew I wanted to dance, so I was instantly drawn to outfits with mirror work because I knew any movement would cast flickers of light and twinkle across the room. The Saffron Lehenga by Seema Gujral made me feel like a human disco ball. I switched the color to rose pink and went with a sleeveless blouse shape in which I would feel more comfortable dancing. The raw silk also added texture, brought the color to life in a dimly lit ballroom, and was perfect for an autumn event.
Next, I chose my reception outfit. Indian fashion is always bursting with creativity, character, and combinations, so I thought: "Why stick to one fabric or type of work when there are so many to choose from?" Even though I decided to wear another lehenga by Seema Gujral, the Dali allowed me to achieve a more soft and romantic look that was completely different from the sangeet outfit. I worked with the KYNAH team to add sheer net sleeves with sprinkles of pearls and sequins, and I tweaked the color to a shade of nude that was closer to my skin tone. It made me feel glamorous and sexy, especially after months of living in PJs during the lockdown!
Finally, I selected the Angel Lengha for my wedding ceremony (3 for 3 #MyKYNAHSeemaGujralBride!) For months, I searched for red or pink lehengas, but I struggled to find an outfit that had the perfect combo of work that was different enough from my other two outfits (and from what I had seen on many other brides), was within my budget, and felt like me. The Angel Lehenga was graceful, elegant, and illustrious (and don't even get me started on those intricate sleeves!) I added a broader waistband and a second dupatta with a simpler border (which would also be lighter on my head as a veil). While the ivory and gold ensemble was so different from what I imagined wearing to walk down the aisle, its delicate embroidery was traditional, and the arches and floral motifs felt like a modern nod to India's ancient artistry. When I looked back on photos of my wedding, I knew it would feel timeless and special.
What was the smartest thing you did while planning your wedding?
While wedding planning is a flurry of excitement, it can also be incredibly stressful (especially during a pandemic). Some meaningful lessons I learned include: using wedding planning as an opportunity to strengthen how you communicate with your partner; trusting your vision; being mindful of your mental health; treating your vendors with kindness; striving to be present, not perfect; and ordering your outfits from KYNAH.
How did he propose?
In the days leading up to the proposal, Nikhil suggested that we celebrate our upcoming three year anniversary over brunch. I had an existing appointment at my hair salon the day before, and my stylist (who I later learned was also in on the proposal!) took his time and convinced me to curl my hair. Later, my best friend suggested getting manicures, while (little did I know) Nikhil plotted to find the (new) perfect spot to propose, as his original plans to pop the question on the rooftop of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in DC were thwarted when the theater closed in advance of the COVID stay-at-home order. Nikhil is a terrible liar (a great and comical quality to have in a husband), and I definitely suspected that he might be up to something.
Instead of overthinking what he was going to say or do, I tried to focus on what I might wear and how I would play along. On Sunday, March 15th, Nikhil and I took a walk around the grounds of the Kennedy Center. It was completely empty, except for a security guard and a woman who appeared to be reading on the terrace. While admiring the marble of the theater's exterior, Nikhil stopped and held both my hands. In one sweeping moment, the woman with the book pulled out a camera (turns out she was the photographer), and Nikhil got down on one knee. I burst into tears and, of course, said yes to spending the rest of my life (and quarantine) with him!
What was the inspiration behind your wedding theme/aesthetic?
While my husband and I had an idea about what we liked (or didn't like) based on events we had previously attended or photos we had seen when searching for inspiration, the autumn season and venue helped us narrow down what was possible and practical. Since we got married in November, we kept our color palette neutral with metallics and leaned into moody shades of rust, tea rose, and deep green to accent each event. We hoped to honor our Indian heritage (like with marble inlay chairs and heirloom saris used in the decor), but add our own twist (like building an open mandap with simple wood planks that would remain up for the Reception). We also played with lighting to mimic the emotion we hoped to evoke each day (like a playful sangeet, a sentimental ceremony, and a romantic yet lively reception).
Day Of Coordinator: Shayne Souleret
Photographer: Tyler Norman
Videographer: Carl Miller
DJ: Josh Rajkumar
Mehendi Artist: Kadambari Patil
HMUA: Jessica Shah
Florist: The Farmer’s Daughter
Caterer: Taj Mahal Pittsburgh
Bakery: Bethel Bakery
Lighting: EF Lighting
Furniture Rental: Old Souls Vintage Rentals
Livestream: Fireside Events