Trina & Greg tied the knot at Lesner Inn in a beautiful Bengali ceremony on our Sunset Deck and then partied the night away in Lesner Hall. We loved having the opportunity to learn more about Trina’s culture and get to know the couple throughout the planning process. And we wanted to share more with you! We reached out to Trina & Greg and – amidst her crazy residency schedule – got to hear their side of their big day!
Despite having the same mutual friends for about 10 years before meeting, we finally met a few years ago in Richmond, VA. My friend from high school, Chris, was back in town from the Northeast for his annual college soccer/fraternity reunion weekend. He invited me to meet him and his friends, Greg included, on a Friday night. I decided seeing a good friend from out-of-town warranted a short study break even though I had an exam (medical school) on Monday. Little did I realize how important that study break would eventually be! (We learned shortly after dating that we missed meeting each other by one or two days almost every year for 10 years…) Greg and I hit it off instantly and kept in touch for many months as friends. Greg lived two hours away in North Carolina but visited Richmond often for work and family. We caught up on one of those visits, and the rest is history…
How and when did he propose? (Don’t worry, we cried too)
Greg had the opportunity to take a head soccer coach position at a university in Pennsylvania. We were then five hours apart but visited each other as often as we could. Sometimes meeting in Maryland for a weekend or day trip was the best option due to our crazy schedules. One Friday in late February 2016, we were two weeks into a four week stretch apart. Greg had work obligations the next morning but knew I had the weekend free. He suggested we meet in Annapolis for part of the weekend. He only told me where to meet and what to pack. I was not phased by the lack of detail because he loves to plan surprises. I was just excited to explore Annapolis together and spend [what I thought was] an unanticipated weekend together. I had only been there once before, but Greg was born there and spent many summers coaching at Naval Academy soccer camps.
We met at the Maryland State House and dropped our things at one of the historic inns. After exploring downtown Annapolis in the afternoon, we headed over to the Naval Academy. We sat on a bench, looking out on the water and city. Greg shared stories about different parts of town, either from family life or summer coaching visits. I was pretty antsy from sitting in the car and suggested we walk more. He asked me to stand with him for a moment as he pulled me to the center of a huge compass rose on the ground. [The compass rose had turned into a theme for us throughout our relationship for a variety of reasons.] He stood right next to me and said he had to show me a cool tradition before we walked away. He asked me to turn and look west. I looked back across the water as the sun was about to set over the city. He then told me to face north. And last, he said to face east and then watch my shadow. At this point, I was rolling my eyes and laughing, wondering what this strange “tradition” was. That’s when I saw my shadow still standing and his shadow getting down on one knee…
Why did you pick Lesner Inn for your wedding?
We were excited to showcase the local side of Virginia Beach during our wedding. Trina’s family moved close to Chick’s Beach before she started high school. When we come to town, we are usually on/near Shore Drive at the beach or favorite local spots. We stepped into Lesner Inn and instantly fell in love with the beautiful views and the building’s setup. The Sunset Deck provided an outdoor feel with security of a covered deck in case of rainy summer weather. The Lesner Hall was the perfect size and layout for our reception. We also liked the inclusion of tables, linens, catering, beverages, etc. into a package. We were also fortunate that Lesner started offering day-of coordination services at a really reasonable price!
What vendors did you use and why did you pick them?
Chelsea Anderson Photography- Chelsea’s images are crisp and very true to life. We could tell how well she would capture the colorful nature of an Indian ceremony. Chelsea is also more than a wedding photographer. She truly believes in marriage and uses her photography to celebrate the concept of marriage beyond the one day of a wedding. Her authenticity is unique!
Empty Pocket- Band. We found Empty Pocket through Sam Hill entertainment and through the recommendation of a previous Virginia Beach bride. The band’s song list was a full spectrum, much like our music taste, and the singer’s voice is unreal.
Norfolk Wholesale Floral- Trina’s family had a great experience with them for her sister’s wedding. We actually ended up working with the same florist, Sandie. At our initial meeting, she asked if Trina could show her any photos from Pinterest we had saved. Trina laughed as she said, “I don’t have Pinterest,” and asked about seasonal flowers in the colors we were choosing. We pretty much told Sandie the colors, some of our favorite flowers, and the general look of the arrangements… she took care of the rest!
Beauty by Sharra- Hair and Makeup. Sharra’s portfolio was amazing and versatile. She included travel fees, which made it feasible for my bridesmaids and me to get ready in the comfort of my parents’ house. She exclusively did my hair and make up. She and another artist split my mother’s and bridesmaids’ hair and makeup. Sharra had such a calming presence throughout the day. She also was very willing to make any adjustments, if needed, so that we all loved our hair and makeup.
Custom Cake Shoppe- Fantastic customer service and great cake!
Brahmani Indian Asian Market (Norfolk)- This is Trina’s family’s local go-to for Indian grocery needs. They were able to order gulab jamun and rasmalai in bulk to be served at the reception.
Coop Design Co (Etsy)- Our guest “book” sign was custom-made by Brianna from an original compass rose design in her shop. The turn around was quick, and we love the sign on our wall!
Edison, NJ Indian shops- A large selection of Indian apparel and other goods. Greg’s ceremony outfit was made by Maharani Fashions. Trina’s wedding sari was a banarasi silk sari, which is customary of Bengali brides, from Miss India.
Studio I Do Bridals- Ashley, the owner, is a high school classmate of mine. I loved seeing the growth of this local store as well as the inventory she posted through the store’s social media. After trying quite a few dresses that didn’t seem quite the right fit, Ashley found the gown I ultimately chose, a Maggie Sottero gown. The gown was gorgeous and actually comfortable. The style also somewhat blended Indian and American culture, just in the way we wanted our wedding. (Also, I actually bought my prom dress from this store when it was solely All The Rage… and Ashley was there then, too!)
We loved getting to learn more about your culture and all of the traditions. Can you explain what all of them were for anyone who may not have attended an Indian wedding?
This is a very brief synopsis/explanation but hopefully helpful for those less familiar!
The Vedas (ancient scripture) describe the rituals of Vivaha (Hindu wedding). Some specific traditions vary from region to region, and our wedding was of classic Bengali (of the state West Bengal) tradition. We infused Christian elements throughout to celebrate Greg’s heritage as well.
The wedding begins with the bride’s mother and friends welcoming the groom with arati (a worship ritual). He then stands on a piri (platform) to wait for the bride. She is carried on her own piri by brothers (in our case, Trina’s cousins and close friend). She holds betel leaves in front of her eyes as the group carries her around the groom seven times. After the seventh time, she removes the leaves from her face to share the first shubhodrishti (first auspicious look). The bride and groom then exchange garlands three times. This all occurs under a chadna (canopy).
The bride’s father then accompanies the bride, groom, and priest on the mandap (marriage stage). The bride’s father joins the bride’s and groom’s hands above a holy pitcher before the priest ties a knot between their garments. The couple then lights a holy fire before making offerings and circling the fire three times. Next, they take saptapadi (seven steps), where the bride steps on each bowl individually with the groom’s assistance. Each step represents a promise: to unify spiritual thoughts, to seek mutual happiness, to be faithful, to be righteous to one another, to be kind to all creation, to act towards good name and fame, and to seek friendship, affection, and fidelity.
The couple then exchange vows in Sanskrit that mean “Let my heart be yours and yours be mine. Be a full partner in my enterprises; merge your thoughts with mine. May the Almighty make us one.” They pray to the fixed North Star as a symbol of their now permanent tie. The priest presents a seed-bearing fruit as a symbol that will later be shared by the couple. The groom then applies sindur (vermillion powder) to the bride’s forehead/part to signify her as his bride. They then exchange rings before making the final offering and extinguishing the fire. The priest then sprinkles them with holy water before announcing them as officially husband and wife.
How did you pick your first dance song and why did you pick it?
Civil Wars- Sacred Heart. One day early in our relationship, we both happened to listen to songs in French. Neither of us speak or have studied French, so this was very random. We shared them with each other, and this song ended up sticking as our song. The chorus has a line “Seulement Toi,” meaning “only you.”
What were you most excited about for your wedding day?
Hard to pick just one! We were excited to start our marriage with stunning views as the backdrop and to share the evening with our closest friends and family. We were also excited to have a ceremony and reception that paid homage to both families’ cultures.
Were there any personal touches that you put on your wedding day that were really special to you?
Ceremony items: We used Trina’s mom’s wedding sari as the canopy in the ceremony. The piris were built by Trina’s father and designed/painted by Trina for her sister’s wedding. They hope to pass them down as the generations go by. Trina also designed the compass rose [by hand] that was used on our programs and wedding table numbers.
Ceremony structure: We infused some Christian/American elements into our Hindu ceremony- having a traditional bridal party with a procession, exchanging Christian vows, and including a reading of one of our favorite poems. We also included music that represented that fusion: traditional Indian wedding music, The Beatles, Sara Bareilles, and Anoushka Shankar with Norah Jones.
Spice jar favors: We loved the idea of a practical/useful favor. We ordered bulk Indian spices, small spice jars, and labels/tags to put these together. We were serving the delicious choices from Lesner Inn’s menu for our reception but wanted to [literally] add some Indian flavor for guests. Each jar had a label with the ingredients and a tag with a recipe.
What was the biggest mistake you made during the planning process? (Not that you made any mistakes!)
We were really lucky to have Alexis and Cayleen as our [ABC] day-of coordinators. Not having them would have been our biggest mistake!! We handed everything over 2 weeks prior. Their detail-oriented work ensured that all went smoothly, especially when they coordinated some unanticipated changes in the schedule during the night.
What advice do you have for other couples planning their wedding?
Have fun with it! Remember what the day truly means- you are surrounded by family and friends who are celebrating the start of your marriage. Think of each decision, small or big, about representing that notion. And definitely have at least day-of coordination so that you can just enjoy your night without any tasks in mind!
Almost three months later, and we still cannot get enough of Trina & Greg’s story! What a beautiful couple that we were lucky enough to have at Lesner Inn for their wedding! These doctors are a power couple to look out for, and we can’t wait to see what amazing things they accomplish together!
Photos by Chelsea Anderson Photography!