Braja Mandala Photography
Shruti Challa & Patrick Ekeruo
March 3, 2018. San Francisco, California
Planner, Event and Floral Design: Flowers by Edgar San Jose, CA; Lehnga: Shyamal Bhumika;
Like many modern love stories, Patrick Ekeruo and Shruti Challa met after “swiping right” and matching up on a popular dating app. With Patrick being an attorney and Shruti working as the general manager, it took them over a month to schedule their first date. Finally, the two met at a popular San Francisco wine bar, which was perfect for post-workday drinks.
“After Patrick sat down and initial introductions were made, I – ever confident – looked up at the Warriors game playing in the background and declared the game literally over,” Shruti recalls. “It was the middle of the third quarter, and we both laughed. The ice was broken, and we immediately did what our friends would agree we both do often – went deep. ‘What was it like growing up and being one of the only Indian kids in Topeka, Kansas?’ ‘Do you remember living in Nigeria, and what was it like coming to the States?’ I was drawn to his humor, intelligence, and straightforwardness. There would definitely be a second date.”
Over the next couple years, Patrick and Shruti traveled together, spent time with each other’s families, and built a foundation for what would eventually come. The engagement took place at Christopher’s Books in Potrero Hill, and Patrick surprised his new fiancé with a birthday/engagement party with their friends and family the next day.
Having grown up with similar experiences as immigrant-Americans, the bride and groom-to-be decided to honor their rich cultures by “doing everything” with an “Indian-Catholic-Nigerian-Hindu-American wedding.” “Leaving anything out felt like not being honest with important parts of who we are,” Shruti explains. “But it was a challenge.” The result was a whirlwind wedding weekend in San Francisco with four events packed into two days.
On Friday, a traditional Sangeet and Lgbo ceremony were held. “Our designer, Edgar, changed the feel of the four-story building with draping that made the event feel more intimate despite the size,” describes the bride. “Palm leaves, amber lighting, bright colors worn by the people in both communities, and a bangle bar where guests could pick from both Indian and Nigerian bangles added to the vibe. Bollywood and West African dances created the entertainment. DJs performing next to each other seamlessly blended the musical styles of A.R. Rahman and Wizkid.”
The next day, Patrick entered the terrace courtyard at the Ritz-Carlton on a white stallion for the Hindu ceremony, while Shruti entered on a foiled embossed palaka, carried by her male cousins. That afternoon, guests also attended the Catholic-Lgbo ceremony in North Beach at St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, where the women wore beautiful headwraps and the hall was filled with the sounds of a live Nigerian choir.
When it came time for the final event – an American cocktail hour and reception – everyone gathered once more for a night filled with moving speeches, a flower-encrusted six-tier wedding cake and endless dancing.
“The next day, exhausted, Patrick and I left for Argentina and our honeymoon,” says Shruti. “We spent the next two weeks drinking the bold Malbecs in Mendoza, taking in the views at Iguazu, and enjoying the food, fashion and culture of Argentina.”
>Written by: Lauren Malamala