The Wedding of…
Hema Gupta & Frantz Dumel
Ceremony & Reception: Birchwood Manor, 973.887.1414
Gown: Om Origin, at Om the Origin
Bridesmaids: Sunanda Kumar
Photographer & Cinematographer: Your Life Event
Makeup & Hair: Raheela Beauty Parlor
Florist: Nirali Decor
Cake: Rachel Sorento
Caterer: Rasoi Caterers
Band: Live Wire Entertainment
“Everything We Wanted”
Frantz and I attended the same high school but became friends much later in life. Our road down the scenic wedding aisle began with a beautiful engagement at my best friend Ann’s house during her annual Christmas party. Frantz collaborated with my close friends to ensure the proposal remained a surprise, organizing behind the scenes and enlisting my family to help.
As the Christmas party ensued, Ann informed me that the comedian she hired couldn’t make it. Instead, she said, “But we do have a special guest who would like to say a few words.” One of my favorite songs, “She’s Like the Wind,” from Dirty Dancing started playing. Frantz walked up to grab the microphone and I turned around to see a beautiful bouquet of roses and Frantz on one knee, holding my engagement ring.
We knew we would have a big, fat Indian wedding inclusive of a Christian priest. We outlined the Indian Hindu ceremonies and discussed the various rituals with my parents, including the Haldi ceremony, Sangeet event, the Bharat’s arrival, and the Mandap. Birchwood Manor, resting among the wooded suburbs of New Jersey, immediately swayed us. Its areas to accommodate three beautiful events included an outdoor lawn for the wedding, a walk-out enclosed patio from the bar for cocktail hour, stately ballrooms, a woodsy enclave, and enough powder rooms for my 17 bridesmaids.
The banquet manager, Michael Marino, was amazing. Thanks to him, our pre-wedding celebrations were stunning. For our Sangeet, one of the ballrooms was converted to reflect an Indian market with colorful tents housing Indian regional cuisines, garlands, and fresh flowers on a stage where the couple’s swing allowed our guests to shower us with love and attention.
Each food station was meticulously organized and decorated, and our Indian caterer, Rasoi Caterers, had complete access to Birchwood Manor for setting up. Food stations offered freshly made dosa, north-Indian street food, and Indo-Chinese dishes. The space was large enough for 20 dancers, live drummers, food stations, a Henna bar, a grand piano, and our 150 guests.
On our wedding day, we rented a horse for the groom’s procession. Frantz mounted for the full regal effect and a live DJ van, live drummer, and the groom’s party danced through the cobblestone parking lot. In full tradition, my mother welcomed Frantz and his mother with Pooja Thali, a silver plate holding a small clay oil lamp, a vermillion paste to apply on their forehead, as well as a sweet Ladoo rice for auspicious, sweet beginnings. When Frantz arrived on the white horse, it was a fairy tale come true!
Our guests walked to their seats on the spacious green lawn where our Hindi and Christian ceremonies took place. The Mandap looked celestial flanked with statues of elephant gods covered with flowers. The setting was inspiring with clear blue skies above our heads and love around us. The cocktail hour proceeded alongside a live singer who serenaded our guests with our favorite songs. The reception ballroom was adorned with six-foot centerpieces of flowers cascading down in pink, white, and cream. We used lanterns around the room and two elephants at the entrance.
For our reception, Birchwood spectacularly assisted in helping set up food. We had dishes of chicken tikka masala, kati rolls, falafels, and Indian desserts including Shahi Tukra. We had a cigar roller and a live band and a DJ. Frantz and I danced to “Giving You the Best I Got,” by Anita Baker. We had different music genres from traditional Indian music to Bruno Mars and Fleetwood Mac. Birchwood’s gorgeous dance floor can easily accommodate over 500 guests.
The night was filled with friends and loving family, without whom our joy would not be possible. Thank you to my parents, my mother-in-law, my son, my siblings, my uncle and aunts, cousins, bridesmaids, and the generous, professional staff at Birchwood Manor. My husband and I had a true fairy tale wedding!
Birchwood Manor, Whippany, NJ