After “clicking” at a mutual friend’s birthday party, Amanda Brand and Anand Venkatrao agreed to go out on a date. Midway through their second date, Amanda knew she had met the man she wanted to spend her life with. “My family always gave me grief for not dating enough or writing people off too soon, but my mother always told me growing up ‘You’ll know when you meet the right one,’ and I did.” On their one-year anniversary, Anand took Amanda to Laguna Gloria, a place special to Anand and where he used to volunteer in high school. “We walked down to a gazebo that was lit up with cafe lights, and once we walked in it, I told her that if you look close on the walls of the gazebo, people have inscribed their names,” says Anand. “While she was looking up, I kneeled down.”
When it came time to plan their wedding, the couple knew they wanted a celebration of both Christian and Hindu traditions. Says the couple, “It was important to us and our families to honor both sides’ traditions and cultures, so we had an intimate, low-key backyard Christian ceremony in February, and a big, colorful Hindu ceremony in April.” For their April ceremony, Amanda and Anand chose the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa to set the stage for the elaborate celebration. The morning of, Amanda woke early to remove the wrapping and paste from her mehndi (henna ink applied to the bride’s hands), and dressed in a custom gown by the Los Angeles-based Fashion by Rohini. She met her groom for a first look, and together they began the shortened traditional Hindu ceremony. Though rich in tradition, the moment was not without a sense of humor. “[Amanda] started to put the ring on my right hand, someone in the crowd yelled ‘wrong hand!’” says Anand. Guests then moved into the reception area where they were entertained by the bride and groom themselves. “We danced a lively choreographed number after months of secretly practicing with a great instructor named Indu,” says Anand. Continuing with the melded traditions, the wedding dinner included traditional Indian food, chips and queso and, of course, barbecue.