Shama Amin & Manan Patel
June 2, 2018. Miami, Florida
“Good things come to those who wait” might be the theme for Shama Amin and Manan Patel’s relationship. They knew each other for 14 years before Manan finally popped the question. “I kid that after waiting all that time for Shama to propose, I finally had to do it myself,” says Manan.
The romance began in college and continued as they graduated, began careers and became established in their fields.
In December 2016, Shama wanted to surprise Manan by inviting his friends to celebrate his birthday. Manan conspired to turn the tables on her and the weekend developed into one big engagement party. “It was pretty epic,” says Shama.
Knowing Shama’s love of photographing everywhere they went, he convinced her, despite the chilly weather, to step outside the restaurant where they were having a birthday brunch. “She was visibly cold, but I couldn’t give her my jacket because the ring was in it,” Manan explains. While she took a picture of the New York City skyline, he got down on one knee. When she swiveled back around, he forgot everything he prepared and blurted out a proposal.
Back at their apartment, as she prepared to FaceTime her parents with the news, the doorbell rang and there they were. It rang again and in came Shama’s sister. A third time revealed Manan’s sister, and Shama was joyously overwhelmed. The party she had planned for Manan doubled in size with her friends and family added to the guest list. “I was on cloud nine,” says Shama.
The bride-to-be dreamed of an outdoor destination wedding so she booked the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach in Miami. While she was on a trip in India, Hurricane Irma hit Florida. The Ritz-Carlton closed for a month of repairs. One month turned into two, then four and finally the hotel closed indefinitely.
“It was extremely stressful,” says Shama. Remarkably, the Mandarin Oriental in Miami was available for their date. “Instead of a year and a half to plan my wedding, I ended up doing it in five months,” she says.
The Hindu wedding included many traditional celebrations. A joyous baraat, or groom’s parade, with multi-colored smoke plumes accompanied Manan to the altar, or mandap. During the rites, Shama circled the holy fire and couldn’t help thinking, “Oh my God! This is finally happening.”
After the newlyweds and bridal party danced their way into the reception, the best man and various family members made heartfelt speeches. “I cried the entire time my dad was speaking,” says Shama.
From that point on, the massive dance floor was never empty. The bridal party surprised and delighted the couple by performing a Bollywood-style team dance with different friends rotating in and out of the routine. Then, the bride and groom took their first spin as a married couple. Shama, a dancer and choreographer herself, had secretly prepared a solo for Manan and her guests. Later, the couple got on stage to play the drums. “We looked out over our friends and family having such
a good time celebrating and that visual snapshot will stay with us forever,” says Shama.
The wedding weekend wrapped up Sunday night, they flew home on Monday and were back at work by Wednesday. An autumn honeymoon is planned to Croatia, Montenegro and Greece for sightseeing and culture, good
food and relaxation. Next challenge? Shama and Manan plan to try their luck at house hunting in the greater New York metropolitan area.
> Written by Francine Kaplan