Weddings

Her Berta Gown, His Ted Baker Tux: The Fashion Is Just One Swoon-Worthy Part of This Weekend-Long Wedding

Ariana Kripalani and Kunal Merchant married in DC on May 27, 2018.
All photographs by Regeti’s Photography

Sometime in the year following the moment Kunal, a senior, spotted Ariana, a freshman, at a George Washington University fraternity event, he friended her on Facebook, but having not exchanged names or even spoken, she accepted and promptly “forgot he existed.”

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Four years later, when he was a med student and she was in town visiting one, they ended up at another party together. This time Kunal made his move when he had a friend ask Ariana to take their picture, giving Kunal the opportunity to chat her up. But it was a little too calculated for Ariana, and Kunal left yet another encounter without her number. 

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For weeks, Kunal chatted Ariana up on Facebook before finally getting up the nerve to ask her out. “And, while I thought he was incredibly bright and attractive,” Kunal says, “his ladies man vibe coupled with the fact that I was living in New York and he was in DC made the idea of a date not super appealing.” After a few more weeks of “relentlessness,” however, Ariana says she eventually agreed to meet up on a Monday at Cafe Mogador in the East Village. “The instantaneous chemistry threw me for a loop,” Ariana says. “We ended up talking for hours, crawling from bar to bar along St. Marks Place. A night that I thought would end with me [asleep] by 10 p.m., had us dancing at an after-hours club until the sun came up.”

Two and a half years later, the pair planned a trip to Mykonos to celebrate Ariana’s 25th birthday. There, Kunal proposed at a dinner for two on a cliffside plateau overlooking the Aegean Sea, just seconds before a fireworks display lit up the sky above them. “It was legitimately magical,” Ariana says.

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Two years later, the couple kicked off another magical weekend, this time back in DC. The festivities began with a welcome dinner at Pennsylvania 6, followed by a sangeet and ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental, and a reception at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium.

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“Food and liquor are only second to oxygen in our respective households,” Ariana says, “so menu crafting for each event was, without a doubt, the most painstaking part of our wedding planning process.” 

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The couple says they wanted to offer a wide variety of cuisines so that guests “palates weren’t fatigued” over the multi-day affair. The welcome dinner kicked off with raw bar paired with with crudos, mini lobster rolls, and fish tacos. At the Sangeet, Kunal and Ariana opted for a cocktail hour that included chaat stations, passed kebabs, and sliders, followed by a sushi bar with oysters, seared salmon belly nigiri, and maki rolls, plus stations featuring everything from bao puns and Hakka noodles to papaya salad and customized fortune cookies. The brunch before their wedding the following day was themed “Dosas and Mimosas,” and at the evening reception, dinner included a “slightly more modern take on Indian food,” Ariana says, “with passed tandoori lamb chops, masala-laced mini tacos, and a seven-course Indian dinner, served family style.”

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Welcome gift baskets offered guests snacks, mini bottles of Grey Goose, Patron, Makers Mark, coconut water, a well-stocked hangover kit, and an itinerary card, and favors included embroidered clutch bags and silver decorative dishes. For dessert, the couple chose a cake of vanilla, strawberry, and pink Champagne. Following the celebrations, the newlyweds honeymooned in Lake Como.

The Details

Photographer: Regeti’s Photography | Venue: Mandarin Oriental (ceremony/sangeet); Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium (reception) | Event Planning & Design: Ace of Events  Flowers & Decor: Elegant Affairs | Catering: Moghul Catering Cake: Classic Bakery
Hair & Makeup: Glam by Shekiba | Bride’s Attire: custom from India (sangeet and wedding lenghas); Berta (reception) | Groom’s Attire: Manyavar (sangeet and wedding sherwanis); Ted Baker tuxedo from Nordstrom (reception)  
Music/Entertainment: Dynasty AV & Entertainment (deejay); Nation, Elan Artists (band) | Transportation: Zbest Transportation | Video: East West Productions

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Amy Moeller
Editor, Washingtonian Weddings

Amy leads Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining Washingtonian in March 2016, she was the editor of Capitol File magazine in DC and before that, editor of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.